Until July of 2015, you’re going to hear a lot about Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game. And for good reason — the game could bring anywhere from $75-$100 million into the city. It’ll also bring the sports world’s eye to an ever-changing Cincinnati, which by 2015 could be even more impressive than it is today.
By now, you’ve heard about the game coming to Cincinnati, but it’s not old news, and it will be relevant news for the next two-and-a-half years. What many don’t seem to realize is that the event is much more than a game, it’s a nearly week-long celebration of baseball. Even if you can’t get tickets to the game itself, the Home Run Derby or the Futures Game, there’s still the FanFest, which will bring plenty of people downtown to celebrate baseball and Cincinnati.
I’ve been to five All-Star Games, including the last two. Last year in Kansas City, Royals fans embraced every part of the celebration, showing that baseball still matters in a city that’s seen just one winning season since 1995. As much as we’ve complained about the Reds’ dark years in this town, this is a team that has won two division titles in the last three years and has improved this winter. That’s why at the recent announcement of the All-Star Game, Reds great Joe Morgan hinted that he believed Reds manager Dusty Baker could be managing the likes of Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips in 2015 — and to do that, the Reds need to be in the 2014 World Series, something that doesn’t seem too far out of the realm of possibility.
If the Reds are at the very least National League Central favorites this year, they will have a strikingly similar team in 2014, with only three members of the 40-man roster not under team control through 2014: one position player (Shin-Soo Choo), one starter (Bronson Arroyo) and one reliever (Nick Masset).
Only two more players — Homer Bailey and Ryan Hanigan — aren’t under team control through 2015.
That’s why, even with the 2015 All-Star Game secured, Reds owner Bob Castellini is looking for more than just a mid-season celebration of baseball in the city.
“I wouldn’t call it a crowning achievement,” Castellini said after the recent announcement. “A crowning achievement is going to be a World Series win — and hopefully here in Cincinnati.”
It may seem like a case of beggars being choosers when Castellini notes he wants to win a World Series at Great American Ball Park, but only one of the team’s five World Series titles have been won at their home park, when the Reds won Game 7 against Detroit in 1940. And Castellini has a history of his begging working. Commissioner Bud Selig said Castellini was relentless in his pursuit of the All-Star Game, and now the city is planning for the big game.
“I’ll say one thing for Bob, man, is he persistent,” Selig said. “I could use a couple of other terms to describe him right now, one starts with ‘pain in ...’ and I’ll stop there. But tenacity is a great virtue and somewhere along the line, a few months ago, I said to him that it looks awfully good and that was it. This is great. The All-Star Game is a celebration of our sport. Most importantly, it’s a celebration of the great history of it. That’s what makes it the game so remarkable. What better place could you come to celebrate the history of baseball than Cincinnati? It’s the perfect place.”
Thinking Out Loud
Last year, Moeller grad Greg Jones earned a Super Bowl ring when the Giants beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI. This year it’s Jones’ Michigan State teammate, Garrett Celek, who will have a chance to earn a ring. Celek, an alumnus of La Salle High School, is the younger brother of former UC tight end and current Philadelphia Eagle, Brent Celek. While the older brother has a much more impressive NFL resume, the younger Celek is the one headed to the big game. A backup behind Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker, Celek sees plenty of time on the field on special teams. Undrafted out of Michigan State, Celek was the only college free agent to make the 49ers squad out of training camp. He had just four catches for 51 yards in the regular season and none so far in the playoffs. ... Congratulations to Lawrenceburg, Ind., native Nick Goepper, who won gold in the Ski Slopestyle at the recent X Games in Aspen, Colo. The 18-year-old grew up skiing at Perfect North in Lawrenceburg and is now one of the world’s best. ... President Barack Obama is the latest to question his own football fandom because of the toll concussions are taking on football players. Obama told The New Republic that he would have to think long and hard if he’d let his son play — if he had a son. He also said the NCAA and NFL might have to look into rule changes to make the game less dangerous.