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What Do Players Get for Making the All-Star Game?

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Tonight, the best of the best (or at least the most popular names from franchises with social media-savvy fan bases) from Major League Baseball will face off in the not-entirely-meaningless 85th edition of the All-Star Game. Since 2003, the outcome of the All-Star Game has been used to determine home field advantage in the World Series. (Speaking as someone who will argue till I'm hoarse against the Wild Card playoff, I don't mind this. Get at me in the comments.) This is supposed to inspire a greater competitive spirit and encourage participants to give it their all.

All-Stars on contending teams may have cause to try their hardest once they get to the Midsummer Classic, but what motivates them to get there? And I mean that in the most cynical sense. Sure, there's the glory and lasting addition to your Wikipedia page, but what do you really get for an All-Star appearance?

The 2012-2016 Basic Agreement from the Major League Baseball Players Association has this to say:

Each player elected or selected to the All-Star team or as a participant in the Home Run Derby and who attends the event shall receive the following: (a) six complimentary tickets to the All-Star Game and Home Run Derby for use by player guests (players may request fewer complimentary tickets and players may purchase additional tickets for guests in accordance with past practice); (b) first-class air transportation for himself and two guests (to the extent that such expenses are actually incurred); (c) first-class hotel accommodations for himself and two guests (up to two rooms, if necessary) for a maximum of three days; (d) the applicable in-season meal and tip allowance for three days; (e) a $1,000 cash stipend; (f) a gift from the player’s League; and (g) merchandise that is made available by Major League Baseball’s 27 business partners. Players elected or selected to the All-Star team also shall receive a ring and, if they are attending their 5th, 10th or 15th All-Star Game as an All-Star, shall also receive a gift/memento and special recognition. (See Article XV(O)(7).)

While first-class airfare, fancy hotels and lots of swag (not to mention the $1000) sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me, that's hardly enough to get this hypothetical greedy All-Star caliber player—with his All-Star caliber salary—to alter his play. Fortunately, lots of players have additional incentives written into their contract. The bonuses differ by contract, but let's consider what some of this year's All-Stars are making for their appearance.

The Rangers' Adrian Beltre, the Indians' Michael Brantley, and the Tigers' Ian Kinsler and Miguel Cabrera all benefit the most financially, with $100,000 bonuses written into their contracts for making the cut. The Orioles' Adam Jones and Matt Weiters make up the second tier with their $75,000 bonuses. Twenty-six different players will enjoy a $50,000 bonus for making the All-Star Game this year—the most out of any paid incentive bracket. And several others rake in an extra $25,000, $15,000 or $10,000.

But the biggest group of 2014 All-Stars have no monetary incentives included in their contracts. The no-bonus bracket includes such big names (and obvious All-Stars) as Derek Jeter, Clayton Kershaw, and Mike Trout. So rest easy that those athletes—and to be honest, probably the rest of them, too—are really just in it for the recognition. And the merchandise that is made available by Major League Baseball’s 27 business partners, of course.

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Pop Culture
The Simpsons's Classic Baseball Episode Gets the Mockumentary Treatment
Fox Sports, YouTube
Fox Sports, YouTube

Opinions vary widely about the continued existence of The Simpsons, which just began its 29th season. Some believe the show ran out of steam decades ago, while others see no reason why the satirical animated comedy can’t run forever.

Both sides will no doubt have something to say about the episode airing Sunday, October 22, which reframes the premise of the show’s classic “Homer at the Bat” installment from 1992 as a Ken Burns-style mockumentary titled Springfield of Dreams: The Legend of Homer Simpson.

As Mashable reports, “Homer at the Bat” saw Montgomery Burns launch his own baseball team and populate it with real major league players like Wade Boggs, Steve Sax, and Jose Canseco to dominate the competition. In the one-hour special, the players will discuss their (fictional) participation, along with interviews featuring Homer and other members of the animated cast.

It’s not clear how much of the special will break the fourth wall and go into the actual making of the episode, a backstory that involves guest star Ken Griffey Jr. getting increasingly frustrated recording his lines and Canseco’s wife objecting to a scene in which her husband's animated counterpart wakes up in bed with lecherous schoolteacher Edna Krabappel.

Morgan Spurlock (Super-Size Me) directed the special, which is slated to air on Fox at either 3 p.m. EST or 4:30 p.m. EST depending on NFL schedules in local markets. There will also be a new episode of The Simpsons—an annual Halloween-themed "Treehouse of Horror" installment—airing in its regular 8 p.m. time slot.

[h/t Mashable]

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Great Big Story, Youtube
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Seattle Mariners Fans Are Going Crazy for These Crunchy Grasshopper Snacks
Great Big Story, Youtube
Great Big Story, Youtube

Seattle Mariners fans have more than warmed up to the newest, offbeat addition to the Safeco Field concessions menu: toasted grasshoppers covered in chili-lime salt.

The crunchy snack, which sells for $4 and comes packed in a small container, has only been available for less than a season but has already sold 300,000-plus orders to date. That's about 1000 pounds of grasshoppers. 

Frequenters of Seattle's popular Mexican restaurant Poquitos will know that this delicacy—which first started as a novelty item on its menu—has actually been available to the public for six years. But it wasn't until local chef Ethan Stowell was hired to give the Safeco Field menu a hip retooling that the salty bugs found new, fervent popularity at the ballpark. (Also on the Safeco menu: fried oysters drizzled in hot sauce.)

Great Big Story met up with Manny Arce, the executive chef of Poquitos and visionary behind this culinary home run, to discuss the popularity of these crunchy critters. You can watch the video interview below:

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