In the thick of the crowd, some people are passing around a joint and sipping from what appears to be a bottle of Crown Royal. A guy in a Pujols T-shirt offers swigs to anyone in his vicinity asking, "Who wants the Jack?" Informed by Unreal that he's drinking Crown Royal, he replies, "No, trust me, it's Jack [Daniels]. I couldn't find my flask this morning, so I poured it into this bottle."

Assessing the scene around him, the dude, who introduces himself as Kenny, says bluntly, "I'm from St. Louis, and this is as good as it gets."

Nearby, a guy in a Giants hat compares the scene to his hometown ballpark in San Francisco saying, "I feel like I'm in McCovey Cove in a kayak right now."

Monday, July 13 — 7:51 p.m.
Holy Mary, mother of Jesus, Unreal has just met the pope! Well, it's actually a black guy dressed up like the pontiff, complete with a makeshift high-peaked Cardinals hat, Mardi Gras beads, batting gloves and, of course, a scepter. On second thought, it's probably more accurate to call him the Cardinals Cardinal. Either way, this is turning out to be Unreal's kind of party.
Monday, July 13 — 11:45 p.m.
Speaking of Unreal's kind of party, we're waiting in line outside of Lure, the glitzy nightclub on the corner of Tucker Boulevard and Washington Avenue that's hosting the "Playboy All-Star Bash." General admission is $175. There's an open bar, and the guest list is rumored to include most of the players from both All-Star squads, along with a dozen Playboy Bunnies and a myriad of celebrities, ranging from Charles Barkley to St. Louis' own Cedric the Entertainer.

Unreal's jaw drops when a gray-haired gentleman in line ahead of us is told that the cover charge for VIPs is $500 apiece. Then, without a moment's hesitation, he says he'll pay for two. Who says the economy's in the tank?

Once inside, Unreal is warmly greeted by a pair of body-painted women. Apparently, clothing is optional at this party. Before long, we see the same geezer who just dropped a $1,000 grinding with a Rihanna look-alike at least half his age. God bless America.

Tuesday, July 14 — 12:33 a.m.
Two St. Louis police officers are stationed inside the club. Asked how they got assigned to this sweet detail, one replies with a grin, "You gotta know somebody."
Tuesday, July 14 –1:35 a.m.
On the club's outdoor patio, there's a giant ice luge shaped like the Playboy bunny logo. Cedric the Entertainer just poured a vodka shot directly into the mouth of a model-worthy brunette. Worth the price of admission? Maybe if Chris Rock were doing the pouring.

Tuesday, July 14 — 1:37 a.m.
Overheard at the bar: "There aren't a lot of real celebrities here, but there are a lot of people saying, 'Ooh look at me, I'm somebody.'" Unreal concurs.

Tuesday, July 14 — 2:02 a.m.
Red Sox players Tim Wakefield, Jason Bay and Jonathan Papelbon seem to be about the only All-Stars left in the building. After a round of shots, they sip Bud Lights while seated in the outdoor VIP area. The music cuts out for about five minutes, and when the DJ finally gets it going again, Papelbon shouts, "'Bout fuckin' time! Party on, Wayne! Party on, Garth!" Now that was worth the price of admission.

Tuesday, July 14 — 11:01 a.m.
A haggard Unreal stumbles upon the luncheon for the Baseball Writers Association of America. We overhear a couple sportswriters (easily identified by the newspapers tucked under their arms and little roller suitcases for their laptops) talking about the speech that "The Commissioner" is about to give.

Eager to hear Hall of Fame Post-Dispatch writer Rick Hummel (nicknamed "The Commish") give a talk in his hometown, we set up post in a prime, covert spot just outside the banquet room. When Bud Selig, the real baseball commissioner steps to the podium instead, Unreal walks away, severely disappointed.

Tuesday, July 14 — 2:45 p.m.
After the All-Star red carpet parade through downtown, people are cutting out strips to take home as souvenirs. These are likely the same fans that bought the urinals from the old Busch Stadium.

Tuesday, July 14 — 5:05 p.m.
The lines to get into the All-Star Game are absolutely insane. One stretches almost the entire length of Walnut Street and is about ten people thick. Forget the metal detectors; soldiers are patrolling the entrances with Geiger counters, the little handheld devices used to detect radioactivity. They look like gadgets from Ghostbusters. Luckily, a breathalyzer is not one of the added security measures.

Tuesday, July 14 — 7:05 p.m.
Overheard in the seats behind us:

Husband: "What are the odds Obama rides in on one of the Clydesdales?"

Wife: "Gee, I dunno..."

Husband: "Why not? It's pretty hard to hide a bomb under a horse."

Tuesday, July 14 — 7:34 p.m.
Finally, after an opening ceremony that included everything short of a moment of silence for Michael Jackson, Stan Musial triumphantly enters the stadium riding in a golf cart, ready to receive the glowing tribute one of the greatest hitters alive deserves.

Tuesday, July 14 — 7:35 p.m.
Unreal blinked and the Stan Musial "tribute" was over. Did we miss something?

Tuesday, July 14 — 7:39 p.m.
Wearing a White Sox jacket, Obama heaves a curveball that falls a good two feet short of the plate. If this keeps up, St. Louis will be voting Republican in 2012.

Tuesday, July 14 — 8:30 p.m.
After a weeklong buildup and a never-ending opening ceremony, Unreal found it refreshing to sit back, sip a cold beer and watch baseball on a clear summer night. During the game, there's no pomp or pageantry. Other than the complimentary seat cushions, the players in different uniforms and the snipers on the roof, it feels just like a regular evening at Busch.

Also, Unreal's view from just left of the foul pole by Big Mac Land beats the hell out of the one from the press box.

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