Join us tonight for an All-Star Game Live Chat

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The way I see it, you have a choice: you can watch the All-Star Game and make wisecracks to yourself tonight, or you can watch the All-Star Game and make wisecracks to a group of like-minded people.  No contest, really, which is why you should show up here tonight for HardballTalk’s All-Star Game Live Chat.

Proceedings will get rolling around the time player introductions begin. D.J. Short will be emceeing things, so it will be up to him to decide if you have to stop chatting during the Steinbrenner moment of silence. D.J. is a Mets fan, though, so he may be pretty lax about it.  In no case will anyone make you be quiet while Joe Buck gropes for gravitas while talking about Big Stein. Because really, no one wants to hear that.

So come on down tonight and get your chat on.  Broadcast starts at 8PM. Awkward remembrances start at 8:01, interminable player introductions around 8:10, figure on a bad National Anthem at 8:23 and, after a lot of commercials people will be making fun of for the next week, the game is supposed to start at 8:30. I figure 8:42, but I suppose we can all start betting on that once the chat goes live.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉