Jose Guillen plugs Sammy Sosa
Jose Guillen, who earned a reputation as a high-spirited malcontent when he played for the Angels, had some nice words for the troubled former superstar Sammy Sosa, who may try out for the Nationals this spring. Some think that this endorsement will smooth the way for an awkward transition. See MLB.com. I have to say, Guillen and the Nats have been a match made in heaven, and you never know whether Sammy could rekindle his career on a team in which the personal chemistry was just right. Oops, there I go again. It was not intentional, I swear!
Unfortunately, Alfonso Soriano is demanding $2 million more than the $10 million the Nationals were offering, which was already a $2.5 million raise over what he was getting in Texas last year. See MLB.com. What will it take to make the former Yankee happy in Washington? I don't recall him being such a difficult personality. On a more positive note, Brian Schneider signed a four-year contract with the Nationals, for $16 million. That is great news, for he is a reliable, solid, likeable team player.
Twins' stadium prospects fade
In Minnesota, Gov. Pawlenty failed to persuade representatives from the Twins and Hennepin County to come to terms on paying for a new stadium in Minneapolis. He wants to have an acceptable stadium financing bill ready when the legislative session opens on March 1, but it may not happen. The emergency luncheon meeting was in response to a legal motion filed by the Twins that their existing lease at the Metrodome be nullified after the 2006 season is over. Taxpayers would foot just under half the bill of the proposed $478 million ballpark. See startribune.com, and commentary at that newspaper by Andy Brehm: "Replace the Dome or lose Twins." Relocation as early as 2007 is not entirely out of the question.
Negotiations continue in D.C.
The former Mayor of Detroit, Dennis Archer, was chosen to serve as mediator between Major League Baseball and the D.C. government. He is known as a friend of Mayor Tony Williams. If he can't get the two sides to come together within the next 15 days, it will go to a formal arbitration hearing. Mayor Williams plans to submit a revised stadium financing bill to the D.C. Council by the end of the month, and it may be voted upon in early February. See Washington Post. [Mark] Tuohey voiced optimism about reaching a stadium deal, and defended his negotiating abilities versus Jerry Reinsdorf. Many critics think he got taken to the cleaners by those hardball-playing suits of MLB. See Washington Post.
Since most of these negotiating threats and bluffs are purely for effect, it's hard to know what to make of it all. Nevertheless, I've jiggled my estimates of the expected lifetime of the older stadiums and franchise relocation likelihood on the Stadium prospects table. For both the Twins and the Marlins, the likelihood of leaving has increased five percent. I was thinking that my suggested new name for the Marlins in case they move -- the Portland "Salmon" -- just doesn't sound competitive enough; how about the "Whales" or even the "Killer Whales"? Just think, in the extremely unlikely case that MLB pulls the Nationals out of D.C., perhaps the Twins can return to the ancestral home of the franchise, and resume their original identity as the Senators!
Roofs on soccer stadiums
In response to my Jan. 13 post, Adam Myers pointed out that most football (you know, "soccer") stadiums in Europe have large roofs, unlike football stadiums in the U.S. He referred me to an excellent source on that: Football Temples of the World; it's in German, French, and English. From it, I learned that the new soccer stadium on the east edge of Lima, Peru -- "Monumental de la "U" (as in University), which was built in 2000 -- has a bigger capacity than I had thought: 80,000, half again as big as the old Estadio Nacional downtown. It features multiple skybox levels in back of a single rectangular grandstand, with dramatic views of barren mountains in back. It hardly ever rains in Lima, so roofs are beside the point; indeed, many houses are only partially roofed.