June 10, 2009 [LINK / comment]

It's Doomsday in Detroit

Tiger Stadium demolition animation The proverbial "Fat Lady" is singing in Motown, which is to say, it's all over for Tiger Stadium. At the hearing on Monday, the judge found that the preservationist movement had already had enough time to raise sufficient funds, but had failed. Thomas Linn, of the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy, said there will be no further appeals. Even though that organization has been paying for security at the site for the last few months, and even though other city development projects are behind schedule because of funding shortfalls, the authorities refused to give Tiger Stadium a break. And within hours, the wrecking crews went back to work. For further gory details, see the Detroit Free Press and/or ESPN, and for some insightful commentary, read Mary Kramer; as she asks, "why the rush?" (The latter links via Bruce Orser.)

How could such a terrible, short-sighted injustice happen? Well, most people in Detroit right now are a lot more worried about whether the Chrysler Corporation will survive than about sports, so their attention is probably diverted. And for those who are paying attention to sports, they are probably less interested in historical preservation than in the Detroit Tigers, who have surged into first place in the AL Central Division, or the Detroit Red Wings hockey team, which will play against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the seventh and deciding game of the NHL Stanley Cup championship series on Friday night. Anyway, it is a huge, monumental travesty that this cause been singled out for harsh treatment by the city officials and judicial authorities. If you ask me, there are ulterior motives at play behind the scenes. Here are the most likely suspects:

As one consequence of this sudden, unexpected tragedy, I have moved Tiger Stadium to the head of my queue of works in progress. Stay tuned.

For the record, I made some very small tweaks to the Coors Field diagrams which I released yesterday.

Nationals draft Strasburg

For most baseball fans, the biggest news yesterday was the 2009 amateur baseball draft.As expected, the Washington Nationals picked Stephen Strasburg. The Nationals are in such bad shape right now, pitching-wise, that they are likely to rush him into service by the end of this season. Whoa! Give the guy time to adapt to major league baseball before you ruin his confidence, please! Strasburg is reputed to throw the ball 103 miles an hour, which if true stretches the limits of human ability. They also drafted another promising pitcher, Drew Storen, the number ten pick. In fact, they already signed him to a contract. See MLB.com. As far as Strasburg's salary, I have heard a figure as high as #10 million, which is ridiculous for a rookie, no matter how good he is. The Nationals front office was criticized -- rightly -- last year for taking so long to sign their draft picks to contracts, but in this case they need to think very seriously about long-term plans and budgeting. Strasburg may turn out to be as good as they say, but it would be foolish to join the herd in the bidding war. They could regret it later, like the Giants regretted signing Barry Zito to a multi-year megabucks contract.

As that article states, the last two pitchers who played in the major leagues the same season they were drafted were David Clyde (Rangers, 1973) and Ben McDonald (Orioles, 1989). Remember them? Me neither. See what I mean?

Boaters heart Citi Field

Mike Quindlen let me know about a special transportation option that is available to Mets fans in New York: "There is a marina walking distance from Citi Field. It's called World's Fair Marina. They charge a dollar a foot to dock your boat there for the day. For example, I have a 22 foot boat so it's $22 dollars. It beats the hell out of traffic and costs about the same because you don't have to pay tolls. Granted, fuel is probably more but it's a wonderful experience..." I know the Nationals are planning something like that for the future, as the Anacostia River waterfront is cleaned up and redeveloped, but it may take years. Obviously, there are plenty of boating fans in McCovey's Cove at AT&T Park, but I wonder if the same setup exists at Pittsburgh or Cincinnati. Does anybody out there know?