October 18, 2011
Distracted by the amazing playoff series earlier this month, I neglected to observe a very special anniversary, or "birthday," if you prefer. RFK Stadium (then known as "D.C. Stadium") was opened fifty (50) years ago, a full half century, on October 7, 1961. The Redskins made it their home from then until 1996. In the October 8 Washington Post, columnist Thomas Boswell had a very personal remembrances of growing up in Washington when that stadium provided more drama and thrills than the Capitol building, or any of the presidential monuments. RFK was less than ideal in various ways, but it served as a unifying civic symbol during the years when racial tension and crime put Washington in a negative light for many people. Most of the other "cookie-cutter" cloned stadiums have long since been demolished, and RFK's own future is very uncertain. Since it is the very first of its genre, I hope RFK is preserved for at least another decade or so, serving as an museum of sports architecture.
In recognition of that historical milestone, I have added to the RFK Stadium page a "new" photo that I took on the evening before the very last baseball game at RFK, in 2007. Every once in a while I find old "analog" photos in my shoe boxes.
(Apologies to Freddy Fender.) One of the things I hate about the baseball postseason dragging out so long is how the series schedules are firmly set months in advance, with no regard to the wins and losses once the series begin. What they should do is only have "travel/rest" days between series, not within them, and whenever both teams in a given bracket clinch their series before going to the final (fifth or seventh) games, the next series should be moved ahead by a day. That would make possible expanding the divisional series to a full seven games, to make sure the better team actually wins. Also, to reduce travel requirements, the home-away format in the first two rounds should be 3-3-1 rather than 2-3-2. Whenever travel to the other team's city is scheduled for the next day in a divisional or league championship series, that day's game should be played in the late afternoon, so that they can catch a night flight.
Would afternoon games result in fewer TV viewers? Possibly, but it would also expand viewership among youthful fans, who are, after all, the only hope for the commercial viability of professional baseball in decades to come. Besides, in the era of TiVo, Apple TV, etc., fans at home have expanded alternatives for viewing programs at a time of their convenience. ("Don't tell me the score!")
Having handed a postseason berth to the World Series-bound St. Louis Cardinals on a silver platter, I can imagine the Atlanta Braves are going through a lot of mental anguish right now. I just hope they don't waste time getting mad at themselves but instead apply the lessons to next year.