Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Nats enjoy All-Star experience

USA Today Sports Images
NEW YORK — Years from now, when they reminisce about the 84th All-Star Game, Bryce Harper and Jordan Zimmermann probably won't remember the outcome, an uninspired 3-0 American League victory over the National League.

No, the Nationals' two All-Star representatives won't remember the score, but they will remember the important vignettes from the last two nights at Citi Field. The player introductions. The Home Run Derby. The camaraderie in the dugout and the clubhouse with fellow All-Stars.

And, of course, Mariano Rivera.

"I had a blast hanging out with the guys," Harper said. "It was a great experience."

The actual Midsummer Classic was devoid of much in-game drama. The AL scratched out three runs. The NL scratched out three hits and was shut out for only the third time in this event's history.

But Rivera's entrance in the bottom of the eighth inning — with a sellout crowd of 45,186 and both dugouts standing and applauding the retiring Yankees closer in his final All-Star appearance — made up for everything else. Tipping his cap to the masses, Rivera began his warm-up tosses without any teammates on the field behind him. He then retired the side with ease, winding up as the game's sentimental MVP.

"It was amazing," Rivera said. "It almost made me cry, too. I was close. It was amazing, a scene that I will never forget."

Harper and Zimmermann soaked in that scene as well, making up for an uneventful night for both Nationals All-Stars. Zimmermann, a first-time selection, sat out the game with a stiff neck but enjoyed watching it all from the NL dugout. Harper, a second-time selection and first-time starter, went 0-for-2 and played six innings in the outfield before departing.

Not that anybody in the NL lineup had much success on this night, but Harper faced particularly tough matchups against White Sox lefty Chris Sale and Athletics closer Grant Balfour.

His third-inning encounter with Sale did not make for an enjoyable experience. Harper managed to lay off a couple of nasty sliders from the 6-foot-6 left-hander, then actually made solid contact on a 2-2 fastball, lining the ball right at third baseman Miguel Cabrera.

"I was just trying to lay off the slider," Harper said. "I knew I couldn't hit it. So I was just trying to lay off that and get something straight and put some good wood on it. It felt good."

Three innings later, Harper faced Balfour and got jammed on an 0-1 fastball, looping a soft liner to shortstop to complete his evening.

Zimmermann observed it all from the front row of the dugout, enjoying his one actual All-Star moment before the game when he was introduced alongside his NL teammates. The usually stoic right-hander even cracked a smile when his name was called over the PA system.

"Well, yeah," he said. "I was happy."

Zimmermann's only regret: That he didn't get a chance to appear in the game. He'll have to hope to return in the future to cross that milestone off the list.

"Once-in-a-lifetime thing," he said of his entire All-Star experience. "I'm happy I came. I wish I could've pitched, but it's indescribable. It's something I've always wanted to do. Hopefully I can make it back here another time."

There's little doubt Harper will be back numerous times. Perhaps he'll win the Home Run Derby someday, besting his runner-up finish on Monday. And perhaps he'll deliver the key hit that sparks the NL to victory.

It didn't happen this week. But that didn't detract from the experience.

"Being able to hang out with the best players in baseball is always a blast," Harper said. "I'm looking forward to a couple more All-Star Games."

40 comments:

nats guy said...

To go back to an earlier thread. If you want a great laugh post about the situation with MASN on the MASN site with Dan Kolko. It is published for about 30 seconds and then disappears into the ethernet vapor. Hmmmmmmm!!!.

Baltimore sucks.

natsfan1a said...

I watched through the 6th, then the kit-kat and I went to bed. I liked the "most interesting triple crown winner in the world" bit with Cabrera, and the Saturday Night Fever bit with Mr. Met (hide your eyes, FP). I think Davey got a bigger hand than Collins did.

On another note, just read the quote below from the Comish. Just thinking out loud, does anybody have the phone number of the Miller High Life guy? (Wait, did I just throw Bud under the beer truck? Yes, yes I did. Don't worry, we'll find somebody, I'm sure. ;-))

Selig repeated his intention to retire in December 2014 after 22 years in office but said there are no definitive succession plans.

"I've always operated under the theory that if I get hit by a beer truck tomorrow, they'd have to find somebody," he said. "Somehow, some way they'll find somebody."

natsfan1a said...

I kid, I kid. Um, yeah.

Unknown said...

On the CSN site on the MASN post, another commenter says the deal was instrumental in Angelos "allowing" baseball to return to DC. this is another Baltimore fiction. He voted AGAINST the move, the only owner to do so. Baseball caved on the TV issue. Angelos did not get to be the sole decision maker on whether or not DC got a team back.

There are a lot of Orwellian words coming from Baltimore and their fans about this. It is an unfair situation, the only team saddled with this is the Nats, so they still are not competing on a level field!

baseballswami said...

It was originally blackmail and now it needs to be corrected. And did you hear those O's jerks yelling out their stupid, disrespectful O during the anthem?

SCNatsFan said...

Good question to win a drink i a bar - what are the two days a year there is no MLB, NHL, NBA or NFL games? Of course, the nights before and after the MLB all star game.

Don said...

OK, now back to Nats baseball. Please.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

A bunch of my posts disappeared like a ghost. Anyway, to repeat, MLB reporting the Dodgers will pitch Nolasco Friday, Greinke Saturday, and Kershaw on Sunday vs Stras, Gio and JZim.

On paper it looks low scoring. Davey better study the intracacies of "small ball" and Smart Ball.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

That story by Kilgore on Boras/Rizzo convo about Espinosa is interesting and those quotes from Davey tell me that Davey isn't impressed at all.

I think Davey wanted to see himself in Espinosa as he has talked about their similarities too often then he got the dose of reality with how many games were lost when your 7 man isn't hitting at all and couldn't even make productive outs. Rendon has shown him you can get both defense and offense and baseball smarts from other players.

natsfan1a said...

Unfortunately, yes.

baseballswami said...

It was originally blackmail and now it needs to be corrected. And did you hear those O's jerks yelling out their stupid, disrespectful O during the anthem?
July 17, 2013 8:37 AM

Tcostant said...

Glas I got Book of Mormon tickets for Thursday, these days will no baseball are tuff. I did plan for the All-Star break.

mick said...

let's get back to regular season!

mick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
baseballswami said...

Gosh these days are going to be long. I heard there is. a AAA allstar game on TV tonight? Anyone we know?

natsfan1a said...

According to my media guide, MASN is showing NLDS Game 4 again at 9 PM tomorrow. I was there but hadn't seen the telecast, so I may watch that tomorrow night or later (thanks, DVR).

alexva said...

AAA All Star Game @ 9:00 on MLB Network

NatsJack in Florida said...

Zach Walters is the only Nats rep in the AAA all star game.

Last year, it was Zack Duke. Whats's the odds on having back to back Zach's as our AAA all star rep?

alexva said...

Zach Walters the lone Nats prospect

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

NatsJack, what do you think about the Kilgore article on Espinosa.

Section 222 said...

Davey in the WP story about Espi: "He's had a real small sample."

Amen to that. On Saturday, he was 1 for 6. On Sunday he was 2 for 3. On Monday, he was 0 for 4 with 2 Ks. His last extra base hit was a home run on Friday. We are talking about the minor leagues here folks. And he's not a guy rehabbing, he's a supposed major league player playing in the minors. He should be absolutely raking, and until I see that kind of performance for a month, I'm not changing my view that he should come back in September and not a minute sooner.

When the guy who replaces you is twice as good in all the major hitting metrics, your prospects for a quick return are dim.

natsfan1a said...

I'd rather have back-to-back jacks. :-)

NJ said...

Last year, it was Zack Duke. Whats's the odds on having back to back Zach's as our AAA all star rep?

natsfan1a said...

Oops, that might be taken the wrong way. I meant dingers. Heh.

James Joyce said...

Espi is on the block right now. I hope he does rake in Cuse so that they can get something for the guy and he can move on to another organization and start over.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Ghost.....sounds to me like the spoiled kid wants his job back.

I'm more inclined to see about a 30 game sample size beyond what he's shown already. He's really the only vaible short stop replacement should something happen to Desmond.

Rizzo and Davey created this scenario, now they have to figure someting out.

Tcostant said...

I think there is little chance Espi gets traded during the season. More likely that he comes up with September callups, Davey gets him in a few favorable matchups and plays a little SS too. Then he will be traded in the offseason, as long as Desi and Rendon come out of the year heathly.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

NatsJack in Florida said...
Rizzo and Davey created this scenario, now they have to figure someting out.


Isn't that the truth. Danny reminds me so much of the petulent child who you allow to do what he wanted to do and it just deteriorated. This didn't happen overnight. It had been a process that started in mid-May 2011 for anyone who was paying attention. It's upsetting to me that there was no Plan B in Spring Training unless you consider Lombo a Plan B which he isn't.

I haven't seen Danny swing a bat in 'Cuse to know if he has changed. We all know he can hit AAA pitching with his bad mechanics and that's what worries me.

Davey said "If he doesn’t expand his zone, and when he gets a ball in his happy zone, he hits it. He doesn’t need to try to kill it."

Again, why wasn't Davey saying that from the time he took over in 2011?

JD said...


Ghost,

The whole back up SS scenario is a red herring IMO. You can pick up a Rony Cedeno or someone of that skill set if that's all you need.

The issue with Espi is that Rizzo needs him to resurrect some value so he can trade him. I see someone like the Cubs taking a flier on Espi in a deal for Garza for example for 2 reasons. They get salary relief for the rest of this year and they get a player cheap who did have a couple of respectable seasons in the big leagues and is still very cheap. I think that's a good scenario for Espi as well.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Section222, very good points.

Tcosant, yes, that's what is going to have to happen to showcase Espi for trade in the off-season but mainly Espi is the insurance right now as the only viable Shortstop in the system and if anyone says Zach Walter is a backup, I guess you haven't seen him with a glove on his hand.

Whack-a-Mule said...

Mule is not best pleased with MASN, Mr. Angelos or Mr. Selig. The tired fiction of Washington somehow being part of the Baltimore MLB market grows wearying. That somehow the magnanimous Mr. Angelos graciously allowed the MLB to return to Washington is both galling and nauseating.

The team known as the Orioles was, in the early days of Mule, known as the St. Louis Browns. After decades of profitless futility, 1954 saw them pull up stakes and migrate east to Baltimore. Since Baltimore was, and had been for over 50 years, part of the WASHINGTON baseball market, it was only by the grace of Senators' owner Calvin Griffith that the Browns were allowed to invade our space.

The territorial shenanigans that Angelos and the Orioles have been allowed to get away with vis-a-vis market share and television revenues would
shame any man of integrity.

baseballswami said...

Re- Espi. I don't disagree with any of you, but I have heard it said that it's actually easier to hit in the majors- more consistent pitching and strike zone , better fields and lighting, etc. I think the Nats have a couple of situations that need to be resolved- Moore, Marrero, Kobernus, Brown. Hopefully Moore is learning the outfield now- they really put him in a tough spot for a rookie previously. Cannot keep them all forever. Who is Moore's agent? Guessing not Boras. Just seems like something has to give. AAA team must be stacked.

Section 222 said...

I've heard that too swami, but I don't buy it. Maybe it takes a few games to get used to the lighting, but the pitchers just aren't as good. That's why they are in the minors. And that's the biggest difference, and why good major league players should be able to rake in the minors. At any rate, check out this comparison of minor league stats this year --

Espi 32 games/.212/.278/.336/.614/38 total bases.
Rendon 36 games/.307/.452/.575/1.027/73 total bases.

Granted, Rendon was playing mostly in AA. But still. Maybe it's harder to hit in the minors, but Rendon was able to do it.

hiramhover said...

The MASN deal didnt pay for Angelos to support the Nats relocation. It paid for him not to do more to oppose it.

Angelos is a greedy blustering bully. Those arent that uncommon among lawyers or businessmen or MLB owners. He drove the hardest bargain he could. The fact that he got away with it then, and that hes now been able to block the reset provision in the contract, is on Bud.

hiramhover said...

Danny Espinosa, the Natsinsider pinata that keeps on giving!

JD said...


Sec222 et al

There is no discussion but that Rendon is better than Espi and by a wide margin, no need to rehash that. My only argument with Ghost about this is that it's hard for one player to really make a huge difference in the W/L column particularly over a short time.

Ghost said that (and I am paraphrasing) having Espi play the 1st 40 games instead of Rendon may have cost us 5 games and I said and I repeat that this is nonsense:

1) firstly I don't think it was reasonable to start Rendon right at the beginning of the year so we are really talking about a subset of 40 games.

2) Even a Robinson Cano vs. a replacement player is likely to improve the team record by no more than 2 games over a 40 game span.

JD said...


Swami,

Actually, the AAA team is quite bad. Record about 10 - 15 games under .500. The pitching is atrocious with none of the starters showing any signs that they should be considered major league prospects.

The good news is that all the lower level teams have nice records and are all at least 10 games over .500 with a bunch of nice young pitching prospects. We have seen Karns and Jordan but also pitching well are: Taylor Hill, Robbie Ray.Matt Purke is coming off a couple of injury filled years and he's scuffling some but he's very talented and Sammy Solis came back from TJ, pitched well went back on the DL for shoulder fatigue and just returned again.

A.J Cole is the enigma in the group. He probably has the best stuff of the group but can't seem to be able to graduate A+ ball, he may end up a reliever if he can't improve his secondary pitches.

Section 222 said...

JD, I'm not knowledgable enough to argue over whether WAR is the one and only way to determine how much Danny hurt the team in those first 40 games. But I do reserve the right to rehash how much better Rendon is whenever a sample size if 10 games in the minors is raised as evidence that Danny is ready to come back to the bigs.

Section 222 said...

Also, now is a particularly good time to make comparisons between the two players because the have now played about the same number of games in the majors and minors this year.

JD said...


Sec222,

I have to tell you that such a comparison isn't necessary. When the disparity is so stark you can just say it.

As far as making a judgement as to how much one player can move the needle you can actually use the Nats of this year as perfect proof of my point. While we all acknowledge that the: Rendon, Abad and Krol are a big upgrade over: Espinosa, Duke and Henry, the team's record is essentially the same.

It takes many,many moving parts to make a real difference that's why I object when someone thinks that removing player 'A' will solve the problem by itself particularly if that player is a pinch hitter.

JD said...


I think there is value in considering moving Espi now. I think a resolution is necessary so the team can move on with it's plans. I don't think they can bury him in the minors forever because that can potentially erode his value even more.

If the Nats can make a move where they don't get hosed completely and if they can get a player back which can add a win or 2 to this year's total it might be time to say Sayonara Danny.

Muddy said...

I'm glad Harp and JZimm (and, okay, Davey) enjoyed the game. They deserved their selections. ... At least one more Nat shoulda been there. Bochy shoulda replaced JZimm with Clippard or Soriano so that another Nat coulda gone, like he did with the 3 other "replaced" stars; that is, pick someone from that players' team. For JZimm Bouchy selects his own player, Romo. Bruce, I love ya but you coulda done better by the Nats.

Also, since we're bashing Os today, was anyone else annoyed by Adam Jones' stunt at the ASG when, as Bryce starts his final swings at the HR derby, Jones presents himself at the Berman/Garciaparra ESPN telecast table with hot dogs and they proceed to talk about hot dogs while Bryce is crushing balls over the wall -- until ESPN abruptly and very thankful escorts Adam Jerk off the stage. I thought it was very unsportsmanlike and had to add Adam to my dirt list.

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