Not that it's anything new; MLB.com has pretty much provided the same gift for fans every time this year: a top-to-bottom look at the future of Major League Baseball.
It begins on Friday, when World team members Minnesota's Luke Hughes (Australia) and Toronto's Scott Campbell (New Zealand) hit the Big Apple a day early for a tour of the sights and sounds of New York City. MLB.com will tag along for the ride for a video diary, much like the Pirates' Neil Walker did in 2006 and the Indians' Chuck Lofgren did a year ago.
Most of the Futures Gamers arrive on Saturday in time for the big day on Sunday. Start off your day at 11:30 a.m. ET with an exclusive pregame show from Yankee Stadium, site of the 2008 Futures Game. Vinny Micucci and Jonathan Mayo provide insight and analysis in the booth, with Lisa Winston providing on-field interviews with the game's players and managers.
Included in the pregame will be features on U.S. team third baseman and Indians prospect Wes Hodges and World team shortstop Ivan DeJesus of the Dodgers.
And that's just to get the blood pumping for the game coverage. You can watch the game itself on MLB.com, in conjunction with ESPN, with the All-Star Game package, or you can follow along with Gameday, the animated pitch-by-pitch function that will be at your fingertips.
Interacting with players in both dugouts will be just as easy. MLB.com writers will be blogging -- with the help of U.S. and World Team members -- throughout batting practice and the game. You can play a part as well, by leaving comments, so visit the Futures Game Blog early and often and be sure to leave your questions and comments.
Between innings, stay tuned to BaseballChannel.TV. Micucci and Mayo will provide insight and analysis from the booth, while Winston will handle in-dugout interviewing duties throughout the game, with an interview of the game's MVP to cap things off on the live program.
Be sure to check on the site postgame as well for blanket coverage of the game. Two players, one from the U.S. and one from the World, will be mic'd up for a special feature. This year, the participants will be new Indian Matt LaPorta and the Mets' Fernando Martinez. Add that to the notebooks, game stories, columns, photo galleries and other interviews, and it's clear that the future has never been brighter. And it's only on MLB.com.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.