Ever since Nationals Park opened in 2008, the stadium has had its fair share of special moments. From young phenoms, to presidents, to Paul McCartney and Washington’s first playoff game in decades, the Park’s first six years on South Capital Street have been nothing short of spectacular.
While a lot has happened at the ballpark during its short history, the venue has yet to host the two events that every team dreams of: the All Star Game and the World Series. While neither will come easy, commissioner Bud Selig seems to believe that both will come to the nation’s capital in the near future.
“They’re making a very determined pitch,” Selig told the Washington Post’s James Wagner at Hall of Famer Hank Aaron‘s 80th birthday party on Friday. “We never announce these things until it’s appropriate.”
The earliest the Nationals could host the event would be 2017, as the Twins and Reds will host the game in 2014 and 2015 respectively, and an American League team would likely host it in 2016. The Nationals were hoping to host the game in 2015 and it is widely believed that the lack of development around Nationals park was a big reason for why the team lost that bid to the Reds.
“I think it’s a possibility that it’s affecting it,” principal owner Mark Lerner told the Washington Post last February. “It’s not a pretty sight when you walk out the door and see holes in the ground and the thing they have next door – The Bullpen, or whatever they call it. I think it’s unfortunate. I think baseball wants to see it at least start, some things starting to happen, a few of the buildings get done. But we’re going to get [an All-Star Game] at some point. I don’t know how much of a factor it is in their decision making, but I’ve got to believe that it is. It may not be one on the list, but it could be three or four on the list. ‘Let’s see what happens around the park over the next few years.’ But I think things are going to start moving.”
When Wagner asked whether or not the ballpark’s surroundings will impact the decision, Selig deflected: “I don’t want to comment on that. But they’re a prime candidate. Let me say that, as much as I can.”
As Wagner notes, the team would face stiff competition for the 2017 summer classic, as San Diego, Miami and Philadelphia have yet to host the game in their new ballparks, and the Dodgers haven’t held it in 34 years.
While the Nationals will have to wait at least a few years to host their first All Star Game, Selig believes that the team could see its first World Series much sooner than that. After all, the commissioner played an instrumental role in bringing the ball club from Montreal to Washington in 2005, and he’s seen them rise from being perennial losers to World Series favorites.
“I’m proud of them,” Selig said. “I’m proud of the Lerners. I’m proud of what they’ve done here. They’ve built a marvelous franchise. In fact, I don’t want to put a jinx on them because a lot of people are picking them to win this year. I am. I picked them and like my decision better today than I did six years ago.”
Needless to say, the Nationals have come a long way in the six years since they left the old RFK stadium and moved into their new home. The Nationals will go into 2014 with extremely high expectations, and there’s no reason to believe they won’t be playing deep into October. That being said, there’s still a long way to go until October, and the All Star Game may very well go to another team in 2017.
While uncertainties remain, the future looks pretty darn good for the Nationals, their fans, their stadium and their city. We can only hope that that promising future starts with a World Series trophy in 2014.