March 2, 2009
Until a month ago, this news would have been unthinkable, but after the recruiting scandal that came to light, it wasn't much of a surprise in the end. At a somber team meeting on Sunday morning, Jim Bowden announced that he was resigning as general manager of the Washington Nationals. He said he didn't want to be "a distraction" as the 2009 season approaches, claiming to be innocent of recruitment irregularities. Bowden's assistant Jose Rijo was fired last week, as well, but that may not be the end of it, as Bowden and others are still under investigation. No replacement for Bowden has been named as yet. See MLB.com.
This is a heavy blow for the Nationals, just when they were making progress toward assembling a winning team. Losing the guy who was at the center of all personnel decisions throws everything into turmoil and uncertainty. Washington Post columnist Thomas Boswell: "Bowden was a good servant with brutal marching orders, but he was also a man who many in baseball assumed had an expiration date stamped on his back." Bowden served a very useful purpose when the team was on a shoe-string budget, but his quirky behavior made many people suspicious of his motives. Somebody had to take responsibility for the team's miserable performance last year, and Bowden was at the top of the list.
Back in April 2005 when the Nationals were still in their (relocated) infancy, I praised Jim Bowden as a "hero" for acquiring talented players such as Vinny Castilla and Esteban Loaiza. Now I'm bummed.
Mike Zurawski informs me of even more bad news for the Florida Marlins: Two activists have filed a lawsuit in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, seeking to void the preliminary Baseball Stadium Agreement passed last year because the meetings were not open to the public. See miamiherald.com, via ballparkdigest.com. Even worse, Miami city commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones, who was regarded as the crucial "swing vote" needed for final approval, is now demanding $500,000,000 in development money for her part of Miami as the price for her vote. She missed the last vote on Feb. 13 because she was on maternity leave. See fieldofschemes.com.
Also from Mike: some helicopter photos of the New Yankee Stadium's Monument Park can be seen at wcbs880.com.
Steven Poppe has learned that the Hiroshima Carp are building a new stadium to replace their ballpark that dates from the late 1950s. It is expected to open this season. See the Japan Times.