The All-Star Game may be an exhibition that has no bearing on the standings -- although, since 2003, home-field advantage in the World Series has been at stake -- but it is a game, nevertheless. Players are in uniform, umpires are at their usual stations, and runs and outs are counted. The elements are there to create special moments not unlike the regular season and postseason.
Following are arguably the 10 best moments in All-Star Game history, followed by 10 that didn't miss the cut by much. Let the arguments begin.
10. July 6, 1983, at Comiskey Park, Chicago: The longest losing streak in All-Star competition -- 11 games -- came to a halt on the game's 50th anniversary. The AL's seven-run second inning at the expense of Giants left-hander Atlee Hammaker was punctuated by a grand slam by Angels center fielder Fred Lynn, the only bases-loaded home run in All-Star play.
9. July 10, 2001, at Safeco Field, Seattle: Playing in his 18th and final All-Star Game, 40-year-old Cal Ripken Jr. made a memorable farewell with a third-inning home run off Dodgers right-hander Chan Ho Park. Ripken, who was supposed to start at third base for the AL, played the first inning at his old shortstop position thanks to a touching gesture by the Rangers' Alex Rodriguez.
8. July 13, 1971, at Tiger Stadium, Detroit: The AL ended an eight-game losing streak with a 6-4 victory in a game that featured six home runs, none more impressive than a two-run blast by Reggie Jackson, pinch-hitting for A's teammate Vide Blue, in the third inning off Pirates right-hander Dock Ellis. The ball struck a transformer at the base of a light tower atop the roof in right-center field.
7. July 17, 1964, at Shea Stadium, New York: Phillies right fielder Johnny Callison, wearing a Mets batting helmet, hit a two-out, three-run homer off Boston's 6-foot-5 reliever Dick "The Monster" Radatz, highlighting a four-run ninth inning in the NL's comeback victory, which evened the all-time series at 17 victories apiece, with one tie.
6. July 12, 1955, at County Stadium, Milwaukee: One of the record six home runs in All-Star competition by the Cardinals' Stan Musial was a walk-off blow in the 12th inning off Red Sox right-hander Frank Sullivan to complete the NL's comeback from a 5-0 deficit.
5. July 10, 1934, at the Polo Grounds, New York: In the second All-Star Game, Giants left-hander Carl Hubbell put on a stunning display in the first and second innings by striking out five of the AL's fiercest hitters in succession -- the Yankees' Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, the Athletics' Jimmie Foxx, the White Sox's Al Simmons and the Senators' Joe Cronin, all of whom were later elected to the Hall of Fame, as was Hubbell. The feat was unmatched until 1986, when the Dodgers' Fernando Valenzuela fanned, in order, the Yankees' Don Mattingly, Ripken, the Blue Jays' Jesse Barfield, the Tigers' Lou Whitaker and Brewers pitcher Teddy Higuera. Only Ripken has made it to the Hall.
4. July 8, 1941, at Briggs Stadium, Detroit: Williams' three-run homer off Cubs right-hander Claude Passeau with two out in the bottom of the ninth capped a four-run rally for a 7-5 AL victory. Williams considered this the highlight of his career and hijacked the attention from Pirates shortstop Arky Vaughan, the first player to homer twice in an All-Star Game.
3. July 11, 1950, at Comiskey Park: The first All-Star Game to go into extra innings was won in the 14th on a home run by Cardinals second baseman Red Schoendienst, batting right-handed off Tigers left-hander Ted Gray. Another Detroit pitcher, Art Houtteman, had allowed the NL to tie the score on a ninth-inning home run by the Pirates' Ralph Kiner. In the first inning, Kiner flied out to left, and Williams slammed his left elbow into the fence making the catch. It was later revealed that Williams fractured a bone in his elbow, yet he played eight innings anyway.
2. July 15, 2003, at U.S. Cellular Field, Chicago: With home-field advantage in the World Series going to the league winning the All-Star Game for the first time, Rangers third baseman Hank Blalock provided it for the AL with a two-run homer in the eighth inning off Dodgers closer Eric Gagne for a 7-6 victory. It was the only blown save of the season for Gagne, who was in the middle of a streak of 84 consecutive save conversions over two seasons.
1. July 14, 1970, at Riverfront Stadium, Cincinnati: Perhaps no greater example of how seriously the NL took the All-Star Game in those days exists than the last play of this game, when the Reds' Pete Rose barreled into Indians catcher Ray Fosse in the bottom of the 12th inning to score the deciding run on a single by the Cubs' Jim Hickman off Angels left-hander Clyde Wright for a 5-4 victory.
Honorable mention (in chronological order):
July 6, 1933, at Comiskey Park: Appropriately, the first home run in the first All-Star Game was hit by Ruth, then one month shy of his 38th birthday.
July 9, 1946, at Fenway Park: Williams delighted the home crowd with two home runs, the second off an "eephus" pitch from Pirates right-hander Rip Sewell in the eighth inning.
July 12, 1949, at Ebbets Field, Brooklyn: The All-Star Game was integrated for the first time with the appearance of the Dodgers' Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe, and the Indians' Larry Doby.
July 11, 1961, at Candlestick Park, San Francisco (first game): Giants pitcher Stu Miller's balk, the result of his being blown off the mound by a fierce wind, helped the AL tie the score in the ninth, but the NL won it in the 10th.
July 11, 1967, at Anaheim Stadium: A home run by Reds third baseman Tony Perez off the A's Jim "Catfish" Hunter in the 15th inning gave the NL a 2-1 victory in the longest All-Star Game. The other runs also came on home runs by third basemen, the Phillies' Dick Allen and the Orioles' Brooks Robinson.
July 10, 1984, at Candlestick Park: On the 50th anniversary of Hubbell's achievement of five consecutive strikeouts, Valenzuela and Mets right-hander Dwight Gooden combined to strike out six batters in a row. Two home runs by Expos catcher Gary Carter powered the NL.
July 11, 1989, at Anaheim Stadium: The Royals' Bo Jackson led off the first inning for the AL with a home run off Giants right-hander Rick Reuschel that traveled an estimated 448 feet in an eventual AL victory that made Rangers right-hander Nolan Ryan, then 42, the oldest winning pitcher in an All-Star Game.
July 12, 1994, at Riverfront Stadium, Pittsburgh: The Braves' Fred McGriff tied the score in the ninth with a two-run homer off Orioles closer Lee Smith, and the NL ended the AL's six-game winning streak in the 10th after the Expos' Moises Alou doubled home the Padres' Tony Gwynn.
July 11, 2006, at PNC Park, Pittsburgh: A two-out, two-run triple by the Rangers' Michael Young in the ninth spoiled the game for the NL and career saves leader Trevor Hoffman of the Padres.
July 10, 2007, at AT&T Park, San Francisco: The first inside-the-park home run in All-Star play underscored a 3-for-3 game by Mariners center fielder Ichiro Suzuki.