When The All-Stars Come To Town

This weekend Columbus will host the NHL All-Star Game.  Already you see signs around town welcoming the players, coaches, fans, and other folks who are coming to town for the Game and the festivities — like these signs found at one of the hotels on Capitol Square in downtown Columbus.

IMG_4682Unfortunately, Columbus’s home team, the Blue Jackets, have been struggling this year.  Their fans will tell you it’s because they’ve been wracked with injuries.  After the CBJ closed with a rush last year, made the playoffs, and won a few games before falling to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the hockey diehards hoped that the Jackets would get off to a fast start and the All-Star Game then would help to cement enthusiasm for the Winter Game in Ohio’s capital city.  Things haven’t quite worked out that way.

Still, it’s a great thing to have people from all over gather in Columbus for a weekend, and the Arena District, where the All-Star Game will be played, is an area that shows off Columbus very well.  I would say that I hope that the weather cooperates — but I’m not sure what kind of weather hockey aficionados want, anyway.  Maybe a winter snowstorm and frigid temperatures that would be unwelcome to most of us would just make the rinksters feel like dropping the puck and crashing the boards.

One other thing about hockey players:  unlike NFL stars, basketball players, and for that matter participants in the annual Arnold Sports Classic, hockey players are normal-sized.  When you run into them around town they also seem to be friendly, polite, hard-working guys.  They’ll fit right in in Columbus, a generally friendly, polite, hard-working town.

Beat The Reds (And Avenge Ray Fosse)!

The Tribe has played a few inter-league games so far this year, but the blood-and-guts games really start tonight, when the Tribe squares off against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ballpark.  I’m hoping that the Indians beat the snot out of the Cincinnati squad.

I’ve always disliked the Reds due to one incident:  Pete Rose’s decision to bowl over the Indians’ Ray Fosse in the 1970 All-Star Game.  Rose scored the winning run and added to his legend as a tough, all-out player, and in the process he wrecked Fosse’s shoulder.  Fosse — who was my favorite player — was never the same again.  I recognize that players will play to win, but I always thought Rose’s decision to smash into Fosse, rather than trying to slide, was a grandstand play that had no place in an all-star game.

I suppose Rose got his comeuppance when his gambling habits got him banned from baseball, but I still like to see the Tribe avenge Ray Fosse and spank the Redlegs whenever they play.

This year the games between the teams should be  a pretty even match-up.  The teams sport identical 32-27 records and are both in the thick of the races for the lead in their respective divisions.  The all-time series is pretty even, too, with the Tribe leading 39-36.  Let the Battle For Ohio begin!

The Tribe At The All-Star Break

The All-Star Game marks the unofficial midpoint of the baseball season.  It is a good time to take stock of your favorite team.

Fans of the Cleveland Indians can look back at the first half of the 2011 season with pleasure.  No one expected the Tribe to be in contention, yet the team has held first place in the American League for most of the season.  Although a late stumble leaves the Tribe a half game behind Detroit at the All-Star break, every Indians fan has to admit that the team has exceeded expectations.

The success hasn’t come without a struggle.  Asdrubal Cabrera, who leads the Indians in virtually every offensive category, has had a great season, but the team often has had to scratch and claw for runs and count on pitching and defense to pull them through — and the pitching and defense, for the most part, has done so.  Starters Justin Masterson and Josh Tomlin have pitched extremely well, and Carlos Carrasco had a stretch where he was close to unhittable.  The bullpen has been reliable and closer Chris Perez already has notched 21 saves.  The defense has been stout.  And manager Manny Acta and his staff have done a good job of molding and motivating the team.

There is still a lot of baseball to be played, of course, and we could well see the 2011 edition of the Tribe fade into oblivion — or we could see the bats in the Wigwam heat up and keep the team in contention until the season’s end.  It will make the second half of the season a lot more interesting than Cleveland fans had any right to expect.

The Risk Of Overexposure

Kish and Richard disagree with me on this, but I think it is a mistake for the President to do things like spend time in the broadcast booth at the All-Star Game, hanging with Tim McCarver and Joe Buck. I don’t know whether familiarity breeds contempt, but I do think that politicians can get overexposed — and when the American public gets tired of somebody, it is never a good thing. Why not give people a break and let them watch the All-Star Game in peace, without having politics intrude upon the national pastime?