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A View From the Bleachers

Anaheim All-Star Excitement

In case you've been living under a non-baseball-shaped rock for the last year or so: the 2010 All-Star Game will be held at Angel Stadium of Anaheim next month. This columnist happens to consider Angel Stadium his "home" ballpark... and the buzz in the OC this season has been incredible. In addition to the d?cor adorning the stadium and the improvements to the ballpark itself, the entire SoCal area has been invaded by statues of a very famous mouse.

Let me tell you this, avid readers. I've never been a part of any All-Star festivities in my life. The last time the Angels were the hosts of the All-Star Game I was six years old. Needless to say, I have no memories of the All-Star fervor that stirs a town into a frenzy as the Midsummer Classic approaches. This year, however, I plan to be a part of it all. Since I've just graduated from my MFA program and have yet to gain full-time employment, well, I have a bit of free time on my hands. Up to this point in the season I've attended fifteen games and all but three of them have been in Anaheim.

I can tell you that the stadium, starting at the end of last year, has been undergoing quite a bit of work. Last October I noticed that the Big A that sits in the parking lot near the 57 freeway had been repainted and crowned with a brand new halo. The halo of the Big A lights up after each Angel victory and before October it did so quite plainly. A row of lights illuminated in a circular pattern. That A has been around since the sixties so that was all good with the fans... Angels management, it seems, decided to step it up last fall. Now the halo is fancy-LED technology and new lighting patterns are a fun, new feature.

You know what else? There are trees beyond the center field wall. When Torii Hunter got out there this April he said something along the lines of, "I've got my own little forest out there." The Halos added a half-dozen or so trees to the very ordinary-looking gap in the center field wall. Additionally, commemorative banners and signs are exhibited throughout the stadium and the All-Star logo sits on a perch out above the batter's eye.

Torii's trees in center aren't the only new arrivals in town. Thirty-six Mickey Mouse statues have been distributed throughout the Southland-thirty for the MLB teams, one for the National League, one for the American League, and four that commemorate the All-Star Game-and their locations range from Rancho Cucamonga to Santa Monica to the front door of Angel Stadium. Go ahead-Google it. They're pretty cool and I've already seen at least four of them with my own eyes. They're more than seven feet tall and each one weighs almost 1,000 pounds. Mickey sure does look odd with Chief Wahoo on his chest!

So, there's all this preparation and I know you're wondering: Do you get to be there for the game, Matt? I'm thrilled to say that I do. Though I'm not (and never have been) a season ticket holder, I entered myself and my wife, Michelle, into the lottery drawing for the opportunity to purchase tickets. My name didn't get pulled but hers did! And we'd agreed that All-Star tickets would be a fantastic graduation present-so a few days ago our ticket strips arrived via UPS and they're gorgeous. I love commemorative tickets and I've cleared my weekend-July 9th through 13th are All-Star days and I'm psyched!

It'll start off with FanFest at the Anaheim Convention Center. I have a feeling that it'll be a lot of stuff I can't afford to buy. But I'm sure I'll snag an autograph or two. On All-Star Sunday I'll watch the Futures Game and then that softball game...the one that has celebrities and old-timers. It won't be the highlight of the weekend but I'll stay for the whole thing. Why not make the most of it, right? On Monday it's All-Star Workout Day and the Home Run Derby. My assigned seat will not be in home run territory but I've got high hopes for hanging out in the right field seats. I've been schmoozing an usher out there and I think she'll let me hang in her section. If not, there's always BP. And on Tuesday: the main event. The All-Star Game will most certainly be thrilling. I'll be rooting for the AL, of course... and I hope a few Angels actually make the team. There aren't a lot of superstars on our club. I figured Jered Weaver will make it in... and I hope Torii Hunter will be there, too. Who knows?

What are your All-Star predictions? Is anyone else going to the game? I can hardly wait-I plan to make the most of this awesome summer star-fest.

Matt Jackson is a contributing columnist to myGameBalls.com and also maintains a Blog.

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