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Major League Baseball's All-Stars To Take The Field In D.C.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Well, Major League Baseball has reached the midway point in its season. And tonight, the 89th All-Star game is going to be played in Washington, D.C. Jessica Mendoza is a baseball analyst for ESPN. She has been on our program many times before to talk baseball. And she joins me again. Hey there, Jessica.

JESSICA MENDOZA: Hey, David.

GREENE: So I got to ask you. There was a big reason to watch this game in the past because the winner determined which league would actually have homefield advantage in the World Series. That's gone now, right? So tell people why they should watch.

MENDOZA: Honestly, guys are just competitive. And either they're going to have it, or they're not. They're going to come into the All-Star game and have an approach of like, I want to win, or I don't regardless if it's league advantage. You got to think about it. Like, there's only one team that actually gets that advantage and maybe one guy that's on one of the All-Star teams that ends up seeing that happen. So the fact that it's gone - you're just going to see guys that love to compete. And, of course, the All-Star game brings that.

GREENE: But, I mean, there's got to be something special about bringing all of the best talent together in one city and in one ballpark. I mean, is there value in that?

MENDOZA: Absolutely. And that's what I love both in the All-Star game and in the Home Run Derby. And what you have seen is the fact that you get these guys - stars, you know, rooting each other and having this casualness that we normally, like, baseball you don't get to see, right? So whether it's the All-Star Game, and the stars kind of picking each other's brain, or them just kind of like letting their personality come out - which, oh, my gosh, like to me, is the best part. As much as we can talk skills and all the different things these guys can do, which is what got them here, to me, it's about who they are and how they play the game.

GREENE: So it's almost like a retreat. It sounds like a one-time retreat each year.

MENDOZA: Right. They can all get together and like talk shop whether it's, you know, hey, how much are you getting paid? What are you doing?

(LAUGHTER)

MENDOZA: How's family life? How do you handle - I have heard guys like, hey, I'm thinking about having children. Can I pick your brain about how you handle it? You get all of these guys that really no one else can relate to, right? And they're not only within the same game of baseball, but they're also the best of that sport. So there's different conversations that can happen.

GREENE: You're making things sound so awesome. But I have to ask you. I mean, Major League Baseball attendance is down this year a lot. Do you know why? Like, why aren't fans being drawn as much as they used to be?

MENDOZA: You know, I know it started off like the big thing in the beginning. And I was a part of this. The season started earlier. And with that came awful weather. But if you look at the numbers the first month of the season, the reason why overall the average has been down is because no one's come to the game when it's snowing out.

GREENE: Who wants baseball in the snow?

MENDOZA: Right. I mean, to me, like you're going to see that change. At least in my point of view, I like to take in a game in the sun in the summer. You get your kids or whoever - you know, your buddies out there. You get a beer and a broad. And you just take in the game. And I feel like the early parts of the season we saw awful numbers because, to be honest, like I didn't want to put on a sweatshirt and a scarf and a beanie.

(LAUGHTER)

MENDOZA: Unless it's postseason, right?

GREENE: Then, yeah, October.

MENDOZA: Yes. So I think we saw that as probably one of the biggest things early on. But trust me. I mean, I feel like now that we've hit the halfway point, and we're seeing so many more stars emerge, it's hard to not be a fan.

GREENE: All right. Talking to Jessica Mendoza, ESPN baseball analyst. And she is also co-author of the book "There Is No Base Like Home." I love that title, Jessica.

MENDOZA: I love it too. I wrote it with my sister. It's for young girls.

GREENE: That is great.

MENDOZA: Yeah, I'm excited about it.

GREENE: Well, have fun at the All-Star Game. We appreciate you taking the time, as always.

MENDOZA: Thanks, David.

(SOUNDBITE OF GEORGE WINSTON'S "BASEBALL THEME") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.