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The Nationals' presence at this All-Star Game won't rival last year, when Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez all took Kansas City by storm. But even though Harper is the lone member of the organization playing tomorrow night — Jordan Zimmermann is here but will sit out to rest his lingering neck strain — there still will be plenty of attention lavished upon the Nats.
Harper, of course, draws a crowd all by himself, and plenty of eyes will be on him both tonight in the Home Run Derby and then tomorrow night in the All-Star Game. But don't discount the significance of Davey Johnson's presence here. The 70-year-old manager, in what by all accounts will be his final All-Star Game, surely is going to be hounded by the New York press the next two days, asked to recount every detail he remembers about the 1986 Mets.
We've got a full army from CSNwashington.com and Comcast SportsNet here to serve you including myself, Chase Hughes and Rob Carlin. Be sure to check back here throughout the next two days for full coverage, and be sure to watch CSN at 6 p.m., 10 p.m. and midnight each day for highlights, interviews and analysis. Here's a quick rundown of the scheduled events...
All-Star Managers Press Conference (1:30 p.m.) — Bruce Bochy and Jim Leyland will unveil their starting lineups for the game. Where will Bryce Harper hit for the NL? Looking at the full list of starters and assuming Andrew McCutchen replaces the injured Carlos Gonzalez, I wouldn't be shocked if we see Harper bat leadoff and play left field.
NL All-Star Player Interviews (2:15 p.m.) — Harper, Zimmermann and Johnson will hold court for 45 minutes apiece, as do all their fellow All-Stars, each given his own table and microphone as reporters jostle for position and try to get to everyone during the full session. Davey surely will be popular with the New York media, and Harper will draw a crowd. Zimmermann? Well, the soft-spoken Wisconsinite will grit his teeth and say all the right things, but it's safe to assume this won't be his favorite part of the All-Star experience.
Home Run Derby (8 p.m., ESPN) — Normally, I'd tell you to stay away from this annual event like the plague. Or, at least, to watch with the sound off (unless you actually enjoy Chris Berman's shtick). But with Harper in the field, the first Nationals player who has ever competed in the derby, this is the rare exception in which you have my blessing to watch. How will Bryce do? My guess is he'll perform quite well, being perfectly comfortable in the spotlight, having a natural home run swing and having his father, Ron, pitching to him.
Bud Selig and Michael Weiner's Press Conferences (12 p.m.) — The Commissioner and head of the Players' Association hold separate Q&A sessions with members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America each year at the All-Star Game, and there will be plenty for us to ask these two gentlemen about this year. The big topic nationally will be the Biogenesis investigation and any possible punishment players could face from it. On the local front, Selig is going to be asked (either by me or one of my fellow D.C. scribes) about the ongoing (and never-ending) saga regarding the Nationals' TV rights. Selig probably won't reveal much on the subject, but rest assured we'll try to press him for a substantive answer.
All-Star Game (8 p.m., Fox) — And then there's the game, which sometimes feels like an afterthought by the time we get to it. You'll obviously want to tune in right from the start, since Harper is in the lineup and figures to get a couple of at-bats before departing. Is there reason to keep watching after Bryce is out of the game? Well, let's not forget that the winner of this "exhibition" gets home-field advantage for the World Series. I know, I know. But the Nats haven't been eliminated from contention yet, so it could still prove applicable to them.