May 16, 2006
The Nationals' new president, Stan Kasten, held a press conference to explain the new owners' long-term franchise rebuilding plans, which means focusing most of their initial attention and resources on the crumbling farm system. See MLB.com. Well, we knew that already. Ever since MLB bought the Montreal Expos from Jeffrey Loria in 2003, that franchise has had a certain "Potemkin" quality, with all the good stuff on display in front and hardly anything in back. It will take years to make up for that shameful situation. I was heartened by this comment by Kasten:
A ballplayer is more than simply batting averages and ERA. A ballplayer has heart, makeup and competitiveness. The more of those qualities you have, the more successful players you are going to have. The more players you have, the better makeup of the team you have.
Exactly. The fewer mercenaries, the better. (So the Yankees are interested in Soriano again, eh?) As for the series in Atlanta, at least the Nationals beat the Braves on Sunday, avoiding a sweep. Nick Johnson's hustle sparked the rally that finally got them going. My brother Chris thought he was out at first, but it looked like a tie to me. Tonight at Wrigley Field, the Nats have yet to score against the Cubs, down 4-0 in the seventh inning.
I have updated the Baseball in D.C. background and Baseball in D.C. news chronology pages to reflect the latest developments in the sale of the franchise and groundbreaking of the new stadium.
For the first time in many months, there was a public statement on the Web site of the prospective franchise ownership group headed by Fred Malek and Jeffrey Zients:
Seven years ago, we partnered with the City to return the national pastime to the nation's capital. Now in its second year, the Washington Nationals franchise has already become a great source of pride and unity for the entire region.
We have enjoyed the opportunity to meet the Commissioner, team owners, and other baseball executives. We always felt that local ownership was a priority for the team, and we believe MLB has selected a good, strong, local family to lead the Nationals. We congratulate the Lerners and pledge our full support to ensuring that baseball is ingrained into the fabric of this City.
We are also deeply grateful to the Mayor, City Council, and D.C. Sports & Entertainment Commission for their outstanding leadership during this entire process.
Lawrence Duffy thought that I had failed to take account of the fact that the bleachers in Jacobs Field were expanded at some point in the latter 1990s. Actually, I did acknowledge that in the text and put dotted lines in the diagram, but to erase any doubt, I added a "dynamic diagram" to the Jacobs Field page. If anyone knows for sure what year that expansion was carried out, please let me know.