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Fact-packed All-Star Game vignettes

The All-Star Game is less than a week away. Check out these stat-filled All-Star Game vignettes and recall some of the most interesting All-Star moments.

Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

While the All-Star Game may never match the thrill of an early April interleague matchup, there are plenty of compelling stories that have emerged from this contest over the years. Here I'll present five short examples of such intrigue, each packed with All-Star Game stats.

Longest All-Star Game

I know what you're thinking. Aren't fun-fact driven articles supposed to be... fun? The 2002 All-Star Game, -- the one that ended in a 7-7 tie -- is probably the least fun match in the history of the contest. Funny enough, that game was actually only the 6th longest in history, clocking in at 3 hours and 29 minutes. It was called after only 11 innings when Joe Torre and Bob Brenly worked their two last available pitchers, Freddy Garcia and Vincente Padilla, for a pair of innings each.  Now the All-Star Game counts. Thanks a lot, guys.

No, the longest All-Star Game would come six years later in Torres old stomping grounds, Yankee Stadium. This time it was Terry Fancona and Clint Hurdle going head-to-head and it seemed Hurdle was determined not to repeat Torre and Brenly's mistake.

He called on his own pitcher -- Aaron Cook -- in for three innings starting in the bottom of the tenth. Those innings were the most in an All-Star game since Greg Maddux threw three in 1994. He also intentionally walked two batters during the three innings, which is an All-Star Game record.

The best part of this whole thing is that you can relive the ENTIRE 2008 All-Star Game thanks to the YouTube user Classic Phillies TV! I imagine that 5,809 of the 5,810 views of this 4 hour 50 minute video were exactly like mine. Confirming it's existence and swiftly moving along.

Most consecutive All-Star Games appearances without a hit

With the unprecedented youth movement in baseball these days, it's easy to forget some of the veteran players in the league, not to mention stars of decades past. Gary Sheffield was as big a star as they come. Over the course of 22 seasons that began in the late eighties, Sheff accumulated a 62.1 fWAR.

It's not a surprise that Sheffield found himself a member of nine All-Star teams over his career, representing the Marlins, Dodgers, Braves, and Yankees over that span. What is a surprise is the not so illustrious record he holds. You've likely already deduced that it's the most consecutive All-Star Game appearances without a hit.

Now, this record isn't as humiliating as it may seem on the surface. While Sheffield went hitless over seven straight games, he made it to the plate nine times, and in two of those appearances he walked, coming around to score each time.

Sheffield only managed to hit in one All-Star Game of his career. In 1993, he launched a solo shot off of Mark Langston in the first inning of that years contest. Incidentally, that was also in the first at bat by a Florida Marlin in an All-Star Game. One that was sure to leave the "dancing in the streets of South Beach" that evening.

The American League is on fire

Since the first All-Star Game in 1933, the Senior Circuit has just edged out their junior counterpart, going 44-41 while also outscoring them 355-349. However, this has hardly been an example of parity, rather alternating dominance between the two leagues. The NL crushed the AL from the late 1940s until the end of the 1980s after which time the latter began to dominate. Over that time, the AL whittled down what was a peak of 17 games in hand all the way down to 2 in 2009. That's a run of 20-6-1.

What about the All-Star Games that counted? To see how the NL has fared just look to the games to the right of the 2001-2002 plateau. Since then, the AL earned home field advantage in 9 of 12 World Series.  Not that it's done them much good: the NL has won 7 of 12 championships, including four in years they lost the All Star Game and consequently did not have home field advantage in the World Series.

Scan along the left hand side and you'll see two other plateaus on the chart. The All-Star Game was canceled in 1945 because of the Second World War. This would be the only year since the games inception in 1933 that it wouldn't be played at all. Just over a decade and a half later, you'll see the first tie in the history of the All-Star Game. This one may have been even less interesting than the second, as it wound up knotted 1-1. That year, they didn't even feign interest in finishing the contest as it was called after nine innings.

Now look down to the horizontal axis labels, I've highlighted something strange. You'll notice that the interval between labels in two years everywhere except inside that red box. Turns out that for the 1959-1962 major league baseball held two All-Star Games each year. That's why Hank Aaron (25), Willie Mays(24), and Stan Musial (24) have more All-Star appearances than seasons played. The experiment lasted just four seasons. Turns out that there wasn't an appetite for two All-Star Games, even in the pre-interleague era.

Consecutive All-Star appearances

Not only does Hank Aaron's total number of All-Star Game appearances top the list, he appeared in the mid-summer classic in each of his 21 MLB seasons . There is certainly no one threatening that record. Alex Rodriguez, the current active leader for appearances with 14 has only played in nine consecutive games. Ichiro has the next highest total (10), but hasn't been named an All-Star since 2010. While he can't match Aaron's streak, he does have the only inside-the-park home run in All-Star Game history.

Pedro Martinnez - 1999

Good luck finding a better All-Star Game performance than the one Pedro Martinez put on from his home mound in the 1999 All-Star Game at Fenway Park. Only four pitchers have registered more strikeouts in a single All-Star Game, and each of them needed more than two innings to get to six. Not only that, but Pedro is the only player with more than four strikeouts in an All-Star Game to do so without allowing a hit. He struck out the first four he faced before Matt Williams got on base thanks to an error by Roberto Alomar. Ivan Rodrigez gunned Williams down at second base in a strike 'em out, throw 'em out double play to end the second.

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Matt Jackson is a featured writer for Beyond the Box Score and a staff writer for Royals Review. You can follow him on Twitter at @jacksontaigu.