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Dec. 13 ~ Is Pete Rose really sorry? In yesterday's Washington Post, Thomas Boswell wrote about the ongoing negotiations between Pete Rose and MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, which may portend Rose's return to the good graces of the sport he loves, but which he betrayed. In 1990 Pete was banished from baseball for life because of overwhelming evidence that he had gambled on major league games, but recent reports suggest that if he makes an acceptable apology he may become eligible for the Hall of Fame. Like many determined ultra-competitors, including Ty Cobb, whose lifetime hitting record Rose surpassed, as well as some former presidents who clawed their way to the top from humble origins, Rose has a big chip on his shoulder and is by nature loathe to apologize to anyone. I don't care how popular "Charlie Hustle" is with the fans, Boswell is absolutely right that Rose must make the first move and heal the wound that HE created.
As expected, ace pitcher and possible future Hall of Famer Tom Glavine has left the Braves and signed with the Mets, taking advantage of his free agent status. Mets fan Jeff Cooper thinks the aging Glavine is a strange pick for the Mets, who are most in need of better hitting and fielding. Now what about Greg Maddux?
Pac Bell Park will be the site of the inaugural "San Francisco Bowl" between Virginia Tech and the Air Force Academy, on New Year's Eve. Odd, since it is smaller and much less suited for football than Candlestick Park, but it may be that the 49ers want to keep their home field in prime condition for the postseason.
Nov. 21: Expos to play 22 games in Puerto Rico As rumored in recent weeks, MLB officials announced that the Montreal Expos will play 22 "home" games in San Juan, Puerto Rico next year, as a promotion that may be a precursor to permanent relocation there or elsewhere. They will play in tiny Hiram Bithorn Stadium, which has a capacity of about 20,000. San Juan officials are discussing whether and how to pay for a possible expansion of the stadium in case the Expos relocate there permanently in 2004. Baseball fans in Washington and Virginia are livid.
Nov. 19: Update on baseball in Washington Apparently prompted by the awful news that MLB officials have all but ruled out any transfer of the Expos to Washington next spring, the Washington Post has run several articles and commentaries about prospects for baseball in Washington during the past week. On Thursday there was an interview with Fred Malek, who says his group of nine investors has done all it can to buy the Expos franchise, which is currently in the hands of the 29 other Major League Baseball franchises. On Friday there was an article about the five alternative stadium sites being discussed, featuring detailed maps. Cost estimates have risen to $342-$542 million, depending on which site is chosen; real estate costs for the five sites vary widely. (The South Capitol Street site, which I favor, is only a block from a townhouse where I once lived.) D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams has pledged up to $200 toward the cost of a new stadium, but that would depend on passing a new tax on businesses located near the new stadium. MLB officials will meet on Wednesday to decide where the Expos will play next year, and it is a travesty that their players will have to play for another full year "in limbo." Sadly, until Washington comes up with rock-solid financing for a new stadium, hopes for baseball in Washington will be held hostage to Peter Angelos. This situation validates the argument of the Field of Schemes Web site, which opposes any public financing for professional sports facilities. The Post may finally be coming around to the realization that they are part of the problem, since their Sports section has long been treating the Baltimore Orioles as if they were Washington's "home team," playing into Peter Angelos's hands.
Nov. 13: "Dr. Evil" (Peter Angelos) strikes again According to the Washington Post, Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos has persuaded the 28 other MLB franchise owners to bow to his adamant objection to the anticipated sale of the Montreal Expos franchise to one of the prospective ownership groups located in the Washington, D.C. area. This, despite the fact that there is plenty of private capital in Washington ready to be invested in a first-class roster and new stadium, and despite the fact that the demographics in the Washington-Northern Virginia area easily outmatch any other possible alternative city -- Portland and San Juan being the two most often mentioned. MLB Commissioner Allan "Bud" Selig had said before the 2002 season that Washington was the "prime candidate" for franchise relocation, and for several months there were excited preparations in the Washington area. Unfortunately, he has apparently caved in to the wishes of Mr. Angelos, who told an interviewer, "Washington has the Capitol. It has the White House, Congress, the Smithsonian. It has the government office, museums and the Mall. What else does it want?" He refused to consider the possible offer of $100 million compensation for a possible decline in Orioles attendance if Washington were to get a baseball team. However, that may just be a bargaining tactic to squeeze (extort?) more cash out of Washingtonians. As Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell opined yesterday, Angelos has demonstrated that he is incompetent at running a sports business, which is why the Orioles have fared so poorly in recent years. As I have written on several occasions on this Web site, Mr. Angelos is a fabulously wealthy trial lawyer who tried to parlay his political connection$ to outgoing Maryland Governor Parris Glendening in order to grab an outlandish chunk of the proceeds from the class action lawsuit against tobacco companies. In simple terms, he's nothing but a greedy, crooked old bastard. I'm not prone to using inflammatory language, but you can quote me on that. It's time for the public to put pressure on Commissioner Selig and give the Nation's Capital what it has long been due!! Stay tuned for further developments on this Web site...
Nov. 8 Thanks to Steven Poppe for calling my attention to the fact that there was no diagram on the Shea Stadium page. Whoops! I apparently neglected to include that diagram when I switched this Web site to EarthLink, but it has now been uploaded. Sorry about that!
Oct. 29 ~ The Angels win! As I was hoping (ever since they knocked the Yankees out in the first round, that is), the Angels averted defeat at the hands of the Giants by staging a thrilling comeback in Game 6 on Saturday night (winning 6 to 5) and then prevailing in a less dramatic but still exciting Game 7 Sunday night (4 to 1). I felt a little bad for the Giants, who haven't won the World Series since 1954, but the Angels certainly deserved the trophy. Not many people were paying attention to the Angels while the Oakland A's were in the middle of their amazing 20-game winning streak back in August, but Anaheim was hot on the trail of the AL West champions until the very end of the season. Barry Bonds seemed a little miffed at not getting that prized ring; maybe next year. After Dusty Baker's three-year old son almost got trampled on at home, MLB rules should perhaps set a minimum age for bat boys. The poor little kid was sobbing after Game 7 and may be scarred for life. All in all, 2002 was another great year for baseball from start to finish, though it's a little troubling that television viewership for the World Series was so poor. Part of that can be attributed to the lack of regional balance, but it makes one wonder if night games are inherently less exciting and "authentic." Conventional wisdom says that only night games can attract the necessary TV audience to the World Series, but I think day games on weekends are at least worth a try.
Oct. 25 The Giants really unleashed a torrent of runs last night, turning the tables and putting the Angels in dire jeopardy. Jeff Kent hit two home runs, finally getting over his slump and sharing some of Barry Bond's limelight. Will the "Rally Monkey" turn things back in Anaheim's favor when play resumes down there Saturday night? I say YES! There is a disturbing pattern, however: In all six of the playoff series thus far this year, the team with the initial home field advantage (in this case, Anaheim) ended up losing!
Just before the Wednesday night game they FINALLY went through with that way over-hyped "Ten Most Memorable Moments." (I was surprised they let Pete Rose onto the field, since he seems as defiantly unrepentant as ever.) Anyway, here are the people's choices:
1. 1995 - Cal Ripken breaks Lou Gehrig's streak with his 2,131st consecutive game.
2. 1974 - Hank Aaron breaks Babe Ruth's all-time home run record.
3. 1947 - Jackie Robinson becomes the first African-American Major Leaguer.
4. 1998 - Mark McGwire & Sammy Sosa surpass Roger Maris' single-season home run record.
5. 1939 - Lou Gehrig retires with his "luckiest man" farewell speech.
6. 1985 - Pete Rose passes Ty Cobb as the all-time hits leader.
7. 1941 - Ted Williams is the last man to post a .400 average.
8. 1941 - Joe DiMaggio hits in 56 straight games.
9. 1988 - Kirk Gibson's pinch-hit homer sends LA on its way to a World Series upset.
10. 1991 - Nolan Ryan pitches his seventh career no-hitter.
To me, the list was strange because most of the events were when players broke some all-time record or other, and hardly any of them had anything to do with winning or losing the game being played that day. To me, a memorable MOMENT is by definition is something sudden and dramatic, not a "lifetime achievement." (If you want to get picky, the actual moment when Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak was established in 1941 was on the day of the NEXT game when he FAILED to get a hit!) Three of the most memorable moments I picked were:
1954 - Willie Mays' amazing catch in deep center field at the Polo Grounds (against the Indians), turning the tide in the World Series in the Giants' favor
1960 - Bill Mazeroski's World Series-winning home run at Forbes Field (against the Yankees)
1975 - Carlton Fisk's game-winning home run in Fenway Park (against the Reds, who won the World Series the next day)
Oct. 23 With temperatures dropping from the 50s into the 40s last night, Pac Bell Park was as cold as Candlestick Park ever was, but Barry Bonds still hit a monumental blast over the center field wall. It wasn't enough to keep up with the Angels, whose phenomenal run production ability was on display. Not only did they score ten runs, but they actually left 15 runners on base! Anaheim is now in the driver's seat.
Oct. 22 The first two games of the 2002 World Series were all one could hope for, in terms of competitive excitement. The Angels showed in New York that they were capable of explosive run production, but the five-run first inning on Sunday night was ridiculous! Their amazingly poised and effective rookie relief pitcher, 20-year old Francisco Rodriguez, seems heaven-sent -- quite fitting for this team! Both Barry Bonds and Angels veteran Tim Salmon hit a home run in each game. If it weren't for the latter's eighth-inning blast, the Angels would be in deep trouble. They need to win one game in San Francisco, and if they do, the long-suffering fans in Anaheim will be sure to give them all plenty of moral support.
Oct. 19 Yesterday's Washington Post had an article on the multiple tragedies that have cursed the Angels over the years. I'm rooting for them and have a hunch they'll beat the Giants in six or seven games, by a slim margin. This promises to be a great World Series, whoever wins.
Oct. 18 Just as the World Series is about to begin, MLB officials quashed any hopes for baseball in D.C. next year, saying that the Expos (currently owned by the rest of the franchises) will remain in Montreal until firm stadium financing conditions are met in some other city. The Expos may even play some of their games in Portland, Oregon or San Juan, Puerto Rico next year, since those are two of the cities in contention for the Expos franchise. But, oh, no, not Washington! What a hideous, nightmarish way to mark the end of the 2002 season... Thanks a lot, Peter Angelos!
Oct. 16 In their 41st year as a major league team, the Anaheim Angels have won the Ameican League pennant! Question: If they win the World Series, what famous tourist destination will they go to celebrate? Disneyland is just down the street from their home field, and being Disney employees the Angels probably get free passes anyway. Maybe they can visit the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD. As for the NL, I find Barry Bonds a little egotistical, but he probably deserves a chance to shine in the World Series before he retires. Besides, it will be a great chance for the Giants to show off fabulous Pac Bell Park, which was built almost exclusively with private funds. Hooray! This will be the fourth all-California World Series (the others being in 1974, 1988, and 1989), and the FIRST ever in which both teams were "wild cards." (Jacqueline, being a Braves fan, has bitter memories of the 2000 postseason and hates the wild card system.) OBSCURE TRIVIA: If the Cardinals had beat the Giants, it would have been the first time since 1940 (62 years!) that both World Series teams' stadiums were built in the same year! (In this case, 1966.) This odd coincidence actually occurred seven times from 1921 to 1940, though two of those cases don't really count.
Oct. 15 In their 41st year as a major league team, the Anaheim Angels have finally won the Ameican League pennant! Question: If they win the World Series, what famous tourist destination will they go to celebrate? Disneyland is just down the street from their home field, and being Disney employees the Angels probably get free passes anyway. Maybe they can visit the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD! As for the NL, I find Barry Bonds a little egotistical, but he probably deserves a chance to shine in the World Series before he retires. Besides, it will be a great chance for the Giants to show off fabulous Pac Bell Park, which was built almost exclusively with private funds. Hooray! This will be the fourth all-California World Series (the others being in 1974, 1988, and 1989), and the FIRST ever in which both teams were "wild cards." (Jacqueline, being a Braves fan, has bitter memories of the 2000 postseason and hates the wild card system.) OBSCURE TRIVIA: If the Cardinals had beat the Giants, it would have been the first time since 1940 (62 years!) that both World Series teams' stadiums were built in the same year! (In this case, 1966.) This odd coincidence actually occurred seven times from 1921 to 1940, though two of those cases don't really count.
Oct. 11 The Twins and Angels split the first two games in the
Metrodome, and the next three games will be at Edison International Field,
starting tonight. This is a great matchup, and I can't decide which team I
like better; the long-suffering Angels probably deserve to go all ... the ...
way! Meanwhile, the visiting Giants beat the Cardinals twice, and are all set
to win their first NL pennant since 1989. All they need to do is win two out
of the next three games at Pac Bell Park. I guess it would be a fitting reward
for Barry Bonds, not exactly the most modest Big League player.
Oct. 9 The Twins made maximum advantage of the Metrodome's noise factor in beating the Angels last night. Much as I love the Twins, it's hard to cheer for a team whose home field is so blatantly contrary to baseball aesthetics. You have to hand it to those Minnesota fans for packing that ample football (!) venue game after game. Now why can't they drum up support for at least a little public funding for a new stadium? By the way, how ironic that MLB Commissioner Bud Selig watched the game with Twins' owner Carl Pohlad, who had agreed to cash in on the proposed "contraction" of the Twins last year. The two most hated men in Minnesota...
October 7 Both of last year's World Series contenders have been eliminated after the first round of the playoffs!!? The Diamondbacks had lost their star Luis Gonzalez to injuries, but the Yankees have no such excuse. Apparently, this is the year of the scrappy underdogs, who have won ALL FOUR divisional series. Home field advantage has not made much difference; the home teams won only 8 of the 17 first-round games. Mediocre attendance may have hurt the Oakland A's and (to a lesser extent) the Atlanta Braves, but full houses in Arizona and New York were not enough to guarantee wins for the Diamondbacks and Yankees. Meanwhile, the lowly Angels, Twins, Giants, and Cardinals all drew big enthuasiastic crowds, and that may have helped put them over the top.
October 4, 2002 UPDATE: Being a charitable sort of person, I was kind of hoping
the Angels would make a respectable showing against my Yankees, and now they're
one game away from upsetting the Bronx Bombers and taking the Divisional
Series! Gadzooks! Oakland beat the Twins in the Metrodome, meanwhile, (so
much for the Twins' advantage of amplified indoor home-field noise), so we may
have a California-only American League Championship Series ... and possibly
I'll be out of town this weekend and thus won't be able to update
this page until Monday morning.
Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling have shown that they're not invincible, and the Cardinals are on the verge of eliminating last year's champions, the Diamondbacks. Ironically, Bank One Ballpark was filled to capacity both nights, but it didn't help Arizona. The other three series are split, one game apiece. The Angels showed a lot of spunk by playing a hard game against the Yankees on Tuesday and actually winning on Wednesday night. Facing down both Andy Petitte AND "El Duque" shows that they're for real. The Twins also showed a lot of character by bouncing back from early errors and beating the A's on Tuesday, though the home team got their revenge the next day. On both days attendance was well below Oakland Coliseum's capacity. Finally, the visiting Giants beat the Braves in an afternoon game in Atlanta, where attendance was also rather low. The Braves came roaring back Thursday night, possibly encouraged by much higher attendance.
Sept. 28 The D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission joined with the
prospective baseball ownership group led by Fred Malek in sponsoring a study
five options for the site of a new baseball stadium. They are listed in MY
order of preference:
- Southwest waterfront, along the Anacostia River by the old Navy
Yard, 1 mile south of the Capitol
- Next to RFK Stadium, 1.5 miles east of the Capitol Building
- Mount Vernon Square, near the MCI Center, which hosts basketball
and hockey games
- North side of Union Station
- West side of Union Station
Personally, I would love it if they were to splurge on prime real
estate and build the stadium on the east side of Rock Creek Park by the P
Street Bridge. That would be provide a scenic backdrop and would be within
walking distance of the K Street corridor, Dupont Circle, and Georgetown, and
would be guaranteed to draw high-paying fans just like at Wrigley Field or
Sept. 20 Following a brief moment of elation about suddenly improved prospects for baseball in D.C. next year after the baseball owners and players reached a settlement last month, hopes have dimmed once again. MLB officials are now casting doubt on the whole idea, offering the same old lame excuses such as lack of financial support for a new stadium from state and local governments or the supposed inadequacy of RFK Stadium as a temporary venue. According to the Washington Post, Orioles owner Peter Angelos has apparently resumed exerting behind-the-scenes pressure to protect "his" turf in D.C. If this means that the Expos have to play a SECOND year in uncertain limbo in Montreal (where attendance rarely exceeds 6,000) next year, it would constitute a crushing, unfair blow to those players' career hopes. In interviews most of them have expressed eagerness to move to Washington, where they could expect much greater fan support -- and higher salaries! It's time for fans to put pressure on Commissioner Bud Selig to live up to his statement early in the year that Washington is a "prime candidate" for franchise relocation. WE WON'T GET FOOLED AGAIN!!!
Sept. 7, 2002 AND GOD SAID, "Let them play ball!" One cannot dismiss the possibility of Divine Intervention in helping baseball players and owners to avert the Abyss of Doom two weeks ago. Players' association chief Donald Fehr obviously "saw the light" and made significant last-minute concessions, realizing the mounting wrath of baseball fans. Many players are still oblivious, however. Red Sox pitcher (and former Brave) John Burkett complained that Fehr gave away too much at the bargaining table. There is one clearcut result of the labor agreement, however:
BASEBALL IN D.C.!!? According to the Washington Post and Boston Globe, there are no longer any significant barriers to the relocation of the Montreal Expos to Washington next year. Expos' general manager Mr. Tavares asked for a firm decision on the Expos' fate by MLB officials within ten days, but apparently it will take until the end of the post-season before we know for sure.
I recently traveled to the Midwest, stopping to take photos of baseball stadiums in St. Louis, Kansas City, and Cincinnati. Some photos have already been added to the (New) Busch Stadium and (K.C.) Municipal Stadium pages, and others will be added to the Kauffman Stadium, Riverfront Stadium ("Cinergy Field") and Great American Ballpark pages in the future.
August 28, 2002 While on vacation in the Midwest recently, I took the opportunity to see baseball stadiums in St. Louis, Kansas City, and Cincinnati. In the latter two cities I also stopped at the locations where, respectively, Municipal Stadium and Crosley Field once stood. In Kansas City I took a tour of Kaufmann Stadium and walked through the visiting team's ultra-plush locker room/hospitality suite only one day after the Yankees played there. In Cincinnati, the Reds' "Great American Ballpark" is nearing completion, and I took a few pictures that will be featured on this Web site in the future.
During my vacation, the dreaded possibility of a strike by the players association became much more likely; tomorrow (August 29) may be the last game this season. At issue: The owners originally proposed to put a 50% "tax" on payrolls that exceed $100 million, and the players countered with a proposed tax of 10% on payrolls in excess of $137 million, rising to 25% and 35% in subsequent years, after which the "tax" would expire. Such a tax, plus an increase in advertising revenue sharing, is absolutely essential is the sport is to retain a semblance of genuine competition between big-market and small-market teams. Yet instead of trying to narrow their differences with the owners, the players (or the union lawyers who represent them) have engaged in harsh rhetoric, holding out for the best deal they can get. It is obvious that the players, by and large, are oblivious to the fans' growing resentment of their stratospheric salaries; they just don't get it. Pampered like French poodles, they seem perfectly content to inflict a mortal wound on the National Pastime, thereby committing mass suicide. For their part, the owners have no higher moral standing, but their push for "leveling the playing field" is long overdue. The stupidity of letting the situation get to this point is unfortunately indicative of professional baseball in general today. How else could one explain its avoidance of Washington, D.C., one of the nation's top ten media markets? Even if reason somehow prevails at the last minute, I personally think Donald Fehr and Bud Selig should be permanently banished from baseball for their craven small-mindedness. Baseball needs LEADERS who will step up to the plate! Do your part and express your views through the http://www.TakeBackBaseball.com Web site.
It may not matter, but the American League west race has become red hot, with Anaheim, Oakland, and Seattle locked in a virtual tie. Sadly, the Red Sox are lagging further and further behind the Yankees, while Atlanta and Arizona keep winning and winning and winning...
August 14, 2002 Yesterday the players' association announced they are NOT going to set a tentative strike date for the time being. This seemed like a rare welcome sign of willingness to compromise, but today it was reported that the players secretly agreed to an Aug. 30 strike date if they fail to reach an agreement with the owners by then. This disingenuous P.R. move casts doubt on the players' good faith.
Aug. 6, 2002 Hats off to former Cardinal shortstop Ozzie Smith for being inducted into the Hall of Fame last week. The Braves' sweep of the Cardinals (first place in the NL Central) over the weekend established without question that they are the team to beat as we enter the late part of the season. Tonight the Braves begin a three-game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks, who lead the NL West. This promises to be a pivotal clash of titans! Even though the Giants and Dodgers have slipped behind in the NL West, the AL West remains a fairly tight race. In the east, meanwhile, the Red Sox are playing solidly but seem to slip about a game further behind the Yankees every week, so the AL wild card spot may be the best they can hope for.
Relatively few trades took place before the July 31 deadline. Both the Yankees and Braves are satisfied with their batting lineup and phenomenal pitching staffs. The Red Sox got Cliff Floyd from Montreal, angering Yankee owner George Steinbrenner who suspected that the rest of the major league owners (who effectively "own" the Expos pending resolution of the contraction/relocation issue) conspired to facilitate Floyd's transfer to his chief rival. That little spat dramatizes that the Expos' current lame-duck status is a travesty that brings shame on the whole sport. Let them be sold and moved to Washington and be done with it! The Cardinals got pitcher Chuck Finley from the Indians and third baseman Scott Rolen from the Phillies.
There was a rumor that the players association was going to announce a strike date for mid-September (AFTER the 11th), but since then owners' and players' representatives have reported progress in their contract renewal talks. Don't rule out the possibility that greed and stupidity may yet prevail...
Aug. 1 The owners and players' association representatives held a somewhat more productive negotiation yesterday, so the threat of a strike has eased slightly. The poor Montreal Expos are still in a nose-dive, while the Braves and Yankees are still beating almost everyone they face. The Twins are building a huge lead as well in the AL Central Division, while both the American League and National League West Division races are tightening up.
July 26 The owners and players' association representatives held a somewhat
more productive negotiation yesterday, so the threat of a strike has eased
slightly. The poor Montreal Expos are still in a nose-dive, while the Braves and
Yankees are still beating almost everyone they face. The Twins are building a
huge lead as well in the AL Central Division, while both the American League and
National League West Division races are tightening up.
July 20 As of last weekend the Montreal Expos were definitely alive and kickin', but now they're sliding again. They split the four-game series with Atlanta (which has the best overall record in the Majors right now) last weekend, and probably should have won three of four. The team is "owned" by Major League Baseball under a weird temporary arrangement this year, in the wake of a failed attempt at contraction. Even though the management is under strict constraints in terms of player salaries, they managed to acquire two star players in the last two weeks: pitcher Bartolo Colon from Cleveland and outfielder Floyd from Florida. All of a sudden, the city of Montreal is experiencing a brief surge of baseball fever, evidenced by attendance climbing over 20,000 for the Saturday and Sunday games, about three times more than normal in the usually dead-silent Olympic Stadium. Can this last? This might call into question the hopes of Washingtonians to grab the Expos franchise for next season, which will depend on the outcome of the labor negotiations in any case. In honor of the Expos, I've put up an "under construction" page for Olympic Stadium featuring a photo I took there in 1987, just after the weird cable-suspended roof was finally completed.
July 12 Thanks to technical advice from my brother Dan, the glitch that affected the way Netscape 4.7 displays the chronological table of stadiums at the bottom half of this page (which I reformatted using "cascading style sheets") has been fixed. Just sloppy coding on my part...
Tigers and Devilrays on the Skids? According to MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, two teams are in such bad financial condition that they might not make it through the end of this season. Perhaps, but who's to know? The owners would be in a much better bargaining position in terms of public sympathy relative to the players association if they would make their accounting practices fully transparent.
July 11: TODAY IS FAN WALKOUT DAY!!! Today, July 11, has been designated as "Fan Walkout Day" by the grassroots Take Back Baseball movement. (See below.) It's somewhat of a moot point for those of us living far out in the boonies, but even we can register our opinions by BOYCOTTING TELEVISED BASEBALL TODAY! Accordingly, I just sent the following message to ESPN:
I'm a die-hard Yankees fan and would truly love to see the game being broadcast at Jacobs Field this evening, but as a gesture of anger toward both the players and the owners in the ongoing contract negotiations, the organization Take Back Baseball (http://www.TakeBackBaseball.com) is calling for a fan walk-out today. Not living close to any major league ballpark, the only way I can participate is by NOT WATCHING the game on ESPN tonight. Sorry, I just hope the players and owners get their acts in order SOON.
You can do the same and show those arrogant jerks on both sides of the negoiating table how you feel.
All-Star Game, 2002! Two days ago I wrote, "Is there any doubt who will win?" Hah! Who could have imagined a game ending in a tie?? Well, at least my (implied) prediction of an A.L. victory was not contradicted by an N.L. victory. The fans' angry protests spoiled Commissioner Selig's "homecoming" to Milwaukee; poor guy. I missed the whole brouhaha, having fallen asleep after the 7th inning thanks to an allergy pill. The American League has won the last five times, and 11 of the last 14 Midseason Classics. In contrast, when I was growing up the National League almost always won, with 19 victories during the 20-year span from 1963 to 1982. The recently-built Miller Park in Milwaukee provides an interesting venue, and is rain-proof thanks to the movable roof. Sammy Sosa sure did clobber a few in the Home Run Derby the night before: His longest blast was estimated at 524 feet long! New Yankee Jason Giambi snuffed him out in the final round, however, 7 to 1. Now we can start to worry about the threat of a PLAYERS' STRIKE!
Baseball fans mourn the death of Ted Williams. He was probably the greatest hitter of all time, the last man to bat over .400 in a season (1941). His awesome lifetime batting statistics (521 home runs, .344 average) would have been even greater if he had not served for three years in World War II and two years in the Korean War, where he was a jet fighter pilot! On his very last at bat in 1960 he hit a home run. Nine years later he was hired to manage the Washington Senators, and did a fairly good job. It's a pity his team, the Boston Red Sox, never won the World Series (he only played in one Series -- 1946), and it's a shame his family is squabbling over his body, which has apparently been cryogenically frozen.
June 25 Standings upheaval! Over the last few weeks, there have been big changes in most of the division races. The Braves have surged way ahead of the rest of the N.L. Eastern division, and their .630 percentage ties the Seattle Mariners for the best in the Majors. After a long neck and neck race, the Yankees finally pulled ahead of the Red Sox in the A.L. East, thanks in part to the Braves' sweep at Fenway Park over the weekend. The Cincinnati Reds have overtaken the Cardinals in the N.L. Central, and the Montreal Expos are once again in the race for the wild card spot, though they're still several games behind the Braves. The Mariners and Indians have withstood challenges from the Angels and White Sox, so far at least...
June 13 Major League Baseball recently made a deal that will assure that the Minnesota Twins will survive at least for one more year, while arrangements for financing a new stadium are being worked out.
In his first time at bat in the major leagues last Monday night, and in fact on the very first pitch thrown to him by Arizona Diamondbacks' pitcher Randy Johnson, Marcus Thames (pronounced "Tims") hit a home run. Only twelve players had ever hit a home run on their first-ever pitch in the major leagues before! The Diamondbacks pulled ahead 4 to 3, until Shane Spencer hit a grand slam in the bottom of the eighth, getting some revenge for last year's World Series defeat.
Meanwhile, in the Metrodome in Minneapolis, the first-place (AL Central) Twins finally prevailed in a grueling marathon, beating the first-place Braves (NL East) 6 to 5 in the 15th inning! Interleague play certainly can be exciting!
June 10 "Minute Maid Field" After paying off the bankrupt Enron Corporation to get that filthy name of their new stadium, the Houston Astros just made a deal with Minute Maid (a subsidiary of the Coca-Cola Corporation) to put their name on "Astros Field," as the stadium has been called since March. There was no fanfare or any public announcement that I knew about, and in fact the Astros web site glosses over this embarrassing situation, pretending that the name Enron Field never existed -- flushed down the old "memory hole." George Orwell would be proud. Why Minute Maid? Well, they have to keep up with Tropicana, whose name adorns the dome where the Tampa Bay Devil Rays play. In light of the embarrassing stadium name changes occasioned by the financial debacles of Enron, PSINet, and WorldCom, etc. (see below), I will henceforth refer to stadiums exclusively by their historical names.
D.C. says "YES" to baseball! A recent poll showed that 84% of Washingtonians are in favor of a major league franchise returning to The Nation's Capital, although they are about evenly split on whether the D.C. government should help pay for it. What about baseball in Northern Virginia? Even though the state's financial pinch means that public funding can't be counted on, it's still a strong possibility. Check out http://www.baseballinva.org/ The way the Montreal Expos have been playing, it would appear that franchise is alive and kicking, so the possibility of contraction may be fading away, which bodes well for a relocation to D.C. next year.
June 6 Barry Bonds just hit another home run, his 20th of the season and the 587th of his career, thereby passing Frank Robinson and becoming the number four home run slugger of all time, behind Hank Aaron (with 755), Babe Ruth (714), and Willie Mays (660). He and Sammy Sosa are in a tight race this year, and most of the divisional races in both leagues remain fairly tight as well. (I don't mean to cast aspersions, but has anyone asked how Sammy's biceps got so bulked up between the historic 1998 season and 1999?) The Braves were fortunate that Chipper Jones's thigh bruise wasn't too serious, and he has already returned to play. The newly-hired mercenary sluggers for both the Braves (Vinny Castilla) and the Yankees (Jason Giambi) are finally starting to earn their high salaries.
May 29 Another sports drug scandal? Good grief, that's all we need... Tony Kornheiser of the Washington Post "admits" to using steroids. Actually, I have too: My allergy nasal spray contains a steroid compound!
The Yankees and Red Sox are still in a tight race in the AL East, while the Mariners's lead over the Angels in the AL West continues to slip. The Braves have finally climbed to the top of their NL East division, but at the cost of two more injured players: Chipper Jones and Marcus Giles. That's on top of having lost B. J. Surhoff and Mark DeRosa to injuries in recent weeks, so staying on top won't be easy. Given the way the Mets and other rivals are playing this year, being first place in the NL East isn't saying very much.
After funding problems arose, the Mets have put the idea of a new stadium on the back burner and are now looking into ways to renovate noisy and ugly Shea Stadium. Out on the prairie provinces, meanwhile, the commission in charge of leasing the Metrodome to the Minnesota Twins has postponed a decision on whether to agree to new terms that would make it easier for the team to stay in business while they look for ways to finance a new stadium. See Netscape/CNN/SportsIllustrated. Otherwise, the Twins (as well as the Expos and perhaps others) may be "contracted" out of existenced next year. Moral: The Twins never should have left Metropolitan Stadium...
May 24 Los Angeles Dodger's left fielder Shawn Green became the fourteenth player ever to hit four home runs in a single game, as the Dodgers beat the host team Milwaukee Brewers 16 to 3. Only two weeks ago Mike Cameron also hit four homers, so this is the first year ever when more than one player has accomplished such a feat. Has it perhaps become too easy to hit homers in these new stadiums??? Green also hit a single and a double, thus breaking the major league single-game record with 19 total bases.
The Yankees have been breathing down the necks of the red-hot Red Sox, but Boston pitcher Pedro Martinez was more than they could handle last night, so they dropped to two games in back. The Anaheim Angels are on a winning streak as well, challenging the Mariners in the AL West. Meanwhile, the Montreal Expos are fading fast after a great start this season, repeating their disappointing pattern of recent years.
May 17 The top two winningest teams in baseball, the Seattle Mariners and the Boston Red Sox, fought it out in a three game series in Seattle, and the home team won two of three. The Minnesota Twins are still in first place in the AL Central, and the Montreal Expos are a close second in the NL East to the -- FLORIDA MARLINS?? The Yankees are finally starting to catch up on the Red Sox after a lousy two-week stretch.
On Monday night the Braves played in San Francisco's beautiful Pac Bell Park for the first time this year, and Barry Bonds hit another home run into the Bay. The game was briefly interrupted by a mild earthquake in the top of the ninth inning. It was broadcast on TBS, but I turned it off after the sixth inning, so I missed all the excitement. D'oh! The Braves lost the game in extra innings, falling below .500 again...
May 13 After nearly a month and a half of play, there are some interesting surprises: The two teams slated for "contraction" -- the Minnesota Twins and the Montreal Expos -- are both in a neck and neck race3 for first place in their respective divisions. Impending doom can sometimes work miracles in human motivation!
During a press conference three weeks ago, the number two official in Major League Baseball stated that it was "inevitable" that a baseball team would move to Washington in the next year or two. One potential negative sign is the fact that MLB Commissioner Bud Selig appointed Orioles owner Peter Angelos to the committee negotiating the new labor agreement with the Baseball Players' Association. If favors are being traded behind the scenes, this might be construed as either a gesture to placate Angelos or an indication that his monopoly on the Baltimore-Washington area market will be protected.
April The first week of the 2002 baseball season has seen some pleasant surprises such as Barry Bonds knocking some early homers, as well as some nasty shocks: What in the world happened to Roger Clemens on his first outing? Or what about poor John Smoltz giving up eight runs to the Mets in the ninth inning last night??? Ouch! So far it looks like the Yankees and Braves have wasted their money on erstwhile sluggers Jason Giambi and Vinny Castilla. But let's be patient, sports fans...
Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder announced he is joining with Robert Johnson, one of the nation's most successful black businessmen, to create an ownership group that would bring a major league team to Washington next year. There are already two potential ownership groups, led by Fred Malek (in D.C.) and William Collins (in Northern Virginia). Let's hope all those fatcats manage to cooperate with each other in this important endeavor.
WARNING: POLITICAL CONTROVERSY As the result of a tentative settlement reached with Maryland state officials, Baltimore Orioles owner (and legal eagle extraordinnaire) Peter Angelos will "only" be collecting $150 million from the tobacco class action lawsuit, rather than the $1 billion in legal fees he was demanding from the state of Maryland, which expects to receive $4.4 billion from tobacco manufacturers. Hey, it's the standard lawyer's fee of 25%, what do you expect? (By the way, if you really think the other $850 million is actually going to help a significant number of victims of cigarette smoking, you are quite deluded. This tobacco law suit has been one of the greatest political scams in U.S. history, a massive windfall for pork barrel rogues in state legislatures.) The upshot is that Mr. Angelos just suffered a net loss of $850 million, so is it any wonder that he needs special protection for his Orioles' ball club, blocking any franchise from moving to Washington? Or perhaps this is just another indication of his limitless greed and shameless abuse of inside political connections. (He's a big pal of Maryland Governor Parris Glendening, and is a major contributor to the Democratic Party.) Perhaps it would help the chances of bringing baseball back to Washington if someone were to organize a charity drive to help out poor Peter Angelos. I'll bet Sting and Oprah and Whoopie Goldberg would be willing to lend their talents to this worthy cause...
Nearly 35,000 fans attended the Montreal Expos' opening day game this week, but on the next day less than 5,000 showed up. Their total attendance last year was only 642,748, nowhere close enough to break even. This year there are NO television or radio broadcasts of Expos games, except when TBS or WGN cover Braves and Cubs games in Montreal, that is. Given that no one believes the Expos will play there next year, this summer will be one long funeral dirge up in Olympic Stadium, which is a depressing enough place as it is. If that team manages to keep their collective chin up and even come close to a 500 win-loss record this season, they will deserve enormous credit.
March As expected, just in time for spring training, Major League Baseball owners just approved the sale of the Florida Marlins to former Montreal Expos owner Jeffrey Loria, who in turn sold the Expos to Major League Baseball, on a caretaker basis. Consequently, the doomed Canadian franchise will be left to twist slowly in the wind for the 2002 season, and will then either be "contracted" out of existence or -- under the right conditions -- will be sold to Washington, D.C. area interests. Thus, there probably will be baseball in Our Nation's Capital next year unless the owners figure out how to carry out contraction of the Expos and Twins. That depends in part on the players' union, who seem amenable to dealing with balance issues, but reject arbitrary salary caps. Because of the Virginia state budget crisis, public funding for a No. Va. stadium is not likely, which raises hopes of the D.C. ownership group led by Fred Malek. There is no earthly reason why baseball could not have relocated to Washington this spring, but there are complex intrigues behind the scenes, involving extortion of municipal budgets to subsidize new stadiums, as well as labor negotiations with the players' association. Good grief...
The $660 million sale was part of a weird game of musical chairs among the tight club of baseball owners, and most expect Henry to sell the . Neither Miami nor Montreal have a strong enough fan base to support a team, and the city governments are leery of subsidizing a new stadium. After years of foot dragging, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig now says that Washington is a "prime candidate" for a relocated franchise, though he plays down the likelihood of a change until the 2003 season. Both the D.C.-based and Northern Virginia-based prospective baseball ownership groups (led by Fred Malek and William Collins, respectively) are aggressively pursuing the opportunity. Orioles' owner Peter Angelos would probably demand a bigger payoff if the team makes a home on the north side of the Potomac, which would presumably cut more deeply into "his" Maryland fan base. The people who run RFK Stadium (now just used for soccer matches and pop music concerts) say they need 4 to 6 weeks to get the place ready for Major League ball. I saw an exhibition game there between the Cardinals and Expos in 1999, and it would probably be a satisfactory venue for a couple years pending construction of a permanent home, wherever that might be. Personally, I favor a site along Arlington Ridge, close to the Iwo Jima monument, because the scenery and symbolism is unequalled. As for the "contraction" scare, a judge in Minnesota put an injunction on any quick dissolution of the Twins, so that franchise and the other two troubled ones may live to play ball another day.
The Houston Astros recently paid creditors of the bankrupt Enron Corporation $2.1 million to nullify the contract by which Enron held rights to the name of the Astros' new stadium. For the time being, the "Field Formerly Known as Enron" will be called "Astros Field," but some other corporation will presumably bid for the naming rights in the near future.
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig vowed there will be no owner-induced work stoppages this season, which simply means that the impending head-on collision between owners and playes will be delayed until next year. Forbes magazine recently published a financial analysis of major league franchises, concluding that most teams' official profit and loss figures grossly overstated expenses and understated revenues in many cases. Sounds a lot like the phony accounting used by Hollywood to avoid paying taxes. Details to follow...
NOTE: As a new feature, each stadium page now contains (or will soon contain) hyperlinks to the respective teams' previous and subsquent home ballparks at the bottom of the page. That will let you more easily browse through each team's own history. Since this web site is still under construction, however, some of these links are not yet active. The current plan is to finish two new stadium pages (with diagrams) per week, depending on degree of difficulty, etc. From now on I will proceed in strict chronological order, beginning with those concrete and steel stadiums that were in use since the early years of the 20th century. This excludes a few wooden stadiums such as Highland Park in New York, as these were never really permanent enough to merit much historical attention.
February It has now been determined that the doomed Montreal Expos franchise will be left to twist slowly in the wind for the 2002 season, and will then either be "contracted" out of existence or -- under the right conditions -- will be sold to Washington, D.C. area interests. Several Expos players recently expressed a desire to keep the team intact, rather than be divided up among other teams in a "contraction draft," and they are excited about the prospect of relocating to Washington next year. "Batting for the Washington Senators, center fielder Vladimir Guerrero!"