September 26, 2008
Perhaps the cancellation of last night's game in Washington -- which would have been the Nationals' final home game this year -- was a fitting punctuation mark for this dismal year. In today's Washington Post, columnist Tom Boswell laments the woeful performance of the team, noting that the original Senators only lost 100 or more games twice between 1909 and 1961, and the Montreal Expos only lost over 100 in their first year, 1976. Boswell goes on to rebuke the stinginess of the Lerner family which owns the Nationals:
The franchise took a gamble on fielding a low-budget team, a choice that, in retrospect, seems like a combination of bad faith and worse judgment.
Result: attendance at Nationals Park (29,005 average per game) has been below what was expected, in fact the lowest of any new baseball stadium in its inaugural year since the early 1990s. If they don't get some true champion-caliber players on their roster next year -- somebody like Alfonso Soriano or Vladimir Guerrero -- the team's fan support will start to wither. Are the Lerners really so "penny-wise and pound-foolish" as to let that happen?
The Washington Post has been publishing a series of first-hand reminiscences (?) about Washington's baseball past, and I noticed that one of the contributors was the very same guy who has been submitting impressions of Griffith Stadium on this Web site recently: Mr. Jack Toomey, of Poolesville, MD. I appreciate the interest and the time taken by fans to add their special memories to the stadium pages, helping to make them more lively and interesting.
The (Rangers) Ballpark in Arlington diagrams have been revised slightly, with more detailed profiles, lights, etc. I realized that the grandstand behind home plate consists of straight lines, like at Fenway Park, rather than a virtual curve as at
Jacobs Progressive Field. Also, the overall structure is not perfectly square as I originally thought, but is slightly elongated along the third base line "axis."
It so happens that this particular ballpark exemplifies the syndrome of "crony capitalism" which -- I believe -- is at the root of the current economic crisis. It was paid for by taxpayers, thereby (indirectly) enriching a select group of investors led by George W. Bush, before he became governor of Texas. Later it was renamed "Ameriquest Field" under a deal with the fast-and-loose subprime mortgage lending company that went broke and was forced to shut down operations in 2007. That's how the current crisis got started.
I learned from Mike Zurawski that the 10-year naming-rights deal between the Oakland stadium authority and McAfee Inc. has expired without being renewed. At least for the time being, the home of the Athletics (and Raiders) will be called "Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum" once again, but negotiations with new potential sponsors are underway. See sfgate.com. Accordingly, I have updated the Stadium names page, making a few other refinements on it.