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Fans check in during All-Star Sunday delay

Fans check in during All-Star Sunday delay

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ST. LOUIS -- The 80th All-Star Game brings the best players from every Major League Baseball market, and one thing you notice when you attend a Midsummer Classic is that the same is true of fans.

They are here in Missouri representing a panoply of logos and similar yet completely different baseball passions. They were congregating for more than four hours in the concourses of Busch Stadium, waiting out the rain during Taco Bell All-Star Sunday, and it was a chance to just talk baseball.

There was a Yankees fan getting a game-update text from his girlfriend back in Jersey -- and a Red Sox fan who had to respond to something that Yankees fan said. There was a Cubs fan standing next to his buddy, a Cardinals fan, two rivals, one content and one concerned.

There were fans of teams who are on a roll at the midway point this regular season, and fans who are ready to call it in, their hope lost. There were mostly Cardinals fans, maybe nine out of 10, but there were fans who traveled here from all over to appreciate this major summer event.

"There are so many teams still in contention, a lot of close races," said Tigers fan Grant Dieterle of Davison, Mich. "That always makes it so interesting down the stretch. It's definitely been more exciting for us because the Tigers are in contention. I'm concerned about the Twins and White Sox, though, because they have the Tigers' number. They just kill us."

He said he would like to see Detroit add a bat, maybe a starting pitcher. Robert Jenkins, 37, was wearing a "KC" cap and peering out at the rain through the concourse opening. He wished his team needed only to fill in a gap or two.

"For a Royals fan, it's pretty typical," Jenkins said. "I'm just about ready to call it in. We need a guy who'd be willing to run into a wall."

As for the long rain delay that messed with his trip, Jenkins shrugged.

"It is what it is," he said. "Life's full of tests. This is just one, to test your patience."

Dave Curry flew here on Friday from Stratham, N.H. He is bringing his father, a longtime Cardinals fan, and his uncle to the All-Star Game on Tuesday as a belated Father's Day present. What Curry really wants to see is a 27th World Series title for his beloved Yankees.

If not that?

"I want them to win the World Series, but honestly, anything ahead of the Red Sox," Curry said. "I've been in New Hampshire 17 years now, around Red Sox fans. I just cannot be a Red Sox fan. I love the Yankees and can't stand the Red Sox.

"I truly think it's going to be the Yankees vs. the Dodgers this year. I hate the way Joe [Torre] was treated leaving New York. It's mixed emotions to root for him, because on the one hand, he was our manager, and on the other hand, he's managing Manny [Ramirez].

"I think we've got a good shot this year. CC [Sabathia] has been a great acquisition. We're hot right now. I think it will be an interesting World Series, us beating Joe and the Dodgers."

MLB.com found the nearest Red Sox fan it could in the interest of objectivity. That itself was a task. It is a sea of red, mainly the birds on the bat, but finally at an outfield gate there was a woman with a shirt that said "ELLSBURY" on the back.

"We just talked to a Yankees fan who said it looks like Yankees against Dodgers at this point," she was told.

"Red Sox for sure," replied Katie Burns of Trenton, Ill. "There won't be no Yankees vs. Dodgers. We'll bring it home. You get through the halfway mark with most everyone healthy, and I think you're in good shape. We've got the team. I also have [a National League] team, right here. Red Sox and Cards."

Joe Herbers spoke on behalf of Redbird Nation. He and his wife, Faith, were spread out on the floor by an elevator, just chillin' about an hour before the XM All-Star Futures Game resumed.

"I'm biased to the NL Central, because we're season ticket holders here," Joe said. "I'm equally frustrated and optimistic about the Cardinals. Even though our team has difficulties, other teams in our division have bigger problems. Other than the third-base gaping hole, I'm optimistic. As long as our core pitching stays intact, especially Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright, we're OK."

"Another starting pitcher would be nice," interjected his wife.

Roy Halladay?

"Yes," she added. Pretty much every fan around baseball shares that sentiment right now.

The Herbers live in Bloomington, Ill., and they just bought a condo near Busch so that can be closer to Redbird games and also to their son, who is a junior at St. Louis University.

"That's how much we love the Cardinals and baseball," Joe said.

Kevin House of Wood River, Ill, loves the Cardinals' rivals up in Wrigleyville. He went to the Friendly Confines last Tuesday and Wednesday to see the Cubs play the Braves -- both losses.

"I'm definitely a little restless," House said. "I was upset when they traded [Mark] DeRosa to the Indians after last season. I'm hoping [Milton] Bradley will get his stuff ironed out. I'm willing to give him a break.

"We're in a weak division -- or at least a division where no one's going to run away with it. Derrek Lee is starting to kill the ball. [Aramis] Ramirez has been out 50 games. Last year he had 17 homers by this point. I look at what we have right now and I think we'll still do OK."

Joe Ackerman was wearing a Twins jersey. With him was his daughter, Lindsay. She was born in 1987, the year Minnesota won its first World Series. His other child, Josh, was born in 1991. Yes, the year the Twins won their other World Series.

He is not expecting to be a father this year, in case you were wondering that.

"We should be up five or 10 games at this point," Ackerman said. "We get our middle relief back, I think we'll be OK."

They are looking forward to bidding farewell to the Metrodome. The team opens Target Field next season.

"It's awesome," Lindsay said of the new ballpark under construction. "It's got a nice field from what I can see so far. It's a great looking ballpark."

Adam Coey, 17, was sprawled out in a stairwell along with his father, T.J. They were here from Cincinnati. Adam has been to 36 MLB parks already, and they have a lot of love for Busch.

As long as it stops raining long enough to see it. Fortunately, the next couple of days are expected to be just fine.

These are baseball fans. These are the kinds of things they talk about when you go up and introduce yourself to them in the concourses of Busch during a four-hour delay. You might feel kind of the same way. You might feel completely different. They all have this in common: They are here to represent, to watch some baseball, the best baseball players in the land.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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