KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- There's a good chance Major League Baseball's All-Star Game will be played in Washington in July 2015.
Though the league hasn't yet announced where the Midsummer Classic will take place beyond next year (when the New York Mets will host), the 2014 game is expected to be played in Minnesota, with the 2015 game either in Washington or Miami. And according to a league source familiar with commissioner Bud Selig's thinking, the Nationals are currently the frontrunners to host the game over the Marlins.
Members of the Lerner family have long expressed their desire to bring the All-Star Game to the District, which hosted the event at Griffith Stadium in 1937 and 1956 and then at what became known as RFK Stadium in 1962 and 1969. And MLB officials have supported a Midsummer Classic at Nationals Park since the facility opened in 2008.
The only hangup has been a desire for more commercial development around the ballpark, a process that was stalled by a poor economy. There has been increased construction in the area this year, however, and more is expected to be completed by the time the 2015 game would be played.
If the Nationals don't land the 2015 All-Star Game, they would again be frontrunners for the 2017 game, which Selig prefers alternates each year between NL and AL ballparks.
Though Minnesota's Target Field and the new Yankee Stadium are the only recently opened AL ballparks that have yet to host an All-Star Game, there are several NL franchises that are still waiting to land the game at their recently opened parks: the Nationals, Marlins, Padres, Reds and Phillies.
"Teams are desperate for the game, and I really have my hands full trying to juggle through the next few years trying to be as fair as possible," Selig said today during a Q&A session with members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. "Ten, 15 years ago you had to beg people to take it. You had to offer them some other kind of carrots for them to take this game."
Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez became the first former Nationals player (2005-present) to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday. He was inducted in his first year of eligibility, marking the 52nd first-ballot hall of famer in history.
Rodriguez, who was the first free agent signed by current Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, played the final two seasons of his career with Washington in 2010-11. During his time in D.C. he hit .254 six homers and 68 RBI. Pudge's greatest contribution to the Nationals came from his leadership and work ethic. He guided Stephen Strasburg through his rookie season and also helped develop Wilson Ramos so he could pass the torch to him.
During his 21-year career, Pudge made 14 all-star teams, won 13 gold gloves, won seven silver slugger awards, led his league in caught-steeling percentage nine times, and was named American League MVP in 1999 with the Texas Rangers. He became a World Series champion in 2003 with the Florida Marlins. Pudge's 13 gold gloves are the most ever by a catcher, and his 2,844 career hits are the most ever by a player who appeared in 50 percent or more of their career games as a catcher.
In addition to Rodriguez, former Montreal Expos great Tim Raines was inducted to the Hall of Fame. Raines is the franchise leader (Expos/Nationals) in walks (793), runs (947), stolen bases (635) and triples (82). Raines was an all-star seven times and he won a silver slugger in 1986 with the Expos. He is the only player in MLB history with at least 100 triples, 150 homers and 600 RBI in a career, and the only player to steal at least 70 bases in six consecutive seasons.
Related: Bryce Harper wants Nationals to spend money on players, not team store
Bryce Harper isn't one to keep his opinions to himself. The Nationals slugger is outspoken about what he wants, whether that's to "Make Baseball Fun Again" or to make at least $400 million on his next contract.
On Wednesday, he gave his take on how the Nats should be investing their money this summer. Here's Harper responding to a tweet from ESPN's Jim Bowden.
Harper's message: Players over everything else. Sorry, gift shop.
It's plain to see where the 2015 NL MVP is going with this. Obviously, he wants as much talent around him as possible for a chance to win the World Series.
Matt Wieters, a four-time All-Star catcher, and Greg Holland, a two-time All-Star closer, could be significant additions to Washington's roster.
Harper is set to become a free agent in 2018, at which point an organization like the New York Yankees will be prepared to offer him both a massive salary and a massive investment in the players around him.
The slugger probably hopes his current team will try to surround him with winning pieces in an effort to keep him. But if a report about the Nationals' reaction to his contract demands proves accurate, they may have another agenda.
There's Harper drama around the Nationals? Just a regular Wednesday here in Washington.
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