Patrick Reusse: All-Star Game not what it once was, but let's celebrate anyway

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 7, 2014 - 7:24 AM

This All-Star Game comes to the Twin Cities with the host team ticketed for another 90-loss season.

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Harmon Killebrew hit a tying home run for the American League in the 1965 All-Star Game at Metropolitan Stadium. That was the first of three Midsummer Classics with Minnesota as host.

Photo: Kent Kobersteen, Star Tribune file photo

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The World Series was this country’s most important sports event in 1965, and baseball’s All-Star Game was in the top five. When people referred to the game as “the Midsummer Classic,” they did so with reverence.

The game was scheduled for July 13 at Met Stadium. We were anxious to show the nation’s TV viewers that they were wrong … that it didn’t snow in Minnesota in July.

On the Sunday before the All-Star break, Harmon Killebrew hit a 3-2 pitch from the Yankees’ Pete Mikkelsen with two outs in the bottom of the ninth for a two-run home run to give the Twins a 6-5 victory.

The Twins were five games in front in the American League. A half-dozen of our heroes were on the 25-player AL squad: catcher Earl Battey and first baseman Killebrew as starters, along with pitcher Jim Grant, shortstop Zoilo Versalles and outfielders Tony Oliva and Jimmie Hall.

I’m telling you, baseball had our hearts pumping and our corpuscles jumping that summer. And it couldn’t get better than this, a chance to show off two beloved institutions: our erector set of a ballpark on the Bloomington prairie, and these half-dozen All-Stars from our first-place ballclub.

Twenty years later, the All-Star Game returned and baseball barely had a pulse in these parts. It was Year 4 in the Metrodome, a much-derided plastic ballpark, and the Twins were in sixth place and 11 games behind in the seven-team AL West.

Tom Brunansky was the sole Twins representative as a reserve outfielder — one man on what was a 28-player roster.

To emphasize this contrast in our All-Star history, the 1965 game was a classic, 6-5 in favor of the National League, and the 1985 game was a 6-1 snooze-fest, also in favor of the Nationals.

The All-Star Game arrives next week for the third time in Minnesota, and we have to admit the condition of baseball here is much closer to what it was in July 1985 than the fervor on the Bloomington prairie of 1965.

The 2014 Twins have started a fourth annual charge destined to carry them well into the 90s for losses. Right now, the Twins have less to offer than the Astros, the White Sox or the Rangers, making them solid favorites to finish with the worst record in the American League.

The positive is that the camera shots from Target Field are going to be much more appealing than they were from the Metrodome. This time, we have the ballpark to impress the nation’s baseball fans, at least.

An initial 33 eligible players were named for the two All-Star rosters on Sunday night. A 34th player is added with a vote to drive traffic to MLB.com. This will be followed by numerous substitutions for actual injuries, sort-of injuries and starting pitchers who were intentionally lined up to pitch for their clubs next Sunday.

The Twins were generously provided with two spots (rather than the compulsory one) among the AL’s first 33: catcher Kurt Suzuki and closer Glen Perkins. Suzuki was deserving of his first-ever All-Star designation, and Perky was a candidate among many qualified one-inning relievers.

The deal is, Suzuki is still a stranger in these parts, having been here for 55 percent of one season, and as someone who goes about his business with low-key efficiency. As for Perkins, he didn’t get to pitch as a first-time All-Star, but he figures to get at least one NL batter this time.

Perkins might have to settle for a tie when it comes to an ovation for a reliever during pregame introductions at the All-Star Game.

As part of an amazing comeback, Pat Neshek, a local fellow and a former Twin, was named as a National League reliever.

Back in 2007, Neshek was among the five candidates to be voted on by the public after his phenomenal first half with the Twins. He threw reasonably hard from his funky delivery. Eventually, his velocity left as his elbow went bad. He underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the 2010 season.

He’s come back from that, and he and his wife, Stephanee, have come back from tragedy — the loss of son Gehrig on his first day of life in October 2012.

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NY Yankees - LP: M. Pineda 0 FINAL
Toronto - WP: D. Hutchison 2
Detroit - LP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: C. Sale 6
Chicago Cubs - WP: F. Doubront 5 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: J. Masterson 1
Cincinnati - LP: A. Simon 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: V. Worley 3
Minnesota - LP: J. Burton 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: A. Miller 3
Philadelphia - WP: J. Williams 7 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: B. Colon 2
Miami - WP: J. Cosart 4 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: A. Harang 0
Boston - LP: A. Webster 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: J. Odorizzi 7
Cleveland - WP: J. Tomlin 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: S. Downs 2
Detroit - WP: K. Ryan 8 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: C. Bassitt 4
Texas - LP: P. Klein 0 FINAL
Houston - WP: S. Feldman 2
Colorado - WP: T. Matzek 2 FINAL
Arizona - LP: V. Nuno 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wada 2 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: M. Gonzales 13
Los Angeles - LP: J. Wright 1 FINAL
San Diego - WP: T. Stauffer 2
Milwaukee - LP: M. Fiers 1 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: J. Peavy 3
Oakland - LP: J. Samardzija 0 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: Y. Herrera 2
Washington - WP: S. Strasburg 3 FINAL
Seattle - LP: R. Elias 1
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BYU 35 FINAL
Connecticut 10
(6) Jacksonville St 7 FINAL
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Western Ky 59
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UCF 24
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Purdue 43
(5) Ohio State 34 FINAL
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Appalachian St 14 FINAL
Michigan 52
Ga Southern 23 FINAL
NC State 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Massachusetts 7
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(2) Alabama 33
Rice 17 FINAL
(17) Notre Dame 48
(10) South Dakota St 18 FINAL
(24) Missouri 38
Fla Atlantic 7 FINAL
(22) Nebraska 55
California 31 FINAL
Northwestern 24
Marshall 42 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 27
UC Davis 0 FINAL
(11) Stanford 45
Arkansas 21 FINAL
(6) Auburn 45
(16) Clemson 21 FINAL
(12) Georgia 45
Liberty 29 FINAL
(23) North Carolina 56
Ohio U 17 FINAL
Kent State 14
Louisiana Tech 16 FINAL
(4) Oklahoma 48
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(20) Kansas State 55
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(15) USC 52
Southern Miss 0 FINAL
Miss State 49
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Texas 38
(1) Florida State 37 FINAL
Oklahoma State 31
(14) Wisconsin 24 FINAL
(13) LSU 28
Idaho 0 Postponed
Florida 0
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(25) Washington 17 FINAL
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Utah State 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
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Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
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Boston College
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North Texas
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(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(8) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
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Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
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(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
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Tulsa
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Kent State
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Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
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(1) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
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Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
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Florida
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Louisiana
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East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
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Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(17) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
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(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
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(1) Florida State
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(23) North Carolina
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(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
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Texas-El Paso
Colorado 0 FINAL
Seattle 1
New England 3 FINAL
Toronto FC 0
Columbus 0 FINAL
Montreal 2
FC Dallas 0 FINAL
Chicago 1
Real Salt Lake 1 FINAL
San Jose 1
Portland 3 FINAL
Vancouver FC 0
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
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Saskatchewan
Chicago 70 FINAL
Indiana 77

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