The 2012 All-Star Game is in Kansas City, so Sam Mellinger made a point to ask this year’s All-Stars how they feel about that. After some de riguer complaining about the heat, they all said some pretty nice things about it:
I asked 15 All-Stars about Kansas City and what they think the game will be like next year. Seven of them mentioned the weather, including Justin Verlander, who shut down the Royals the other day when it was a heat index of 113 in the eighth inning.
But you know what more of them said?
Good place. Great food. Beautiful stadium. Easy to get around. The Plaza helps make Kansas City a favorite around the league, and the more you talk to folks (even privately) the more you see this as one time our collective inferiority complex is severely misplaced.
Mellinger goes on to talk about all of the good points of Kansas City from the ballplayers’ point of view. And there are a lot of them: easy travel to the city due to the central location. Hotel close to the ballpark for all of the events they have to deal with. Nice field. Big clubhouses. Good food.
I’ve only been there, like, three times, but I’m a closet Kansas City lover myself. Maybe it’s my Midwesternism coming out, but it’s just an insanely easy place to manage for a few days, and every time I’m there, something good seems to happen to me, be it food or baseball or something else.
Heck, I may even go to next year’s game.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.