March 6, 2006
It's a huge relief, but not really much of a surprise. Major League Baseball knows full well that taking the dispute over the lease terms for the new baseball stadium in Washington to arbitration would only lower the value of the franchise, which they are very eager to sell. So, they took the revised deal presented to them by the D.C. Council, attaching a few technical stipulations that no further legislation contrary to existing terms be adopted. (Translation: Don't muck this thing up any more.) See Washington Post. According to MLB.com, Bob DuPuy said,
Everyone has to compromise so the Nationals can enjoy a strong future. We are offering a compromise that I call on District leaders to support.
Ah, sweet reason! Does this settle the matter once and for all? Will everything fall apart if the cost cap provisions don't work like they're supposed to? No in both cases. This is just one more landmark event in a long series of contentious haggling over the ballpark that will not end until the final coat of paint and the last plumbing fixtures are installed. MLB will presumably announce the new Nationals owners just before Opening Day, more or less coinciding with the beginning of the demolition of the existing warehouses on the stadium site. Groundbreaking will probably take place by the end of the summer. "Theoretically," the new ballpark could be finished in time for the beginning of the 2008 season, but an opening at mid-year or early in the following year is more likely. For now, RFK Stadium still has a "life expectancy" of three years.
Whew! It turns out that Jose Guillen was smart to seek another doctor's opinion about his wrist injury. Further tests indicate that his left wrist is merely swollen, and may heal in time for Opening Day -- as long as he follows doctors' orders and gives it a rest for 7-10 days. See MLB.com. All in all, it's been a great day to be a Nationals fan. Maybe they'll have another shot at a pennant race after all!
[UPDATE: Earlier today I reported that Kirby Puckett was hospitalized in critical condition, and since then we have learned that he passed away. The popular hero of the Minnesota Twins' championship teams of 1987 and 1991 suffered a stroke at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona on Sunday morning. His friendly personality and fierce determination to win made him an ideal team player, inspiring others on his team to match his accomplishments. It was a tragedy when his career was cut short by glaucoma in 1996, and this sudden death only compounds it. At least he got to savor the sweet reward of being elected to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot in 2001. One thing is for sure, he will not be forgotten in Minnesota. For more, see MLB.com.]
Lonnie Spath, a sportswriter whose fine panoramic photos grace the Oakland Coliseum and Fenway Park pages, has included this Web site among his "10 Web Sites To kill 10 evenings with." I'm pretty sure that's a compliment. Much obliged, Lonnie!
The national teams of (South) Korea and Japan earned berths to the second round of the World Baseball Championship, which will begin in Anaheim (and San Juan, Puerto Rico) on March 12. It was a surprise that the Koreans beat the Japanese (3-2) in the final game of the preliminary round, winning all three of their games. The Taiwanese beat their mainland Chinese arch-rivals, 12-3. See worldbaseballclassic.com.