What's round on both sides and high in the middle?
oHIo...get it? Freakin' hilarious.
The Nationals signed a two-year player development contract with the AAA Columbus Clippers of the International League to replace the team's affiliation with the New Orleans Zephyrs of the Pacific Coast League. Columbus became available as an option for the Nationals after the New York Yankees ended their long-standing affiliation with Columbus last week. This is a good move for the Nats, who now have their top minor league club much closer to D.C.. Columbus is a large, thriving city and the Clippers are scheduled to open a new stadium in 2008.
Unfortunately, the Nats somehow let a possible affiliation with Norfolk slip through their hands, and it is believed that the Baltimore Orioles will take up residence there. In my view, this is nothing short of a tragedy. Baltimore has long tried to claim Virginia as its own territory, and the Nats have now allowed the O's to strengthen that claim by leapfrogging them in southern Virginia.
Also, it looks like the Nats will have to find another affiliate in 2009, since Columbus has every intention of pursuing a relationship with either the Cleveland Indians or the Cincinnati Reds when those clubs' current AAA contracts expire that year. I'm hopeful that Bowden and Kasten can somehow finagle a move to Richmond that year, but I doubt it.
At any rate, the Nats top farm club will have a good home for the next two crucial years, and that's what matters most. I drive through Columbus several times a year on my way to my parents' house in Cincinnati, so I will attempt to go to a Clippers game and bring you all the gameday action on this here blog.