Some random observations about the All-Star Game festivities at Nationals Park from a writer covering his first Midsummer Classic ...
* Though I really hate it when I see a team’s jersey that’s not one of the teams playing in a game - say, an interloper in Yankees pinstripes at a Reds-Nationals game - it’s been fun to see jerseys from all 30 major league teams already at Nationals Park. I’ve even seen a few retro throwbacks - think Senators, Browns, Expos, Pilots - for teams who have long since faded into baseball’s past. Nothing wrong with repping your favorite team, regardless of location or era, at an All-Star Game. In fact, it creates a beautiful tapestry.
* Early pick for the MVPs of this week? The hearty men and women wearing the mascot costumes in typical mid-Atlantic mid-July heat and humidity. I hope there are cases of cold ones awaiting Teddy, Screech, Dinger, Orbit and all of their brethern at the end of their All-Star days. Much respect. I don’t care if Billy the Marlin is from Miami; these steamy conditions make folks wearing shorts and t-shirts wilt.
* I really love the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game. It’s a perfect way to whet the appetites of serious connoisseurs of prospects by giving them an up close and personal look at the stars of tomorrow. But is Sunday afternoon really the best time to stage the game? It’s still competing against Sunday major league games. Monday night isn’t feasible, given the Home Run Derby. Wednesday won’t work - Major League Baseball has to keep that day free for the All-Star Game in case weather complicates matters. Maybe a noontime game on the morning of the All-Star Game. Makes for a long day, sure, but if you’re seeking baseball nirvana ...
* Biggest pop at the Celebrity Softball Game? Hands-down, Bill Nye, the Science Guy. Good thing he has that science thing to fall back on, since he’s not, shall we say, very athletic at all. But he’s a longtime Senators fan, having been born in D.C. 62 years ago. Second-biggest reaction I heard was a surprise: Dascha Polanco of “Orange Is the New Black,” who looked like she was having more fun than most of the celebrities. And she’s got an arm!
* I don’t understand the carping about the cranes beyond the outfield walls at Nationals Park. What were the construction crews supposed to do, shut down for a week and move the mammoth machinery elsewhere until July 19? It’s taken a while for the neighborhoods around Nationals Park to grow, and the arrival of restaurants, retail and hotels are only going to enhance the environment. Remember, the ballpark opened in the worst economic downturn in recent memory. Some people aren’t aware that buildings that were under construction near the stadium simply halted construction because funds couldn’t be found to continue the process. Some buildings sat unfinished for several years. It’s the price of progress.
* Based solely on my friends’ reviews, the All-Star FanFest has been a walk-off grand slam. I still remember going to the FanFest at the Baltimore Convention Center adjacent to Camden Yards in 1993, batting against a movie of Hall of Famer Jim Palmer pitching and lining a shot right off of Palmer’s cap. There’s no other way to say it: Memories are made at FanFest.
* If you see Mark Lerner today or tomorrow, thank him for bringing the All-Star Game to D.C. It’s been one of his pet projects since his family purchased the Nationals, and he wouldn’t take no for an answer.
* The Nationals representing D.C. in the All-Star Game already have plenty of swag at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, according to a release issued this morning by the museum.
Bryce Harper has the bat he used to hit three home runs in a May 6, 2015 game against the Marlins and the jersey he wore when slamming a pair of longballs against the Phillies on May 4, 2018.
Max Scherzer has the Nationals cap he wore when he threw one of his no-hitters and the Tigers jersey he wore when he recorded his 20th victory of the season on Sept. 20, 2013.