NEW YORK -- For weeks, All-Star managers Jim Leyland and Bruce Bochy stressed over their rosters, trying to find the right mix. Chevrolet Home Run Derby captains Robinson Cano and David Wright made their selections, preparing for a night of free-swinging bluster. The game's elite players wrapped up their stellar first halves, finalizing arrangements to fly to Queens.
With the players now in Flushing and the Derby in the books, more than a year's worth of planning has culminated in this: the 84th All-Star Game at Citi Field.
"I'm thrilled with the situation now," Leyland said, "because now's the enjoyable part."
The 2013 All-Star Game will take place on Tuesday, with airtime at 7:30 p.m. ET and the game beginning at 8 ET. Visit MLB.com and allstargame.com for extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM also will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com
The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the official voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com via the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote, and their voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
This year's game takes place in Queens, a borough that has not seen an All-Star Game in nearly a half-century. Though New York City boasts a rich All-Star tradition, most recently hosting at the old Yankee Stadium in 2008, the Mets held their only Midsummer Classic during Shea Stadium's inaugural 1964 season.
"The lasting memories are the crowd, the buzz, the electricity, the energy, and then hanging around the clubhouse with some of the best players in the game," Wright, the Mets third baseman, said. "I mean, you're talking about perennial All-Stars, Hall of Famers."
And no better place for them. The last time New York hosted the Midsummer Classic, Josh Hamilton put on a show in the Home Run Derby in the Bronx. The American League outlasted the National League in 15 innings the following night, creating one of the most memorable All-Star weeks in recent history.
That was five years ago and the game has changed significantly since then, thanks in large part to a remarkable infusion of young stars. Among those making their All-Star debuts at Citi Field will be Orioles slugger Manny Machado, Giants and D-backs lefties Madison Bumgarner and Patrick Corbin, Rays pitcher Matt Moore, Mets ace Matt Harvey and others -- all aged 24 or younger. It's a list that does not even include phenoms Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, both of whom will be making their second All-Star appearances.
"I just want to get out there and enjoy this moment," Machado said. "It's something that you dream about as a little kid. I'm really excited to go out there."
Harvey will even play a starring role at his home ballpark, starting the game opposite Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer -- who is only 28 years old himself.
"I think we are seeing a rash or influx of tremendous young talent that really is changing our game," Bochy said. "They are just getting better, faster, bigger, stronger still, and it's impressive to watch these guys."
That's not to say the game is all about youth. Wright, who turned 30 last winter, will bat cleanup in an NL lineup that includes 36-year-old Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran, 32-year-old Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips and 31-year-old Cards catcher Yadier Molina. Combined, those four players boast 23 All-Star appearances.
The AL will counter with a mix of young stars and established veterans, including Twins catcher Joe Mauer, Yankees second baseman Cano and Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz.
The field also includes Orioles breakout star Chris Davis, who is on pace to flirt with 60 home runs, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, who will make his third All-Star appearance at age 25, Final Vote winners Steve Delabar of the Blue Jays and Freddie Freeman of the Braves, and so many others.
"It's just an unbelievable feeling," Delabar said. "Growing up, you see all the names of the players that come to these events. You envision yourself doing something like that down the road. You think, 'I'm going to be a Major Leaguer and I'm going to play in their shoes and all that. But then to come here and actually be a part of it is something special."
Now he and others have descended upon Citi Field, which is uniquely suited for the event. In building their new stadium, the Mets drew upon the best elements of parks throughout baseball, from the bridge motif of PNC Park in Pittsburgh, to the right-field overhang of Comerica Park in Detroit, to the vast outfield gaps of Coors Field.
The ballpark also draws heavily from old Ebbets Field in Brooklyn -- particularly with its Jackie Robinson Rotunda -- and incorporates elements from Shea, such as the Home Run Apple in center field and the fluorescent skyline mounted above Shake Shack. Monday, as the Home Run Derby began, an orange-and-purple sunset created a beautiful backdrop behind the stadium.
Consider it an All-Star setting for the Midsummer Classic, which should be a spectacle of New York-sized proportions.
"Just being around the city today, there were so many Mets jerseys, so many people dressed up in orange and blue," Wright said Monday. "It was really special to be around the city and see that."