October 13, 2014 [LINK / comment]
Cardinals even the series
That was quite a fun ball game to watch last night. The Cardinals took an early lead, cheering the St. Louis fans who were made nervous by the previous night's loss, then the Giants came back and briefly had a 3-2 lead after the top of the seventh. It was a perfect "binary" scoreboard, with nothing but zeroes and ones in each of the innings' run totals. In contrast to their usual weak slugging performance of the regular season, the Cardinals somehow hit four home runs. The first was by Matt Carpenter in the 3rd inning, and then more by Oscar Taveras in the 7th, Matt Adams in the 8th, and Kolten Wong in the 9th innings. Wong's homer into the right field corner was on the first pitch of the inning, just after the Giants had tied it 4-4 in the top of the ninth. WOW! A huge celebration ensued on the field, so now the Cardinals can face the next three games in San Francisco with some confidence.
Facebook friend David Finkel doesn't like the term "walk-off" home run, etc., and I tend to agree. What's wrong with calling it a "game-winning" home run? Perhaps it's because many announcers have gotten used to calling RBI hits and homers that give a team the lead "game-winning" when the term "go-ahead" RBI, etc. is more appropriate. At the time, no one knows whether the hit in question will actually give a team the win.
Tonight the Orioles were supposed to play ALCS Game 3 against the Royals in Kansas City, but heavy rains and thunderstorms forced a postponement until tomorrow. So now the next three American and National League Championship Series games will be synchronized, screwing up the plan to stagger them. If there is an ALCS Game 6 in Baltimore, it will take place on Friday night as previously scheduled, meaning no travel day for the teams.
Football stadium photos!
Now that the Nationals have been eliminated from the baseball playoffs, Washington sports fans yearning for a championship can turn their attention to the Redskins. Whoops! After yesterday's loss to the Arizona Cardinals, I guess they're pretty much out of contention as well.
It so happens that I paid a visit to the home of the Redskins after seeing the final Nationals game of the regular season on September 28. I had parked my car at the Minnesota Avenue Metro station,* and figured it would be easy to drive from there a few miles east to the Maryland suburbs, and soon came upon FedEx Field, perched on a big hill. Even though the stadium is 17 years old, it was my first time there. Actually, I had seen it once or twice before, but from an eight-mile distance. As you're driving into Washington on I-395, from the top of the ridge just south of the Pentagon, you can see FedEx Field on the horizon off to the east.
* Not wanting to pay $15 to park a mile away from Nationals Park, I was hoping to park at RFK Stadium, where there are thousands of seldom-used parking spaces, and then take the Metro. The lady at the RFK entry gate told me there's no public parking there, but that I could either park free at the nearby jail or at the Minnesota Avenue Metro station about a mile to the east. I chose the latter. When Nationals Park opened in 2008, they had a shuttle bus to and from the RFK parking lots, and that worked out great. As the parking lots in the booming Navy Yard area of Southeast D.C. get swallowed up by new construction, they really ought to bring back that parking option for us out-of-towners.
During my big road trip last summer, I not only saw six baseball stadiums (five MLB) but three football stadiums as well: the "Dallas" Cowboys' AT&T Stadium (in Arlington), the Kansas City Chiefs' Arrowhead Stadium, and the Cincinnati Bengals' Paul Brown Stadium. The latter two I had seen before. If I had really thought about it, I could easily have taken short detours and seen two more: the Arizona Cardinals' "University of Phoenix"** Stadium and the St. Louis Rams' Edward Jones Dome.
** To my knowledge, it's the only football stadium named for a university that does not have a football team, hence the quotation marks.
And so, I have put together a brand-new photo gallery page for Football stadiums! It includes seven current NFL stadiums, three former NFL stadiums, and two college football stadiums. They are listed in chronological order according to when I took them, and the first two photos (Memorial Stadium, home of the former Baltimore Colts, and M&T Bank Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens) are of rather poor quality. They were taken in 1986 and 2006, respectively.
In the photo above, you can clearly see the bare steel beams on the left (west) and right (east) sides, a dramatic indication of how they have reduced the seating capacity of FedEx Field from about 91,000 to about 79,000 over the past few years.
What to call the Redskins?
Since today is Native American Day (formerly known as "Columbus Day"; see argusleader.com), it's a good occasion to bring up the sore subject of the name of Washington's pro football team. Some sports announcers and newspapers have declared they will no longer use the name Redskins, which many people believe is necessarily pejorative or even insulting. I understand that some people are more sensitive than others, and I would readily grant that Native Americans are entitled to much greater respect than they have been given since the first European colonizers arrived 522 years ago. But it makes no sense that a team would call itself a derogatory name. To me, Redskin connotes bravery and a fierce competitive spirit, which in the world of sports are usually considered virtues.
Might it perhaps be that offense is being taken by some Native Americans because the Redskins have been playing so poorly in recent years? Would a winning record change things?
In related news, Redskins owner Daniel Snyder made a point of inviting the president of the Navajo nation, Ben Shelly, to his luxury suite during yesterday's game in Phoenix. See Washington Post.
Last year I received a joke e-mail message concerning this topic:
The Washington Redskins are going to change their name because of all the hatred, violence, and hostility associated with their name.
From now on they will be known simply as the Redskins...
Actually, here's a better idea: As sports history buffs know, the Washington Redskins franchise originated as the Boston Braves, playing in Braves Field in 1932. One year later they moved into Fenway Park, which was better suited for football. Obviously, they couldn't call themselves the "Braves" anymore, but they wanted a name related to Indians, preferably with some connection to their new "landlord" baseball team, the Red Sox. Hmm-m-m, what name would fit? The answer was obvious.
So while one possibility for what the team might be called would be Washington Braves, I would suggest as an alternative the Washington Red Sox! Although not at all realistic, that would at least call attention to from whence the name Redskins came in the first place.
Georgia Dome is doomed
There's a new stadium under contruction in downtown Atlanta, but it's being built for the Falcons, not the Braves. The contruction activity, next door to the Georgia Dome, has curtailed parking available for Falcons fans, much like what Washington Nationals fans have dealt with, as noted above. The new stadium should be completed by 2017, with 65,000 seats, significantly less than the Georgia Dome's 71,228 capacity. See forbes.com, which states that the Georgia Dome's capacity is 80,000. If the image in that story is accurate, the new stadium will have a roof that retracts like a camera iris, with eight segments. The Georgia Dome was built in 1992, and also served for a while during the 1990s as the home of the NBA Atlanta Hawks.
Coincidentally, 2017 is the same year Turner Field will be replaced by Sun Trust Field. Turner Field will "retire" after an absurdly brief 20-year career, five years less than the Georgia Dome.
Lots of other stadium news, etc. from Mike Zurawski and others to report. I'll have time to get to that tomorrow, since Monday and Tuesday this week are "fall break."