Pirates on All-Star Game selection

MINNEAPOLIS -- Josh Harrison's family has had to deal with a bit of a conflict of interest.

After being born and raised in Cincinnati, their son has found his niche in the Major Leagues, with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

So when the Reds and Pirates square off, a fairly frequent occurrence as NL Central rivals, Harrison's family and friends have a choice to make.

"It's not as bad as you would think," Harrison said. "I know Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, the cities, just from football and everything, had a little rivalry. But you know going back -- it's a lot of proud people. They might be Reds fans, but when we come in town they at least throw on the Pirates hat. So it's pretty cool to go back to Cincinnati playing for the Pirates and still have the support.

"My immediate family roots for the Pirates. They're all Pirates. But people I went to high school with, you know, that grew up Reds fans -- they'll still be Reds fans. But when we play them, they're like, 'Well, if we got to lose to anybody …' They don't mind, just because I'm associated with the Pirates. It's kind of a win-win for me because I'm kind of converting some people to maybe being Pirates fans."

Has Harrison, who was one of this year's underdogs to make the All-Star roster, given any thought to the possibility of a homecoming next summer when Cincinnati is slated to host the Midsummer Classic?

"Honestly, when I was named, that was one of the first things that most people said was, 'Oh, you gotta make it next year,' you know, 'It's at home,'" Harrison explained. "But to be honest, I haven't really thought about it. I'm just trying to still enjoy this first one. I don't want to look too far in the future and miss something in the present."

Harrison deserves that chance to bask in the present. Why wouldn't he, after scoring an All-Star nomination from NL manager Mike Matheny despite not even starting the season until April 20?

Understandably enough, he's got a lot on his mind.

"I got here [to Minneapolis] and didn't know what to expect. I knew it was going to be here, be there, all over the place.

"But it's actually been pretty cool to see some of the other guys and talk to them about just certain things that have happened throughout the season and be on the same team as some of these guys who are some of the best players in the world."

Target Plaza provides gathering place for fans

Target Plaza: The gateway to Target Field

MINNEAPOLIS -- No ticket, no problem.

That's the idea behind Target Field's Target Plaza, which enjoyed its time in the limelight this week as All-Star festivities kicked into gear.

The plaza, which is conveniently adjacent to the Target Field light rail station, allows fans a view of the field, no purchase necessary.

"The Dome [Metrodome, the Twins former stadium] had its memories, but it didn't have this [type of place] to gather," said Joe Grieman, a Twins season-ticket holder from St. Paul. "You get to congregate before the game. We don't have tailgating anywhere, so this is good."

Catching a bit of the on-field action isn't all you can do at Target Plaza.

There are statues commemorating Twins legends -- including Harmon Killebrew, Kirby Puckett, Rod Carew and Kent Hrbek -- and a giant bronze baseball glove that makes for a great photo op.

But the plaza serves a larger purpose: Linking Target Field to Minneapolis.

That's why, when you venture out to left field near Gate 34 (so numbered in honor of the late Twins great Puckett), you'll find much more than baseball.

That plaza is also home to an amphitheater, green space, office buildings and a spacious underground parking garage.

"We come here all the time," said season-ticket holder Nick Muisembourg. "Longtime members of the plaza. There's always activities going on out here, different vendors, music sometimes."

It's a great place for baseball fans to gather as they take in the best the game has to offer at the Midsummer Classic.