Simmons, Deadspin are wrong to hate on Kansas City

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As you know by now, Kansas City has been selected as the site of the 2012 All-Star game.  In the past 24 hours this decision has been subjected to derision by two of the most influential voices in online sports media: Bill Simmons and Deadspin. I have much love for both The Sports Guy and the House that Leitch Built, but they’re absolutely full of it in this case.

Simmons didn’t hit the matter hard, but he did it on his Twitter feed last night, sarcastically cheering the choice by sayingYeah!!!! Four days in Kansas City in mid-July when
it’s 110 degrees!!!!! Who’s in???” and then agreeing with readers that one of the New York parks, Washington, Philadelphia or Minnesota were better options. When a reader reminded him that Kauffman Stadium was “new” it appeared that he either (a) assumed that the person was mistakenly suggesting that it was a 100% brand new ballpark and sarcastically changed his mind; or (b) honestly didn’t know about the renovations to the place himself.  He then moved on.

Deadspin’s Barry Petchesky was a lot more hostile in his post this afternoon, saying Kauffman “received the 2012 MLB All-Star Game, for some reason. No clear reason,
actually,” and seemed to completely miss the fact that the Royals and the people of Kansas City just got done pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into a massive renovation.  Petchesky went on to say “All-Star Games should be about either showcasing shiny new stadiums, or
beautiful old ones,” and added that Kauffman was “far from beautiful.”

Which merely shows that Petchesky has never been to Kauffman Stadium, because he’d be hard pressed to find a more beautiful park in Major League Baseball.  I mean it — the place is gorgeous and — the quality of the current tenants notwithstanding —  it’s a wonderful setting in which to see a game.

But maybe that’s just an aesthetic difference on our parts. More troubling for me is what seems to be a weird schizophrenia on Petchesky part about the value of an All-Star Game to begin with.  On the one hand he says Kansas City doesn’t deserve it, and that it should be a reward to places with newer parks or a longer, richer baseball heritage.  Then he goes on to trash the reality of having an All-Star Game in one’s town, saying that the financial benefits are “bunk” and that it’s a giant hassle for everyone involved.  So I assume that you don’t care if Kansas City has it then, Barry?

Overall, both Simmons and Petchesky take on the matter reeks of — and I don’t believe I’m going to say this — coastal bias.  Doesn’t matter which coast. Simmons is physically on the west while his mind and heart reside in the east.  I don’t know where Petchsky lives, but the whole “Kansas City? Really?” attitude just stinks of the east coast and people who call anything west of the Hudson flyover territory.

I propose this: a road trip for Simmons, Petchesky and Joe Posnanski or some other person who appreciates how cool Kansas City really is – and it’s very, very cool — to disabuse them of whatever misinformation they’ve been fed about the place over the years.

Then we can revisit this in 2012 when baseball holds its All-Star Game in a beautiful park that is home to great baseball fans and is surrounded by a pretty damn spiffy city.

UPDATE:  More Kansas City scorn, this time wrapped up in a bow of “oh, wouldn’t it be great if Boston got the All-Star Game!”  So right. I mean, the Sox are so overlooked and they haven’t had an All-Star Game in Fenway since 1999!

Bryce Harper played some third base in an intrasquad game

Bryce Harper third base
Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Phillies star outfielder Bryce Harper played some third base during Monday’s intrasquad game at Citizens Bank Park, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports. Harper had been pestering manager Joe Girardi for the opportunity and the skipper finally gave in.

Girardi told Harper, “No diving. And make sure your arm is loose.” Harper had the opportunity to field one ball, a grounder to his left and he made the play perfectly.

Why put Harper at third base? Girardi said, “I think it’s important the guys have fun. I saw him a week ago taking ground balls there and I was impressed. His hands worked well out front and he threw the ball across the field well. I told him, ‘You look good there.'”

Despite the solid showing, don’t expect Harper to show up at third base in a meaningful game anytime soon. That being said, the Phillies’ second and third base situations are still not cemented. Jean Segura will likely open the season at the hot corner with Scott Kingery at second, but things could change between now and Opening Day in 10 days.

Harper, 27, is coming off a solid first season with the Phillies. He hit .260/.372/.510 with 36 doubles, 35 home runs, 114 RBI, 98 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases across 682 plate appearances. Per FanGraphs, Harper’s 4.6 Wins Above Replacement ranked 16th in the National League. For some people, those numbers weren’t nearly good enough, so the expectations remain high as Harper enters year two of his 13-year, $330 million contract.