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Citi Field in New York is ready for some long-ball action, and you at home can be too. It's Home Run Derby time!

If you turn up the volume really loud on Monday night, you might hear all the amazing Derby sounds. The buzz of anticipation from the crowd. The crack of the bat. The pop of the glove for every ball a hitter lets go by in an effort to find that perfect pitch.

The pop of another pitch he let go by. And another pitch…and another…and for the love of God, man, just swing at the next damn ball before we all fall asleep! 

Of course, be careful how loud you turn up those speakers. Chris Berman is back, back, back calling the Home Run Derby for yet another year. ESPN brass should probably stay off the Internet for a few hours.

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Major League Baseball is eating itself from within. As the Biogenesis probe continues to make headlines in the days leading up to MLB's marquee event of the summer, it's becoming more and more likely that the real story at the 2013 All-Star Game will be about the players who aren't in New York instead of those who are.

Alex Rodriguez is reportedly meeting with MLB investigators Friday to discuss his knowledge of and involvement in the Biogenesis scandal. According to multiple reports, Rodriguez is one of 20 players who could be suspended for his connection to the Miami wellness clinic. Reports suggest that Rodriguez—clearly one of the two biggest fish in this PED pond with Milwaukee slugger Ryan Braun—could be suspended for up to 100 games.

Could be suspended. Could, or to employ the terms ESPN has used, "is expected to" and is "considering." 

Read through this important text from ESPN.com's story on the case after Braun was surrounded at his locker by reporters and repeatedly—and rather calmly—sidestepped specifics of the case:

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The 2013 MLB All-Star Game will be held at Citi Field in New York this season, and while David Wright has been given the keys to the game as honorary ambassador for the Mets, it's one of his teammates, Matt Harvey, who should be the first guy with the ball.

Across town, Mariano Rivera is halfway through his year-long retirement tour to end an illustrious Hall of Fame career, and despite coming out and stating he doesn't want to start the All-Star Game, well…tough. It makes too much sense for him not to. 

"What I do is close the games, I don't start the games. It's a privilege and honor, but I'm not contemplating it," he told ESPNNewYork.com's Michael Mazzeo.

The quote is both magnanimous and entirely expected from the Yankee great, but it's still the wrong decision.

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For the 12th consecutive year, MLB fans have been given the keys to the All-Star Game, not only voting for the starters for each league, but also getting the opportunity to vote for the last player left on the playground who gets to represent his city in the Midsummer Classic. 

Since 2002, five players from each league have been put into a gimmicky "last player in" vote to make the All-Star Game. When it started, the Final Vote was actually a pretty great idea to get fans more involved and create a few days of buzz leading up to the game. Now, MLB needs to come up with something new or reboot what they've created. 

The Final Vote has become a bit of a joke. 

Yes, the Final Vote does have a positive result, as the process gets another player on the All-Star team for each league, which is an incredible honor for two men…or three or four or six men. Hell, why doesn't MLB just let them all in this season? It seems like it's getting closer to that every year anyway. 

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Chase Utley is one of the greatest players in Philadelphia Phillies history, yet suddenly, with a season going nowhere and an aging roster in need of a serious reboot, Utley has become one of the most polarizing players as well.

The summer is slipping away in Philadelphia, and there are months to go before a meaningful football game will be played. There is only so much talk of the offseason moves by the Flyers and Sixers that Philly sports fans can take. The Phillies, and all their warts, dominate the airwaves.

The hot topic has shifted from "buy or sell" to "who can we sell," with Utley being one of the top names—and hottest debates—on the list.

The Phillies have been the alpha dog in town since winning the World Series in 2008, mostly because the fans believed the baseball team had the best chance to bring another title to a city that has hosted just one parade in the last 30 years. People in Philly will never forget that parade, in part because it meant so much to the town and in part because of Chase Utley's epic "world f*cking champions" speech on the dais.

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The victory for Brazil in the Confederations Cup, dominating Spain 3-0 in the tournament finale, felt like a throwback to a previous generation in the footballing nation's illustrious history. 

Not only did Brazil win a (relatively) major trophy, but the Samba Kings did it with panache, decimating a stalwart Spanish side and sending a message to the rest of the world that Brazil plans to do more than just host the 2014 World Cup.

It intends to win it. And that's where Neymar comes in.

 

The Brazilian Rebirth

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Ask an NFL fan which was the bigger news on Wednesday: that Aaron Hernandez was arraigned on charges of first-degree murder or that the New England Patriots cut him. 

I'm not trying to be glib; that's a serious question. The NFL, despite a litany of arrests and growing off-field issues from its players every year, continues to trend upward when it comes to its growth and popularity in this country.

And despite being sued by a number of its own players for unsafe regulations that have ruined—or, as research is suggesting, in some extreme cases ended—former players' lives, the NFL continues to grow with every turn. 

It's long been my contention that an NFL player could sustain a hit that would kill him right on the field, and fans—horrified as they may be in the moment—would still come back to watch. The NFL would still roll along, getting bigger and bigger.

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For a player who has never needed to apologize for her dominance on the tennis court, Serena Williams certainly seems to be apologizing for her mouth a lot lately. 

For someone so great at winning, Williams comes off like a loser time and time again. 

Williams was recently featured in Rolling Stone magazine and managed to turn a fluff piece about the world's greatest female athlete (ever?) into her latest public relations tour of contrition.

Most notably, Williams has apologized on multiple occasions for her on-the-record comments about the victim in the Steubenville rape case, telling the article's author, Stephen Rodrick, "I'm not blaming the girl," before ostensibly blaming the girl, going so far as to call her "lucky" that worse didn't happen to her.

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It is human nature to want to better oneself. We strive to be better at our jobs, to get a better salary or a better promotion. We go to school for nearly a quarter of our lives to become better at the skills we spend the rest of our lives trying to better every day.

We work for better houses, better cars, better vacations, neighbors and friends. We want to be better. The American dream is not about having everything; it's about getting everything and working every day to be better than the day before in an effort to collect the things that make life…better.

Of course, things don't always make life better, and things don't always make people better, either. Aaron Hernandez is not better than he was yesterday.

It's been a rough couple of weeks for the Patriots tight end, embroiled in scandal and a police investigation surrounding his involvement in the murder of his associate, Odin Lloyd.

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ARDMORE, Pa.— Somewhere along the eighth fairway on Sunday, I looked down at my phone and saw a complaint about how horrible the golf was, with players on almost every hole dropping shots left and right. 

These are supposed to be the best players in the world, and it seemed like none of them could do anything to beat Merion Golf Club. That probably made those in charge at the USGA smile, but maybe it shouldn't. Maybe Merion was just too hard for its own good.

Early in the week, the buzz was that Merion could play short and soft, a low-scoring dream and a veritable nightmare for the USGA, which prides itself on being the toughest test in golf year after year.

Four rounds later, with a champion in Justin Rose who finished one over par for the tournament, Merion was indeed the toughest test in golf. It was too tough a test.