Andrew Stetka: Readying All-Star ballot, with an eye toward 2016

I realize it's only April, but Major League Baseball seems to think it's time to start voting for the All-Star Game. Ballots were released this weekend for the July 15 affair at Target Field in Minneapolis. It's clear that by the end of April, we have no idea who will earn spots on the team. There's plenty of baseball left to be played before then. I think the only thing that is clear is that the Twins' Joe Mauer will probably be starting on the American League squad in his home park.

All of this chatter got me thinking ahead and then reflecting back. The Midsummer Classic is by far the best All-Star Game in any sport. I've looked forward to the annual affair every year since I attended my first one in 1993 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Sure, I was very young, but I remember the night distinctly. It helped me learn about the other teams and players in baseball. It gave me rooting interests outside the Orioles that I didn't even know I had. I was so young that I didn't even understand the concept of American League versus National League. I simply rooted for the teams and players I liked. As a youngster, that game is where part of my love of baseball developed.

With the All-Star Game heading for Minnesota this season and back to a National League stadium at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati next year, I have my eyes set on 2016. Though nothing official has been announced, that's when Camden Yards could next host the Midsummer Classic. Many experts predict that the game could land in Baltimore after a 22-year hiatus. These things tend to work in cycles and are normally awarded to teams with newer ballparks, but there's no other American League team that poses a big threat.

Toronto hosted the game in 1991, two years before Baltimore, but it doesn't appear that they will make a big push. Stadiums in Oakland and St. Petersburg are older and worn down. That's not something Major League Baseball really wants to put on display in their annual showcase. Chicago, Texas, Cleveland, Boston, New York, Detroit, Seattle, Anaheim and Kansas City have all hosted the game since 1993. Houston hosted when it was part of the National League. That covers the other stadiums in the American League.

The Orioles were very well represented at Citi Field in New York last season, with five players in uniform. There's still some time until the 2016 game, but I have some great visions of multiple O's caps playing among the game's best in mid-July at Camden Yards.

The 1993 All-Star Game and festivities surrounding it carried a ton of spectacular memories with it. Who can forget Ken Griffey Jr. turning his cap around and swinging for Eutaw Street and connecting with the warehouse in the Home Run Derby? It would be a treat to see some of today's great left-handed sluggers attempt to take out a window. Everyone also remembers John Kruk's hilariously awful at-bat against Randy Johnson.

These are the types of memories that we cherish. There can be new ones created in a few years if the game lands in Charm City. In the meantime, baseball says it's time to start voting for this season's All-Star Game, so get to it. I've already voted once. What I really wish I had a vote on though, is where the game will be played in 2016.

Andrew Stetka blogs about the Orioles for Eutaw Street Report. Follow him on Twitter: @AStetka. His thoughts on the O's appear here as part of MASNsports.com's continuing commitment to welcome guest bloggers to our little corner of cyberspace. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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