July 9, 2012
As the 2012 All-Star Game approaches, Kansas City is getting great publicity for the fine renovations to the home of the Royals, Kauffman Stadium.. ESPN just had an interesting spot on the atmospheric conditions that make for more home runs there than in most other stadiums, even though it has above-average outfield dimensions: 385 feet vs. 372 aggregate MLB average. One thing's for sure, that big waterfall sure looks inviting on a hot, sweltering summer day!
I was fortunate to see a game at Kauffman Stadium for the first time last August, with my brother Dan.
In recognition of the first All-Star Game to be played in Kansas City since 1973, I made several significant updates to the Municipal Stadium diagrams. (I know, there was never an All-Star game there, but the Kauffman Stadium diagrams are already up to "speed." For the first time, there is both a 1923 and a 1942 version of Municipal Stadium, showing that at times in its minor league / negro league history, there was no inner fence. Exactly when this was the case is not quite certain, however.
There were a few last-minute changes to this year's All-Star roster. Ian Desmond decided to opt out because he has a strained oblique muscle and needs time to heal, but you wouldn't know it from his hitting lately. (See below!) With another slot open because of an injury to the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton, Bryce Harper was invited to make the trip to K.C., which makes him the youngest position player ever to become an All-Star. See MLB.com. That's quite an honor, which I think is fitting. He has definitely provided a key lift to the Washington Nationals when they were hurting earlier this spring, helping keep them on top in the National League East. With Washingtonians eagerly anticipating postseason play this year, the three Nationals players who will be in the All-Star Game will have an added motivation to get the home field advantage for the National League.
The Saturday game between the Nationals and the Colorado Rockies went very well, with Gio Gonzalez getting his 12th win of the year, while Ian Desmond hit his 16th home run. The bullpen held, and the Nats won, 4-1. It looked like the same thing on Sunday, as Ian got his 17th home run and Roger Bernadina hustled his way to an insurance run in the seventh inning. With a score of 3-1, Jordan Zimmermann was in line to get his fifth win of the season, but this time the usually-reliable relief pitching staff choked badly. In the eighth inning, Sean Burnett gave up a home run to Eric Young and then two more singles, after which he got yanked. Then Michael Gonzalez came in and threw a wild pitch that allowed the tying run to score. Argh! Then in the top of the ninth, the superb (provisional) closing pitcher Tyler Clippard did the same thing, throwing a wild pitch that gave the Rockies a 4-3 lead. Argh-h-h-!!! In the bottom of the ninth, the Nats tried desperately to fight back. Ian Desmond singled, and the Nats had runners on second and third, but then Jesus Flores struck out to end the game. It's too bad, because the Nationals were this close to reaching the 50-win mark going into the All-Star break. Instead they are 49-34, which is still pretty darned good.
The Home Run Derby is just getting under way, so I'd better sign off for now...