March 27, 2008
And they said it couldn't be done! (Hey, I was one of them.) Construction of Nationals Park is on time and within budget, as the team flies home to Washington from Viera, Florida. The Washington Post notes that former Mayor Anthony Williams was a key proponent of the Anacostia River stadium site, for which he deserves great credit. For Saturday night's exhibition game against the Orioles, 25,000 fans with season tickets (or other elite status) will be admitted. The stadium's official capacity has been raised from 41,222 to 41,888; see MLB.com.
Mike Zurawski came across a new batch of photos of the George Washington University's game at at Nationals Park on March 22 at jdland.com. It looks fantastic, all gleaming and bright, though it's kind of eerie with all those empty seats. I can hardly wait until Sunday night, when we will all get to see the new ballpark's official debut broadcast on ESPN. Indeed, I will probably get a little "verklempt."
As for the team, it looks like Nick Johnson has his old job back, and the portly All Star Dmitri Young may be traded before long. That would be too bad, but quite understandable. As with Alfonso Soriano, he (will / would) be missed fondly and respectfully.
Across the continent, meanwhile, the Dodgers will host the Red Sox at Memorial Coliseum on Saturday against, in a 50th anniversary relocation commemoration. Duke Snider and Don Newcombe are among the 50s-era Dodgers who will be present. See MLb.com; thanks to Jeff for reminding me about this. (How will Brooklynites mark this occasion?) Also, another phase of renovations at Dodger Stadium is being wrapped up, but it's mostly interior enhancements such as new restaurants, etc.
UPDATE: Jeff found a Memorial Coliseum baseball seating diagram at bizofbaseball.com, and learned that "the left field fence will be 192 feet away from home plate March 29" from wbztv.com. Thanks, Jeff! I can pat myself on the back for having written when the news first broke in November, "Given that the size of the playing field was significantly reduced when they added extra rows of seats in 1993, I estimate that the distance to left field would be less than 200 feet."