Stadium deal nailed down
To the surprise of no one, negotiators for the D.C. government and Major League Baseball reached a compromise over funding the new baseball stadium in Washington yesterday, but it wasn't pretty. In a demonstration of lingering mistrust, D.C. insisted on a clause that mandates that the franchise will remain in Washington for the next 30 years -- except for brief interludes as deemed appropriate by the Commissioner. That sounds bizarre to me, and sets a bad precedent. Otherwise, ther terms were pretty much what was announced last week. If the stadium is not ready by 2008, the city will have to pay a substantial penalty, so perhaps they are going to get moving fast after all. The city also agreed to give up one-third of the parking revenue generated at the stadium on non-game days. Council chairwoman Linda Cropp has been uncharacteristicaly low key recently. As usual, council member Jim Graham complained that the city gave too much away on that concession, while baseball booster Jack Evans said it was the best deal they could get. All in all, it is a classic example of "crony capitalism," a business deal in which monopolistic private enterprises coerce public entities into transfer wealth to them. It's as if they're trying to validate the theories of Karl Marx. The D.C. Council must vote on the matter by December 20. For more details, see Washington Post.
The player transactions that most grabbed my attention from the annual winter owners' meeting last week were: Rafael Furcal signed with the L.A. Dodgers, Edgar Renteria signed with the Braves, . The Red Sox and Orioles are working on exchanging Manny Ramirez for Miguel Tejada, both renowned malcontents. The Mets signed Julio Franco to a two-year deal, which means he will be playing big league ball at the age of 49!!! He did a fine job with the Braves, who were smart to sign the oldster, in the fine tradition of Satchel Paige and Nolan Ryan. As for Washington, their bid for Kevin Millwood hasn't come to anything yet. New "Nat" Alfonso Soriano says there is no way he will play outfield, and I'm starting to worry that Jim Bowden may have made a big goof. Why in the world don't they put him at shortstop??? That's by far the biggest "hole" in the lineup, for cryin' out loud! As for the front office, the Red Sox intend to have two guys share general manager duties, so apparently Bowden will stay in D.C. after all. Whew! (all via MLB.com)
Baseball "Holiday makeovers"
Baseball introductory page! No, not an introduction to the sport, but an introduction to the wondrous resources you'll find on this Web site, for the benefit of first-time visitors. I hope it helps ease the "learning curve" and enhances everyone's enjoyment. Two major sections have been moved from the main Baseball (blog) page to the new page: the list of stadiums ranked in alphabetical order by city, in the left hand column, and the introduction to stadium diagrams, found at the bottom of that page. That will make loading the main blog page quicker. The new page (which actually has the same URL as what used to be the main baseball page) also includes a scrolling menu that allows you to instantly jump from photographs of one stadium to the next. In the future there wil be a "FAQ" section, plus other goodies. Any suggestions?
Another improvement is that many of the ballpark photographs have been sharpened up quite a bit, as I learn more digital tricks. The Great American Ballpark and Comerica Park photos are perhaps the best examples.
As for some of the other Baseball Web site projects underway during the dark, bleak months of winter, I have come up with "true" power alley dimensions for nearly all major league ballparks. In many cases, the distances displayed on the outfield walls are markedly inaccurate, as we found out at RFK Stadium last summer. The true power alley distances will be added to the respective stadium pages in the next few weeks.
While we're on the subject of Web site enhancements, let me take the opportunity to do a little Yuletide "tip jar" rattling: For those of you fine folks who visit here on a regular basis, please consider sponsoring one of the baseball stadium pages. There will be special benefits for "Members" (those who donate or provide photographs or substantial research assistance) as of next January. In addition, there will be more commercial advertisements next year, more than likely, so don't wait until your favorite stadium has been taken by someone else. Just click on the PayPal "Donate" button.