Baseball fans nationwide are gearing up to watch their hometown bat-sluggers and small-ball players take the field tonight during the 80th Major League Baseball All-Star game.

This year the St. Louis Cardinals will host the annual All-Star Game at Busch Stadium.

Once again the National League (NL) is the underdog. The NL is looking to end the American League’s (AL) annual domination over them with its first win in 13 years.

The AL, on the other hand, aims to continue its longest unbeaten streak in All-Star history. The AL, now 11-0-1 since its 1996 defeat at Philadelphia, has cut the gap to 40-37-2 over the NL. American league players have not lost a game in six meetings since the winning league started receiving home-field advantage in the World Series.

Whoever wins the All-Star game gets home field advantage in the World Series yet AL victories have not always carried into October. While unbeaten in the last 12 All-Star games, the AL has won just seven of the past 12 World Series. The World Series champions are crowned after best-of-seven matchups in October. And in 18 of the last 23 Series, the team with home field advantage has gone on to win. So go figure.

Last year’s All-Star game was a memorable one at old Yankee Stadium after Michael Young’s sacrifice fly gave the AL a 4-3, 15-inning victory. It was a close call but the NL fell short.

“We’re just going to try and keep going out there and give ourselves a chance to win that home field advantage for whoever gets in the World Series,” said Joe Nathan, Minnesota Twins closer with the AL to the Associated Press. “We’d like to keep this streak alive one more year.”

“We would love to be able to snap that streak,” said Ryan Howard, Philadelphia and NL first baseman. Howard, a St. Louis native added, “It always seems like they kind of pull it out towards the end of the game but, you know, hopefully this year will be different.”

Boston Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon with the AL said, “Is there more talent in the American League than the National League? Not necessarily. I think it’s just two totally different styles of baseball, and when you put those up against each other for one game, our style seems to come out ahead.”

Starting pitcher for the NL is Tim Lincecum and for the AL it’s Roy Halladay.

Many argue the NL’s primary advantage comes in the first inning, whereas the AL’s big edge comes at the end of the game, despite close calls like last year’s thriller.

On Monday night, Milwaukee Brewers’ first baseman Prince Fielder upstaged St. Louis native Albert Pujols, the hometown favorite, in winning the All-Star Game’s Home Run Derby. Fielder beat Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz in the final round, 6-5. Pujols leads the major leagues with 32 homers.

Meanwhile President Barack Obama, a Chicago native and fan of the White Sox, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the All-Star game. The White House said he is taking part to highlight his United We Serve program, with community service the center of the pre-game festivities.

Major League Baseball will honor five community volunteers as part of their “All-Stars Among Us” program. Obama, along with all living former presidents, will appear in a community service video before the game.

After the video, Obama will take the field and greet the six St. Louis Cardinal Hall of Fame players and throw the first pitch to Cardinals’ All-Star first baseman Pujols.

Obama will wear a specially made glove for his appearance, with the script Obama 44 and an American flag on it. The glove will then be sent to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

Obama will become the fourth president to throw out the first pitch at an All-Star Game, but the first in 33 years.

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