December 6, 2006
WaPo columnist Thomas Boswell emphatically agrees with the point I made yesterday that the Washington Nationals' strategy of focusing exclusively on long-term rebuilding risks losing fan enthusiasm in the short term. Except that he writes more eloquently and knowledgeably than me:
Few in Washington blame the Nats for not competing on Soriano's $136 million contract. However, for one-twentieth that amount, the Nats could shore up their pitching. If they don't, the Nats are playing a high-stakes game in which they bet that Washington fans are sophisticated or patient enough -- or gullible enough -- to embrace a horrible team that didn't have to be bad.
Let's hope the Lerners, Kasten, and company are mindful of such sentiments.
I don't recall seeing any official announcement, but there have been some changes in the affiliation of minor league ball clubs. The Nationals' AAA affiliate will be the Columbus Clippers, which used to be part of the Yankees' farm system. The Mets will get the New Orleans Zephyrs, which used to be affiliated with the Nationals.
Apparently, Bud Selig is going to retire after his current term expires at the end of the 2009 season. Of course, he has said the same thing several times during the years since he become Acting Comissioner. See ESPN. Hat tips to Mike Zurawski and Bruce Orser. Bud is held in low repute in much of baseball fandom, but he has managed to corral all of the unruly owners and prevent more strikes in the last few years, and of course, he finally got the Expos moved to Washington in 2005. The question is, who can possibly replace him? Will he play a role in getting all the owners on board for whoever becomes his successor?
What will become of RFK Stadium after the Nationals vacate it in 2008? Plans are moving ahead for a new soccer stadium for D.C. United, but it might take a couple more years. D.C. council member Jacks Evans is pushing for a new 100,000-seat football stadium on the RFK site, even though the Redskins have only been in FedEx Field for a decade. If the new stadium were domed, it could be used for a future Super Bowl. Ugh... See nbc4.com. What about keeping RFK operational for another decade or so, using it for annual Old Timers' games? That was my suggestion for making use of Tiger Stadium, but that ballpark appears to be doomed. Also, the Red Sox are going to upgrade all 40 luxury boxes at Fenway Park in time for the 2007 season. See boston.com. (Hat tips to Mike Zurawski.)
Frederick Nachman challenged my conjecture that the pedestrian ramp in the parking lot next to U.S. Cellular Field might have been part of the original Comiskey Park structure, and he recently came across a book with a photo proving that the old ballpark was in fact completely demolished. I stand corrected, as does the Comiskey Park page.