June 11, 2006
The controversy over whether to build an above-ground or below-ground parking garage north of the future stadium has exposed latent tensions among the various concerned parties. The Lerners, who recently were named as the Nationals' new owners, are starting to assert more control over the whole stadium construction project, even though they aren't paying a dime for it. They are worried that poor management by the D.C. government will delay the stadium's completion beyond the April 2008 target date, which would eat into their profits. As I have noted before, this just goes to show why stadiums that get such a heavy public subsidy tend to waste money and time: there's no bottom line incentive! The Washington Post notes that Mayor [Williams] has created an "Office of Baseball" in the D.C. government, as a way to coordinate the efforts of the various agencies who play a role in this project, and the city council.
The Nationals beat the Phillies in 3 out of 4 games at RFK Stadium, and are now tied with the Braves for third place in their division. Their 9-8 win on Friday night was an especially crucial test for the rebounding Washington club. The Phillies got two runs in the first inning, then fell behind, then took an 8-7 lead with five runs in the seventh inning, but a clutch RBI single by Brendan Harris in the bottom of the inning tied it, sending the game into extra innings. After more wasted run-scoring opporunities, Marlon Byrd finally scored the winning run in the 12th inning on a single by Robert Fick, with a dramatic slide into home. It's a good sign when reserve players make clutch hits like that: depth! It was interesting that in the two preceding games, Alfonso Soriano went hitless. Jose Guillen has returned from the DL, and got two hits and two RBIs in today's 6-0 win, only the second shutout for the Nats so far this year. I hope he doesn't feel miffed that the team was doing so well in his absence; he can be a little touchy at times.
The Yankees have hired the law-lobbying firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld to prevail upon the National Park Service to grant permission for their planned new stadium to be built on the plot of land just north of the existing one. The land is not owned by the Federal government, as I had thought, but because Federal money was spent to improve it in 1978, the Feds retain rights to have a say over its use. I find it hard to believe that bureaucrats serving under a pro-business administration would adopt a dead-set obstructionist position in this sort of situation, but we'll see. See Washington Post.