April 8, 2005 [LINK]

Hot seats and civic equality

Today's Washington Post reveals the ugly side of the mad scramble to get tickets to see Nationals games: the flagrant abuse of insider connections to bump other folks out of choice seats at RFK Stadium. Pundits such as George Will, Fred Barnes, and Morton Kondracke, as well as dozens of high-powered lobbyists and Paul Begala (former Clinton aide) have managed to score first class box seats, while us honest toilers get pushed further back in line.

Which reminds me, if the D.C. Council is really serious about making the new ballpark the centerpiece of a community revitalization plan, and proving that it really is serving a broad public interest, they should insist on a non-negotiable stipulation: Holders of tickets to luxury suites and box seats must pass through the same turnstiles as the rest of the patrons do. (Seeing the elite entrance at Citizens Bank Park on Monday made me think about this.) To me, attending a baseball game is an act of civic participation on par with voting; you don't see separate lines for rich folks at polling stations, do you? To reinforce such a "no discrimination" principle, there should be a prominent sign above every gate reading:

This ballpark is of the people, by the people, and for the people!

April 8, 2005 [LINK]

Too many asterisks * * *

In response to all the demands that the artificially enhanced batting records of recent years be qualified with asterisks, Mike Bauman writes on mlb.com that the same should apply to records set before the year 1947, when the racial barrier was first breached by Jackie Robinson. His suggested "footnote":

*This record was set when only a portion of the population was allowed to play Major League Baseball.

Well, you gotta admit he has a point. From a strictly legalistic position, however, he is wrong: Racial segregation was the established rule in the old days, and records have to be evaluated on the basis of whether players were abiding by the rules in effect when they played. As far as we know, Ty Cobb, Cy Young, Babe Ruth, and Lou Gehrig were following the rules, but there is considerable doubt about whether the record-smashing sluggers of the last ten years were doing so. Of course, Bauman is not really serious about this, he is just pointing out the futility of establishing a clear-cut line to separate the true-blue clean players from those who cut ethical corners to one degree or another. It is one hell of a mess.

Candid admission: I used to take steroids! It was a nasal spray prescribed by a doctor, however, as a treatment for my allergies to pollen, mold, dust, etc.

Ballpark renovations

Thanks to Bruce Orser for his continued research input on ancient stadiums, and to [Mike Zurawski] for submitting these links: new bullpens in Comerica Park, new pool at Bank One Ballpark, and renovations at Fenway Park.

FedEx Field

I forgot to mention a startling discovery I made as I was driving into Washington on Monday morning, en route to Opening Day in Philadelphia. Just as I reached the top of Arlington Ridge on I-395 south of the Pentagon, and as traffic crawled along at a turtle's pace, I took a look toward the east to see whether RFK Stadium was visible. I couldn't see it, but what I did see on the far horizon was even more amazing: FedEx Field, home of the Redskins since 1997! It is located in the Maryland suburb of Landover, about eight miles east of Capitol Hill. It was the first time I had ever seen it; I didn't realize that it is situated in an upland area.