July 21, 2006
While visiting my home town last week, I stopped briefly at Prentis Ballpark, humble but comfortable home of the Vermillion Red Sox. An American Legion (teenage) tournament happened to be taking place, and the home team won; see the Vermillion Plain Talk. About 150 fans were in attendance, most of them sitting in shaded areas to avoid the extreme heat. The grandstand was torn down two years ago, and seems to have been rebuilt to the exact specifications of the original. Historical preservation in small-town America! Pending a possible future diagram, the dimensions are:
During my absence, the Nationals' reverted to their previous form, getting swept by the Padres and managing to win just one game each from the Pirates and the Marlins. The Nats traded away relief pitchers Gary Majewski, Bill Bray, and Daryl Thompson, as well as shortstop Royce Clayton, backup infielder Brendan Harris. In return, the received from the Cincinnati Reds outfielder Austin Kearns, and shortstop Felipe Lopez, and relief pitcher Ryan Wagner. I'm not quite sure what the point of all that was, but it probably has something to do with the fact that Nats' General Manager Jim Bowden used to work for the Reds. Majewski was pretty solid, and was one of the dwindling number of former Expos players in Washington. Alfonso Soriano will probably be traded away in the next ten days, unless he really was serious about wanting to stay with the Nationals, or unless the other teams are leery of his initial refusal to play left field.
In hopes of regenerating fan enthusiasm, the new ownership family, the Lerners, are hosting a "Grand Re-opening" at RFK Stadium this evening, as the Nats welcome the Chicago Cubs to D.C. It's mostly about adding more variety of food vendors, including kosher hot dogs and the tasty "half-smoke" sausage frankfurters, a local favorite. They are also installing a kids' entertainment center, presumably with video games for our short-attention-span youth. See MLB.com. All that is fine, but they would attract a lot more fans by expanding payroll and acquiring a better pitching staff. Also, I still think they should build an old-fashioned manual scoreboard in right center field.
Major League Baseball has accused the D.C. government of failing to meet the stipulated stadium construction deadlines, warning of unspecified punitive measures. See Washington Post. Such as franchise relocation? Not on your life. Much of the delay centers around the parking lot issue, and I think that the D.C. government should have discretion to build a fancier, development-oriented facility to maximize the promised spinoff benefits of the future stadium. After all, they're paying for it.
Thanks to Brian Hughes and Dan ? for alerting me to the geographical error in my July 13 posting, which I just corrected. PNC Park is next to the Allegheny River! My apologies for not being able to respond to all of the e-mail inquiries I received while out of town. I will try, and I do appreciate fan interest.