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Rays have vested All-Star interest

Rays have vested All-Star interest

CLEVELAND -- While many of the Rays will spend the All-Star break in different destinations other than the Tampa Bay area, it's likely all will be tuned in to the Midsummer Classic on Tuesday night, since they have a vested interest in the game's outcome.

To the victor goes the spoils, and the spoils from the All-Star Game equate to home-field advantage in the World Series. Translation: If the American League wins the All-Star Game and the Rays reach the World Series, Tropicana Field could host four games.

"We'd definitely like to see the American League win this year," Carl Crawford said. "We're rooting for the American League big time."

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Added Scott Kazmir, who is one of the Rays' three representatives: "It makes this game really meaningful for our team."

Rays manager Joe Maddon said he's "always rooted for the American League."

"But this is the one year where, obviously, it can impact us," Maddon said.

"Yes, there's a different vibe about it. And sure, I'll be watching, because with the winner getting the home-field advantage, it could mean a lot to us."

Evan Longoria, who will represent the Rays after winning the Final Vote balloting, said he hasn't really thought about the possible impact from this year's game.

"In my opinion, I don't think any of the All-Stars are going there to worry about getting ready for a big-time game," Longoria said. "It's more for the atmosphere and enjoying being an All-Star. Whoever wins, wins. I know it does mean something. I don't know what other people's thoughts are. I know for me, if I get in it, will probably be late in the game anyway. So I'm going to enjoy as much of it as I can."

Maddon said he is not a big proponent of the rule that the winning team gets home-field advantage in the World Series.

"I still like the idea of them flipping back and forth," Maddon said. "The impact of the game, the winner having the home-field advantage, I was never really tied to that."

Crawford believes home-field advantage in the World Series should go to the team with the best record.

"But they want people to watch the All-Star Game," Crawford said. "I guess that's a good way to do it -- it means something."

Crawford, who has been a part of two All-Star Games, said the players do take the game seriously.

"Oh yeah, it was real serious," Crawford said. "It was like, 'Let's get ready to play.' Guys were getting ready, preparing themselves. It wasn't just guys out there having fun. Everybody was taking it serious. [AL manager] Jim Leyland gave a speech. Ichiro [Suzuki] gave a speech, everybody was into it, man."

Kazmir likes the setup as it is.

"Players didn't take the game seriously, and now they do because of what's at stake," said Kazmir, who was a part of the AL team in 2005. "Especially the guys who had a chance to win the World Series, you see all the guys. They really got each other going. So I think it is meaningful and all the players know that."

Rays catcher Dioner Navarro will be attending his first All-Star Game and offered his simplified approach to the game.

"You gotta play the game you're supposed to play," Navarro said. "If you play the game well, you're going to win. We've got the opportunity to do something, and hopefully, we'll win that game and we'll have the advantage that we're looking for."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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