Nationals

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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Wild-card tracker: Nationals thankful for Marlins, Cubs slide back

Wild-card tracker: Nationals thankful for Marlins, Cubs slide back

Back before all this mania, Miami, as putrid as its season would be, loomed as a factor.

Handling the Marlins would be key for any contender. It wasn’t a question of winning, but of how much winning would occur against one of the league’s worst teams.

Following Friday’s 6-4 win in a sparsely attended Marlins Park, the Nationals moved to 14-3 against Miami this season. They are 16 games over. 500 for the year. They are plus-11 against Miami alone.

Asdrúbal Cabrera homered again, Trea Turner hit two homers, and Daniel Hudson pitched two innings to earn the save. So, the Nationals, 84-68, hold a one-game lead for the top wild-card spot. Milwaukee won again, joining a long list of teams to beat up on the Pittsburgh Pirates since the post-All-Star-break portion of the schedule began. Pittsburgh may be the league’s worst team, at the moment, and the Brewers host it for two more this weekend.

Trouble is brewing for Chicago. It lost again to St. Louis -- this time a 2-1 mid-day defeat in Wrigley Field. The Cubs have lost four in a row. They are three games behind the Nationals and two behind the Brewers. Their path to 90 wins, which may ultimately be the threshold for postseason entrance, is narrowing.

The Mets won their third consecutive game. They are hanging around, 3 ½ games behind the Brewers with nine remaining on the schedule. Their wild-card elimination number is six.

News for Philadelphia is more dire. The Phillies dropped to 78-74 Friday night following a 5-2 loss in Cleveland. They are now five behind Milwaukee. Their wild-card elimination number is a mere five. 

Which brings us to the more detailed math portion of this program. Here are the postseason chances for each team, according to fivethirtyeight.com:

Nationals, 96 percent

Brewers, 84 percent

Cubs, 15 percent

Mets, 5 percent

Phillies, less than one percent

Coming up Saturday:

St. Louis at Chicago, 2:20 p.m., Hudson (16-7, 3.35 ERA) vs. Quintana (13-8, 4.37)

New York at Cincinnati, 4:10 p.m., Wheeler (11-7, 4.09) vs. DeSclafani (9-9, 3.93)

Washington at Miami, 6:10 p.m., Strasburg (17-6, 3.49) vs. Yamamoto (4-5, 4.87)

Philadelphia at Cleveland, 7:10 p.m., Vargas (6-8, 4.48) vs. Plesac (8-6, 3.64)

Pittsburgh at Milwaukee, 7:10 p.m., Marvel (0-2, 9.00) vs. Davies (10-7, 3.70)

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Beyond the Scoreboard: NLL changes and social responsibility

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USA TODAY Sports

Beyond the Scoreboard: NLL changes and social responsibility

By Rick Horrow

Podcast edited by Tanner Simkins

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST

  1. SportsBusiness Journal lauds corporate social responsibility. Amidst a recent roundup of sports CSR initiatives, SportsBusiness Journal noted that the first project on which educational platform developer EverFi collaborated with a sports property was “a financial literacy program that regional bank BBVA offered for use by elementary school students in a handful of NBA markets, including Dallas, Houston, and Phoenix.” When Houston hosted the NBA All-Star Game in 2013, league sponsor BBVA arranged for Rockets star James Harden to appear at a participating school. “While it’s cool to have a BBVA banker come into the classroom, it’s even cooler if James Harden shows up,” said Jon Chapman, co-founder and president of global partnerships for EverFi, which has developed online educational modules on topics ranging from financial literacy to STEM to anti-bullying, branded for presentation by teams, leagues, and sponsors. After Houston, EverFi developed educational modules for the NHL and NHLPA around science, technology, engineering and math; for the NFL and the United Way around character development and African American history; for MLB focusing on learning loss during summer vacation; and with MLS around anti-bullying. We look forward to celebrating a Sport Business Handbook event with EverFi at their Washington, DC headquarters on October 2
  2. The National Lacrosse League announces details for the 2019-2020 season, which include divisional realignment, playoff format and schedule type after the addition of two expansion teams and new market Halifax. The league will feature 13 teams in the upcoming season after fielding 11 last year. To accommodate the addition of expansion teams, the New York Riptide, Rochester Knighthawks, and new market Halifax Thunderbirds, as well as maintaining an eye towards continued expansion, the NLL will shift to a three-division format in 2019-2020. “The league has had unprecedented expansion over the last three years. With two more teams coming in this year along with a new market in Halifax, we felt the need to reexamine conference alignments, schedule and playoff formats to prepare for future expansion. We also wanted to create exciting rivalries for the fans, the best travel scenarios for teams and players and competitive match-ups for our 13 franchises,“ said NLL Commissioner and Sport Business Handbook contributor Nick Sakiewicz. Along with unprecedented expansion, the NLL is clearly looking at unprecedented success.
  3. Cal Ripken, Jr.’s celebrity golf tournament draws in legendary athletes across major U.S. sports leagues. According to the Patriot News, the event, featuring such legends as Julius Erving, Lawrence Taylor, Ozzie Smith, and Jim McMahon, was held to benefit the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation. The inaugural golf outing was held in 2011, and since then, the event has raised several million dollars for the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation. The principal goals of the foundation are to utilize baseball- and softball-themed programs in an effort to build character and teach life lessons to underprivileged children. Founded in 2001, the Foundation has served kids in all 50 states and in other countries such as Canada and Nicaragua. With over 20 Hall of Famers across the NFL and MLB, the event has an impressive amount of star power to help draw attention to giving back to those less privileged through baseball and softball.