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.

They are parents again, with their son Hoyt, and Pat’s unhittable again as the king of funk for the Cardinals, and he will be here next week as a first-time All-Star.

There’s something to truly celebrate, so bring it on … the Midsummer Classic for a third time.

 

Patrick Reusse can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on AM-1500. • preusse@startribune.com

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Toronto - LP: D. Hutchison 2 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Tanaka 5
Washington - WP: S. Strasburg 2 FINAL
Miami - LP: N. Eovaldi 1
NY Mets - WP: J. deGrom 10 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: E. Santana 2
Boston - WP: J. Kelly 3 FINAL
Baltimore - LP: M. Gonzalez 2
Milwaukee - LP: W. Peralta 0 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: V. Worley 1
Chicago WSox - WP: J. Danks 10 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: N. Karns 5
Cleveland - WP: C. Kluber 7 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: A. Swarzak 2
Detroit - LP: R. Porcello 2 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: J. Guthrie 5
Seattle - LP: H. Iwakuma 3 FINAL
Houston - WP: C. McHugh 8
Los Angeles - WP: C. Perez 8 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Turner 5
Texas - WP: S. Tolleson 2 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: H. Street 1
Philadelphia - LP: M. Gonzalez 6 FINAL
Oakland - WP: S. Doolittle 8
San Francisco - LP: R. Vogelsong 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: I. Kennedy 8
Arizona - LP: W. Miley 3 FINAL
Colorado - WP: C. Bergman 8
Cincinnati - WP: A. Simon 7 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: L. Lynn 2
San Diego 22 FINAL
Buffalo 10
Dallas 34 FINAL
St. Louis 31
Washington 34 FINAL
Philadelphia 37
Houston 17 FINAL
NY Giants 30
Minnesota 9 FINAL
New Orleans 20
Tennessee 7 FINAL
Cincinnati 33
Baltimore 23 FINAL
Cleveland 21
Green Bay 7 FINAL
Detroit 19
Indianapolis 44 FINAL
Jacksonville 17
Oakland 9 FINAL
New England 16
San Francisco 14 FINAL
Arizona 23
Denver 20 FINAL
Seattle 26
Kansas City 34 FINAL
Miami 15
Pittsburgh 37 FINAL
Carolina 19
Chicago 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Columbus 4 FINAL
Carolina 3
Buffalo 0 FINAL
Washington 1
St. Louis 3 FINAL
Columbus 4
Calgary 1 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Edmonton 0 FINAL
Calgary 1
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(12) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(9) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
North Carolina 41 FINAL
(23) East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(20) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Utah 26 FINAL
Michigan 10
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
FIU 3
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Texas State 35 FINAL
Illinois 42
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Georgia State 14 FINAL
Washington 45
Appalachian St 20 FINAL
Southern Miss 21
(14) Miss State 34 FINAL
(17) LSU 29
Northern Ill 14 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Middle Tennessee 17 FINAL
Memphis 36
Utah State 14 FINAL
Arkansas State 21
Miami-Ohio 24 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Idaho 24 FINAL
Ohio U 36
Ball State 23 FINAL
Toledo 34
(13) So Carolina 48 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
(4) Oklahoma 45 FINAL
West Virginia 33
Ga Southern 28 FINAL
South Alabama 6
UNLV 14 FINAL
Houston 47
Miami-Florida 31 FINAL
(21) Nebraska 41
New Mexico 38 FINAL
New Mexico St 35
Clemson 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 23
California 45 FINAL
Arizona 49
San Diego St 7 FINAL
Oregon State 28
(2) Oregon 38 FINAL
Washington St 31
Louisiana 9 FINAL
Boise State 34
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(24) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(11) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(25) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(12) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(9) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
NC State
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(22) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(13) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
North Carolina 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Clemson
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(17) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Duke 9/27/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(8) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(21) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(18) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Chivas USA 0 FINAL
Toronto FC 3
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 15 FINAL
Montreal 31
Ottawa 32 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35
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