Monday, July 9, 2012

Soaking in All-Star adulation

US Presswire photo
Bryce Harper and Angels 20-year-old outfielder Mike Trout palled around.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- First came Sunday night's flight from Washington on Ted Lerner's private jet, with Stephen Strasburg's pet yorkie Bentley doing tricks on command for teammates Gio Gonzalez and Bryce Harper and members of the owner's family.

Then came the whirlwind that is All-Star Workout Day, from press conferences that featured plenty of clown questions to batting practice before a full house at Kauffman Stadium to front-row seats for the Home Run Derby.

Throw in Tuesday's actual Midsummer Classic, during which all three players could see action in a game that could wind up giving them home-field advantage for the World Series three months from now, and perhaps Strasburg summed it best.

"It's fun to be a National right now," the right-hander said.

Tough to dispute that notion, not as the Nationals' three-man All-Star crew relishes the attention and adulation that is being thrust upon the NL's best team at the season's midway point.

These are uncharted waters for the Nats, who aren't used at all to being the center of attention at a national event but are growing more comfortable with the spotlight each passing day.

It helps that there are three players here stealing attention from each other.

"It's a little different than for guys who came here when the team was in last place, being the only guy voted in," Strasburg said. "To come here with a group, it's something you can enjoy and know you've got a couple of days to just enjoy it and soak it all in."

Strasburg and Harper were among the most-sought-after players on All-Star Monday, whether during the 45-minute NL player media availability session or on the field during batting practice as fans and fellow All-Stars alike tried to get the attention of the guys with the curly W logo on their right sleeves.

What stood out perhaps more than anything else was the praise being heaped upon them from other All-Stars who have come to appreciate what this previously downtrodden franchise has accomplished and could continue to accomplish over the remainder of the season.

"They've got what it takes. They've got what it takes to make a long run," said Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan, a National during their 100-loss seasons in 2008-09. "And they've got the city excited. It's fun to watch. Now that we've already played them twice, it's fun to watch them and see the success."

Nobody in a Nationals uniform has impressed the rest of the league like Harper, who arrived in the big leagues with a reputation as a cocksure 19-year-old but who immediately won over fellow players with his talent and hustle.

"I didn't really know much about him," Hanrahan said. "The first game, he hits the double and flips his helmet off, and I'm thinking: 'That's a clown move, bro.' But I got a chance to talk to him today, and he seems like a really good kid. I don't know if he's matured a lot or the guys have helped him out, but he seems like a really good kid and he's going to be around for a long time."

Praise for Harper even came from the guy who two months ago admitted he intentionally plunked him with a pitch, then watched as the rookie stole home off him.

"The most impressive thing I've seen," Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels said. "It definitely shows you what he's all about. And it definitely taught me something about how to push harder and play harder. I can thank him for it."

Though he's making his first appearance in MLB's All-Star Game -- the youngest position player ever to do it -- Harper is no stranger to events like this. He's been appearing in various All-Star games since he first burst onto the scene as a precocious teenager from Las Vegas.

So Harper is comfortable in this setting, even if his performance on the field hasn't lived up to it. He recalled going 0-for-5 with four strikeouts in the Aflac All-American high school showcase. Same thing at an Under Armor exhibition game. And the same thing at last summer's All-Star Futures Game in Phoenix.

Given that dubious track record, Harper is setting no expectations for himself this time.

"I'm just going to try to come out here and have fun," he said. "And if I go 0-fer, I really don't care. It's just a time to enjoy myself and a time to just be around the best guys in baseball. It's my first one, so I'm going to take it all in."

Strasburg, too, was taking it all in Monday, with a companion by his side at nearly all times: Gonzalez.

The two pitchers were inseparable, the bubbly Gonzalez shaking hands with everybody in sight while the reserved Strasburg picked and chose his introductions.

They're an unlikely pair, but the Nationals' two aces have formed a strong bond since becoming teammates in February.

"He's the polar opposite of me, and I think it's worked out really well," Strasburg said. "I've learned so much from the guy already. And I think he's learned a thing or two from me."

Gonzalez, of course, loves anybody and everybody who wears a Nationals uniform.

"If it was up to me, I'd bring the whole team with us," he said. "Every single one of those guys deserves to be here."

For this year, at least, three Nats at the All-Star Game will have to be enough.

93 comments:

MicheleS said...

I would really love it if we could have the AllStar Game in DC. How much fun would that be!

baseballswami said...

For those of you who think the HR Derby is boring - well, it is kind of long - that Trumbo guy can hit the ball really, really hard and really , really far.

baseballswami said...

But Chris Berman is quite annoying.

MicheleS said...

Swami, when they are interviewing players it's great. He can't do that Back Back Back gunk.

baseballswami said...

Yeah, that is just tired. At least there are other people involved. Bryce has his speech memorized!

baseballswami said...

The crowd is demolishing Cano. Berman making excuses for him that he is tired from his late game late night. Yankees. Sigh....

Faraz Shaikh said...

So wish Trout was also part of our team. Can you imagine the OF with these two exciting players playing for us for years to come? then again it is great to see them being compared also against each other, and to Mays-Mantle.

MicheleS said...

Well, the Royals used to be a farm club for the Yankees,so the Royals are entitled to give Cano some of the Bronx Cheer.

Swami.. I want Bryce to have it memorized, less chance for people to pick on him. Plus, It is totally what Jeter does.

baseballswami said...

You are so right. That is how he is making his way through the gauntlet. Would love to know what he is really thinking .I also wonder how many times he had repeated some of his lines.

Dryw Loves the Nats said...

I love all of our guys! (Agree with Gio that they should all be here. What can I say, I'm a homer...) The bond between Stras and Gio is pretty cool, too.

NatsLady said...

Who is the fat guy sitting next to Brett and eating? That is gross.

baseballswami said...

That would be John Kruk. Not the most genteel guy. I believe he was a Philly?

MicheleS said...

And now Adam Jones is eating the ribs!

baseballswami said...

Sports programming at its worst. Are they even watching? I really wish this was on MLB .

NatsLady said...

This is really boring. Are the minor league games over already?

NatsLady said...

I am watching on MLB. So I don't have to see ads.

Steady Eddie said...

Mmmmmm.... Kansas City Barbeque... Some of the best (and I once literally drove my family 100 miles out of our way to get some Barbeque (that was in East Tennessee, though).

MicheleS said...

NatsLady. Pnats are playing tonight (but probably over by now)

baseballswami said...

Sounds like Drew had a good outing there.

NatsLady said...

Well, lessee, Senators lost, 4-1. Rosenbaum gave up 2 earned and 2 unearned in 6 innings, K'd 3 walked 3. Some guys got hits.

PNats won, 2-1, yes, it's over.

NatsLady said...

Drew faced 3 batters, struck out 1, 2 groundouts. Doesn't seem to give his pitch count.

Steady Eddie said...

Only 6 pitches this time, down from 8 in his first outing. "Too" efficient, needs to throw a long BP session afterward.

I'd say if we need a closer on consecutive nights, Druuuu is it on the second night.

baseballswami said...

Some things about the derby are boring, but Trumbo is insane to watch. He hits it very far.

NatsLady said...

oops, sorry, there was an error and a doubleplay (had to look at the play-by-play).

baseballswami said...

Will be so glad to see Drew back!!!!!

NatsLady said...

Xavier Nady went 0 for 3 with 1 K.

baseballswami said...

Nady I don't miss at all.

Steady Eddie said...

Nady .... No room, no room!

baseballswami said...

Who would legitimately leave the roster in favor of Nady? Everyone on the roster now adds something he can't replace.

MicheleS said...

Swami.. NO ONE. That is why Rizzo will get creative until sept 1 when rosters expand. I have a feeling we will have "DL" moves coming or guys will get the full 30 days of rehab or a set back to postpone (see Chad T.)

baseballswami said...

I foresee a sudden outbreak of dfa fever.

baseballswami said...

They have this hr derby listed at two hours. Joke. Finals haven't started yet . Prince and Joey Bats.

NatsLady said...

Tracee weighing in on cortisone. Honestly, how does she keep her job?

MicheleS said...

NatsLady. She is good on Hockey, and offers a different perspective.

OMG.. Teddy is in the bullpen at the allstar game.

Steady Eddie said...

Nats Lady -- it's a mystery to me. Her chats are even worse -- one part rank and uninformed speculation, one part totally unsupported opinion, two parts utterly irrelevant ramblings on cats and Kansas.

NatsLady said...

I read one of her chats, she made several factual errors and misstatements on the CBA and MLB rules. I wasn't sure what to correct first, so I didn't bother with any...

NatsLady said...

I really don't care about her body parts, except I would be curious if the cortisone shot made RZ feel so strong that he was overthrowing on defense, because it seemed like that to me.

Steady Eddie said...

Actually Tracee does have then non-trivial virtues of being quite amiable and not nasty except to jerks who go out of their way to ask for it. So there's that.

And her lack of information orunderstanding about baseball is no worse than Jason Reid's.

OK, that's not a recommendation, is it?

Firm Possession, My Gorsehacken Sofa said...

Wait, "Strasburg's yorkie"??

I am through with him.

mick said...

MicheleS said...
I would really love it if we could have the AllStar Game in DC. How much fun would that be!

I remember the 1969 All Star game like yesterday... In fact, this ought to tell all those idiots out there who opposed baseball in coming back to DC, how MLB viewed DC in 1969... This was the 100 anniversary of MLB and Bowie Kuhn (MLB commish) wanted the 100 anniversary to be in DC in 1969.

The actual game was rained out and made up the next day during the afternoon. The Wash senators had their best season in 1969 since 1933 and sent Frank Howard, Ken McMullen and Darrell Knowles to the All Star game that year. Howard homered in the game and Willie McCovey of the Giants (A BEAST!!) hit tow HR as the NL won the game.

would love to see another All Star game in DC!

MicheleS said...

Sofa.. I have a Yorkie mix, are you through with me too?

Steady Eddie said...
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mick said...

also... the night before the ALL star game there was dinner at the Touchdown club for Mrs Babe Ruth.... man I just love this game, I know heaven is a baseball field, lol

baseballswami said...

Mick, I love how you think.

Steady Eddie said...

Michele -- you're still good.

Just stay away from the bump in Nats Park.

NatsLady said...

Wait, we are judging people by the kind of dog they own? Glad I'm a cat person.

NatsLady said...

I take it a Yorkie is a small dog? And a lab is a big one--or something?

Steady Eddie said...

Just baseball players.

baseballswami said...

I think a yorkie is generally not considered to be a very manly dog.

sjm308 said...

As much as I now cannot and do not support the O's, I have to say that they put on a great All-Star game experience. The expo in the convention center for the days leading up to the game was excellent with all kinds of Hall of Famers. As a season ticket holder, we got to watch the Derby and batting practice the night before the game. I would not pay the big bucks for the actual game but my two boys loved the experience just the same. If the game was here it would be fantastic.

Mick: those are some great memories of the Senators last All-star game and loved seeing those National League guys back then. It was even more special since this was our only shot. Just another reason to eliminate inter-league play but I realize that will never happen, just like the DH.

Go Nats!!

mick said...

swami and sjm... thank ya!

Fear and Ignorance said...

SJM-Still remember that day in Baltimore vividly. Juan Gone and Griffey hitting shots and the Reggie, Reggie chant for Mr. October was pretty awesome, as well.

Firm Possession, My Gorsehacken Sofa said...
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peric said...

Ho hum Trout and Harper? Harper and Goodwin will have to serve and seƱor Goodwin just might surprise you. He appears to definitely have some power ... and he bats lefty just like Bryce.

If not for a certain over-the-hill overpaid right-handed outfielder the Nats could field an outfield of Goodwin, Harper, and Moore. Now that would be something ... lots of XBH potential there with great speed in Harper and Goodwin. Combined with an infield of Desmond, Espinosa, Zimmerman, and hopefully, Rendon? Throw in Ramos or Freitas or Flores or Leon at catcher?

Who THINKS that DOESN'T LOOK like a future all-star lineup? Because it definitely is. These kids are hard working and relentless. And I do hope that ownership won't be too upset if Werth ends up as an expensive late inning defensive replacement and bench bat.

Firm Possession, My Gorsehacken Sofa said...
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NatsLady said...

Maybe the rules on manly dogs are different in California? Everything else is.

Anyway, probably better to have a small dog entertaining people on an airplane than a big dog.

Firm Possession, My Gorsehacken Sofa said...

That was cyno-sizist. I and my cats apologize. Well, the cats don't. Cats don't apologize.

But they have some yorkie in them. And some canary.

peric said...

And with Strasburg, Gio, Ziimmerman, Detrwiler, Karns, Purke, Solis, Meyer, and Robbie Ray? Throw in Rosenbaum? Nice mis of both left-handed and right-handed power pitching starters. And if the sign EJax to an extension?

I mean think about it. The Nats have yet to product their true top-prospect lineup? They are still using fill-ins ... like Ankiel and LaRoche plus DeRosa and Nady? They've got plenty of bench strength with Rivero, Kobernus, Lombardozzi, and Marerro.

Bottom line next year they don't have to go outside for help. Unless its for someone who blows the Nats FO, manager and coaches completely away.

peric said...

Maybe the rules on manly dogs are different in California? Everything else is.

Oh I don't know some of those smaller dogs have surly temperaments and can be pretty vicious both to humans and other dogs. Comes from their constant fear of being stepped on I suppose. Little dog syndrome.

Stras is kind of an OCD PD geek who likes things just so ... a perfectionist. A well trained Yorky definitely fits that paradigm.

Fear and Ignorance said...

Peric-Goodwin is in Low A. Give it a rest with the prospect adoration. I thought you love Corey Brown...is he not part of the All-Star future here in DC. Repeat...Low A. 95% of the Brian Goodwin's of the world never make it anywhere. Dylan Bundy just no-hit that whole league for like 30 innings.

Firm Possession, My Gorsehacken Sofa said...

Stephen James Strasburg
Position: Pitche
Height: 6' 4", Weight: 220 lb.


That's not a yorkie. Not judging, I'm just sayen.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

@peric: LaRoche is a "fill-in?"

Pretty freakin' bueno fill-in.

Drew said...

Speaking of Nats' prospects, how about a tip o' the Nats brim to Taylor Jordan?

Following a fine 2011 season at Hagerstown: 9-4, 2.48 ERA, he underwent Tommy John surgery.

After a year of rehab he has popped up on the Auburn Doubledays' roster.

Good luck, young man, I hope you resume your climb -- and that Sammy Solis will be back on the ladder before long.

greg said...

well, i won't bash stras for having a yorkie. but i will say, i promise you my 140# bloodhound mastiff mix would be quite entertaining with his tricks on a private jet as well. some things are a lot more amusing when a 140# dog does them than they are when a 14# dog does them. the big goofy factor cannot be understated.

c6b39fbc-ca4e-11e1-a35e-000bcdcb471e said...

Mark (or anybody) -

Any new intel on whether we are going to sign #1 pick Giolito this week? Deadline is almost here. I don't see the Nats (or anybody, really) giving up future first-round draft picks to sign their guy this year. But that gives the Nats a little over $3M to sign him without losing draft picks. A very different dynamic than in years past, and not as much incentive for agents to "take it to the wire." If we don't get him, though I suspect we do sign him late, then I hope we have already put in place terms with some of the highly-rated unsigned HS kids that we drafted in the mid-20's rounds (25, 26, 27?) to use the money we've saved elsewhere to, to sign them innstead...

-BDBD

Firm Possession, My Gorsehacken Sofa said...

Alpha-bits: Giolito and Rizzo both say, look for him when you see him coming. You aren't going to get any "intel" before he signs. He either will or he won't, but it will be at the last minute, most likely, in any event.

Firm Possession, My Gorsehacken Sofa said...

from back in the Ready for the All Star Game thread:

Tcostant said...
Hey Firm Possession –
No one is guaranteed to become a “star” in the major leagues. Just ask Todd Van Poppel (Braves would have taken him over Chipper if he didn’t beg them not to draft him) or Kris Benson (1st overall pick in 1996). Being a start is hard.
July 09, 2012 2:23 PM


whoooooooooooooooooooooooooooosh....

peric said...
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peric said...

@peric: LaRoche is a "fill-in?"

Pretty freakin' bueno fill-in.


Really? Two year contract remember?
One injury filled nightmarish year where he looked worse than Dunn in 2011.

One year where he reverts to his norm? Let's hope he gets scalding hot in late July and August as he has done in the past because if he doesn't no matter how you slice it it doesn't add to being worth the money spent. If not for Morse's break out year the Nats could have been pretty miserable offensively given Zim's surgery (another injury year for him as well) and Werth's pathetic year.

peric said...

Peric-Goodwin is in Low A. Give it a rest with the prospect adoration.

So is Meyer dude. And many scouts think he should be pitching in AA. Believe me Goodwin doesn't belong in low A he's there because he is coming off an injury. He won't be there long.

I think I know a bit more about the prospects than you do ... Goodwin is a fast riser. He'll be in AA/AAA next season for sure.

peric said...
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peric said...
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peric said...

And Dylan Bundy? Puuuuuuhleeese Ori'hole fan? Go back to those blogs thank you.

MicheleS said...

Sofa.. I wish I could have cats, lower maintenance, but alas, I am allergic.

Drew thanks for the updates on the Baby Nats, good to here about them and their progress

MicheleS said...

Video of Stras and Gio goofing around with Harold Reynolds

MLB network spot

natsfan1a said...
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natsfan1a said...

On the dog front, I was referencing this Old School player pic to my husband while discussing Strasburg's dog just this morning. Not that there's anything wrong with that (well, my rent-a-cat might think there is, but he's just that way). :-)

On the Tracee front, I happen to like her. I've also noticed that she gets some extremely rude comments on her columns.

On the derby front, yeah, I think hitting the ball hard is kinda the point. Still not all that into it. I did happen to click over to it while Cano was getting booed. Maybe it's just me, but I thought that was over the top. They did it to Fielder last year, when he didn't pick Upton. This time it was Cano's turn. Yeah, he didn't pick their guy and, yeah, he's a Yankee, but I thought the crowd went overboard. Maybe they should end the captain team-picking thing. My two cents.

natsfan1a said...

Story from last time, on Fielder being booed.

natsfan1a said...

Also on a Tracee note, I recall a comment, back when she was BlogMom over on the NJ, about her attending a ballgame as a child, and learning to keep score. She also worked as an editor and baseball columnist for the Detroit Free Press back in the 1980s. She has a good understanding of the game, imho.

Tcostant said...

If an All-Star game ever does come to D.C.; while everyone is trying to get game and HRD tickets; I'll be happy at the futures game. Very happy!

Gonat said...

http://www.federalbaseball.com/2012/7/10/3146500/jordan-zimmermanns-not-an-all-star-but-the-washington-nationals-right

A must read on Jordan Zimmermann. A good summation of much of the accolades we have bestowed on JZim over the last few days.

Theophilus T. S. said...

Yorkie=Rat on a rope.

MicheleS said...

Hey Theo, so not true! Mine is lovable and doesn't look like a rat at all. ;-)

natsfan1a said...

I'm a cat person, but I do have a very nice (and very smart) nephew dog. He's a border terrier. Um, on topic, when's the next Pups in the Park? heh.

natsfan1a said...

Ah, it's September 22. Also on topic, did Harper's pup get to KC with his family?

Faraz Shaikh said...

so both SS-Gio clip and Harper-Trout clip. awesome stuff!

Faraz Shaikh said...

*saw, not so.

Theophilus T. S. said...

WaPo has given us Christine Brennan and Sally Jenkins. In comparison, Hamilton is a refugee from the Food Network.

natsfan1a said...

Eh, you know what they say - everybody has an opinion, or something like that. For example, an outsider might read a game thread on here and think that it featured a few refugees from Fight TV or whatever you call it. ;-)

NatsLady said...

When are they having Kitties in the Park? My present cat won't tolerate a collar, but all my previous cats would. It was fun to see the tourists staring at me walking my cat!

natsfan1a said...

Interesting idea, NatsLady. While there are certainly cats who adapt to walking on a leash, playing well with others could be an issue for some at the park. But then that's true for some dogs, too. They'd also have to replace the fake turf with sandboxes. hmmm... :-)

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Gio's 2nd trip to the All Star game. Private jet ride and hanging with Stras or maybe it's Stras hanging with Gio. I hope Stras gets to spend time sponging off of Verlander and maybe Gio can do the same with Hamels.

Harper is a student of the game. I am hoping some of the veterans are kind enough to instill some wisdom on our phenom pitchers.

Gio in my opinion has regressed from those great starts in his 2nd to 5th appearances. The slider is the pitch he has to add just like JZim has to perfect his changeup.

All Stras has to do is get better and healthier with each start. He has the full arsenal. He is a younger and better version of Verlander.

Learn and prosper boys. Oh, and have a great time.

Firm Possession, My Gorsehacken Sofa said...

SO are they "soaking -- in all-star adulation" or "soaking in -- all-star adulation"?

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