So the Mets are hosting the 84th MLB All-Star Game at Citi Field on July 16. But if you think this merely means a few innings of star-studded baseball, you couldn't be more wrong.
The days leading up to the game itself have become a fan-friendly, economy-boosting, weeklong baseball extravaganza. There are attractions, parades, marathons, concerts, celebrities, prospects, homers, oversized apples -- and some of that star-studded baseball.
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Apples on Parade
How 'bout them apples?
Have you seen them? Standing 6 feet tall and weighing 350 pounds, these All-Star Game-themed apple statues are hard to miss. A total of 35 apples, including one representing each team in Major League Baseball, have been placed at various locations and stores around Manhattan. The Yankees apple is at Modell's near Times Square; the Mets apple is near the SNY studios by Rockefeller Center. They go as far uptown as 125th street (Dodgers apple) and as far downtown as Bridge Street (Indians apple).
The American League and National League each has an apple on display at the New York Public Library. There are some throwback apples, the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants, at Grand Central Terminal. And of course the main MLB All-Star Game apple is outside Citi Field, which also houses the famous Home Run Apple.
When the All-Star Game was at Yankee Stadium in 2008, All-Star-themed Statues of Liberty were placed around the city. The local symbol on parade has become an annual tradition for the host city. Houston had a cowboy boot in 2004, Anaheim had Mickey Mouse in 2010, Arizona had a cactus in 2011 . . . you get the idea.
Now go find one of the big apples around the Big Apple.
July 12-16, Jacob Javits Convention Center
Prices: Adults ($35); 12 and under, 65 and over, college and military ($30)
It's called the "World's Largest Interactive Baseball Theme Park."
The list of attractions is far too long to name them all, but here are a few:
See the official game uniforms of the All-Stars and have question-and-answer sessions with MLB legends in the All-Star Clubhouse.
Buy, sell and trade cards and collectibles at the Collector's Showcase or bid on authentic memorabilia at the Fanfest Auction.
Take part in baseball clinics conducted by former and current MLB players at The Diamond. Have your own baseball card made at the Family Field. Practice your stance during batting practice, test your glove at fielding practice or swing for the fences at the Home Run Derby.
Get autographs of baseball greats such as Dwight Gooden, Juan Marichal, Ozzie Smith and many others at the Autograph Stages. Check out baseball artifacts straight from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown.
See the trophies of Major League Baseball on display. Take your photo with the world's largest baseball.
It's as if baseball fans are kids being handed the keys to a candy shop.
All-Star 5k & Fun Run
Saturday, July 13
5k at 8 a.m., Fun Run immediately following
Brooklyn's Prospect Park
Registration: adults ($35), 17 and under ($30)
If you're running one of the All-Star-themed courses, don't get slowed down should you spot Gooden, John Franco or Mr. Met. They'll be there cheering participants on, as will familiar names such as Frank Robinson and Tony La Russa, with all net proceeds being donated to superstorm Sandy relief.
Fans can register and create their own fundraising team for the 5k or the Fun Run, a 1.5-mile family-friendly course, at www.allstargame.com/run. The top individual fundraisers will be awarded tickets to All-Star Game events, get the chance to throw the ceremonial first pitch before the Home Run Derby and compete in the celebrity softball game.
Look out for the "Miracle Mets" fundraising team, which was created by Ed Charles, Ed Kranepool and Art Shamsky of the 1969 Mets, all of whom will be in attendance.
Saturday, July 13, 7:30 p.m.
The Great Lawn, Central Park (Free to public, tickets required)
What other event brings people such as Joe Torre and Mariah Carey together? Other than a Derek Jeter dinner party in 1998, of course.
The two will share the stage for a charity concert in Central Park as part of the All-Star Weekend festivities.
Carey will make a special appearance during a free concert, mixing her classic hits with songs from her new album. She'll be joined by the New York Philharmonic, which will play New York and baseball-themed music, including songs from films such as "The Natural" and the recently released "42."
Torre, who played for and managed the Mets but is better known for managing the Yankees to four World Series championships, will read the classic baseball poem "Casey at the Bat."
Sunday, July 14, 2 p.m.
Just two short years ago, a rising prospect with a 97-mph fastball faced one batter, tossed three pitches and earned the save in the Futures Game. Matt Harvey threw the last pitch of that game, and now he's a candidate to throw the first pitch of this year's All-Star Game.
Yes, that's how fast the future can come for some of baseball's top prospects. They'll be on display in the Futures Game at Citi Field on Sunday as the U.S. team, coached by Mookie Wilson, takes on the World team, coached by Edgardo Alfonzo. All MLB teams are represented, headlined by highly touted Cardinals prospect Oscar Tavares. Local representatives include Yankees pitcher Rafael De Paula and Mets pitchers Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero and outfielder Brandon Nimmo, who was voted in by fans for the final spot on the U.S. roster.
Come get a glimpse into the future.
Legends and Celebrity Softball Game
Sunday, July 14, after the Futures Game
Who wouldn't want to see Miss America try to hit a fastball?
OK, so maybe it's slow pitch, but still. Mallory Hagan, a Brooklyn native who was crowned Miss America in January, will be in the batter's box for the Legends and Celebrity Softball Game.
She'll be joined by former players such as Mike Piazza and Bernie Williams, comedians such as Chris Rock and Kevin James, radio personalities such as Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton, softball players such as Jennie Finch and Josh Wege -- who is a member of the Wounded Warrior Amputee softball team -- and many more.
Home Run Derby
Monday, July 15 at 8 p.m.
If ever the Home Run Apple in centerfield is going to break down from mechanical problems, this would be the day. It certainly will be put to good use -- and possibly overuse -- during the Home Run Derby.
David Wright, who finished second in the 2006 Derby, will be the captain of the NL team and Robinson Cano, who won the Derby in 2011, will be the captain of the AL team. Both will select their teams with some assistance from fan voting.
The walls were moved in last season at Citi Field, and although righthanded pull hitters might have an advantage, the Pepsi Porch in rightfield still will be prime real estate if you're hoping to take home a souvenir. The Shea Bridge in right-center also could be a target. Bring a glove.
Red Carpet Show
Tuesday, July 16 at 1 p.m.
Free to public
Just hours before the MLB All-Stars take the field, they'll take the streets of midtown Manhattan.
The All-Star Game parade route will stretch across 42nd Street, starting at Bryant Park on Sixth Avenue and ending between Second and Third Avenues.
This parade won't have ticker tape, as in the Canyon of Heroes, or an oversized Snoopy float, as in the Thanksgiving Day parade. But there will be a really, really long red carpet (about 80,000 square feet) that the best baseball players in the world will travel down.
The All-Star Game
Tuesday, July 16 at 8 p.m.
Finally, we've reached the main event: the Midsummer Classic.
The faces of MLB descend upon Flushing as the AL All-Stars take on the NL All-Stars with home-field advantage in the World Series on the line.
First pitch will be shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday...maybe by Matt Harvey.