For the love of the game, All-Star fans brave the heat

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MLB All-Stars Red Carpet Show 2013
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David Ortiz attends the MLB All-Star Game Red Carpet Show Presented by Chevrolet on July 16, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage)

Major League Baseball's annual All-Star game is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET Tuesday at Citi Field in New York City's Queens borough, home of the Mets. And while this marks the first time the team has hosted the festivities since 1964, one can’t help but wonder whether the Big Apple — where both the Mets and Yankees are in fourth place in their respective divisions and the city itself is a swamp-like pit of hell with temperatures well into the 90s — was really the best choice for the Midsummer Classic.

Yet despite the fact that the entire East Coast has turned into a sweltering “sauna bath” this week, fans who came out for this afternoon’s All-Star red carpet parade in Midtown claimed to be unperturbed. While many clustered under trees and scaffolding for what little shade they could find, others stood right up at the barricades to watch their favorite All-Star players pass by.

“It’s July, and it’s not even that bad today,” said Jeff Oleske of New Jersey, swiping at the rivulets of sweat on his forehead. “Look, there’s a little breeze. The heat’s definitely worth it. We’re just going to drink a lot of water and not move too much.”

Meanwhile, Jeff’s son — also named Jeff — ran over with a couple of waters. Both men are lifelong Mets fans, and the younger Jeff had racked up enough points with his MLB credit card to secure him and his father a place in this afternoon’s batting practice at Citi Field before the game.

“For five years I’ve had the card, and I’ve been saving up my points for this,” said the younger Oleske. “We’re going over there as soon as this is done.”

The Oleskes were hardly alone in their ardor for the game. Al Ferguson traveled with his wife and son all the way from Detroit for today’s events. He said he’s been to 8 of the last 9 Midsummer Classics, missing only last year’s in Kansas City.

“It’s hot, but Arizona was just as bad,” said Ferguson, referring to the 2011 game in Phoenix. “We’re just going to drink a lot of water and stay as cool as we can.”

Others in attendance may have been less accustomed to the heat but no less dedicated to the day’s festivities. Outi Kiviluoto and Jari Tuovinen, both of Finland, made their way to New York on a cross-country road trip that began weeks ago in Seattle. According to Kiviluoto, the couple saw their first ever baseball game last week in Cleveland and instantly fell in love.

“I liked it a lot,” she said. “A real gentleman’s sport, unlike hockey.”

Watching today’s parade, Kiviluoto held a fold-up map over her head for shade, while Tuovinen wiped the sweat from his face with a handkerchief.

“Sure, it’s hot,” said Tuovinen, beet-red in the hot summer sun. “I like it, though.”

Outside Citi Field in the hours leading up to the game, strategies to beat the heat were as straightforward and pragmatic as any at the parade. While cooling stations were set up in the parking lot outside the stadium, the most popular attraction appeared to be a Budweiser tent handing out free samples of Black Crown.

When one man in a Mets polo noticed the growing number of people lining up for beer, he immediately gave up his spot in the line for the stadium. "It's free, huh?" he asked his friend. "I'm in."

Another man who wished to be identified by only his first name, Joe, said that he was doing whatever was in his power to cool down. "That means finding a place to get a beer or two—that's all you can do," he clarified.

"And water," his girlfriend added, as if to correct him. "Drink lots of water."

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