MLB's All-Star festivities are all about bringing the big names together. This also applies to the annual Celebrity Softball Game, which serves as a prelude to baseball's current stars taking the field.
Luckily, this harmless bout now carries the same stakes (none) as the actual All-Star Game. This year's celebrity shindig takes on a new format, as a hometown team will represent Cleveland against everyone else.
Much like Mr. Burns aiming to dethrone Shelbyville's Nuclear Power Plant, Cleveland has recruited a bevy of stars to ensure softball glory at Progressive Field. With a roster featuring former Indians standouts and a few other athletes, the deck seems stacked in favor of the home team.
Despite the game taking on a local flavor, plenty of repeat participants will tee off Sunday night. Courtesy of Cleveland.com's Mark Bona, here are the full rosters for Cleveland and the World.
2019 MLB Celebrity Softball Game
Date: Sunday, July 7 (broadcast Monday, July 8)
Air Time: 10 p.m. ET (after Home Run Derby)
Allie LaForce (Turner Sports broadcaster)
Carlos Baerga (three-time MLB All-Star)
Dr. Oz (television host)
Drew Carey (comedian)
Jim Thome (Baseball Hall of Famer)
Joe Thomas (former Cleveland Browns offensive lineman)
JR Smith (NBA guard)
Kenny Lofton (six-time MLB All-Star)
Machine Gun Kelly (musician/actor)
Mike "The Miz" Mizanin (WWE Superstar)
Simone Biles (Olympic gold medalist)
Stephanie Beatriz (actress, Brooklyn 99)
Stipe Miocic (MMA fighter)
Travis Hafner (former Cleveland Indians DH)
Travis Kelce (Kansas City Chiefs tight end)
Anthony Mackie (actor, Avengers)
Anuel AA (Reggaeton recording artist)
Colton Underwood (former NFL player and TV personality)
Bernie Williams (former New York Yankees outfielder)
Daddy Yankee (Reggaeton recording artist)
Dascha Polanco (actress, Orange is the New Black)
Jamie Foxx (Academy Award-winning actor)
Jennie Finch (softball Olympian)
Jerry Lorenzo (fashion/sneaker designer)
Johnny Bananas (MTV's The Challenge)
Max Greenfield (actor, New Girl)
Priah Ferguson (actress, Stranger Things)
Quincy (actor, Star)
Ryan Howard (three-time MLB All-Star, 2006 NL MVP)
Scott Rogowsky (comedian and DAZN host)
The most worthwhile prediction to make here is the Marge Simpson route of betting on everyone having a fun time. Yet one can't deny the imbalance of ringers on the home squad.
Sure, rostering an Olympic softball star in an exhibition softball game doesn't hurt. Jennie Finch gives the World a seismic advantage on the mound. She could do to Cleveland what Roger Clemens did to Homer Simpson's Wonderbat.
And if the skipper doesn't take out Ryan Howard against a left-handed pitcher to play the percentages, he could also hit nine home runs.
Cleveland's club, however, foists far more athletes. Jim Thome is a Hall of Famer who mashed 612 home runs with a .956 OPS. For softball standards, he's not exactly old at 48 years old. He doesn't look too rusty swinging the bat:
Former teammate Kenny Lofton has had no luck in his Cooperstown candidacy, but the career .299/.372/.423 hitter should reach base with regularity and cover plenty of ground in the outfield.
Travis Hafner did his best Thome impersonation in his peak years, hitting .308/.419/.611 with 103 home runs from 2004 to 2006. The former designated hitter seems like the perfect beer-league slugger to pound some dingers.
Rostering other world-class athletes also aid their cause. Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce is a 6'5", 260-pound behemoth in his prime. Now that he's not preparing for another grueling NFL campaign, future Hall of Famer Joe Thomas is a rested mountain of a man who should harness plenty of pop.
JR Smith is definitely a risk to run out of the batter's box to third base, but one would still think he's better at any sport than Schmidt from New Girl. Maybe not Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Rosa Diaz, though.
The Land also flaunts an Olympian of its own in Simone Biles, whose swiftness and grace could come in handy on the diamond. Perhaps their not-so-secret weapon, 2018 MVP Mike "The Miz" Mizanin promised an encore:
The former WWE champion appears to be taking this awesome responsibility seriously:
Barring a series of misfortunes—I told you to trim those sideburns, Drew Carey—Cleveland is the favorite to finally take home the (celebrity softball) title.