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Baseball’s best now available on itunes at the touch of a button

by Mark Burger

Next week will mark the 84 th anniversary of Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game, pitting the best of the American League against the best of the National League. This year’s contest will take place in Citi Field, the home of the New York Mets, in beautiful Queens, NY. The game will be played Tuesday, July 16.

My beloved Philadelphia Phillies, mired in third place in the National League East — but not out of pennant contention yet! — will be represented by pitcher Cliff Lee (his fourth All-Star game) and outfielder Domonic Brown, who’s making his first trip to the All-Star Game after having been voted NL Player of the Month in May. They’d be reason enough for me to tune in, but being a life-long baseball addict I’d probably tune in anyway.

At present, the National League holds a 43-38 record over the American League in the Midsummer Classic. (There have also been two ties.) After seven consecutive American League victories, the National League has won the last three all-star games, including an 8-0 victory last year. Melky Cabrera of the San Francisco Giants was named the game’s Most Valuable Player with two hits and two runs batted in.

With professional baseball at its midway point in the season, MLB Productions has released more than 100 new titles, now available on iTunes. Prices range from $1.99 to $19.99, depending on the selection. To commemorate the midsummer classic, among them “The Best of the Home Run Derby” and “Prime 9: All- Star Moments,” as well as the self-explanatory new documentary Letters from Jackie: The Private Thoughts of Jackie Robinson, which offers an in-depth look into the life and career of the Brooklyn Dodgers superstar who broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947, told in his own words.

On a lighter note, baseball buffs can also check out “MLB All-Time Bloopers” and “MLB Bloopers: Baseball’s Best Blunders.” As a Phillies fan, I’ve seen quite enough of those to last me a lifetime. After all, the Phillies hold the distinction (dubious though it may be) of having accrued the most losses (10,000 and counting) in professional sports history… and sometimes it feels like I’ve watched every one of them!

MLB Productions is also releasing to iTunes episodes from the inaugural 1977 season of the popular, ongoing syndicated series “This Week in Baseball” — a series I well remember watching as a kid. That was certainly a memorable season for the Phillies, thanks to a lineup that included Steve Carlton, Tug McGraw, Larry Bowa, Garry Maddox, Bake McBride and the greatest third baseman in the history of the game, Mike Schmidt. (Agree or disagree, that’s your prerogative — but to me there’s no argument.)

The 1977 season, however, didn’t quite go the way I’d hoped. In fact, the only two seasons in the entire 130- year history of the Phillies that went all the way were 1980 and 2008. Nevertheless, I stand by my Phillies. I’m stuck with them, and they’re stuck with me.

There was, of course, the rousing “This Week in Baseball” theme music and the unforgettable narration by legendary announcer Mel Allen (“How about that?”). It takes me back to a time when I too played Little League baseball. I wasn’t very good, but I loved the game and played like a madman. I was the sort of catcher who’d block the plate even if the ball wasn’t coming my way. If someone on the opposing team wanted to score, they’d have to get around me! Actually, more often than not, they did.

For more information on the many MLB titles now available on iTunes, check out iTunes.com/MLB.

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