Results tagged ‘ All-Star Game ’

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The Washington Nationals have had plenty of All-Star worthy campaigns in 2012, from the stellar pitching atop the rotation and throughout the bullpen, to the comeback year by Adam LaRoche and the breakout campaigns of Ian Desmond and rookie Bryce Harper. But the Nationals are already guaranteed to send a pair of their own to the All-Star Game: two members of the Washington Nationals Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team.

The squad of veterans and active duty servicemen made its triumphant return to Nationals Park on April 3, playing in front of an overwhelmingly supportive crowd in an easy victory over a team of Washington-area celebrities. They have since gone on to play – and defeat – able-bodied competition throughout the season, once again proving that “life without a limb is limitless.” On Thursday, Major League Baseball announced that two members of the team will be invited to play in the 2012 Taco Bell All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball Game in Kansas City on July 8. Third baseman Saul Bosquez and shortstop Matt Kinsey will join celebrities like actor Jon Hamm, U.S. National Soccer Team captain Carlos Bocanegra, NFL quarterback Matt Cassel, and a host of former Major Leaguers for the nationally-televised event.

Matt Kinsey will play shortstop in the Taco Bell All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball Game.

When Kinsey was first told of the opportunity a couple of days ago by coach David Van Sleet, he thought he was on the wrong end of a practical joke.

“David called me the other day and told me,” explains Kinsey. “I thought he was joking around at first. I’ve never even been to an All-Star Game. So to get to play at it and attend all the events? It’s unbelievable.”

One of the most refreshing parts about chatting with the Wounded Warriors is how grateful they are for the opportunities presented to them. For those of us that work in the game, the magic of stepping out onto a Major League field can wear off as the act becomes routine. Not for Kinsey and Bosquez.

“It gets me every time,” says Bosquez about stepping onto the grass. “It doesn’t even have to be a Major League field – it means so much just for us to be stepping out on the field period. Most of us never thought we would be doing anything like this.”

Kinsey and Bosquez will get the real Major League treatment, too, as they are competing in a trio of games in Wisconsin on Saturday, and have to fly into Kansas City on Sunday morning to make it to Kaufmann Stadium in time for the game. For the duo, who have each been with the team since its inception in the Spring of 2011, it’s all still a bit overwhelming. They marvel at the progress that has been made in just over a year’s time.

Saul Bosquez, who has also been with the team since the beginning, is living the dream.

“To be there at the start, and to see where it’s at now, I would have never dreamed it,” admits Kinsey.

“It’s huge for the both of us and huge for the team,” adds Bosquez. “The best ballplayers are going to be on one field, and we get to play there. It’s surreal. I’m having trouble putting it into words.”

More so than the celebrities, the Wounded Warriors are looking forward to meeting the former players who will be taking part in the game, particularly the likes of Ozzie Smith, Ernie Banks and Mike Piazza. As a shortstop, Kinsey may have to compete with Ozzie, one of his childhood idols, for playing time.

“I don’t think I could quite kick Ozzie out of short,” he laughs. “I’d be happy to play anywhere.”

If the Wounded Warriors have the same effect in Kansas City as they have had on those around the rest of the country the last year, we get the feeling their teammates for the game will be happy to let them shine in the national spotlight.

The Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game will follow the State Farm Home Run Derby and will be televised on ESPN, beginning at approximately 10:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday, July 8.

Washington Pitchers & All-Star Game Wins

You could probably describe Tyler Clippard’s All-Star Game experience as a little out of the ordinary.

With the American League leading 1-0 in the top of the fourth inning, Clippard was brought into a jam to get the final out and prevent any more damage from being done. With runners on first and second, National League Skipper Bruce Bochy called to the bullpen for Clippard to face Adrian Beltre. Clippard quickly worked the count to 0-2, and then tried to throw an up-and-in fastball that didn’t quite get up-and-in enough. Beltre smoked it to left field for a single.

The Astros’ Hunter Pence got the ball on the hop and made the decision to throw it to home to catch a charging Jose Bautista, who was attempting to tack on an extra run. Bautista was out by about five feet at home plate. Inning over.

Fast forward to the bottom of the fourth. Two runners are on, and the Brewers’ slugging first baseman Prince Fielder is in the box for the NL. He tears the leather off the ball on a home run to center field, giving the National League a 3-1 lead. The NL would go on to win 5-1, and since Clippard was the pitcher of record when his team got the winning run, he got the win.

Clippard’s pitching line for that game would be: 0.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1 H, 3.00 WHIP. He got the win despite not even retiring a batter.

This is, oddly enough, the second year in a row that a Nationals pitcher pitched just a third of an inning and ended up with the win. Matt Capps, then the Nats’ closer, struck out the one batter he faced to end an inning in the 2010 All-Star Game. He was the pitcher of record when the NL took the lead, so he was credited with the win.

Even stranger is the fact that both Clippard and Capps were brought in to relieve a Phillies’ pitcher—Clippard came in for Cliff Lee, and Capps came in for Roy Halladay.

On a historic level of coincidence, Clippard is now the second Washington pitcher to get the All-Star Game win without having retired a batter. In 1954, Dean Stone was a representative for the Senators. He, like Clippard, was brought in to get out of a jam. But when Red Schoendienst was caught stealing home, the inning ended. Stone was the pitcher of record when the American League took the lead, so he got the win—but unlike Clippard, since the out was recorded on a caught stealing, he never actually faced a batter.

On the all-time list of winning pitchers in the All-Star Game, only four of them pitched a third of an inning. Three of them played for Washington—Stone, Capps and now Clippard. It’s an odd little tradition that’s happened for DC pitchers, but that’s one of the things that makes this game worth following, isn’t it?

Several Nationals are worthy of All-Star Nods

With only hours remaining for fans to vote for their favorite players for the 2011 All-Star Game, it’s time to take a look at the Nationals’ candidates for the Midsummer Classic. The Nationals strong month of June has brought more recognition to some of their hottest players and many Nats are making a case to be in Arizona on July 12. Unlike years past, where the team’s lone selection has been pretty clear cut—this year the Nats have a chance to send multiple players to the All-Star Game.

If you’re talking about the potential NL All-Star infield, it’s going to be tough to leave Danny Espinosa out of the conversation. He’s leading all rookies in multiple offensive categories—home runs (15), triples (4), slugging percentage (.465), and OPS (.788). He’s been stellar at second base so far this season, helping provide a wall of defense up the middle. Espinosa is certainly making his case to not only be a Nationals representative in the All-Star Game, but to be Rookie of the Year as well.

Along with Espi, you’ve got Michael Morse leading the Club’s current power surge. Morse has also hit 15 home runs—and with a .550 slugging percentage, he’s currently fifth overall in the NL in that category. After getting off to a slow start, Morse absolutely took off. In May he batted .403 with a 1.196 OPS, and in June he hit more than half of his home runs so far this year and maintained a .299 average. While, admittedly, his position (first base) is going to be tough for him to compete in, he’s at least put his name into the mix. 

Then you’ve got the beast of the bullpen—Drew Storen. Storen is currently 12th in the NL in saves, having gone 19 for 22 in save opportunities. He has a 2.90 ERA with 32 strikeouts. But, better than that, he’s held opponents to a .188 average while posting a WHIP of just 0.99. Matt Capps represented the Nationals in the 2010 All-Star Game and Storen hopes to make it two DC All-Star closers in a row.

From the starting rotation, Jason Marquis is making a strong case to go to Arizona for the All-Star Game. He’s currently leading the team in wins, with seven, and is in the midst of a rebound season having recovered from the arm surgery he had last season. He’s posted an ERA of 3.62 with a WHIP of 1.39 and has been one of the team’s most consistent starters.

Jordan Zimmermann is also rebounding from injury in his first full season since going under the knife for Tommy John surgery in 2009. Zimmermann is currently seventh in the NL in WHIP (1.07) and fifth in the NL in ERA (2.63). He’s had trouble getting run support and is currently only 5-7, but it’s clear he’s a force to be reckoned with when he’s on the mound, having recorded a quality start in 13 of his 16 outings. JZ is also worthy of a trip to the Midsummer Classic.

The fan vote most-likely won’t determine the Nationals’ selection(s) but we’ll find out which Nats stars will be All-Stars very soon.

Walk it out

Ryan Zimmerman Walk off c.jpgRyan Zimmerman proved once again why he deserves a spot in Anaheim. He has been the Nationals most dependable player and always seems to come up big in big situations. You can call him Mr. Walk-off, if you would like. With the scored tied 5-5 in the bottom of the ninth, Zimmerman hit a walk-off home run to the deepest part of Nationals Park to give the Nationals a much-needed 6-5 victory.

It was his second home run of the game. In the bottom of the fourth inning–just after the Racing Presidents finished their race and held signs that read “Send Zimm to Anaheim”–he blasted a solo shot to left, a few rows above the visiting bullpen.

“Zim is just an all-around All-Star, regardless if he makes the All-Star team or not,” Willie Harris said to “He is an All-Star in our locker room–he is a leader, and he’s our guy. That’s all [there is] to it. He’s a star, even when he’s not playing baseball. He’s an All-Star guy.”

The Nationals struggled to score runs in June, lost late leads and that led them to lose a lot of close games. It looked like last night was going to end the same way after the Padres scored three runs in the eighth to tie the game at 5-5. But this time the Nats finished on the right side of a nail-biter–their Major League leading 49th game decided by two runs or less. The Nats are 3-2 at the midway point of their 10 game homestand and all three wins have come in walk-off fashion. Zimmerman began the homestand on Thursday with a walk-off sacrifice fly.

Ryan Zimmerman Walk off 2 c.JPGIt has only been two games since it was announced that Zimmerman was a final vote candidate but he is making it count. He is 6-for-9 with six RBI, two home runs and three runs. There are only two days remaining to cast your vote so you might as well start right now.
You can vote HERE. And then you can vote HERE too. And while you are at it, you might as well vote one more time right HERE. There isn’t a limit. Much like there is no limit to how good Ryan Zimmerman can be… and that’s why you should vote right HERE to send him to Anaheim. He might even hit a walk-off home run to win the game, so you might as well vote HERE.

Ryan Zimmerman trails Joey Votto after two days of voting

Vote Ryan Zimmerman.JPGIt is up to you to send Ryan Zimmerman to Anaheim.


On Sunday, Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel and MLB announced that Matt Capps would represent the Nationals in the 81st All-Star Game. You now have the chance to send Ryan Zimmerman to Anaheim with him.


Zimmerman is one of the five nominees for the 2010 All-Star Game Final Vote along with Billy Wagner, Joey Votto, Heath Bell and Carlos Gonzalez. But the only name you need to remember is Ryan Zimmerman. You know, the defending NL Gold Glover and Silver Slugger third baseman, who also won ESPN’s initial 2009 Web Gem Championship. He is currently hitting .286 with 14 home runs and 44 RBI. Zimmerman’s three-hit, homer, four-RBI effort Sunday vs. the Mets launched his All-Star campaign.


Nationals fans interested in helping Zimmerman join Capps in Anaheim can vote HERE. And then you can vote HERE too. And while you are at it, you might as well vote one more time right HERE. There isn’t a limit. Much like there is no limit to how good Ryan Zimmerman can be… and that’s why you should vote right HERE to send him to Anaheim.

PEOPLE All-Stars Among Us: Mark Bergel

Earlier this month Major League Baseball, PEOPLE and the Washington Nationals announced the three local finalists for the 2010 “PEOPLE All-Stars Among Us” national campaign, which debuted in 2009 and recognizes individuals who are serving their community in extraordinary ways.


The Nationals finalists are Mark Bergel of Bethesda, Md., Kat Lanigan of Herndon, Va., and Joe Mornini of Rockville, Md. Notes From NatsTown will feature thoughts from each local All-Star on why they should represent the Nationals at the 2010 All-Star game in Anaheim.


The choice is yours. Vote HERE through Sunday, June 20.


Mark and others with dresser c.jpgMy name is Mark Bergel and I am the founder and Executive Director of A Wider Circle. A good way to share with you what we do–and why your vote can help so many in need–is to have you to take a journey with me.


Imagine driving home tonight. You pull into the parking lot or driveway in front of your home. It is littered with glass and garbage. You hear screaming and yelling from the homes all around you. The security door doesn’t work; in fact, the doorknob isn’t even there. You just reach in the hole and pull open the door. You walk into your living room and see nothing but an old TV in the corner, on the floor. You have one chair–it is also old and it is dirty. That is all the furniture you have–your dining room is a dining room in name only, you have no table, no chairs, and nothing else in the space. Your kitchen has bare cupboards and there is half a piece of meat and some ketchup in the fridge.


As you walk into the bedroom, your children are lying on the floor, trying to sleep. You have no beds for them. This is your home. Nothing on which to relax, nowhere for your family to gather. This is poverty.




Bedroom before N2N work c.jpgAfter:

Bedroom after N2N c.JPGThe moment I started A Wider Circle was in one of these apartments. I was a volunteer bringing emergency food to people around the region. In this apartment lived a grandmother, mother, and two children. The grandmother had oxygen in her nose, used a walker and reminded me of my 80-year-old grandmother. She was 35. Her daughter was 20, and in extremely poor health. The two children were four and five, and they showed all the signs of a life in poverty, from their teeth to their skin to the clothes they wore.


I sat there with them, knowing I was witness to the cycles of poverty, and knowing that the energy and the resources existed in our region, in each of us, to break these cycles. I knew we could help these families get and stay out of poverty. So far, we have served 50,000 of these individuals. With your help, we can serve all those in our region – and we can show what is possible when those of us who can help make it a priority to do so.


At A Wider Circle our mission is to help children and families lift themselves out of poverty. We not only turn empty apartments into comfortable, stable homes, we provide life skills education and professional development so children and adults have a greater sense of the potential and the abilities they have inside. We work in schools and shelters–we go wherever the needs are the greatest. Please vote for me to help bring more solutions to the children in our nation’s capital, and to the mothers who are raising them with the hope of their achieving far more than what seems possible today. Believe in this dream, and help make it a reality for our neighbors in need.

Meet me in St. Louis

For the first time in his career, Ryan Zimmerman is headed to the All-Star game! The game will be played on Tuesday, July 14th in St. Louis.

You have the ability to make sure Zimmerman is not the only Nat in St. Louis this year. Cristian Guzman has the opportunity to join him, but he needs your help! Cristian is a 2009 All-Star Final Vote candidate for the 33rd spot on the National League Roster. Only your votes can send him to the Midsummer Classic! Click HERE to send Cristian to the All-Star game for the second year in a row!GUZasgbutton.jpg

“Vote [Guzman] in, fans — we are trying to rally our troops in the Dominican Republic,” manager Manny Acta said.

The other All-Star Final Vote candidates are:
Matt Kemp – LAD
Mark Reynolds – ARI
Pablo Sandoval – SF
Shane Victorino – PHI

Nats fall to the Yankees 5-3 in their first visit to the new Yankee Stadium

The Nationals lost 5-3 last night to CC Sabathia and the New York Yankees but there were some bright spots in the game. Shairon Martis had a solid outing going 6.0 innings while giving up two runs, one earned, on only four hits. He did not factor into the decision, keeping his overall record at 5-1.

anderson hernandez hr.jpg

On the offensive side, Anderson Hernandez blasted a three-run shot, his first of the season, to left field which put the Nats ahead 3-2. The lead was short lived as some timely hitting by New York and some defensive miscues allowed the Yankees to regain the lead. Reliever Ron Villone picked up the loss, and closer Mariano Rivera entered in the 9th to shut down the Nats for his 15th save of the season.

Villone’s loss to the Yankees on Tuesday night was his fourth in his last four appearances. According to Elias, over the last 10 seasons, only three other pitchers suffered losses in four consecutive relief outings: Brian Fuentes (2007), Fausto Carmona (2006), and Rheal Cormier (2001).

In other Nationals news:

With rumors of a managerial shake up in DC, the Nationals players show their support for Manager Manny Acta.

Teams around the Major Leagues, including the Nats, are using some creative ways to get their players voted into the All-Star Game.

– Long Island native John Lannan is looking forward to his first start at Yankee Stadium.

All-Star ballot update


The NL All-Star ballot update was released today. Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is seeking his first selection to the Mid-Summer Classic but needs help from you, the fans. For the third week in a row, he sits in second place behind Mets third baseman David Wright by approximately 336,000 votes. Outfielder Adam Dunn ranks 12th in the voting for the second straight week. Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times HERE until July 2 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Starting rosters will be announced during the 2009 All-Star Game Selection Show on July 5.