November 5, 2014
To the surprise of absolutely no one, the Washington Nationals took the contract option on center fielder Denard Span, who will get $9 million for the 2015 season. Span led the team in batting this year (.302), and continued his record of superlative defense. He's a great guy, with plenty of talent and hustle, and expressed a strong desire to stay with the Nationals. See MLB.com.
Meanwhile, the Nats front office declined to take the options on first baseman Adam LaRoche and Rafael Soriano, the Nats' closing pitcher until September. In both cases, that was expected, but the situations are markedly different. Tributes to Adam LaRoche's years with the Nationals are piling up. Read what Byron Kerr wrote at masnsports.com.
A tougher question is what to do about two top-notch veterans who will become free agents soon: Jordan Zimmermann and Ian Desmond. I think Mike Rizzo should be willing to make generous offers to keep them in Washington, even if it means sacrificing some other good player. They have both proven their usefulness to the team, and the Nats need stability and continuity to build on the success of the 2014 (regular) season.
Unfortunately, neither Denard Span nor Adam LaRoche were chosen for the 2014 Golden Glove awards. They were the only Nationals nominated as finalists for that honor. LaRoche won the Golden Glove in 2012. In the American League, the two teams that played in the AL Championship Series -- the Royals and the Orioles -- accounted for three Golden Gloves each. See MLB.com.
Long-time fan Larry Freitas tells me he sees no reason to question whether his team (the San Francisco Giants) have achieved true "dynasty" status. Well, me neither. At sportsonearth.com, A.J. Cassavell takes the Giants' three World Series titles in the last five years, and compares them to baseball dynasties of decades past. He puts them at #4, following three Yankees dynasties: 1949-53 (#1), 1996-2000 (#2), and 1936-40 (#3). The 1972-76 Oakland A's comes in at #5, in Cassavell's estimation.
People are still arguing about whether the third base coach should have sent Alex Gordon home in the next-to-last play of World Series Game 7. I say yes, even though the odds of success were less than 25%. Others have applied more sophisticated analysis to derive the likelihood that Gordon could have made it. See MLB.com.
The Washington Nationals just completed their tenth season, soon after the tenth anniversary of the announcement by Commissioner Bud Selig that the Montreal Expos would relocate to D.C. The mark the Nats' first decade of existence, a special logo was designed. It was featured on the team poster/calendars that were given away at the final Friday game of the regular season, and will be sewn onto players' uniforms next year. See th Washington Post.
The Chicago Cubs have hired as their new manager Joe Maddon, who recently quit as manager of the Tampa Bay Rays. He has worked miracles with the Rays, turning a low-budget roster into a consistent postseason contenders -- except this year, that is. The Cubs need some kind of a jolt, and maybe he's the answer. See ESPN.
Over a year ago, Mike Zurawski brought to my attention news that the home of the Blue Jays will be converted to real grass in three or four more years. I heard something about that recently, and discovered to my horror that I had never mentioned this good news. Under the renewed licence agreement, the Toronto Argonauts (CFL) will vacate the Rogers Centre as tenants by the end of 2017, if not sooner. The Blue Jays will then remove the existing concrete floor and put in real dirt and grass, by opening day 2018 at the very latest. See thestar.com.
Inspired by that bit of good (albeit outdated) news, I updated the Turf page, with changes through 2014.
Continuing with my efforts to get my St. Louis stadium pages up to par, I updated the Busch Stadium III diagrams, as well as the text on that page. Included for the first time is an upper-deck diagram, showing the entry portals and dual structural beams that define the seating sections. As usual, including those details led to a few minor changes in the position of the light towers, the grandstand, etc. Also, the dirt pitchers' mounds in the bullpens are shown, as well as the letters "B" and "T" to indicate bench bleachers and table seating areas in the outfield.
There is also a revised football diagram, based on the game between Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois held on September 21, 2013. See stltoday.com.
Also, I should have called attention many months ago to the completion of the "Ballpark Village" which sits on land formerly occupied by Busch Stadium II. It features various eateries and other places for fans to enjoy themselves; see MLB.com