Tonight Washington D.C. hosts the Midsummer Classic. It's the first time the capitol city has entertained baseball's All-Stars since 1969, back when the old Senators were around. The Nationals are actually a separate franchise from the Sens, who now exist as the Twins; the last time the Nationals hosted they were known as the Expos, and Montréal was the host city. It's all a bit confusing, but the point of the matter is this: Nationals Park being the site of the 2018 All-Star Game allows us to celebrate Canada's first turn at hosting, the 1982 "Partie D'Étoiles."
59,057 people crammed into the Olympic Stadium on July 13, 1982 to witness the best of the National League and American League do battle. The bench bosses were Billy Martin of the A's and Tommy Lasorda of the Dodgers. In terms of entertainment value, that's one of the better manager match ups; Martin and Lasorda are both known for being animated and outlandish. The player selections were full of characters, as well. The American League had names like George Brett and Reggie Jackson, Rollie Fingers and Goose Gossage. For the National League, there was the likes of Pete Rose, Andre Dawson, Phil Niekro, and Fernando Valenzuela. That's just to name a few.
The game is not known for any particular plays or an exciting finish. The home team won 4-1 – Dave Conepcion hit a two-run homer and Jackson and Rose tacked on a sacrifice fly each. This is kind of the issue with baseball: it's not so easy to deliver a bloated scoreline on demand like you can with basketball or hockey. Other sports can just ignore defence, but in baseball the defence holds the ball. It's unique that way. And it's why, for a number of years, the winning league of the MLB All-Star game earned home field advantage in the World Series; this created drama, the thought went. It was only last year that Commissioner Rob Manfred did away with Bud Selig's 2003 ruling to make Major League Baseball akin with other major North American leagues.
The real action of All-Star weekend has become the Home Run Derby. The Derby gives you that gratuitous offence fans want in a best-of-the-best showcase. It's a relatively new feature, debuting in 1985, so unfortunately those in Montréal did not get to witness guys like Jackson and Dawson slugging them out to the bleachers. This year the Derby did not disappoint as hometown hero Bryce Harper hit 9-straight dingers in the final few seconds to win it. The fans were going nuts, celebrating as if it were a key match-up in October. We'll see what the game has in store for us this evening, but if it's close to last night we're in for a Partie.
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