My friend Sam, who migrated back to Southwest Pennsylvania from Maryland a few years ago, joins us to talk about the Washington Nationals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates series that begins tonight.
WFY: After several years of teasing respectability and over 20 years of losing seasons, the Pittsburgh Pirates advanced to the NLDS last year, but started off sub-.500. and had me wondering if the 2013 maxed out on this groups potential. They have been on fire the last couple of months and worked their way into contention for the play-in game if not the division; do you think they can get in?
TMBCE: Of course I think they can get in. Do I think they will?? Probably not. The Buccos didn’t go out and pick up another bat at the deadline or starting pitcher, although they made a nice bullpen addition yesterday with John Axford. The team is still batting a bunch of injuries, and the starting pitching is still a wee bit inconsistent. It will probably prove to be too much. However, it is nice to think they will have two straight winning seasons after 20 years of futility, so for that I’m really happy! The Buccos are trending upward in my view.
WFY: When I think of the current Pirates, I think of Andrew McCutcheon, Nats-killer and panda hater, but he’s out. How long? Who is filling the void?
TMBCE: Not only is Cutch out, but so is Walker (2nd best hitter on the team) as well as stud pitcher Gerrit Cole. Many of the regulars have missed significant time this year too, such as Marte and Martin. By far, the unsung hero through all this has been Josh Harrison (who we call “J-Hay!” around here). He was barely supposed to make the team out of spring training, and has been a utility player the last few years. But he has really stepped up!!!!
WFY: How has attendance been at the best ballpark I ever attended? Is the fanbase still energized? Have you made it out it to a game so far? I’m hoping to return for the 2015 Nats-Buccos series.
TMBCE: I’ve been to 2 games this year- a win and a loss. Attendance has been really good, and as of now, the projection is that the team will break the single season attendance record.
WFY: A.J. Burnett traded Primanti sammiches for cheesesteaks and signed for the Philadelphia Phillies in the offseason. How much is he missed and how is the rotation holding up? By the way, he got thrown out of his last start against the Nats for arguing with the umpire after giving up a big homer.
TMBCE: Some in the fan base miss, but its not universal. I for one do not miss him. He was a great team leader, but appeared to clash with Clint Hurdle late in last season, and never really appeared to take fondly to coaching. I have a lot of respect for what he did for the team, but I don’t want him back. Bigger than that, I think the Buccos need to re-sign Russell Martin in the worst way.
WFY: I said it last year that the PNC Park is the best thing about Pittsburgh. Normally, that’d be an insult to a city, but I’ll argue that PNC Park celebrates the Paris of Appalachia with the view of the skyline, bridges, river, hills, and proximity to the Golden Triangle. Am I right?
TMBCE: I have been to several current ballparks in my life: Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Jacobs Field in Cleveland (or whatever they call it now), and Fenway Park. PNC is by the best in my view. The most underrated place to sit is in the “upper deck” behind home plate. Its not really that high, offers a great view of the whole field, and a beautiful view of the city. Great prices for tickets too The next 2 parks I’d like to see are Wrigley Field and the Giants ballpark, which I hear is also outstanding.
WFY: What’s your favorite way to get to a Pirates game since it’s possible to go via automobile, bicycle, walking, light rail or boat?
TMBCE:My favorite way is to get the trolley (light rail) and get off at the Gateway Center stop, and then walk across the Clemente Bridge to the game. Its also possible to take the Trolley over to the North Shore and have a shorter walk to the stadium, which I will do in a pinch. But if I prefer the walk across the bridge. I am VEHEMENTLY OPPOSED to driving to PNC Park for any reason.
WFY: I know you avoid buying beer at the ballpark, but what regional offerings other than Iron City (which you questioned my purchase of last May)? I want to try a local craft beer the next time I am sitting in that magnificent edifice. I’ll even buy you one.
TMBCE: Maybe we should get the beer passport and participate in the local pre-game craft beer sampling that they have. I am not sure which ones are offered at the park, because its difficult for me to pay $10 for a beer that I may not enjoy. One local beer that I am enjoying this summer for the first time is the Rivertowne beers. They offer several in a wide range of beers, most of them I like (except for the really hoppy ones). Nicole even likes the Hala Kahiki (pineapple ale) offering, and she isn’t even a beer aficionado.
WFY: Any change to the Pirates standing in the Pittsburgh sports power rankings? How do the Stillers look for the upcoming season? What about Pengyunz?
TMBCE:A weird dynamic has happened with the Pens. A lot of the “new” Pens fans (the ones who just showed up when Crosby was drafted, much like the “new” Red Sox fans who just showed up when the Red Sox started winning) are put off by what has happened with the teams playoff struggles. They expect a Stanley Cup every year, and the playoff games are not always sold out anymore. I too am not pleased with their playoff performances, and agree changes are necessary. But a lot of the new fans are spoiled, in my view. All that said, I think the Pirates are catching up to the Pens in the power rankings. If the Pirates can sneak into the playoffs, and the Pens bow out early again, I think the Pirates overtake them. I expect a big year da Stillers–11 or 12 wins.
WFY: A sportswriter you have mentioned, Dejan Kovacevic, has started his own site. How is that going and have you subscribed?
TMBCE: Dejan is very knowledgeable about Pittsburgh sports but in recent years, has started to come across a bit too arrogant for my liking. He has plenty of connections and is well informed, but I was not sad to see him live the Trib and do not plan on subscribing to his new website.
WFY: So, do the Pirates sweep the Nats or just take two of three?
TMBCE: I think the Nats sweep, and I’m not just saying that flippantly. The Buccos offense is really hamstrung right now, and our ace (Liriano) isn’t pitching this series.
No, I don’t blog much about the Washington Nationals anymore. I will let you figure out why.
When I last checked in on the MASN dispute, I noted that “I am uncharacteristically happy about this news, I’m so used to it being bad for the Nats. However, it could still blow up because Selig’s track record is coddling Angelos and to a lesser extent the Orioles.”
According to the most recent report from The Post the Orioles owe Nationals $55 million-$60 million in fees from MASN, MLB panel ruled. The Nats “big victory” over the forces of evil was about half of what they had sought out, so the of course Peter Angelos and the Baltimore Orioles are still refusing to pay up, hence the dispute. In the end this whole saga will probably end with a whimper and not a bang. The hopes of the Nats being released from the corrupt bargain of outgoing MLB commissioner Bud Selig’s coddling of his friend Angelos seems to be a false one, a figurative towering fly ball caught just before the warning track.
By the way, since the Nats and Orioles are entitled to the same amount of money, Angelos want to keep it low so he can pocket more for himself. He’s even hurting the Orioles with this bargain. Also, the MASN camp is leaking more stuff to DC media. The Nats tend to keep tight-lipped which is letting others set the agenda.
Over at The Fingerman, Eric Fingerhut wonders why The Post, the most serious outlet left (cough, The Wash. Times, CSN) hasn’t dedicated more resources to this issue. I wonder too, particularly in light of some topics that are covered ad nausem. Not enough interest? Fear of offending Baltimore fan? Lack of interest in Nats fans? Are they Orioles fans themselves? It’s no secret that several people in the DC sports MCM are Baltimore fanboys. It isn’t even necessarily that they are covering for their favorite baseball team, just that they don’t recognize the problems that were foisted upon Nats fans by the cowardice and villainy of Angelos and the Orioles with Bud Selig’s support.
The biggest winner of course in all of this is probably Ted Leonsis whose Capitals and Wizards won’t be on CSN Mid-Atlantic forever. Without his teams, there is little point to having CSN Mid-Atlantic, so that channel’s willingness to make a sweet offer is high. MASN may also want to get Leonsis on board too as it could crush CSN Mid-Atlantic and monopolize all . For all of Leonsis talk of Monumental Network, getting a favorable deal with an existing RSN may be his ultimate goal.
Elsewhere in the world of Nats baseball, Jayson Werth was driving way too fast and is a danger to himself and others. We know this because natsenquirer.com scooped everybody else on it. It seems like the next story the MSM breaks on the Nats will be the first.
In my experience Chesapeake House, originally opened in 1972, is less crowded than Maryland House, so I have preferred stopping there over the years. The last several years have seen three completely rebuilt service areas along a 40 mile stretch of I-95 between Baltimore and Wilmington. The Delaware Service Plaza was rebuilt in 2008.
Service areas are lasting vestige of the pre-interstate toll roads area. In order to promote commerce along interstate corridors, service areas are banned and have been since the early 1960s. Some interstates were assigned to existing turnpikes like parts of the New Jersey Turnpike and the service areas were grandfathered in.
Unfortunately, an opportunity was missed during the reconstruction of these service areas — flyover ramps from the right side. It would have been eight overall (2 off, 2 on in each direction) but for whatever reason, the Maryland Transportation Authority did not choose to go n that direction. Safety and traffic flow are better when exits and entrances are from the right side.
Break out the popcorn! The corrupt bargain that gave Peter Angelos and the Baltimore Orioles the Washington Nationals television rights may be unraveling.
What’s been kept under wraps until now is that on June 30, the MLB committee adjudicating the dispute issued its decision, which favored the Nationals. That prompted attorneys to swing into high gear and Commissioner Selig to attempt to get out in front of the situation.
“I am deeply saddened by the fact that you have not been able to resolve amicably the pending broadcast rights dispute,” wrote Selig in a letter to Angelos and Nationals owner Ted Lerner, obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.
Selig doesn’t think either side is working in the best interest of the game, but c’mon Bud, if the Nats won they are entitled to the spoils of victory, so there is this:
I want there to be no doubt that, if any party initiates any lawsuit, or fails to act in strict compliance with the procedures set forth in the Agreement concerning the [Revenue Sharing
Definitions Committee of Major League Baseball]‘s decision, I will not hesitate to impose the strongest sanctions available to me under the Major League Constitution.”
The Nats can’t initiate a lawsuit to rightfully claim what is theirs?
On July 1, Stephen Neuwirth, an attorney at Quinn Emanuel representing the Nationals, responded by telling MASN that thanks to the decision, the club was owed an additional $10 million for rights-fee payments due on April 1 and June 1 and warning of an impending deadline of default.
Two days later, Neuwirth provided formal notice of defaults and warned MASN to cure the defaults lest the team “seek all appropriate remedies for nonpayment, including (without limitation) termination of MASN’s license to telecast Nationals games.”
His threats didn’t achieve the desired result, so on July 7, the Nationals petitioned the MLB Commissioner’s Office to confirm and enforce the June 30 decision.
I am uncharacteristically happy about this news, I’m so used to it being bad for the Nats. However, it could still blow up because Selig’s track record is coddling Angelos and to a lesser extent the Orioles.
What would victory mean for Nats fans?
Switching to a new channel (which if it’s completely new, could mean higher fees and/or service interruption)
The satisfaction over beating Angelos & Orioles (though Angelos won the moment his channel aired a Nats game)
More team revenue so good players are easier to retain and obtain
The funny thing is, the impact on the Orioles is probably minor, since Angelos clearly isn’t investing the MASN money in the team.
Like I said in February, Ted Leonsis must be watching with great interest — he could be the biggest winner out of all.
I’ll may add to this as more comes out.
Angelos got control of the Nats TV rights, got his own network with two teams, but is getting burned because cable television rights have skyrocketed. His deal turned out to be a bad one which is a little bit of karma. He wanted to intrefere in the affairs of another team and it might burn him. It’d serve him right.
Saturday afternoon was a big day for transportation in Northern Virginia and greater Washington, D.C. – the first phase of the Silver Line opened between Whiele Ave-Reston and East Falls Church. Five new stations, including four in Tysons, one of the largest office districts in the U.S., are now in service providing greater connectivity for the entire Washington, D.C. region.
My family and I rode the first train to Whiele Ave-Reston from Courthouse station in Arlington. We were in the front car which was a little more than half full. Several people were in the very front with their cameras. Other riders took the train only as far as some of the Tysons stops, particularly the Tysons Corner stop which serves the two malls. When the train left the Orange Line tracks for the new Silver Line tracks, there was mild applause.
I jumped out at each of the stops to take a few photos, but with the whole family along, including our 1-month old son taking his first Metro ride, I did not explore. It was interesting to get a new perspective on the familiar Tysons area from the elevated tracks. The best view of the Tysons skyline is on the big curve from the media of the Dulles Access Road to VA 123.
At the Whiele Ave-Reston East terminus, there was a celebration hosted by Comstock. VIPs got to go indoors, while the public was entertained by a DJ playing a bunch of music that came out when I was in middle school. We had a quick picnic there anyway, before returning to the platform to take the Silver Line back to Courthouse.
The ride was smooth, though not as fast as I would have thought, particularly on the return trip.
Rail to Tysons (and eventually Dulles Airport) was something I wondered if would ever happen. Like baseball in D.C., it made a lot of sense, but there were obstacles to getting there. Increased Metro service is a bigger deal than baseball, but the absence of both for most of my life was frustrating.
George Mason University history professor Zachary Schrag (Q & A: The Great Society Subway) made the case in his outstanding book, The Great Society Subway, that Metro should have been built to Tysons rather than Vienna all along. Instead, the Orange Line was built through the median of Interstate 66 all the way past the Nutley Street interchange. Though recent development, mostly in the form of low-rise apartments has come to the Orange Line corridor outside the Capital Beltway, the primary role of that Metro Line is as suburb to city, commuter rail, rather than an intraurban subway. Ultimately, the Silver Line will do the same though. The increasingly urbanized Tysons Corner and its four stations will be the only ones, with the exception of the Dulles Airport station, that are not within the median of the Dulles Toll Road. The commuter rail/subway hybrid has always been a compromise to maximize the constituency (and funding partners) of Metro.
Getting this far with the Silver Line has been messy and expensive. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority struck a deal with the Commonwealth of Virginia and the federal government to build the Silver Line in exchange for taking over the Dulles Toll Road. Much of the funding (too much), is coming out of automobile tolls. Some subsidy from motorists is appropriate, but perhaps a comparatively token fee, such as a $1 a ticket, passed along to Dulles Airport flyers would have been more helpful. The partnership between two public authorities MWAA and Washignton Metropolitan Transit Authority isn’t ideal and this will never be a great deal, but as the saying goes, at least it got built.
The Silver Line has also created a squeeze at the Rosslyn tunnel which has cut into Blue Line service. I ride the Blue Line several times a week, but I have found it to be manageable, albiet more crowded. Come September, it could get very crowded. Optimization of the Rosslyn tunnels is an urgent need and long-term, more tubes under the Potomac is also needed. That will be another 15-25 years, I’m afraid.
Building the Tysons portion above ground rather than below it is a flawed decision, but at a certain point, the attitude of “at least it got built” wins out again. I don’t mind the views, but this was pennywise and pound-foolish. Will it hold back Tysons development? Probably not, Chicago seems to do fine with elevated trains and locally, Silver Spring and Alexandria have strong transit oriented development near above ground Metro lines.
If the Silver Line is to succeed, it will be in spite of its builder, not because of it.
ARLINGTON, Va. — It took four months (I don’t take many lunches) but I finally made it to the newest Ben’s Chili Bowl location at 1725 Wilson Blvd. It’s between the Courthouse and Rosslyn Metro stations. I’d say it’s a 10 minute walk from Courthouse.
I had another customer in front of me, but the wait to order or recieve my order was probably just a little over five minutes. I got my usual, a half-smoke with mustard, onions and chili, plus fries and a Pepsi. It tasted like more or perhaps MOOOAARRRR!
The interior is pleasant and reminiscent of the original location, without being kitschy. One of the walls is a big celebration and timeline of Ben’s. Overall, it’s a pleasant design. They have a big screen on the opposite wall; it was playing a “Nats Classic” when I arrived, probably Stephen Strasburg’s second start (though it was the 9th inning, Tyler Clippard relieved Miguel Batista). Since it was nice day and the patio tables were still in shade, I enjoyed dining al fresco.
Today, Ben’s continues to expand with another Arlington location:
Pssst… Here's a super sneak peek at our new Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport location. See you there… http://t.co/djQQRZdV40
The new location is in the public area of the airport, lower level B/C – no TSA lines necessary. It’s an appropriate addition to one of the gateways to the city. Later this year, the long-planned H Street NE location will open along with Ben’s Next Door.
This isn’t the first time an idea of mine has been used by someone else — Mr. Walkoff, the nickname I came up with for Ryan Zimmerman, became a t-shirt for sale by other bloggers and then the Washington Nationals (sadly, I didn’t get to the ballpark in time during the giveaway, though Adam Dunn provided a walk-up of his own in his penultimate Nats game). This mover though, shows more commitment than anybody else to date.
It had not occurred to me that I might be a tattoo designer, however inadvertent. I guess I have a new skill to add to my LinkedIn profile. I’m flattered.
Oh and since we’re on the topic of D.C. basketball, here’s a little something I found in my old stuff in my mom’s basement the other day:
I probably bought it around 1992 at the Capital Centre, perhaps when I saw my only Bullets game (floor seats, under the basket no less) against the Portland Trailblazers.
I’m really busy and haven’t gotten to offer many All-Star break #halftakes on the Washington Nationals. Wisconsin expatriate @LeavittDC isn’t even in the country right now, so he’s spending even less time focusing on the Nats or the Milwaukee Brewers. I still needed to get one burning question in with the DC series starting this evening.
WFY: Is having to cold call people and apologize for using PEDs is a bigger deterrent than suspension, fines and loss of reputation?
@LeavittDC: I’d make a lot of unpleasant phone calls for $105 million. He’s handled things very well, though. I suspect the phone call that was even more awkward — although, again, he can cry into his pile of money — was the one from Aaron Rodgers announcing that their friendship and business partnership was over. I don’t know how dear the 8-Twelve MVP Bar & Grill was to Ryan, but that public divorce had to have been awkward. Back to your question, it’s not a deterrent, clearly, but if players knew they are risking not only their professional reputation but personal friendships… crap, I can’t finish that sentence. They’d cheat anyway.
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We’ll try to do better next season, but let’s not forget the most important thing: