April 13, 2006
Except for the sixth inning in yesterday's game, the Nationals were never really in the competition during their home opening series against the Mets. They have now lost five games in a row, with the worst record (2-8) among all major league teams. Ouch. Well, we all knew that the failure to put together a solid pitching rotation during the off season meant that this year would be more difficult than last year. The Soriano episode plus the lingering ownership and financial questions have had a depressing effect on the team, as they face the first "normal" (post-honeymoon) year in their new home. I'm not worried. What they accomplished last year will stay in our memories for a long time, and will give us fans something to fall back on in times of trouble, like now, for instance.
The big drama this week was whether there would be any fisticuffs or retaliation against Pedro Martinez. Known to be high-spirited, Jose Guillen restrained himself, maintaining "bipartisan" decorum. Every day I am becoming more convinced that Guillen is a perfect fit for the Nationals. Ever since he left LAnaheim under a cloud of resentment, he has found a true home in D.C., and he has matured even as he maintains his upbeat, zestful approach to the game. He is not only a good slugger, he is a major morale booster on the squad. And boy, do the Nationals need one!
UPDATE: Jose Vidro has been complaining about how hard it is to hit home runs at RFK Stadium, but for some reason it hasn't been as hard for the opposing teams. He thinks that the team's management doesn't care about what the players want. Such discontent by the team's senior member is not a good sign. For his part, Jose Guillen has decided that he can live with the wide open spaces at RFK. See MLB.com.
The Washington Post reports that the Lerner family's bid to purchase the Nationals has been undermined by the lack of participation by minority investors. They had been considered the front-runners, so I assume this means that the Fred Malek-Jeffrey Zients partnership now has the inside track. Jeffrey Smulyan, the former owner of the Seattle Mariners, was interviewed at RFK Stadium on Home Opening Day, and he professes to be very optimistic.
Has the team been sold already? There were rumors last month that the Lerners believed they already had they deal locked up. According to Tom Bridge at Metroblogging Washington, the ushers at RFK Stadium have been hired directly by the Nationals, and no longer work for the D.C. government. (Motto: "Service with a frown ... if we decide to show up for work.") Bridge believes this means that Bud Selig has already decided on an owner for the Nats. (via David Pinto)
Even though the television wars rage on, the Nationals' clever marketing ploys in print and on the tube means that there must be somebody with brains in the team's provisional front office. In one TV ad, there's a young, urban group doing some kind of hip hop dance routine. I can dig it ... well, almost.
The Fenway Park page has an updated diagram showing the newly expanded upper deck. Mike Zurawski came across a fan photo showing the grandstand behind third base, which helped in making a last-minute correction to the diagram. If anyone recognizes the people in that photo, please tell them thank you for helping to make my diagrams more accurate. Mike laments the additional advertising billboards on and around the Green Monster, but that's what it used to be like, before the 1940s. At least they made sure that muted colors were used so as to avoid distracting fans or the players.