Monday, November 21, 2005

On Blogging

I know that people ridicule those who blog about blogging, but I'll take exception just this once on the grounds that a): it's a slow Nats newsday and b): I don't do it often. This post started out as a comment on one of MissChatter's posts about whether Nats writer Barry Svrluga would be interested in meeting a group of Nats bloggers. MissChatter discusses how sportswriters perceive the fans and particularly fans with websites/blogs.

I was the one that posted the question about blogs to Barry during that chat. I was shocked that he actually chose to answer it! I am genuinely interested in the extent to which reporters are aware of, or interested in, what the bloggers are saying. Here was the question, and Barry's answer:

Capitol Hill: Thanks for keeping up these chats in the offseason!

I've noticed that the Post has started displaying links of blogs

that link to your articles. Do you ever read the blogs to find

out what they're saying about you?

Barry Svrluga: I have noticed more than a few Nationals blogs out there. Didn't know they commented much on our work, but it's good to know that people are so into the team that they wile away their free time waxing on their pursuit of free agents, etc.

After all, the Post is now linking back to blogs that link to their stories through Technorati. To me, this means that the traditional media has discovered that bloggers can create additional context and depth to their coverage. I find it hard to believe that the writers don't read these blogs to find out what people are saying about their stories. If I were a writer, I'd be intensely interested in what people were saying about my work and about the topics I was writing about.

Actually, I am a writer, if only a blogger, and the best thing about it is reading the comments that people write and reading the blogs that respond to things I've written. The conversational dimension of blogging would be very rewarding to me as a professional writer. I'd know that I wasn't just writing in a vaccuum, but that my writing was making people think, discuss, and react. I guess I could see how some writers could dismiss bloggers as homers with too much time on their hands. But how is spending a few minutes a day writing on the team any more lame than spending 4 hours tailgating before a Redskins game?

If I were a sportswriter I don't know that I'd want to meet in person with bloggers because they could be creepy nerds at best or restraining-order material at worst. But I'd be reading those Technorati links religiously and every now and then I'd drop an anonymous comment or two, just to keep things interesting.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Middle Infielder Bingeing and Purging

The Nats added another free agent utilityman yesterday, signing Marlon Anderson to a two-year, $1.85 million deal. After a week of spewing vitriol at Bud "National Disgrace" Selig and Bob "Lying Sack of Crap" DuPuy, the ire of the Natosphere is once again fixed on Jim Bowden.

Nate at Nats Triple Play says that Bowden has "overload(ed) the roster with subpar utility infielders." This is true. But he goes on to say that: "The big losers here are Jamey Carroll, Rick Short and Brendan Harris, all of whom should probably start looking for a new gig in 2006." So if Carroll, Short and Harris (and Spivey and Baerga and Tony Blanco) find new gigs in 2006 will we still have a surplus of utility infielders? No. We'd actually end up having more space on the 40 man roster to sign pitching and other needs. I'm going to remain agnostic on Marlon Anderson until I see what other roster moves are made and how he works out. But I do think it was silly of Bowden to sign him for a two-year deal. At this point in the state of the franchise, only established, starting veterans should be getting multi-year contracts, period.

The debate we should be having is whether Damian Jackson and Marlon Anderson are better options than Carroll, Short and Harris. In my opinion, they are. Jackson and Anderson aren't perfect players, but they ARE multi-dimensional players. They can play defense, successfully pinch-hit and run the bases. Harris is hitting the ball well in Arizona, but all reports indicate that he's a pure third baseman. With Zimmerman set to hold the hot corner for years, we don't need Harris. I'd love to see him end up in a deal that netted us some minor-league pitching. Short is also a one-dimensional player. He can hit extremely well, but his defense is shaky and he's slow on the basepaths. Having a Rick Short on the roster means you have to have a Kenny Kelly on the roster to run for him. That eats up two roster spots to do the job of one man. Good luck DH-ing somewhere, Rick. Finally, I'd hate to see Carroll go because he is a class act and a great guy to root for. He's also the better of the three players. Let's look at the career numbers: Caroll: .269/.344/.338, Jackson: .245/.325/.355, Anderson .264/.312/.382. Yikes. The newcomers slug better (they won't in RFK) but their batting averages and OBPs are several points worse than Carroll!

I don't know what Bowden was thinking on this one. Maybe it's all a ruse to free up Carroll to be signed by the Boston Red Sox as soon as Bowden gets the gig?

Friday, November 18, 2005

Buyer's Remorse

Yesterday I posted an open question to the blogging community. I wanted to know if the guaranteed rent payment issue had been negotiated during last year's stadium agreement. Capitol Punishment provided the answer in a spectacular post of intrepid reporting that would make Bill Ladson jealous. If you haven't read Chris's post, read it.

It turns out that DC agreed that the "team's obligation to pay rent and operating expenses shall be a general unsecured obligation as long as the team is in compliance with the MLB Debt Service Rule." As CP points out, the application of the debt service rule is murky in this case, but the bottom line is that the city agreed to an unsecured obligation. So it seems that MLB is within its rights to call shenanigans on the city for reneging on the deal. MLB is right from a legal standpoint. A deal is a deal.

From an ethical/political standpoint, the city is right to seek a small concession from MLB that would keep its interest rates low and thus lessen the burden on its taxpayers. The DC Council is in quite a pickle. The original stadium agreement was negotiated by last year's lame-duck council that included several pro-baseball members. The new council installed this January has a decidedly more anti-baseball flavor. I've seen quotes from current council members wishing they could re-negotiate last December's agreement.

Sadly, I think it's too late and too bad for the city. I'm no apologist for MLB, but a deal is a deal, especially one that spells out its parameters in such explicit terms. Baseball is not going to budge, or should they, from a purely business perspective. Nonetheless, it would be a very positive gesture of good faith for baseball to throw the city a bone here. By guaranteeing the lease payments and thus lowering the cost to DC taxpayers, MLB could give the city council the political cover that it will need to pay for the inevitable construction cost overruns.

Could. Would. Should. The city should have been more careful in its original negotiations and baseball should have given them more time to perform the necessary due dilligence. As usual, taxpayers and fans get caught in the middle.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Everybody Hurts

"Everybody hurts. Take comfort in your friends.
Everybody hurts. Don't throw your hand. Oh, no. Don't throw your hand.
If you feel like you're alone, no, no, no, you are not alone."

If it makes you feel any better (and it shouldn't), the Nationals aren't the only team being bent over the table by Bud Selig and his gang of mouth-breathing troglodytes. ESPN reports that Bud and Friends are wielding the stadium spectre over our NL East brethren Florida Marlins and others:

"Selig reiterated the need for a new stadium for the Florida Marlins. The Marlins want a 38,000-seat ballpark next to the Orange Bowl in downtown Miami, but it's been stalled by funding issues. While the team, the city and Miami-Dade County have pledged $390 million toward construction, there's still a gap of up to $45 million.

The Marlins hoped to be in a new stadium for the 2008 season. The team's series of one-year leases with Dolphins Stadium will expire after the 2010 season.

"They're working very hard. ... They need the new ballpark," Selig said. "It's very frustrating. We have two or three franchises that really are going to have to solve their stadium problems."

Hmm...let's see. This all sounds familiar. A city "needs" a new stadium in 2008 and ponies up millions only to have baseball leave them twisting in the wind for more cash. Those "two or three franchises" almost certainly include the Marlins, Twins and of course, the Nats. It's incredible that Bud refers to the need of the franchises to "solve their stadium problems." I don't know much about the situations in Miami and Minneapolis, but in DC the stadium problems are almost entirely, at this point, the fault of MLB. After all, it's baseball that refuses to guarantee the $6 million in annual rent payments to help the Nats get investment-grade ratings from Wall Street.

The hated Bob DuPuy sees it differently:

"We believe the demands of the city vary from what was agreed to in the stadium agreement...there are creative solutions to almost every problem, and hopefully either in dealing directly with lending institutions or dealing with the city we'll be able to come up with some creative solutions. I'm hopeful this can be resolved next week."

This is a very interesting statement. I've heard mention a few times during the past week that DC has changed the terms of the stadium agreement from last year. Is this true? I really wonder what the substance of that original agreement was. If DC explicitly agreed not to seek guaranteed rent from MLB, then DuPuy is right to claim that the city is changing the deal. However, if the rent provisions were left out of that original agreement entirely, then the District is right to seek the guarantee because Wall Street set unanticipated requirements for the bond financing.

But wait, were the bond requirements unanticipated? Perhaps by DC, but you'd think MLB, who has similarly extorted new ballparks out of the majority of its cities, would have known of this requirement. Did MLB purposely leave this provision out of the agreement in order to retain leverage to be exerted at a future time? And finally, perhaps the grandaddy of all unanswered questions: if the original stadium agreement didn't cover all the bases, why did MLB agree to it then? Why was baseball willing to take risks in 2004 that it is not willing to take in 2005, despite an astronomically successful first season in DC?

Dear readers, perhaps you can help me answer some of these questions, either in your comments to this post or in your own blogs. What was different about the '04 stadium agreement from what is being worked on today?

Omnibus Bud Bashing

Hell Hath No Fury...

I've read so many great posts in the Natosphere about the whole ownership debacle. Here are the highlights. Hopefully someday this spring we can come back to this list and breathe a sigh of relief that it all turned out okay. Until then, I bring you the collective vitriol of some of the best bloggers out there:

Bud Selig: "There will be an owner very shortly...I don't think anybody is being penalized."

Frank Robinson: "You're talking about the middle of November and you still don't have an owner. It's not fair to this organization."

D.C. Council Member Jack Evans :"What I have told them is: This is non-negotiable...So you either agree to this, or you move the team to somewhere else because we're wasting our time. If you have to guarantee us a $6 million a year guarantee, then do it. I mean, enough is enough."

Bob DuPuy : "All of that is patent nonsense...the team is being professionally and competently managed, and it has been throughout. Tony Tavares is a wonderful and experienced baseball executive who did a wonderful job. We won't drop a beat with regard to the operation of the team."

Capitol Punishment :"Mr Dupuy, on behalf of all Nationals fans, put on some farkin' pants and wake up to reality, you lying sack of crap."

Just a Nats Fan :Yes, I can continue dreaming. The alternative is not a viable option. That would be depression, anger, and possibly letting loose a Guillen-sized temper tantrum. And I don’t think it would accomplish much. *Sigh*

Nasty Nats :We've been screwed with too much. We couldn't watch the Nats on TV in 2005. We could barely hear the radio signal. Bud gave our TV rights, the lifeblood of a franchise, to Peter Angelos. If he screws us again on ownership, I pray that Congress gets involved.

Nats Triple Play :"For the duration of the negotiations Bud Selig has wielded the ownership question like a stick, using it to beat back all attempts to reconsider the stadium legislation or make substantial alterations to the lease. But now he may have overplayed his hand.

Distinguished Senators :"Another lost offseason is too depressing to dwell on. I've resigned myself to the worst: no owner, no Theo Epstein, Randy St. Claire gets a job with the Mets or something, and Bodes exerts his interim authority by getting rid of Brad Wilkerson and handing Frank a five year contract. I liked it better when we could call Peter Angelos a bastard and get on with our lives."

Capitol Punishment :"This isn't about a new owner trying to maximize revenue to put a winning team on the field. This is about MLB sucking the life out of us gullible sports fans. And the sad thing is, none of us are going to care. We're still going to go. We're still going to pay the price.

We are Wil Cordero's wife."

Bud Selig is a National Disgrace.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Dark Times in DC

Let the Backlash Begin

These are dark times for the Nationals and their fans. Major League Baseball has held up the sale of the team because the city is demanding a guaranteed $6 million in annual rent payments in order to satisfy their Wall Street bond raters. MLB doesn't want to guarantee these payments. The city struck back today, demanding an additional $24 million line of credit from MLB to guaranteed interest payments on the stadium should the facility become unusuable due to a player strike, terrorist attack, or other unforseen event. The city is also seeking a $20 million payment for parking spaces at the stadium to accommodate the special VIP parking that MLB has demanded for itself.

In short, DC has already agreed to contribute nearly $1 billion dollars toward building a home for the Nationals. Baseball is only being asked to contribute $180 million in guaranteed lease payments (and another $44 million for interest and parking). Yet baseball continues to balk in the hope that the city will back down and absorb 100% of the risk and 100% of the cost. In the meantime, the team is trying to make more money by unveiling an alternate jersey this Saturday and has announced a ticket price increase for 2006 and an additional premium for games against the Yankees, Orioles and Cubs at RFK.

This is Major League Baseball at its worst. I'm a huge fan of the capitalist system, but MLB is a prime example of an unregulated monopoly run amok. Baseball demands unlimited concessions from fans, municipalities and even the federal government and yet refuses to contribute any goodwill of its own. Last month's World Series ratings disaster leaves us wondering if fans are angry with the sport's continued price gouging and blindness to the steroid problem, or if they simply don't care. I think most people regard the local baseball franchise the way they regard the city zoo: you might only go once a year or less, but you'd be really bothered if the zoo left town. Pro sports franchises have become so crucial to a city's sense of self-worth that people will do anything to keep them around. Even in the nation's capital didn't seem like a "complete" city until it had a baseball team. We'll never be rid of the capricious whims of the moguls of sport as long as we depend on pro teams to prop up our civic pride.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Bitter Frustration

The pessimists were right. reports that Bud "@#!@$" Selig has announced that the owners won't vote on the sale of the team at next week's owners' meetings in Milwaukee. Bud tries to explain the delay by saying he's not through vetting the eight ownership candidates:

""All these people have spent an enormous amount of time, money, effort," Selig said after addressing major league general managers. "And they certainly deserve one interview. I've enjoyed it. I've done five groups so far. I have three to go, and I'm trying to do those as quickly as possible."

Sure, Bud. The real reason for the delay, according to baseball sources, are the ongoing lease negotiations between MLB and the District. Basically, DC is going to have to succumb to baseball's demands. Last we heard, the negotiations were somewhat close to being resolved but a sticking point remained on the rent that the team would have to pay the city. The city wants to charge a higher rent than baseball feels it should pay. Who knows how long this will take to work out?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A Bump in the Road

Bowden to Boston?

The Washington Times and the Boston Globe report that Jim Bowden will interview for the GM position with the Boston Red Sox. Of course, the boo-birds in the Natosphere think this is great. After all, if we lose Bowden, we'll surely get an experienced, qualified candidate to replace him, right? Wrong.

Losing Bowden at this point would be a blow to the franchise, and that should be clear to all but the most hardened partisans. Some have hinted that the Nats and BoSox could simply "swap" GMs and that Epstein could come to DC. If you believe that, then you may want to think about checking into a rehab facility. Look, Espstein just turned down a three year deal worth $4.5 million to manage a legendary team with a $120 million payroll. There is just no way he's going to come sign a contract with the ownerless, payroll-poor Washington Nationals. I certainly think there are far better GMs out there than Jim Bowden, but what this rudderless franchise needs right now is a guy who's not afraid to make moves and take chances in order to win. Jim Bowden is that guy.

This situation has become even more dire this week, as the ownership issue has stalled again . DC and MLB are still haggling over how much rent the team will have to pay the city in the new stadium. It now appears that next week's owners meetings will come and go with no ownership announcement. I've begun to cope with the frustration of the ownership situation by lowering my expectations to the point at which I have none.

So here's what the Nationals' Thanksgiving table could look like: No stadium lease, no owner, uncertain futures for the coaching staff and no General Manager, leaving the team to compete for GM candidates with the Dodgers. Somehow this all seems even more dire than last year, when we were in danger of not getting the team at all. Is it just me, or have the Washington Nationals taken a few steps backward since October 2nd?

Monday, November 07, 2005

(Re) Defending Bowden

Stop Sippin' On That Haterade

My hackles have been raised by a post at Oleanders today. The post likens Jim Bowden's trade of Vinny Castilla for Brian Lawrence as "the Dennis the Menace Syndrome," where "Dennis would cause a great problem to occur (by quasi-accident), only to solve the problem in the end (while) everyone in the show would ignore the fact that Dennis caused the problem in the first place and praise would be heaped upon him."

Nice post, but I completely disagree. The author says that Bowden "created the problem in the first place." What was the original problem? Acquiring Vinny? Or trading Day/Ohka/Vargas/Kim? I've blogged on this before. The party line in the Natosphere is as follows: Jim Bowden is reckless, sporadic and incompetent in his handling of personnel matters. He needlessly traded much of the team's pitching away for lackluster offensive and defensive replacements. Had Bowden not traded away luminaries like Tomo Ohka and Sunny Kim the Nats would have handily won the NL Wild Card. I can't blame everyone for taking this stance; hindsight is always more popular than insight.

Some may never get over the fact that the '05 Nats were never set up for success. Everything about this franchise has been leaky and creaky for at least five years. The team was slated for the chopping block, only to be spared by the fact that the Twins refused to be contracted. You know the rest: the Loria transaction, Hiram Bishorn, L'Estade Olimpique, Youppi! By the time the team was moved to DC it resembled a used Datsun that had been donated to charity: you fill up the tank, start 'er up and hope for the best. You wanted Metallica; we got your kid brother's garage band.

Ironically, the Vinny trade was executed for the same reasons those pitchers were traded. Bowden was dealing from surplus to address a deficit. In the case of the mid-season trades, he was trying to fix the disaster that was the team's middle infield with Guzman stinking up the place and Vidro out indefinitely, at the time. We had a bullpen full of mediocre pitching and Bowden took a risk by trading some of them to shore up the offense/defense. He made the best decision he could with the knowledge he had. It didn't work out. Sometimes you try your best and you still end up at .500. That's life.

Here we are in November and we had extra third basemen, so once again Bowden made a trade from a surplus. If Lawrence has an awful season, Zimmerman gets hurt and Harris is a dud, I'm sure we'll all hear about what a fool Bowden is. On the other hand, if Lawrence eats innings and wins games no one will say a thing. That's what partisan fandom is all about, after all.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Lawrence of, er, Anacostia?

Nats Trade Castilla for Lawrence

Take that, Bowden-haters! The Nats traded decrepit and superfluous third baseman Vinny Castilla to the San Diego Padres yesterday for veteran pitcher Brian Lawrence . Hooray!

This move opens up third base for red-hot rookie Ryan Zimmerman to be the every day starter at the hot corner. Zimmerman will provide a much-needed bat in the Nats lineup for next season. In 20 games with the big club in September, Zimmerman hit .397 with six RBI and 10 doubles, and played great defense to boot. The best part? He's only 21 years old and won't make anywhere near the $3.2 million the team was going to pay Vinny to hobble around out there. This also takes away Frank's awful excuse about not starting Zimmerman because Vinny is a veteran. While we're trading with the Padres, can we trade Frank for Bruce Bochy? I'm starting to feel about Frank the way the rest of the Natosphere feels about Bowden.

Dealing the 38 year old Castilla also opens up room on the depth chart for prospect Brendan Harris, who is tearing it up in the Arizona Fall League. If I were Bowden, I'd be shopping Harris as trade bait for more pitching. Assuming Zimmerman can be locked up for the long term it doesn't make sense to have another young 3B prospect wasting away in the minors. Lawrence will be the team's number 3 or 4 starter, but there's still the matter of bringing back Esteban Loaiza. If Loaiza signs with another team, we'll need another free agent starter. Even if we get Loaiza or someone else, I still think Harris would be worth trading for a fifth starter. Ryan Drese, Jon Rauch and Hector Carrasco just don't cut it in my mind. Drese looked horrible last year, Rauch is unproven, and Carrasco was pitching way over his head in September.

Lawrence will be a decent addition to the rotation. He's had a mediocre career with the Pads (7-15 with a 4.83 ERA in 33 starts last year and 49-61 with a 4.10 ERA lifetime) but he's an inning-eater, which the Nats desperately need to keep Ayala, Carrasco and the rest of the bullpen from melting down. The 29 year old Lawrence has thrown at least 195 innings in each of the last four seasons...that's impressive!

Let's take a moment to update the Nats' offseason wishlist, shall we?

  • Sign 4th Starter: Yes

  • Send Vinny Packing: Yes

  • Upgrade Utility Infielders: Kinda (Damian Jackson)

  • Dump Preston "The Human Ceiling Fan" Wilson: Yes

  • Dump Carlos "The Hamburglar" Baerga: Yes

  • Re-sign Loaiza: Not Yet

  • Dump Frank "Cap'n Hook" Robinson: Not Yet

  • Sell Team to Non-Smulyan Owner: Not Yet

  • Sign Viable Leadoff Hitter: Not Yet

  • Get a Real TV Deal for the Team: Not Yet

  • Moving the Fences in at RFK: Not Yet

  • Let me know if I've left anything out.

    Thursday, November 03, 2005

    A Light at the End of the Tunnel

    The Washington Times reports that MLB and city officials are close to signing the lease agreement for the new stadium. The two sides are working out five minor "kinks" in the agreement, and the deal could be settled as soon as today. A signed lease agreement would pave the way for MLB to announce its choice for an ownership group as early as next week. However, it seems most likely that Bud will keep the choice under wraps for another week until he has the chance to make the announcement at the November 16-17 ownership meetings. So in just two short weeks, our long Nationals nightmare could be over. Well, this nightmare at least. There's still this one . Or this one . Take your pick. I haven't been this excited for the unveiling of a new Nationals personality since the hatching of Screech at RFK last summer.

    No, not really.

    What's more interesting, in my view, is the nightmare that didn't happen. I am more than a little surprised that this stadium thing has breezed through the D.C. council. First we had the city moving full steam ahead on eminent domain proceedings for the stadium site. Then Cropp made sure that the council would only vote on the technical aspects of the stadium agreement, which passed overwhelmingly the other day. And now we have an (almost) signed lease agreement today.

    It's amazing to me that some evil cosmic force has not prevailed here, touching off the nightmare scenario I blogged about awhile back. And it's not without great irony that we now see Cropp, who almost prevented the team coming to DC in the first place, using all her might to grease the wheels of the team's fate in the city. Thanks, Linda! You're Cropp-tastic!

    Things are looking up. Nats fans, take heart!

    Wednesday, November 02, 2005

    Frankly Speaking interviewed Frank Robinson in much the same format as the Tony Tavares interview last month.

    Not much real insight in the Frank interview. He reiterates that he won't know his status for next year until a new owner is chosen. Two tidbits stand out otherwise:

    Frank categorically denies Tavares's allegation that the coaching staff was lax on the players during practice and warmups:
    "He is way off base with that comment. It's not true...A manager and a coaching staff is only as good as the players perform. When I put on the hit and run, I can't make them hit the ball. When I put the sacrifice on, I can't make them [bunt the ball]." Frank had a tendency to throw his players under the bus all season long and here we can see that he won't hesitate to do it again. While it's true that he can't make the players do anything, that's beside the point. An effective manager wouldn't have to make them; the players would want to do everything they could to make sure the team succeeded. That's what leadership is, and I'm not sure we have it right now.

    Frank also confirmed the suspicion held by many that he'd rather play an aging veteran just because of his contract status than play a superior rookie: "With Zimmerman, you have Vinny signed for two years, and it wasn't right to sit him down and put the kid in there." Again, a leader does what is best for the team, not just what is easy or popular to do. Sadly, this interview only boosts my growing feeling that Frank should not be brought back in 2006.

    The Nats desperately need leadership on the field, in the clubhouse, in the front office and most of all, in the owner's box.

    Wednesday Roundup

    It's only November but Nationals News is happening at such a furious pace that it's hard to keep up. I better get in shape before April!

    Here's the latest from today's news:

  • has released its first 2006 MLB Power Rankings . The Nats are ranked dead last in the NL East and 21st out of 30 overall. Sickeningly, the team is ranked one notch below the 20th-ranked Orioles. Sadly, there is some truth to ESPN's justification of the Nats' ranking:

    Somebody will own the Nats by Opening Day, and the front office situation will be settled. But on the field, the Nationals, who played over their heads in the first half of '05, should get little help through free agency or trades. Rookie Ryan Zimmerman will make a big impact, but the Nats should take a step back in '06.

    I disagree that the team will get little help through free agency or trades. Sure, the team isn't going to land any big names but there is every reason to believe that some very plausible upgrades can be made that will keep the team competitive in the division. Damian Jackson is a good example. He's certainly not an impact player by himself but he represents a nice upgrade over a few departing players. Think of him as Carlos Baerga and Kenny Kelly rolled into one player. Jackson can come in as part of a double switch, pinch hit, or pinch run. Best of all, he only takes up one roster spot. The team will get better by adding guys like Jackson instead of having a bench full of one-dimensional "specialists" like they did in 2005.

  • The Washington Post reports that the Malek/Zients group is the frontrunner to own the team. We gather from the Post's lengthy profile that neither Malek nor Zients are interested in becoming a Snyderian micro-meddler, which is good for the team. The downside of this group, if you can call it a downside, is that Malek and Zients are supported by a small phalanx of minority investors. This could one day turn into a problem like the one currently facing the Cincinnati Reds, where the minority owners all sell off the majority of shares at once. In the Reds' case, 51% of the shares are for sale but controlling interest will remain with owner Carl Lindner. Who wants to buy 51% of a team and not have controlling interest? But never mind. Let's get any owner at all for this team and then worry about such minor squabbles.

  • The Post also reports that some stadium features may be cut in the face of rising building materials costs. According to Council Chairwoman Linda Cropp: "We'll have to reduce some things and not be able to do a Cadillac stadium, but we could do a Buick or a Ford." Well! If the new stadium is a Ford then what is RFK? A Le Car? A Yugo? Anyway.

    The Post reports that "potential cutbacks could come from features inside or outside the ballpark, such as reducing the size of concourses, suites and other amenities or moving parking above ground and reducing the number of retail stores at the site." JD notes that "a simple solution has probably already been arrived at, if not announced--to no longer include the land immediately south of N Street, which was always considered to be 'amenity space,' as part of the stadium construction, and instead let the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation handle that land's development as part of the Ballpark District." Sounds good to me. If they build it, I will come, and maybe buy season tickets.

  • Tuesday, November 01, 2005

    Around the Horn

    There have been several minor, yet interesting developments for the Nats and the baseball world over the past few days.

  • Mayoral hopeful and D.C. Council Member Vincent B. Orange has sued Council Chair and Mayoral hopeful Linda Cropp over which committee should oversee the ballpark legislation. Orange contends that his Government Operations committee has jurisdiction while Cropp believes that the Finance and Economics committee is the proper venue for the proceedings. Everyone should view these shenanigans as purely parlimentarian squabbling in advance of the mayoral race. I'm sure D.C. Superior Court is laughing heartily as we speak.

  • Capitol Punishment covers the Nats' reported clandestine interest in former Mets and current Chiba Lotte Marines manager Bobby Valentine. Tavares denies that the Nats have contacted Valentine while the Japanese media claims that they have. Chris is right, the team should be very careful about dumping Frank before the stadium legislation is complete. That being said, once the legislation is complete Frank should be sent packing. I'm not sure about Bobby V with the Nats, though. I was never a big fan of his when he was with the Mets, but maybe that's because I was never a big fan of the Mets. In any event, it's too early to speculate.

  • Esteban Loaiza, Tony Armas Jr., Carlos Baerga, Gary Bennett, Preston Wilson, Joey Eischen, Deivi Cruz and Hector Carrasco have all filed for free agency. Let's all hope that Bowden is working on signing Loaiza and Carrasco and hastening the departure of the rest of those guys. There's just no reason to keep any of them around.

  • Theo Epstein suddenly resigned as Red Sox GM yesterday after it appeared that he'd re-sign with the team. Epstein's plans are unclear as of yet but speculation is already beginning to swirl that he'll end up with the Dodgers, Phillies or (ha!) Devil Rays. Of course, many of my colleagues in the Natosphere will begin calling for the Nats to sign Epstein as well. It's okay to dream, I guess.

  • The sale of the team seems to be moving along well. MLB has begun to ask potential ownership groups to consider merging. The Nats' ownership is scheduled to come for a vote during the November 16 and 17 owners' meetings and Commissioner Bud is scheduled to attend a function in the District the night of November 17th. This is all very promising. Let's just hope that the Cropp/Orange standoff doesn't somehow derail this train. I can't see how it would, but you never know.