May 18, 2006
In one of the least suspenseful decisions in history, owners of the 29 normal baseball franchises approved the sale of the Washington Nationals to Theodore Lerner and family today, which means that Washington is one step closer to having a normal team at long last. The vote to admit a new member to one of the most exclusive clubs on Earth was unanimous. See MLB.com. Although their focus remains on the long term task of player development, the new owners know they need to restart fan enthusiasm, so they are planning a "Grand Re-Opening Night" at RFK Stadium after the All-Star Game break:
Though RFK attendance is down about 20 percent so far this year, the new group said one of its top initial projects is to make RFK a better place to go, as well as try to improve the design of a new $711 million waterfront ballpark.
I was amused by Commissioner Selig's reflections on the arduous franchise relocation process:
Would I want to do this again? No! But it was an emergency. We didn't really have much of a choice.
Indeed, the economic logic behind the move was overwhelming, and it's a wonder he managed to stall as long as he did. WUSA TV-9 reported that the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission is negotiating with Sony and possibly one or two other companies over the naming rights for RFK Stadium, which has just two years to go, more or less.
After being shut out twice in Wrigley Field, the Nationals finally scored some runs and managed to beat the Cubs. Ryan Zimmerman got things started in the 2nd inning with his seventh homer, and cannot be discounted as a candidate for rookie of the year. Chad Cordero, who has been shaky lately, earned a save after assuring Frank Robinson he was up the to task. In spite of their dismal performance lately, the Nats have not been swept in a series of three or more games in nearly a month. Next: Interleague play with the Baltimore Orioles, beginning a nine-game home stand. Oh, how I wish I could be there for that...
The AL Central has been the hottest division in the majors this year, as the Tigers have been breathing down the necks of the White Sox all month. Today they completed a sweep of the Twins to take sole possession of first place. Kenny Rogers won his seventh game, the first pitcher in the majors to reach that mark. Now in second place, the White Sox still have a better winning record (.650) than any other team in the majors besides the Tigers.