March 4, 2008
That's what today's Washington Post called the brand-new scoreboard at Nationals Park. (An unfortunate reference.) At 101 feet long and 47 feet high, it is not the biggest scoreboard in the big leagues; Turner Field's is now, and Royals Stadium's will be soon. Nevertheless, the one in D.C. is unparalleled in terms of the latest high-tech gimmickry, and if it does generate fan enthusiasm like it's supposed to do, I suppose that's OK.
As the players warm up down in Viera, Florida, hopes are rising among Washington fans for an even better season than last year. Lastings Milledge and Elijah Dukes are supposed to be the outfield slugging stars of the future, but just in case there are three veterans to back them up: Austin Kearns, Ryan Langerhans, and Wily Mo Pena. As he begins his third full year in the majors, young third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is expected to be the team leader. He didn't get the multi-year contract he was hoping for, apparently because the front office thinks he will be patient "team player." Nick Johnson has played in some practice games, and seems ready to rejoin as the starting first baseman. If so, the Nats may have to trade away Dmitri Young, which would be a shame, since he was the team's only All-Star last year. The big question mark, as usual, is whether the starting pitching rotation will stay healthy. John Patterson's arm is in fine shape thus far, but Shawn Hill needs further rest and treatment, so we'll see.
Right after 9:00 A.M. this morning, I got into "cyberspace line" to buy a ticket for the official Opening Day game with the Braves at Nationals Park on March 30. I expected the high-traffic delays, and for a minute I thought I had cleared the hurdle and had my big chance to snarf up a ticket. (See screen grab below.) No pairs of seats were left by then, so I tried to grab a single seat. I patiently clicked over and over to retry at several-second intervals, but alas, some glitch arose and I was forced to the back of the line. Too late, they were sold old. Ar-r-r-g-h-h-h! Well, I'm sure there will be seats available at one of the games in April. Comcast recently announced that they will carry all of the games on MASN this year, so we will finally get to see live Nationals games on a regular basis. About $#%&!@ time!