David Elfin On Sports: D.C. Deserves A Better All-Star Experience
Another Major League All-Star Game is upon us and for the second straight year, the midsummer classic won’t have a lot of resonance for Nats’ fans.
With surging slugger Mike Morse not chosen for the final National League roster spot, Washington’s lone entrant is Tyler Clippard, the bespectacled reliever who’s not even the team’s closer.
Last year’s Nats All-Star, closer Matt Capps, was traded to the Minnesota Twins three weeks later. Clippard might not be dealt this month, but he’s no huge fan favorite like third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who surprisingly has been an All-Star only once (2009) during his six seasons despite his perennial excellence.
Clippard, Zimmerman and starter Livan Hernandez (2005) are the only current Nats who have been All-Stars for the club (pitcher Jason Marquis represented the Colorado Rockies in the 2009 game).
Closer Chad Cordero (2005), outfielder Alfonso Soriano (2006) and first baseman Dmitri Young (2007) are long gone while shortstop Cristian Guzman (2008) is also an ex-Nat.
Of course, the All-Star Game would be much more meaningful for Washingtonians if it were played at Nats Park.
Griffith Stadium was the site of the fifth All-Star Game back in 1937 – a shot up the middle by Earl Averill effectively ended the career of Hall of Fame pitcher Dizzy Dean – and again in 1956 – a contest which featured home runs by Hall of Fame sluggers Stan Musial, Ted Williams, Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle.
D.C. Stadium played host to the All-Stars in 1962 – District native Maury Wills won MVP Honors and (after being renamed RFK Stadium) in 1969. The latter was going to be a night-time affair, but tremendous thunderstorms forced a one-day postponement. The National League prevailed, as was usually the case in those days, as homers by Hall of Famers Willie McCovey (two) and Johnny Bench trumped one by slugger Frank Howard of the hometown Senators.
What I remember was being scared when the water in the tunnels near RFK was rising around our car on the night of the postponed game and being made to go to camp the next day since my dad had to go work. I’ve still never been to an All-Star Game.
Kansas City will play host to the midsummer classic next summer for the first time in 39 years. The Los Angeles Dodgers haven’t been so blessed since 1980 (although nearby Anaheim has been the site twice since). Florida and Tampa Bay have never been so honored since being granted franchises in the 1990s largely because they have had such attendance woes. The New York Mets haven’t been the hosts since 1964 and are rumored to be the favorites to be chosen for the 2013 game.
Fine, but then give Washington the 2014 contest. The nation’s capital was unfairly minus the national pastime for 33 years – thanks, Baltimore – and 45 years without an All-Star Game is more than plenty.
David Elfin has covered sports since he was a junior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in 1975. He is the Washington representative on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee and is the former President of the Pro Football Writers of America. A pre-game regular on 106.7-The Fan during the 2010 Redskins season, he returned to the station as its blogger in March.