The best boys of summer will gather tomorrow at Angel Stadium of Anaheim for Major League Baseball’s annual All-Star Game.
Whether you agree with the pomp, showboating and relative lopsidedness of the game (the National League hasn’t won since 1996), crowd-pleasers like the home-run derby keep the ever-expanding weekend interesting.
The All-Star Game also marks the halfway point of baseball season, but it’s by no means a decrescendo. The most exciting 80-odd games have yet to be played, and many stadiums hold regular promotions to keep fans of even lackluster clubs coming back.
Below are 13 teams and their ground-rule-double deals on food, tickets and entertainment.
National League East
1. Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies have been on a tear in recent years, with a string of playoff appearances and a World Series win in 2008, making Citizen’s Bank Park one of the hottest destinations in baseball.
It’s no secret to locals that the Porch Package Deal includes a $38 seat in the popular “Harry the K’s Section” and a $10 food voucher good anywhere in the park.
2. New York Mets
The perennially overlooked Mets are darn good this year, currently sitting at second in the tough East.
One perk to living in the shadow of the money-hungry Yankees club means a game at Citi Field is typically more affordable, though the cheapest seats are still over $10.
Along with product giveaways at nearly every home game, the Mets regularly offer the Mr. Met Dash for any child age 12 and under. Kids enjoy their moment of fame by running the bases after the ninth inning. Check the Met’s promotion schedule for details.
National League Central
3. Chicago Cubs
Ah, the Cubs. You’d think after a decades-long dry spell they’d catch a break, but this season is shaping up to be another downer for the Chi-Town faithful. Despite the infamous Billy Goat Curse, Wrigley Field continues to draw the devoted.
Tour this classic ball field for $25 and get 30 percent off at the Captain Morgan Club just outside the stadium.
For a truly unique experience, catch a game from a nearby rooftop. Wrigleyville is one of the few towns where nearby buildings are practically extensions of the stadium. The Cubs partner with BallParkRooftops.com, so you know things are on the up-and-up. Make sure you're good and comfortable on those roofs, however, with coupons from your favorite sporting goods store.
4. Milwaukee Brewers
Powerhouse hitters Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder are trying to keep Milwaukee on the map and the Brewers offer affordable ways to see these kingpins.
Miller Park is one of many fields with repeating weekly deals. Sunday is Dairy Queen Family Day: Buy a $13.50 upper-deck ticket and get a free hot dog and soda, along with a coupon for buy-one-get-one-free Blizzard.
5. St. Louis Cardinals
Last year’s NL Central champs are sitting comfortably in second, behind the red-hot Cincinnati Reds.
For a consistently winning team, Busch Stadium offers consistently good deals; the best of which is the Grand Slam Pack. Buy four tickets in select sections and receive four hot dogs and sodas for free.
Most packs cost around $60 and are only good for weekday matches. But with nearly 18 eligible games left, a night with the Cards sounds more appealing than ever.
National League West
6. Los Angeles Dodgers
What started as an experiment during the 2007 Dodgers’ season has quickly turned into one of the most bizarre -- and perhaps genius -- sporting experiments ever.
Like the Chinese buffet down the street, the All-You-Can-Eat Pavilion in the right-field bleachers at Dodger Stadium is a testament to gastronomic gall. For $30 ($32 on weekends), fans enjoy unlimited hot dogs, nachos, peanuts, popcorn and soda, available 90 minutes before game time until the seventh inning.
7. Colorado Rockies
With Rockies' pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez the toast of the majors and proud papa to a recent string of walk-off wins, Rockies’ games are some of the most exhilarating around. “Rockpile” tickets in the center-field bleachers go for as little as $4 nearly every game.
For fans looking to catch a load of late season ball, Rockies 15-game mini-plans allow you to “build your own line-up” of tickets for as low as $135, a savings of up to 30 percent.
American League East
8. Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles may be dismal this year, but baseball is baseball and Oriole Park regularly sees the likes of AL behemoths like the Yankees and Red Sox.
Catch a game during one of many Ollie’s Bargain Night promotions for $8 upper reserve seats. Check the Orioles official calendar for specific dates.
9. Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays more than hold their own in the East, but if pennants were based on how a club treats their fans, the Tropicana Field promo crew would have a slew of big-ass rings.
The grandest ballpark attractions are the post-game concerts, free with the purchase of any ticket. This season’s lineup is particularly impressive, featuring Adam Lambert, Train, Bret Michaels and The Village People. Scope the Rays promotions calendar to see if your favorite group is playing.
American League Central
10. Chicago White Sox
We’ve included both Chicago teams because the White Sox honestly deserve attention and, well, their fans would be really mad if we didn’t.
Not only are the White Sox on a hot streak, they’re also exponentially less frustrating and overpriced than the Cubs.
The free pre-game musical performances at U.S. Cellular Field are no push-overs, either. Each “Rock the Sox” set is acoustic, featuring such acts as Sing it Loud and Sean Patrick McGraw. Again, check the Sox official calendar for specifics.
11. Detroit Tigers
The Tigers currently sit only a half game ahead of the White Sox and the quality of promotions at both parks is just as close, if not on the opposite end of the spectrum.
A fireworks show is included in the purchase of every ticket for a Saturday evening game at Comerica Park in downtown Detroit.
In 2010, the Motor City became home to another all-you-can-eat section, with tickets starting at $55.
American League West
12. Texas Rangers
Alex Rodriguez’s former home just hasn’t been the same since he was wooed by George Steinbrenner -- and that was seven seasons ago. But one thing is certain: Without A-Rod, tickets at Rangers Ballpark are reasonable. Value grandstand and bleacher seats start at $6.
The Rangers stadium also has a slew of repeating promos for a buck. Every Sunday, kids 13 and under get Dreyer’s ice cream and Wednesdays are dollar dogs for fans of every age.
13. Seattle Mariners
The Mariners have had a ho-hum season this year, perhaps prompting their recent trade of All-Star pitcher Cliff Lee to the Rangers. Happily, Safeco Field remains one of the most family-friendly parks in the nation.
Mondays are Half-Price Family Nights, with unlimited $10 reserved seating tickets and $2 hot dogs. The price goes up a buck on game day, so buy early. Wednesdays feature Grand Slam Family Packages. Buy tickets in combos of four to 12, starting at $14 each, and Safeco Field will throw in a hot dog and soda for free.