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Reds start countdown to 2015 All-Star game

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Reds start countdown to 2015 All-Star game

CINCINNATI (AP) The Reds started a countdown to a 2015 All-Star game on Wednesday by breaking out the bunting and bursting into a standing ovation.

A few of them also started to dream about playing in it.

Commissioner Bud Selig awarded the midsummer game to Cincinnati on Wednesday, rewarding years of persistence by Reds owner Bob Castellini. The city hasn't hosted an All-Star game since 1988, when the Reds played at Riverfront Stadium.

``I can't imagine what's going to happen, but I think it's going to be beautiful,'' said second baseman Brandon Phillips, a two-time All-Star under contract through 2017.

The Reds lobbied hard for years to get the game.

It'll be the fifth time that the game is played in Cincinnati, which was the stage for one of the most memorable All-Star moments. Pete Rose bowled over Indians catcher Ray Fosse to win the 1970 game at Riverfront Stadium.

The 1988 game was something of a disappointment. Rain wiped out the home run derby events, and the American League won the game 2-1 a day later with the winning run scoring on a sacrifice fly.

The Reds moved into Great American Ball Park in 2003. Castellini became controlling partner in the ownership group after the 2005 season and was determined to bring the game back to his home city.

It'll be played in New York this year, followed by Minneapolis in 2014.

``I'll say one thing for Bob: Man, he is persistent,'' Selig said. ``I could use a couple other terms to describe him. One starts, `A pain in ...' But tenacity is a great virtue.''

Baseball's oldest professional franchise has enjoyed a renaissance in the last few years. Under Castellini's leadership, the Reds reached the playoffs twice in the last three seasons, ending a 15-year postseason drought.

The franchise hosted the Civil Rights Game in 2009 and 2010, impressing Major League Baseball with its handling of one of its premier events. Former Reds shortstop Barry Larkin was inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., last summer, putting the spotlight back on the franchise.

Now, the All-Star game.

``If we'd been able to bring the Reds along to where they're a perennial contender - which we feel we're on the verge of doing - that has to be the biggest challenge we've had in this ownership,'' Castellini said. ``Then to have a jewel of having the All-Star game - we can only surpass that by having the World Series.''

Selig informed Castellini a few months ago that it appeared Cincinnati would get the 2015 game. The Reds brought business and community leaders, along with fans and members of the front office, to the announcement at the ballpark on Wednesday.

They gave a 30-second standing ovation when Selig announced the All-Star choice. The videoboards on the field lit up with the news.

Phillips, outfielder Jay Bruce and manager Dusty Baker were among those seated at the front of the room.

``It's only fitting that we get it here very quickly,'' Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan said. ``One of the things I missed in my career - I didn't miss much - I never got a chance to play an All-Star game in the city I was playing in. Brandon and Jay, you guys will get that opportunity. And Dusty, you'll get a chance to manage.''

Baker returns this season on a two-year deal. He would manage the NL All-Star team if the Reds won the league title in 2014.

Bruce and Phillips have each played in two All-Star games. They heard Morgan talk about what he missed as a player and started thinking about what it would be like to be introduced as an All-Star in their ballpark.

``It would be nice,'' Phillips said. ``If I'm not starting, then I have a problem. That's just how I look at it. To bring the game here, it's nice for the city more than the players. To hear Joe say he never played (an All-Star game) in Cincinnati - maybe I can say I did.''

Mayor Mark Mallory, who holds a special place in baseball blooper lore, noted that he started pushing to get an All-Star game in 2003. He said that Selig awarded it despite his opening day gaffe in 2007, when the major's ceremonial pitch stuck in his hand and bounded up the first base line.

The toss is shown in video collections of worst ceremonial pitches.

``That was a tough day,'' Mallory said. ``My good friend Bob Castellini tried to console me that day. He put his arm around me and told me nobody's going to remember this tomorrow. Nice try, Bob.''

Selig also announced that Major League Baseball was donating $1.5 million toward an urban youth academy in the city. It'll be baseball's seventh such academy, the first in the Midwest. It provides free instruction in baseball and softball, and has educational programs.

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Follow Joe Kay on Twitter:http://twitter.com/apjoekay

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Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Kemba Walker, Dwight Howard, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:

WASHINGTON WIZARDS VS. CHARLOTTE HORNETS

Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 7 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 6 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

On a roll

The Wizards have some serious momentum going right now. With an impressive win over the Cavs on Thursday, they have now won three straight games and eight of 10 since John Wall went down with a left knee injury. They had a week off due to the All-Star break, but didn't show any rust at all in their first game back.

The Wizards are now 34-24, 10 games above the .500 mark. They are fourth in the East and could move into third on Friday if they win and the Cavaliers lose. Even with Wall out, things continue to look up for Washington.

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

Hornets have had their number

The Wizards haven't done so well against the Hornets so far this season. Charlotte has taken both meetings and that includes a 24-point win on Jan. 17. That game featured Dwight Howard taunting the Wizards late in the fourth quarter.

Howard has killed the Wizards through two games with averages of 22.0 points and 14.0 rebounds. Jeremy Lamb (20.0 ppg vs. Wizards) has been a big factor as well as All-Star Kemba Walker (21.5 ppg vs. Wizards).

The last time these teams played about a month ago frustrations boiled over in an incident that got Tim Frazier ejected. Michael Carter-Williams picked a fight with Jason Smith and Frazier went off:

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

Hornets coming in hot

The Hornets are outside the playoff picture at the moment at eight games below .500, but they have won two straight games and Walker and Howard are coming off huge games. In a win over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, Walker dropped 31 points and Howard grabbed 24 rebounds.

Those guys will be riding a high coming into Washington on Friday. But it should be noted that Howard complained after the game how tired he is at this point in the season. That exhausion could affect him more in the second game of a back-to-back.

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS

 

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' huge road win over Cavaliers, including Markieff Morris' alley-oop

5 must-see moments from Wizards' huge road win over Cavaliers, including Markieff Morris' alley-oop

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Washington Wizards' 110-103 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night...

1. The Wizards didn't start out well, as they trailed by nine points at the end of the first quarter. Kelly Oubre, Jr. stumbled early by missing four of his first six shots and it looked like a carryover of his slump before the All-Star break.

But Oubre got hot in the second quarter and helped the Wizards turn the game around. This was one of his best plays, a two-handed slam that he celebrated with an emphatic scream to the crowd:

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

2. Tomas Satoransky was one of the stars of the game. He had 17 points to go along with eight assists, four rebounds and two steals. 

Here's one of his dimes, a perfect alley-oop lob to Markieff Morris, who finished with nine points and eight rebounds:

3. Satoransky has reached double-figures in six of the 10 games since John Wall went out with an injury. This was a very impressive move, a stepback fadeaway that was super smooth:

RELATED: GET TO KNOW NEW WIZARDS FREE AGENT SIGNING

4. Ian Mahinmi made some key contributions including four offensive rebounds and a steal. This was his best basket, a powerful slam that came at a key time:

5. This play helped seal the victory. It was a smart after-timeout set drawn up by head coach Scott Brooks and it worked to perfection:

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS