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February 2024
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February 29, 2024 [LINK / comment]

Spring training is underway!

Yes, the birds are singing, the days are getting longer, buds are beginning to appear on trees, and the smell of well-oiled leather gloves is in the air -- baseball season is fast approaching!

For fans of the Washington Nationals, expectations for the 2024 season are once again rather modest, as only a few notable acquisitions were made during the off-season. They two signed free agent veterans: Nick Senzel (third baseman) on December 12, and Joey Gallo (outfielder) on January 27. Gallo played for the Minnesota Twins last year, the New York Yankees the year before that, and the Texas Rangers for the first nine years of his career. Gallo has a reputation for power, but has performed very unevenly in recent years, so it's hard to know what to expect.

Prospects are much brighter, in contrast, for the younger talent on the team. On the very first pitch he saw while wearing a Nationals uniform on the first day of spring training last Saturday, James Wood smashed a home run. The Nats were already behind 7-0, however, so this remarkable feat only had a symbolic effect in terms of narrowing the gap. The Nats lost that one to the Astros, 7-4. Wood hit another homer the next day, however, helping his team beat the Marlins. Today he hit his third home run of the season, immediately after Lane Thomas hit a solo homer in the first inning, as the Nationals beat the Cardinals 3-1. Obviously, wins and losses mean nothing in the pre-season, but it's nice to point out that the Nationals now have a 4-2 record for the season. In a Facebook group, I ventured a forecast that the Nationals would win 72 games this season, which would be one more game than they won last year, but if some of these young Nats players are as good as they appear, they might just end up with a winning season!

Orioles are for sale, not Nats

In a surprising development a few weeks ago, the Angelos family announced that the Baltimore Orioles are for sale, and significant progress toward a transaction has been made. Details to follow...

This is good news for the Washington Nationals, because it raises the possibility that the perennial legal dispute over television broadcasting rights might finally be resolved once and for all. Perhaps for this very reason, the Lerner family announced that they are no longer exploring potential buyers of the Nationals. Whether this means they are ready to commit enough resources to become a contending team once again is another matter, however.

Stadiums in the news

The Oakland Athletics remain committed to building a new stadium on the south side of the Las Vegas "Strip," but it is by no means a done deal. There seems to be a distinct lack of enthusiasm from the city residents as well as from the local government leaders. The Super Bowl cast favorable light on Sin City as a football venue, as the Kansas City Chiefs pulled off another miracle comeback win, this time against the San Francisco 49ers. Whether baseball would be as well suited in that desert region, however, is highly debatable. The big question is whether Las Vegas could fill the stands in a high-frequency sport such as baseball (81 home games per year); there's only about eight home games per year for NFL teams, and those events are usually at least 90 percent sold out. Last month the folks at bleedcubbieblue.com explored some of these issues. More recently, the question of where the Athletics will play after their lease at Oakland Coliseum expires at the end of this year. Some have suggested Sacramento or even Salt Lake City, but those seem far-fetched to me. Even if the A's do end up abandoning the city they have called home for over a half century, they'll probably manage to work out a deal with the city of Oakland so they can play there for the three or so years it will take to build a new stadium in Las Vegas. And of course, there is always the possibility that the Vegas deal will fall through, perhaps facilitating a deal to build a new stadium on the waterfront in downtown Oakland. You never know!

The Kansas City Royals have announced the site of the stadium which they are planning to build in the next few years. It will be located on the southeast side of downtown, on the land where the Kansas City Star once did business. I happen to think that Kauffman Stadium is just fine the way it is, but I guess you can't stop "progress" -- especially when gullible taxpayers let themselves be bamboozled by clever businessmen! Free enterprise? Not exactly. On April 2, voters in Jackson County, Missouri (which includes Kansas City) will get to vote on whether to approve a 40-year sales tax to fund a new Royals stadium as well as undertake further renovations of Arrowhead Stadium. See the Kansas City Star.

And finally, work is progressing on the new lower deck of Rogers Centre in Toronto.

Stadiums in the movies & TV

I made a few updates to my Baseball in the Movies page. Yankee Stadium appeared in an overhead aerial view during the opening scene of West Side Story (1961) and That Touch of Mink (1962), starring Cary Grant and Doris Day. Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, and Roger Maris appeared with those two actors in a humorous dugout scene.

Memorial Coliseum was featured in the movie Heaven Can Wait (1978), starring Warren Beatty, as well as in various television shows, including a 1965 episode of Perry Mason, starring Raymond Burr, 1972 episode of Columbo, starring Peter Falk, as well as an episode of Adam-12. For some reason, the bad guys tried to get away by driving into the Coliseum, which only has one exit for vehicles.

Et cetera, etc.

For the record, I updated the Baseball Introduction page with the new names of various stadiums, along with photos of the five (5) current MLB stadiums that I saw for the first time last summer.

NOTE: I've been swamped with teaching duties this semester, hence the paucity of blog posts and other updates, but I should have some time to get caught up on baseball matters during spring break, which begins one week from now...


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