May 3, 2008 [LINK / comment]

Some issues with Nationals Park

Issue #1: Why are most of the seats behind home plate empty? Part of the reason, as today's Washington Post explains, is that the Nationals front office overestimated how many upscale patrons they could attract in the "Presidential" seating area, where ticket prices start at $325. That's the highest in the majors -- ridiculous! I'd be willing to bet that part of the problem is that too many of those seats have been bought by corporations and lobbying firms for entertainment purposes, the cost of which can be written off for income tax purposes, so it doesn't really matter that much to anyone if the tickets don't end up getting used. That is the origin of the problem of "phantom fans," which I first described in April 2005. Simple solution? Abolish the corporate income tax!

Issue #1: When are they going to fix up that concrete plant eyesore on the south side of the stadium? Some day it will be a beautiful tree-lined cluster of high-rent restaurants and night clubs on the banks of the Anacostia River, but getting from here to there depends on some developer with a fat wallet stepping up to the plate. The current owner of that land, Florida Rock Properties, has submitted such a proposal, but it's uncertain if that company is up to the job. See the Washington Post from last Monday; thanks to Mike Zurawski for reminding me.

Nationals continue to win

The Nationals scored just enough runs to stay ahead of the Pirates this afternoon, winning 9-8. The hero of the game was Cristian Guzman, who batted in six runs, tying his career-record high RBIs per game. He is really starting to shine, after three frustrating years with the Nationals in which he had poor performance and injuries. Last night the Pirates trounced the Nats, 11-4, as John Lannan's "Cinderella" streak of 19+ innings of shutout pitching came to a sudden end. Perhaps that rude shock of six runs in the third inning was what caused some of the lights to go dark in the fourth inning, causing a 25 minute delay. Anyway, the Nats have won seven of their last ten games, a hell of a lot better than they had been doing. Most of their wins have been close ones, with a margin of two runs or less. That is a tribute to their bullpen, but all aspects of the team are presently meeting or exceeding expectations. Keep it up, guys!