Bidding war for the Nationals
As the moment of truth approaches, the Washington Post is profiling the most likely top finalists in a series of articles. On Wednesday, Fred Malek's close ties to the Washington elite were scrutinized, along with those of his ambitious younger partner Jeffrey Zients. Malek was the first serious prospective D.C. baseball franchise owner, founding the Washington Baseball Club in 1999, [and in my mind deserves special consideration for all the years of work he did in promoting baseball in D.C.] He has brought on board Colin Powell and other big names into his partnership. Some believe that he has spread bad rumors about some of his rivals. (On an entirely unrelated note, Mr. Malek gave $10,300 to the Kilgore for Governor campaign fund on October 29; see Virginia Public Access Project.) On Thursday they covered Malek's leading rival, Jeffrey Smulyan, of Indianapolis. Smulyan is eagerly seeking to overcome his status as a Washington outsider by parlaying his close ties to other baseball owners such as Jerry Reinsdorf of the White Sox. Credited as a marketing genius by some, he is blamed by others for a poor showing by the Seattle Mariners in the early 1990s when he owned them.
Downsizing the new stadium?
Because of anticipated cost hikes due to materials price increases, some officials in D.C. believe that the new stadium might have to be reduced in size or scaled back in terms of adornments, even before groundbreaking has begun. D.C. Council Chairwoman Linda Cropp said a "Ford or Buick" would be perfectly suitable, rather than a "Cadillac." Certain stadium features not specified in the agreement with MLB last year may be eliminated or financed by private developers. "Mayoral spokesman Vince Morris played down concerns that the stadium's quality might be compromised." Also, the House Committee on Government Reform, headed by Rep. Thomas Davis (R-Va.) may submit legislation that would give the District U.S. Government land for free. See Washington Post.
Nats trade Castilla to San Diego
¡Hasta luego, Vinny! The Nationals traded Vinny Castilla today for San Diego pitcher Brian Lawrence, a right-hander who had a 7-15 record this year with a 4.83 ERA. Obviously, this means that rookie Ryan Zimmerman is expected to play on a regular basis at third base. That will be a heavy burden for such a young guy to carry. See MLB.com. It seems a little odd that Jim Bowden was more anxious to let Castilla go than Cristian Guzman. I'll miss Vinny, who added a lot of spark of class to the Nationals in their inaugural season. Even though he slumped at mid-season and ended up with a batting average of .253, it was his batting, and that of Brad Wilkerson, that played a big part in the team's successes in April and May.
I've touched up several of the football version diagrams, shading the grass/turf areas outside the gridiron in a duller green, meaning "out of play." They now fit the standard color scheme. Three current stadiums used by MLB teams (Dolphins Stadium, the Metrodome, and Oakland / "Network Associates" Coliseum) and two past ones (Jack Murphy / "Qualcomm" Stadium and Candlestick / "Monster" Park) are being used by NFL teams at present. Four of those five stadium pages are in need of some revision; since they are all too big to fit the standard format, I will probably handle their diagrams the same way I did Minute Maid Park.