There are many tangible benefits that come with hosting this annual convention, including a typical tip of the hat to the leading performers on the host's team. And while there are other players and organizations disgruntled from being passed over for the "Mid-Summer Classic." sometimes all the factors involved say it just is, or isn't, your time. It's certainly a great time for Target Field to shine.
For the second year in a row, Twins closing pitcher, Glen Perkins, was selected as an All-Star reserve, along with the catcher he throws to – last year it was Joe Mauer that joined him. This year it's Kurt Suzuki. In a special alignment of the baseball stars, Perkins is a Minnesota native (Stillwater), collegiate alum of the University of Minnesota baseball team, and now an MLB All-Star for the Twins, as the franchise hosts the All-Star game. That's got to feel pretty surreal, and Perkins stated as much.
"It really hasn't sunk in yet. It's a dream come true," said Perkins after the selection announcement.
Perkins new catching mate, Suzuki stated as much, saying, "It's kind of surreal right now." Suzuki, a native of Hawaii and nine-year MLB veteran, is now an All-Star for the first time. Suzuki's (.306) batting average leads all American League (AL) catchers. In that Suzuki is replacing perennial All-Star catcher Mauer, who is now playing first base, a great amount of satisfaction must also be held by the entire Twins organization. The ability to quickly replace Mauer's historic production at catcher furthers the well-known lore of the Twins player development system.
Twins staff joining the two players in All-Star inclusion are manager Ron Gardenhire, trainer Dave Pruemer and strength coach Perry Castellano.
Having a world-class event held in your city – especially events held on a generally quiet Monday and Tuesday event schedule – provides the greatest award (or at least opportunity) for the most important group of people – the fans and local businesses.
The fact that the Twins have key players on the All-Star roster is also a reason for the fans to remain hopeful as the second half of the season unfolds. The team's hitting performance this year, led by Suzuki, is marginally improved from 2013, at .245 versus .242. The team's overall pitching has been marginally worse (4.55 ERA in 2013, 4.38 this season). That combination lands the Twins in the basement of the AL Central, and fading, should the team not rally to improve.
Pesky injuries to key players such as Mauer, pitcher Mike Pelfrey, and centerfielders Aaron Hicks and Danny Santana, have disallowed any strong positive momentum this season. This, in addition to the overall dip in pitching performance, are enough to heavily tread on the Twins 2014 playoff hopes. And while batting and health may improve as the season moves on, pitching is the type of baseball activity that provides truth in statistical advertising.
Anything can happen in baseball, but Twins fans can minimally look forward to consistently competitive outings, as the team typically produces year in, and year out. Baseball is a patient game. And while the Twins may not be on the path for a World Series championship in 2014, their award-winning stadium and overall franchise operation remain a celebrated act in baseball.