June 19, 2005
To no one's surprise, Mayor Williams unveiled an agreement by which labor unions will get special preference in the construction contracts for the new baseball stadium in D.C. This, of course, will inflate the project's total cost by at least five or ten percent, but that was something I took for granted from the beginning. "Let the overruns begin!" Ironically, the union requirement (a political quid pro quo) may prejudice the interests of District residents and businesses, many of which are non-union. Since the city is undertaking the project on its own, it has every right to set the terms for construction. Does this mean construction delays caused by strikes may be more likely? Of course. I'm in no hurry for the Nats to leave RFK. It has already become as much a part of their winning ways as it was for the Redskins in decades past. Which leads us to:
In today's Washington Post, Mark Gauvreau wonders whether the phenomenal success of the Washington Nationals will result in a switch in fan loyalty and attention away from the Redskins. Until recently, such a possibility would be almost unthinkable. It was not until the 1970s, however, when George Allen and then Joe Gibbs turned the team into a real powerhouse, that football enthusiasm really gripped the city. Given the Redskins' huge frustrations of recent years, D.C. sports fans could easily tire of waiting and give themselves over to those scrappy, eager newcomers who are playing in the 'Skins old home.
The Nationals bounced back from two losses in Arlington (Texas), winning this afternoon by 8 to 2. Brad Wilkerson knocked in half of those runs, three of which came in the eighth inning on a double. After his amazing hot streak in April he fell into a bad slump, but he seems to have pulled out of it now. He is leading the majors in doubles this year (with 26), but with a .278 average, he's unlikely to make the All Star team. The Nats are headed to Pittsburgh, and will return to D.C. on Friday.
The D.C. United soccer team played two home games at RFK while the Nats were on the road, and they won both. Because of continuing problems with the temporary grass infield turf, it has been decided to play an exhibition game against the English team Chelsea FC at FedEx Field on July 28. That will be a tight squeeze for a soccer field, and it will be interesting to see what the reactions are. Most soccer fans in D.C. are Latinos, many of whom would have a hard time getting to the suburb of Landover, Maryland.