Category Archives: Nats/Expos 2004

BALLPARKS I HAVE SORT OF BEEN TO

It began innocently enough back in ’99. I was on my last spring break, visiting friends in Colorado. One particular afternoon, we strolled over to Coors Field, home of the Rockies, and my friend took a photo of me standing in front of it.


Photo: Owen Price

As you can see, there is nothing extraordinary about the photo. If anything, it is not terribly flattering. I really did not think anything of it at the time and put it in album with all of the others from the trip.

Three years later, my girlfriend Erica and I, were out near Pittsburgh for a wedding. The day after we had checked out and had a half hour to kill before the next occasion of that weekend. Since we did not have time to take in much of the Steel City, we wound up parking at the sports complex on the city’s North Side. Without thinking of the Coors Field photo, I got a photo taken of me in front of PNC Park, the home of the Pirates.


Photo: Erica Marker

Again, no big deal and it too was added to the photo album. Fast foward to 2004. I found out that we were going to a wedding in Vermont and it was decided that we would take the whole week off and stay up North. We added Montreal and Boston to the agenda and I looked to see if either the Expos or Red Sox would be playing that week. It would turn out that the schedule was not in our favor in either city on the days we would be there, so I joked that I would have to get another photo in front of a ballpark that I had never been inside. With that epiphany I decided I would make it my quest to get photos in front of as many ballparks I had never seen a game at as possible. With that decided, we made a slight detour on the way back from the Jersey Shore through Philadelphia. In addition to getting Philly cheese steaks at Jim’s, we made a very quick stop in front of the Phillies new yard, Citizens Bank Park.

On April 4, 2005, I crossed Citizens Bank Park off the list when I attended Opening Day. It was Phillies vs. Nationals in their first game ever. You can read about the experience here and view the 33 photo gallery of my trip here (pops up).


Photo: Erica Marker

A month or two later, we were at it again. This time, we were in Montreal, home of the Expos for at least the rest of the month. This would be most satisfying.


Photo: Erica Marker

I displayed a Senators pennant because for five years, myself and other Washingtonians have coveted the Expos. It was apparent that Nos Amours did not have a future in Quebec and the most logical place to relocate them was D.C. I could not resist the urge to do this and thankfully, 23 days later, Major League Baseball announced the Expos would be coming to the Nation’s Capital (pending funding, etc.). I did not do this out of spite, but out of hope that my city would get a team of it’s own. I have nothing but good things to say about Montreal, it is a wonderful city and Olympic Stadium is a facinating structure. The tower is accessible offers stunning views of the city and is accessible via a furnicular and is worth doing if you find yourself up that way.

Lastly, (for now) I have Boston’s Fenway Park, home of the hated Red Sox (I am the son of a former Yankees employee). We were in Beantown just four days after Montreal and jumped off the T for a quick walk over.


Photo: Erica Marker

I added another ballyard in late 2004.


Here I am standing in front of Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium in Washington D.C. I have never seen a regular season MLB game there.

After years of waiting in vain, I finally got to see real baseball in the Nation’s Capital on April 20, 2005. The Nats beat the Braves on a Wednesday night. It was joyous. Here is my blog account of that evening.

I have seen exhibition baseball there on a couple of occasions. Fortunately, starting this year, I should be able to remove this from the list as the Montreal Expos have relocated to D.C. and been renamed the Washington Nationals for the 2005 season.

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BALLPARK LEGISLATION SIGNED

Baseball’s return becomes officialThe Wash. Times

It is official for this year. There is a clause in the legislation that requires the council to find a new location if the cost review, done around March 15 (beware the Ides of March!) exceeds a certain amount. So, there is still the possibility of trouble beyond 2005. Hopefully, it will not come to that point and they can make it happen. You probably already saw the article from The Post yesterday.


Nats, Perez in Holding PatternThe Post

Not much has changed in the pursuit for P Odalis Perez. Former Reds star Jose Rijo is reported to be recruiting him, an indication that he will be named to the Nats coaching staff next week.

Nationals’ Siegle no stranger to politicsThe Wash. Times

Tony Siegle, the Nationals’ assistant general manager is profiled. Throughout his baseball career he has been involved with politicians, so Washington seems like a natural fit to him.

CAGERS GO 1 – 1 IN ARIZONA

Smith’s career high leads Nittany Lions to victoryCDT

The Nittany Lions men’s basketball team went 1 – 1 at the ASU/azcentral.com Hoops Classic to bring the season record to 6 – 6 with one non-conference game remaining. Hopefully, they can win 10 games this year, with the mediocre record to date, a winning season would seem impossible.


‘BURGH EX-PATS

Ex-Pittsburghers see more activity, diversity in Washington, D.C.Post-Gazette

Ever notice that every other person you know around here claims to be from Pittsburgh? Here is an article from a series about why, from the paper of record in the steel city.

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ODDS & ENDS

  • On Monday, I went in search of an official Nationals road cap, size 7 1/2. I looked all over D.C. and was unsuccessful, but I did get a Christmas ornament, shot glass, and mini pennant at the team store. It was great to visit RFK and walk around, I don’t think I have been there since the 1996 HFStival. RFK may be the prototype for the round, cookie-cutter stadiums of the 60s and 70s, but it still has a decent amount of character, equaled only be the post-football Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Hopefully, the Nats can make it rock again.

  • Mayor Anthony Williams is featured in the latest Washingtonian as a Washingtonian of the Year. He is photographed standing at the future location of home plate. I have to believe that this was done before December 14. He is quoted as saying he is willing to stake his political career on baseball. Guess what Tony, you just did. He also signed the ballpark legislation today (The Post), making it official.
  • I updated my D.C. baseball portal. There are more links, a few more images and links to some of my favorite blog posts on the subject. There will be a blog-wide “best of 2004″ (I hope) in a few days. Also, last week I added a bunch of other Nats blogs to the navigation.
  • Eddie Layton, longtime organist at Yankee Stadium died on Sunday (The Times). He retired last year. He started with the Yankees back when my mother worked for them. NPR has a couple of reports on him here and here.
  • Marion Barry (file photo) is profiled by The Post. His record of incompetence is included. I like to think that the fact he is against D.C.’s ballpark bodes well for it being built.
  • If you can find it, check out “Backfire” on public radio. It is a great satirical program that runs every year and includes an ABC correspondent, plus Buck Henry, Jane Curtain, and Tony “Really, I’m not Chris Hitchens” Hendra, aka Ian Faith in “This is Spinal Tap.” It is very funny, dry, humor. Let me know if you find out when it will be broadcast.
  • Joe Queenan’s new book, “Queenan Country,” was reviewed in The Times on Sunday.
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  • BOXING DAY!

    WWN wishes you and yours the very best Boxing Day.


    NATS FIRST CHRISTMAS

    Broadcast Interrupted For Nationals’ SpotlightThe Post

    Another profile of the trigger-happy GM of the Nats, Jim Bowden. He’s better than Pat Gillick, how?


    George SolomonWith the Shenanigans (Hopefully) Over, It’s ‘Play Ball’The Post

    Our favorite Nats cheerleader lets us know what Shirley Povich, Sam Lacy and Morrie Siegel would have thought about the struggle to bring the Nats here.

    Baseball fight full of lessons for D.C.The Wash. Times

    A breakdown of what went down with the ballpark process.

    Potential Nats Owners Are Going to BatThe Post

    A number of groups want in, but demands by Peter Angelo$ loom large.

    The Nats online store now has a batting jersey for sale. Sure, it’s garish, but it does have the interlocking D & C, so that is very cool. If they get a blue one, well, I would not be able to control myself and I would have to buy one. Also, if you are trying to go to the store at RFK, you cannot enter the parking lot from the SE Freeway entrance, it is still closed. I tried to go there on the way up to Pennsylvania the other day and was turned back.

    GUESS THE COLUMNIST

    So, here’s a column dedicated to the principles set forth and furthered by my 85-year-old mom in Columbus. Her motto and I’ll try to get it verbatim: “It doesn’t cost you anything to be nice to people.”

    See, I’ve always objected to that philosophy. Being blindly nice costs me. I can’t complain. I can’t find blame. And I come from a long line of blame-placers. These are intrinsic qualities that I must constantly be on alert to douse.

    But I can do it for one day.

    So, did you figure out who wrote this column? Confirm your suspicion here.


    MORE ON THE LIONS

    Ron BrackenNittany Nation looking at Williams as this year’s program saviorCDT

    Esteemed CDT sports editor Ron Bracken throws some cold water on those who think the recruitment of Derrick Williams will make autumn Saturdays in Happy Valley important on a national scale again. He cites examples of recruits who panned out and ones who did not and reminds us all what a crapshoot this whole thing is in the end.


    Nittany Lions freshman looks to lead teamCDT

    Meanwhile, on the hardwood, frosh G Mike Walker is making things happen, they say. The inevitable Joe Crispin comparison was made only once.

    OVERPROTECTIVE PARENTS

    Trek to school not like it used to be USA Today

    This is an article from last week about how kids no longer walk to school. A number of reasons are noted, mainly overprotective parents. This is just stupid, let the kids walk to school so they can learn some independence and self reliance. I walked to school for seven years and preferred that over the bus any day. It is a great way to stay in shape too. When I stopped walking to school, I put on weight for a few years.

    We need to make playgrounds more dangerous too. Not super dangerous of course, but put in some risk so kids might scrape their knees and learn about physical risk without serious consequences. It will pay off in the end.

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    BACK TO WORK FOR THE NATS

    Nationals seek to make up for lost timeThe Wash. Times

    The rush to get things in order for April 4 is on. They have to get RFK into playing shape, get a broadcast deal, find major sponsors and figure out the traveling for this season.


    Now it really gets toughThe Wash. Times

    More on the transformation of RFK into a MLB worthy facility. It is going to come down to the wire.

    Nats Get Back to Baseball BusinessThe Post

    C Brian Schneider has been signed for another year. He could be an all-star this year.

    Nat-tily AttiredThe Post

    Here are some graphics of the uniforms, including the numbers that we do not see on the ones in the online store. I am not crazy about them, they are nothing special, but they are not terrible either. The important thing is we have a blue hat for road games. I wonder how long until it becomes the regular hat.


    EditorialA Vote to Play BallThe Post
    It might even, we’d hope, overcome some of the distrust and division between city and suburb that marred this month’s arguments over the stadium

    Ha! How can The Post be so naive? D.C. residents love to find something to be upset about and all these suburbanites and their money means gentrification, if only for three hours a night.


    HUGE RECRUITING COUP FOR NITS

    And the Winner Is . . .The Post

    After a Long, Arduous Recruitment, E. Roosevelt Star Chooses Penn St.

    I do not get into recruiting for a number of reasons. One, I have interests other than Penn State football (and hard to believe, they include more than just the Nats too). People who get into recruiting are the same people who can only find games interesting if they have money on them. I say, if you have to do that to make it interesting, why not do something else? Anyhow, the biggest reason I do not get into recruiting is because it is ultimately a crapshoot on whether all of these “can’t miss” phenoms ever play meaningful football. So many things can happen that get in the way. If you really want some insight, read Ken Denlinger’s “For the Glory.” He is/was a Post sportswriter who was given complete access to Penn State’s football program, starting with the freshman class of 1988. He is also a PSU grad — ’64 journalism, I think. All of this being said, it does look good for Penn State that top recruits still think it is a special program.

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    MORE ON THE BALLPARK WIN

    This is what I tried to post earlier. Here are the lead articles from The Post:Amended Deal on Stadium Approved and The Wash. Times: Deal puts District back in the ballgame.


    David BroderTake Them Out to the BallgameThe Post

    The dean of Washington’s political columnists, Dave Broder rarely writes a sports column, but when he does, it is always good. He thinks that Congress got a lot less friendly after Bob Short moved the Senators in ’71 because they could no longer go to games together and put the politics aside for an evening. Along a similar line, I bet the schools were a lot better then too.

    Thomas BoswellA Big Reality CheckThe Post

    A little cold water from Tom Boswell is kind of surprising and you may not want to read it, though there is a photograph of councilman Vincent Orange holding a Ricky Henderson picture, which will no doubt delight one blogger. Boswell thinks we are looking at 2009 for a ballpark opening. I think I could live with that, couldn’t you?

    NOTE TO THE OMBUDSMAN

    Let me tell you, on April 4, it’s getting personal, real personal.


    IN OTHER NEWS: TROUBLE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD

    Truck Explodes on I-395The Post

    A tanker truck exploded a few blocks from my apartment early this morning. Somehow, I slept through that, though I do remember a car alarm going off for a long time. My commute got delayed somewhat, but not too badly. I could smell the fumes though and the air was hazy.


    PENN STATE BRIEFS

    • The Lion cagers lost to Buffalo last night, which is really bad and a reminder the team has a loooong ways to go. – CDT
    • Kelly Mazzante was honored by PSU at the BJC. – CDT
    • WR Terrance Phillips is done at Penn State. I guess this will give someone we know something to talk about the next time he runs into Terrance’s dad at Safeway. – Patriot-News
    • Yesterday was Joe Paterno’s 105th birthday. No, really, it was his 78th.
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    A FEW THOUGHTS

    While the D.C. council vote has been horrible for our baseball dreams it has been great for our blogs. There have been a lot excellent posts out there; make sure you visit all of them. Start with Ryan Moore’s Disgusted Senators (formerly Distinguished), then head over to any of these:

  • Ball Wonk (Nats at Code Orange)
  • Capitol Punishment (The C-word)
  • The Nats Blog (lots of good points and comments)
  • Washington Baseball Blog (more insight)
  • And speaking of orange, check out the connard link that has been left in the comments of every blog. It’s the view of this from a Washingtonian/Northern Virginian over in the Ukraine on the D.C. baseball situation. Very interesting that with all that is going on over there this blogger took time to comment on the Nats. Also, I think they have these problems because they stop having “the” in front of the country’s name. Actually, that’s just a joke, what has happened there is something else, scary but inspiring as well. All I can say is go orange.

  • LET’S GET TOGETHER

    When this is all said and done, after the new year, I propose all the bloggers get together for a happy hour or most likely, an Irish wake. Given the near-certainty of it all going up in flames, let’s do it in Maryland or Virginia. I am not real excited to be putting money into the D.C. economy since there are a number of people who do not seem to appreciate our economic contributions.

    Also, I want to thank all those who have commented and contacted me over the last few days. Don’t worry, I am not despondent and thinking of jumping into the Potomac or anything. This is a big-time disappointment, but having grown up here, I knew to be very skeptical of it actually happening because it is after all, D.C. I was prepared for this sort of thing. This whole exercise has been a triumph of hope over experience. I think I have made it pretty clear throughout the process that this could blow up at any time. I would have preferred to have been wrong.

    Oh, in my haste I said I had to scrap my windshield this a.m. I meant to say “scrape.” Self-editing at 5:45 is not always my strong suit.


    CODE BLUE

    I have been following the quest for D.C. baseball since I started the blog in March. I hate to say it, but D.C. baseball is dead. We might get them in ’05, but not after that and even that is in jeopardy now. I am going to stick with this fool’s errand as one of my primary topics, as it has garnered the most attention. Having gone this long, I might as well see this thing through.

    I expect that Linda Cropp (D, at-large), now emboldened by her disingenuous politicking is not going to change her position — she’s a no from now on, that is a LOCK. She will probably be elected mayor after all this because nothing stirs up the D.C. electorate like a politician who makes the entire city look bad to the rest of the region/country/world. Somehow, this sort of thing resonates with the D.C. public — which seems to prefer thinking of themselves as helpless martyrs in an unjust system. Symbolic victories over anyone that is not them (which includes residents of NW) mean more than actually fixing problems like schools, streets, etc. For these people, progress and improvement would mean no more victimization. Marion Barry (file photo) made a career on tapping into this feeling, or was it the other way around? Oh well, on January 1, I will go back to not caring about how my neighbors on the other side of the Potomac want to run (into the ground) the city they live in. People tend to get the government they deserve.


    THE LATEST

    Cropp Asks Baseball for More Time On StadiumThe Post

    She says the deal stands, so does MLB. Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), is getting involved too.

    More from The Wash. Times: Cropp, baseball refuse to budge


    At Least on Web, D.C. Baseball Is Sure BetThe Post

    Good for the true believers out there.

    Nationals, fans still optimisticThe Wash. Times

    More true believers!

    City offices flooded with financing offersThe Wash. Times

    Lots of people are interested in getting in on the ballpark financing.

    Tom KnottHypocrisy Cropps up on CouncilThe Wash. Times

    Tom Knott wonders where is the outrage about a shopping center that the council wants to raze to build a big box store?

    Dick HellerJoyous gift turns into lump of coalThe Wash. Times

    I’d say it is a whole strip mine, an abandoned one at that.

    Las Vegas, Portland step to plateUSA Today

    No surprise here.

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    NATS SCORECARD

    It is about 4:48, which means we are either 11 or 71 minutes from hearing MLB’s press release telling us they “are monitoring the situation.” In the meantime, I thought I would give a run-down of what people out there think of the Nats chances of staying here beyond ’05:

  • Ryan Moore of Dinstinguished Senators – not sure
  • The Post’s Tom Boswell – dead
  • The Post’s Marc Fisher – dead (new column from this a.m.)
  • WTOP’s D.C. political guru Mark Plotkin – not sure
  • My brother – dead
  • Maryland Bureau Chief Sam Basile – dead
  • Guest editor Fritz Hamme – dead
  • Ball-Wonk – not sure
  • Capitol Punishment – not sure
  • Nats Blog – dead
  • Tony Williams – not sure, but thinking it is dead
  • Jack Evans – not sure
  • Washington Baseball Blog – not sure
  • Me – dead
  • Charlie Brotman, former P.A. announcer – they will work it out
  • I would like to think that Charlie is right, but my head tells me he is not. Remember, D.C. would not let Jack Kent Cooke build a new football stadium with his own money next to RFK.

    Linda Cropp will go down in history as the one who murdered D.C. baseball, regardless of what she does the rest of her life. She may very well run for mayor on this and get elected, probably three times or even four if she gets caught smoking crack. Plotkin thinks she is naive, I am beginning to think not and that she knew exactly what she was doing.

    Feel free to comment and add your vote — dead or not sure.

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    THEY Q%&#$@!-ING BLEW IT!

    Our worst fear has been realized and the deus ex machina in this drama was DC Council Chairman Linda Cropp, who is now public enemy #1 and can (and should) be mentioned in the same breath as Calvin Griffith and Bob Short. She is responsible for ruining our dream of MLB baseball in D.C. with 11th hour amendments every step along the way. Sure, the Nats will probably play here next season, but after that, they probably go away and MLB will never permit a team here again. Cropp’s tactics, which can be described as chicken sh*t and self-serving torpedoed full public funding and broke the deal with MLB. Their statement will certainly be released sometime today. They cannot be happy. I just wonder how long they will give D.C. to find private funding. Oh and if you are a multimillionaire who wants unconditional love from the masses for the rest of your life, I suggest you ride over to Mayor Williams office on a white horse with dump truck full of money following closely behind.

    You can sift through the wreckage in these articles:

  • Council Approves Altered Stadium DealThe Post
  • Thomas BoswellCropped Out of the PictureThe Post
  • Baseball’s Return Could Be TemporaryThe Post
  • Baseball plan in jeopardyThe Wash. Times
  • Return of D.C. baseball in jeopardyThe Sun
  • Nats to have short-term stay?AP/USA Today
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