Wednesday, June 30, 2004

This Story Does Me Bodley Harm

Say it out loud. It's still not funny, but you get it, right?
I suppose it's a good sign that all this news is coming out; perhaps it means the situation is coming to a head. Or maybe Selig will ignore it and keep the Expos barnstorming another year.

Rather than summarize today's news, I advise you to have a look at this post from Off Wing Opinion. I'll add this story from ESPN, which I can't read because I'm not about to pay to read Neyer. Vidro and Cabrera are pissed about the whole thing, and who can blame them?

There is a column I want to talk about, though. USA Today reported that the Relocation Committee is leaning towards either DC or Northern Virginia. They also ran a story by Hal Bodley ranking the six finalists in the Expos sweepstakes. This latter story is unforgivably sloppy or biased. Or both.

Bodley lists the finalists along with a demographic analysis and the pros and cons of each city/secluded suburban enclave. Now, most of my argument depends on this fact, so pay attention: Loudoun County and DC are listed as having the exact same demographic information - same TV households, same median income, same everything. Bear that in mind. Here are two of the advantages for Loudoun:
• Site would have less attendance impact on the Baltimore Orioles than Washington.
• Loudoun County is the fastest-growing county in the United States, with the population climbing 30% from 2000 to 2003.
Now hold on just a damn minute! Bodley is assuming that a DC site would hurt the Orioles more than a NoVa site (Angelos doesn't seem to agree, but more on that later). But how is this possible when the two locations are drawing on the exact same 7,608,070 people? It's one or the other - either NoVa doesn't impinge on Baltimore, or they draw from Montgomery and Prince George's Counties. You can't have it both ways. If it's the latter, Loudoun's growth should be included under DC's advantages as well. Here's another "advantage":
• Amended plans addressed concerns about traffic congestion.
Where? Did they install a teleportation device? Did the Metro get extended over the weekend and I didn't hear about it? Furthermore, how is this an advantage? At best, it's a disadvantage that has been addressed. At worst, it's just a disadvantage.
From the con side:
• Fans from Washington might not be attracted to a suburban site.
As I mentioned earlier (at the top of my lungs with one finger extended), the Loudoun Cabal doesn't want fans from Washington. Quoting from the Times story:
And in a slight nod to the remoteness of the site, Collins said he didn't plan to market the team extensively to fans in the District, Montgomery and Prince George's counties and Southern Maryland.
"We've always looked south and west of the [Potomac]," Collins said. "Nothing has really changed there. In this area, you do not want to cross any bridges."
They know full well Washingtonians and Marylanders won't come to these games. I know it, they know it, you know it, but Bodley either doesn't know it or chooses not to mention it.

On to the DC bit. He includes this in the advantages:
• Economic proposal, as presented, is the best of the six.
I have no way of knowing if this is true. Feel free to holler at me (as the kids say) if you do. Very interesting, regardless. Disadvantages:
• Impact on attendance of the Baltimore Orioles, about 40 miles away. O's owner Peter Angelos might require compensation for lost revenue.
I repeat myself: you can't give DC's demographics to Loudoun without giving DC's Angelos problem to them as well.
• Placing a team there would not be as bold an expansion as it would be in Monterrey, Mexico, or Las Vegas.
What the hell are you talking about? For one thing, this is a really stupid way to look at it. Let's expand to Sri Lanka - that's hella bold. For another, why didn't you mention this in the NoVa bit? HUH?
• MLB strongly considers advantages of downtown stadiums, but Washington is unique. Most of the people who work there don't live there.
This supposed disadvantage is possibly the biggest advantage DC has over NoVa. As has been noted by others, DC's transit system is designed to bring people from the suburbs into downtown. It sure isn't built to take people into Loudoun County. Try it.

Go read the whole thing. I haven't addressed all the points, and I left out his analysis of the other four bids entirely (they don't seem all that likely, and I'm getting too verbose as it is). It certainly seems to me that USA Today has staked a position. Both the articles linked above have a lovely graphic of what a Loudoun stadium would look like. I find it hard to believe that the groups in DC, Vegas, etc. didn't bother to get some neat pictures done, yet USA Today chose to run two from the NoVa crowd. Eric at Off Wing points out that the paper is "headquartered in Tysons Corner, Virginia, about 20 minutes from the proposed ballpark." The author of this piece clearly manipulates his factoids to make the NoVa bid look better. What do you think?

One more thing before I go watch the Sox/Yankees game. From MLB's standpoint, what is the appeal of the Loudoun bid? Bodley comments that the DC plan is the best from a financial standpoint (I'm not talking about the morality or efficacy of a DC stadium). If he's right (I certianly don't know if he is), isn't that MLB's overriding consideration? The Loudoun plan has the advantage of being already legislated, but it seems clear that the DC plan would be passed without difficulty as soon as MLB gave the word. The other hurdle, of course, is Peter Angelos. Loudoun backers insist that their scenario hurts the O's less than DC's, but I don't buy it. Angelos is more concerned about his broadcast rights than about the physical presence of DCers at Camden, and you can bet the Virginia Monologues (props to Forklift, if that is your real name) would have their games broadcast round these parts. If Angelos really thought the Loudoun plan was preferable, he would have come out in favor of it. Instead, he has endorsed a no-hope Puerto Rico plan. So tell me (and I'm asking seriously): why would baseball choose Loudoun over DC?

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

One Step Forward, Ten Steps Back

I can't decide if that small dark cloud is getting bigger and darker. Every bit of news or opinion I hear sends me into new spasms of elation or despair. I'm going to blame my ulcer on Angelos, too.

Speak of the Devil, they say, and he pops in up the Washington Times. Dig this:
Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos, still vehemently opposed to baseball in the Washington area, is lending his support to a late entry bid for the Montreal Expos from Puerto Rico.
On balance, I declare this good news. It's not quite as satisfying as the resigned, despondent Angelos we saw a couple weeks ago, but this means that he has not thrown his support behind the Loudoun bid. That removes one of the reasons the Cabal gave for why MLB should pick them. Given that Puerto Rico's a lost cause, I'll take this.

The news is not all good. The Post concluded its three-part series on Bud Selig's reign of terror, and I'm less hopeful than ever. (I broke down and registered - here's a roundup of the whole situation. Very handy.) From the third part:
Selig, according to a major league official familiar with the process, had asked the relocation committee to look for alternatives to the District and Northern Virginia. Washington and Northern Virginia, he said, were not allowed to be "meaningfully discussed" because of Angelos's opposition and Selig's "unwavering support of Peter," the official said.
Read the whole thing. Also read the chat with author of the series, Steve Fainaru. While you're at it, check out the Primer thread.

So, some good news, lots of bad. Maybe we'll look back at this and laugh. But I have a feeling we'll look back at this and weep. Or at least I will. But I'm sensitive like that.

Monday, June 28, 2004

A Small Dark Cloud

I started this blog thinking that a team in DC was a fait accompli, as the Expos fans say. I knew that I was running the risk of making my disappointment even worse, but I figured DC just made too much sense. I should have realized that "sense" doesn't have anything to do with how baseball makes its decisions.

This Post series on Selig has me pretty bummed. I knew Selig was incompetent and sleazy, but I managed to put it out of my mind. Having it front and center just reminds me that the leadership of baseball does not have the game's best interests in mind. I can't blame them for being concerned with money. I can't blame them for trying to avoid paying for stadia. But I can blame them for making a free stadium their only concern, for leaving a team in limbo to extort cities, for allowing baseball in Montreal to wither and die, for the farce of contraction, and for a multitude of other things. I actually agree with George Will that baseball is is in a Golden Age, but this is the case in spite of Selig and Co., not because of it.

Will Carroll thinks the DC bid is dead. He's been wrong before, but I still don't like hearing it. (Check the comments - I have to agree with Yuda's suggestion for the name of a Loudoun team. Ignore that Ryan guy and his potty humor.)

One the other hand, Pedro alerted me to this from Gammons:
Montreal may have to take offers on Tony Armas Jr. as well as Orlando Cabrera, if he proves he is as healthy as he appeared Thursday. Omar Minaya had inquiries on Brad Wilkerson, and refused to talk, figuring he wants every possible good player in Washington next season.
Now, it's quite possible that Gammons isn't differentiating between DC and Virginia, but it still sounds good. (By the way, I know we have some Expos fans around here - what's the verdict on Wilkerson? He put up a .380 OBP last year, and that's the only stat I care about.)

In spite of Gammons' off-hand comment, I feel as bad about DC's chances as I have since I started this blog years ago. This may be a product of my place of residence, but I haven't heard much buzz about the Expos going to Norfolk or Portland or Vegas (except from Carroll), and Monterrey and San Juan never had a shot. I'm pretty confident that the team will end up somewhere around here, but that's what's making me nervous. It's well established the MLB loves free stadia, and that means Loudoun. Loudoun means the cruel scenario of the Squires or whatever whiling away three years at RFK before they brave the gridlock for Diamond Lake Stadium. I would not support a team in that situation - they may as well go to Mexico as I'm concerned. For now, all we can do is wait, and we don't even know how long.

We'll sit around,
and sit around,
and wait
-Pere Ubu, A Small Dark Cloud

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Dorcus Malorcus Sum

"That's not Latin!" - Lisa Simpson.

Dorcus Malorcus may not be Latin, but this is. Here are the Latin names of the 30 MLB teams, broken down by division. Big ups to Karen for assistance. And for putting up with my dorkness.

NL EAST
Atanta Fortes
Florida Tetrapturi
Montreal Expositiones
New York Urbani
Philadelphia Philadelphienses

Notes: for a lot of the animal names, I just used the scientific names. The Romans didn't know what a marlin was. "Metropolitan" is derived from Greek, and a Roman would have known what it meant, but I translated it into a Latin word. Philadelphienses doesn't mean anything but Philadelphians, and I'm not aware of any other meaning of "Phillies." The Expos could (should) find themselves as the Senatores, Nationales, or Cani (Grays).

NL CENTRAL
Chicago Ursuli
Cincinnati Russati
Houston Stellae
Milwaukee Cervesarii
Pittsburgh Praedones
St. Louis Cardinales

Notes: The Cubs seem to like Catuli, which works for any cute, fuzzy animal baby. Ursuli is more specific. The Russata was one of the chariot racing factions of Rome, so I used that instead of rubra or rosa or something. "Astros" comes from the Greek for "star," so there's Stellae. Dumb name.

NL WEST
Arizona Crotali
Colorado Saxosi
Los Angeles Eludentes
San Diego Patres
San Francisco Gigantes

AL EAST
Baltimore Oriolidae
Boston Udones Russati
New York Iohannes
Tampa Bay Diaboli Raiae
Toronto Cyanocittae

Notes: Romans didn't really wear socks, and udo was the closest thing I could find. "Yankees" was tough; no one really knows where it comes from. The going theory is that it's the Dutch equivalent of "Johnny," so they're the Johns. Make your own joke. Diaboli Raiae is literally "rays of the devil." Diabolos, devil, is Greek for "slanderer." Is that the worst they could say about him?

AL CENTRAL
Chicago Udones Albi
Cleveland Aborigines
Detroit Tigres
Kansas City Regales
Minnesota Gemini

Notes: For Cleveland, I chose to go with a word meaning "natives" rather than "people from India."

AL WEST
Anaheim Angeli
Oakland Athletici
Seattle Nautae
Texas Pervagati

Notes: Two Greek words here, but they were both used by the Romans. Angelos in Greek meant nothing more than "messenger" until it picked up the Christian connotation (In modern English, Angelos means something entirely different). Nuntius is the Latin translation, but it never took on that meaning, so I kept Angeli. Athletici is Greek, too. "Rangers" is really difficult. Do you try to capture the police sense of the word? The army? Guy in charge of a forest? Pervagatus more or less means "one who ranges," so I went with that.

Try them with regunt (Cardinales regunt: Cardinals rule!) or sugunt (Iohannes sugunt: Yankees suck!).

UPDATE: The comments for this post are a cavalcade of edutainment. Seriously.

Time for News

We had a good time at the O's game. The contest itself was pretty uneventful - the Braves scored two in the first and three in the ninth, and that's all they needed. The Orioles have been getting better performances from their starters lately, but it hasn't translated into many wins. They wasted a really impressive game from Matt Riley today.

The most memorable part of the excursion came on the way back to the car. Apparently there was karaoke going on at Max's after the game, and a probably-drunk guy was singing "House of the Rising Sun." And he was singing the HELL out it. His voice kept us company all the way back to the garage.

Meanwhile, things are afoot in the DC baseball world. Primer has a roundup of columns arguing against Loudoun and for downtown. The Washington Post today ran the first in a three-part series about the whole situation. I'm still not linking to the Post, but it's worth checking out. Today's installment went in depth into Milwaulkee's new stadium fiasco, and discussed at some length what a crook Bud Selig is. Check this out:
. . . Baseball had entered its second year of ownership of the Montral Expos, having taken over the team in February 2002 after a failed effort to "contract" Montreal and another franchise.

The strategy had grown out of desire to lop off baseball's weakest teams.

The process had started with a long list of potential victims.

None of them was the Milwaukee Brewres.
Bud Selig just got served.

The article includes a list of of the new parks since Camden, including a breakdown of the costs. Turner Field is the only park since 1992 to be built without public funds, though only 3% of SBC Park in San Francisco was paid for by the people.

Tomorrow's article will focus on the plight of the Expos and the infamous antitrust exemption, and Wednesday's will cover the relationship of Bud and evil rat-creature Peter Angelos.

In really astounding news, MLB announced the relocation announcement will not be made at the All-Star break. I'm angry but not surprised. There's a brief but interesting discussion at the Primer - are they trying to up the ante on bids for the Expos? Are they trying to hold out until the Spos can be contracted? Or are they just that disorganized? I think the first possibility is most likely, but the third is sound as well. If David Stern ran baseball, I think the Expos (at least) would be a lot better off.

Friday, June 25, 2004

What Therefore Bud Has Joined Together, Let No Fan Put Asunder

With apologies to the Evangelist.

Tomorrow I'm going to Baltimore to see thrilling interleague action as the Braves take on the Orioles. If I were a man of principle, I'd boycott the Orioles, but I'm not. I'm a man who likes baseball and doesn't want his girlfriend mad at him, so off I go.

It's Rivalry Weekend in baseball, the only part of interleague play anyone cares about anymore, near as I can tell. The Mets play the Yankees, the Dodgers play the Angels, and maybe the Cards and Royals will get into another brawl. No doubt you all have been waiting for Distinguished Senator's Official Opinion on Interleague Play, and here it is:

Junk it. It's been eight years, everyone has played everyone else, and the thrill is gone. Shelve it for twenty years; if there's interest in 2024, bring it back.

I'm not philosophically opposed to interleague. In some areas, I am a purist: I loathe the DH, and I was violently opposed to Selig's radical realignment plans. On the other hand, I have nothing against the Wild Card or expansion. I was intrigued when interleague play started - I remember getting Chinese food and watching the Giants beat the Rangers in the first game. My objection at this point has everything to do with my personal biases as a fan and nothing to do with the Greater Good of the Game.

Several years ago, I was spending the summer at my ancestral home in Colorado. The Rockies were an interesting team that year. It seemed as though they'd be down going into the ninth in every home game, and they'd pull out the win more often than not. They were even in first place for a few days. I really started looking forward to the day's game, and I became very well acquainted with NL West teams, the Giants especially. I knew the starters, I knew the bench guys, I even knew the bullpen. But then, interleague started. A's vs. Rockies - that didn't have any divisional significance. Cards vs. Indians - irrelevant. I like intra-divisional games and plenty of 'em. I'd be happier if teams played one series with each team in the same league but other divisions, and spent the rest of the year with its real rivals. You'd have a lot fewer situations like the Cards not playing the Cubs at all after mid-July. Sure, Orioles vs. D-Rays is not an ideal matchup, but it's marginally more interesting than Orioles vs. Royals, and you'd get more games with the Yankees.

Now, I know people in New York, Chicago, LA, the Bay Area, Missouri, and Texas probably love interleague. But what about the rest of us, stuck with Orioles/Braves or Red Sox/Phillies? Well, check this out: I was reading a biography of hard-hittin' rat bastard Rogers Hornsby, who played for the Cardinals and the Browns when St. Louis had two teams (in fact, the Browns were clearly the favored team until Hornsby showed up, rather like Ruth pushing the Giants out of prominence in New York). Before and after most seasons, the two teams played heated, profitable exhibition series. If New Yorkers want so badly to see the Mets and Yankees square off, why not do this? They could make a trophy, carry it on local TV, Keith Hernandez and Don Mattingly could talk trash, the whole megillah. Hell, after the season, I'd be so starved for baseball that I'd watch it.

POSTSCRIPT: The Rockies wound up collapsing in the second half in whatever year that was. That collapse persists to this very day.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Thursday Night Miscellany

A few things I've been meaning to mention:

It takes a lot for me to root for the Yankees. If they were playing a team of Soviet supermen who had just killed Apollo Creed, they'd have my support. Tonight's game comes close to that kind of moral contrast.

It's Jose Contreras vs. Sidney Ponson. I have nothing against Ponson and I even like the Orioles, but there's more to it. Contreras is a Cuban defector who was just reunited with his wife and two daughters, who had been held on the island until they bolted in speedboat with 18 other refugees.
Ponson's boss is a man who thinks MLB teams shouldn't sign defectors for fear that they be encouraged to defect. Heavens forbid!
So, tonight I say Go Yankees.

UPDATE Man, am I an idiot. Contreras didn't even pitch this game, and I don't know why I thought he was going to. I guess I'll be rooting for him on Saturday.

I listened to the Expos today on MLB Audio (a fine service). The Expos' announcers, in case you're interested, have thicker Canadian accents than the Blue Jays'. It was a good game. Tony Armas pitched well, Nick Johnson got on base four times, and the Expos won. Nick Johnson's moustache is so ugly, by the way, that I swear I could hear it.

The site I insist on calling Baseball Primer has two articles of interest to DC baseball afficionadi. There's a review of a book entitled Beyond the Shadow of the Senators, which concerns Buck Leonard, the Homestead Grays, and black baseball in DC generally. There's also an interview with the author, Brad Snyder, and it's interesting in its own right.
. . . there is a group of people who would like to call Washington’s next major league team the Washington Grays. This group will be establishing a website at washingtongrays.com
The site's not there yet, but I'll keep you posted. Snyder's next project is a book about free-agency martyr Curt Flood, a worthy topic indeed.

I promise I'm almost done with this, but Off Wing Opinion had another post about the stadium controversy. I shall address two points and lay it to rest.

Eric says in response to my bit about taking that economics professor on a date around Camden Yards:
But what Ryan won't talk about is what Baltimore looks like only a few blocks West of Max's down past the Baltimore Arena. What he'll see there is a depressed neighborhood that fans work hard to avoid on their way to the stadium.
Why would I? I never claimed that baseball stadia eradicate poverty and violence. Some improvement is better than none, and the contrast between the areas affected and unaffected by all this commerce reinforces my point.

Then there's this:
That's why we call in the wonks -- the people who can do a serious cost/benefit analysis of a project, and tell us what the truth is beyond what we can plainly see with our own eyes. In this case, does the ancillary economic activity generated by a ballpark justfiy the additional public expenditures required to build it?

And the wonks, time and again, have said no. In a way, we need to be sure we're analyzing and measuring the right stats in order to get to the truth -- which sounds a lot like the idea behind baseball's own incredible wonkfest, Sabermetrics.
I'm all for listening to the experts. They are, by definition, more qualified than your average fellow. But what happens when the expert says something you know isn't right? The sabermetric example is perfect. I believe in the importance of OBP, drafting college players, mocking Tim McCarver, and all those other sabermetric commandments. But I believe in them because they make sense.

Some years ago, Total Baseball came up with Total Player Rating, a precursor to Bill James' Win Shares in that it attempted to sum up the totality of a player's contribution in one handy number. Pete Palmer is certainly an expert in the matter, and his conclusions included the stat that Nap Lajoie is the sixth-best player of all time. It's perfectly obvious to anyone with any knowledge of baseball history that Lajoie is NOT the sixth-best player of all time, no matter what the numbers say. People knew it wrong even before the sifted through the data, and now TPR is not much used.

Similarly, I'm inclined to listen to an economist until he says something like "you can't have a sports bar by a ballpark." It doesn't take a PhD to notice that downtown ballparks are practically encased in thriving sports bars, and such a statement would of course make me skeptical of the rest of the guy's findings. Experts should be heard, but they should not be unquestioned.

STOP THE PRESSES!

Forget everything I've said in the history of this blog and read this:
Washington's status as a popular locale for fledgling start-up pro leagues continues with the creation of American Pro Cricket.
The eight-team league, playing a modified, shortened version of a sport wildly popular in England, India, Australia, South Africa and Pakistan, will have an entry called the D.C. Forward playing at Prince George's Stadium in Bowie. League play starts July 2 and ends two months later with a championship game in New Jersey.
Virginia can have their baseball team - I'll be rooting for the Forward! I'll see you hillbillies at the tea interval!

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

PWNED!

That's me that got owned. Eric at Off Wing Opinion didn't agree with my spittle-flecked rant from yesterday. There's the problem with spittle-flecked rants: the one that pleases everyone has yet to be written. I shall do what rebutting I can and attempt to refrain from the all-caps typing and swears I find myself drawn to in my more passionate moments.

Eric does not address my fundamental, most spittle-inducing concern. Nobody is going to be able to get to these games. The logic of putting the team in the middle of a huge chunk of people rather than at one end is so obvious that I'm astonished Loudoun's proposal is being taken seriously. But on to what Eric does address.

His main argument seems to be that DC can't afford it. First, he concedes the following:
Because the transportation infrastructure in the Washington Metropolitan Area was designed to move government employees from the suburbs to downtown, putting a stadium there makes the most sense. The roads are there, the Metro is there, the tourists are there.
But then we cue the ominous music:
Unfortunately, given the District's history of fiscal irresponsibility, building a new ballpark would probably fall on the backs of local taxpayers -- something that's bound to make Washington a less attractive place to do business. And the plan that Mayor Anthony Williams has proposed to the D.C. City Council, but has yet to be approved (thanks to City Councilman Jack Evans), puts the onus of paying for the new stadium on businesses that are overtaxed already.
I think that Eric here slightly misrepresents Evans' opposition. According the Post article he cites, Evans is not at all opposed to the plan, only to uncertainty. "When they tell me they're going to put a team here, we'll get the job done" sounds like a minor hurdle rather than a significant roadblock. The funding is there, pending MLB's announcement.

Now, the big (only?) selling point of the Loudoun stadium is that there would be no new taxation to pay for it, making it unique in that regard. Furthermore, I have no business calling on DC to buy me a stadium.
As a resident of Silver Spring, Maryland, Ryan may not care that the folks in the District are going to be asked to pay for the ballpark he so dearly wants downtown.
It is only fair to point that as a resident of northern Virginia, Eric would have no problem getting to games in Loudoun. Marylander though I be, I would not endorse a plan to put a team in some out-of-the-way corner of the Old Line State, accessible only to those on my side of the river.

Let's have a look at those taxes (from the same Post story):
D.C. officials say they plan to pay for the stadium with revenue bonds, financed with three potential sources of revenue: sales taxes on stadium services, including tickets, parking and concessions; lease payments from the new team at sites other than RFK; and a new tax on the city's largest businesses.
That's one tax paid by the District's businesses, one tax paid by the Senators, and one paid, at least in part, by Ryan. Major sporting events draw customers (or, if you prefer, marks or rubes or pigeons) to the stadium. Along the way, they eat, drink, and be merry. I, for one, plan on going to a lot of games and drinking a lot of beer. That means money coming out of Montgomery County and into the District. Obviously, none of this is news to anyone, but it must be considered.

Eric cites a Post article by a Cato Institute wonk saying that publicly-funded stadia aren't worth it. This is interesting, because a few days earlier I had read a Baltimore Sun article that presented both sides of this issue.
Stanford University economics professor Roger Noll argues that sports facilities can be justified only as a quality-of-life proposition, not as a sound financial investment. Stadiums don't usually generate a lot of nearby economic activity because team owners sell so much inside the stadium, he said.

"It makes no sense to build a sports bar across the street," said Noll, who edited a 1997 book about the economic impact of athletics. "No one ever comes to your sports bar because there's already five other sports bars in the stadium. ... It is really an anomaly to have the kind of comprehensive development around a stadium that occurred around the MCI Center."
One wonders if Roger Noll has ever been to a sporting event. I hereby invite him to join me at Max's, a sports bar across the street from Camden Yards. We'd better get there early, though - it's tough to get in before a game. Then we could get a hat and a hot dog from street vendors, and hit the Inner Harbor for crabcakes after the game (NB: I'm not hitting on Roger Noll).

The article goes to quote some business owners who apparently are not aware that they're going bankrupt.
Capital Restaurant Concepts, which operates 13 properties in Baltimore, Virginia and Washington, has no complaints. It gets larger crowds at its two Inner Harbor sites when the Orioles are playing.

"It does spill out," said company co-founder Paul J. Cohn, who favors a downtown site such as Camden Yards.
And in DC?
The downtown Renaissance Hotel is near the New York Avenue site, so its officials are eager to see baseball come to town, especially at that location.

"We'll keep our fingers crossed," said hotel marketing director Jon Lockwood.


Maybe the pundits are right. Maybe the tax-funded stadium is an awful idea. But then again, maybe the politicians and business owners know what they're doing. Why do so many cities pay for stadiums? Could so many mayors and city councils really be that dim? Swallowing my cynicism for a moment, I find that unlikely. So, do they want teams to generate money? That's a good reason. Or do they want them to please their constituents? That's a good one as well. "Stanford University economics professor Roger Noll argues that sports facilities can be justified only as a quality-of-life proposition . . ." Good lord, Noll, isn't that enough?

There is also the team to be considered. As I yelled about in my rant, the Loudoun Cabal seems to be content with utter failure from an attendance standpoint. Fewer fans at the games means fewer people in the bars and restaurants, fewer bobblehead dolls and souvenier bats being sold, fewer eight dollar beers being quaffed, and ultimately worse TV viewership and less enthusiasm for the team. Do we want our team to content itself with being a Brewers-esque welfare queen, perfectly happy to turn a profit by maintaining a low payroll and pocketing the revenue sharing money?

Maybe the Virginians will succeed in buying their toy baseball team and build the country's most gorgeous stripmall ballpark, but don't expect the rest of us not to fight it.

UPDATE. Josh Heit throws some doubt on the Loudoun plan's rosy economic outlook.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Commonwealth of Whores

Strong words, but I don't pass on a PJ O'Rourke reference when it's sitting right there.

The big news today is that a posse of jockjaws out in the boonies of northern Virginia has finalized a plan to make damn sure the Expos never draw any fans. You can read about it here or here, among other places. I'll be referring to the ESPN version unless otherwise noted, and I'm skipping around.

HERNDON, Va. -- A proposal by state and local officials to move the Montreal Expos to the nation's fastest-growing county features a public-private partnership that requires no new taxes to pay for the $442 million ballpark, proponents said Monday.
The proposal gives northern Virginia a leg up on the other regions bidding for the Major League Baseball franchise because it is the only site competing for the Expos with a fully financed funding plan on the books, said Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority Chairman Keith Frederick.
Monterrey never had a chance. Moving on . . .
The plan calls for building a 42,500-seat stadium near Dulles International Airport, on the outer edge of the Washington, D.C. suburbs. The ballpark would be part of a town square-style development that would include residential, retail and commercial space.
Translation: suburban stripmall.
The Dulles site is one of five that has long been under consideration for a northern Virginia ballpark, but it had once been considered at the bottom of the list because of traffic problems. The fast-growing county already suffers from traffic that often approaches gridlock, and public transportation does not currently extend from Washington. In fact, Monday's rally to announce the plan was delayed by about 10 minutes because traffic slowed the arrival of some VIPs.
Ha! The overwhelming power of irony is becoming something of a theme around here.
The problem is that no matter how much money these yuppies throw around, the traffic is still going to be awful.
Loudoun County appears to be welcoming the possibility of a ballpark. Supporters cite transportation improvements under way and under consideration, including a possible extension of Metrorail to the site by 2012. The ballpark would be built in 2008, with games played at Washington's RFK Stadium until then.
Oh, well that makes it okay. DC gets the team for three years until the yuppies are ready for them. Then maybe we get to go see them five years later.
Supporters now also cast the Dulles site's distance from Washington as a plus, saying it should assuage concerns of Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos that a D.C.-area team will hurt his franchise.
You people are already guilty by association, then. Here's a rule of thumb: if Angelos approves, you shouldn't be doing it. Which is why I try to sign as many Cuban defectors as possible.
Major League Baseball had been concerned that requiring an owner to make a large upfront payment for a ballpark would reduce the ability of any ownership group to pay a competitive price for the Expos.
I wonder if they're as concerned about the go-away money Angelos is supposed to get.
Stadium Authority Director Gabe Paul said the financing plan would be solvent even if the franchise drew only 1 million fans a year.
"We could have the lowest attendance in baseball and this plan still works," Paul said.
NO IT DOESN'T YOU DUMBSHIT! One million fans is failure, no matter how much cash you sling around. For a newly relocated team, one million fans is a huge, amazing failure. Look at that quotation again: this asshead would be happy with the LOWEST ATTENDANCE IN BASEBALL, as long as a few suburban families don't have to go downtown.

In a way, I can't blame these people. They want a baseball team in their backyard. They want to be able to take their kids to see a real, live baseball team without having to go into the city, where the wild things are. They don't care if no one in Maryland or DC comes - they can pay for their toy. The crime of it is that this is being seriously considered by baseball. The Expos could move downtown and draw two and half million, easy, and THAT should be MLB's concern. Suppose an eccentric billionaire wanted to buy the Expos. He could pay double what anyone else could. However, he would insist that all home games be played on the grounds of his estate and would not be open to the public. Is that good for business? Obviously not. Yet this reductio ad absurdum shows what is happening here. The Loudounites don't care that their stadium wouldn't be any more accessible to those in Montgomery and PG Counties than Camden is. Major League Baseball absolutely should be.

Here is a comlete list of MLB teams that drew one million fans or fewer in 2003:



That's right, none. One million fans in this day and age would be a disgrace. What Gabe Paul is suggesting would be an embarrassment to baseball and a monumental disservice to the Expos, who may as well stay in Montreal if they want anyone to watch them.

This is from the Times:
The revised vision of baseball in Virginia will go against a decade-long trend of urban-centered ballparks and build a new town center in which a ballpark is the centerpiece.
That decade-long trend is probably the best thing to happen to baseball AND to cities in a long time. I dearly hope MLB isn't as entranced by a free stadium as I'm afraid they are.
At a press conference, prospective team owner William Collins was bold in assessing how a team at the Dulles site would be marketed. And in a slight nod to the remoteness of the site, Collins said he didn't plan to market the team extensively to fans in the District, Montgomery and Prince George's counties and Southern Maryland.
"We've always looked south and west of the [Potomac]," Collins said. "Nothing has really changed there. In this area, you do not want to cross any bridges."
Does this strike anyone as delusional? One thing about major sports franchises - they like cities. Some of them, like the NY football teams, may play in the suburbs, but at least profess to belong to a city. These trifling bastards think they can have a purely suburban major league team. Has that ever worked? Has it ever happened at all?

There is no argument in favor of this that is not based on short-sighted greed and/or blatant self-interest. Why would MLB do this, costing themselves millions of fans and a team in a large, wealthy urban center? A free stadium. Why would anyone in the area be in favor of this? Well, if you live Loudoun County, you'll be able to get to the games in ten minutes, and the riff-raff on the other side of the river can go to Hell.

Well, it's time for our millionaires to get cracking and stand up to theirs. Write to the Washington Baseball Club and tell them to get their act together. Write to the papers. Hell, write to your congressmen. Some morons got Strom Thurmond to write a letter to get Joe Jackson into the Hall of Fame - get your representatives to start exerting some federal pressure on Bud Selig. It's time to stand up. Washington DC has a 1-0 record against Virginia, and we won't lose this one.


Further reading: Peter White has a better-written and far less vitriolic take at All Baseball. Off Wing Opinion has a favorable read, as well as a media conspiracy I really hope is true.

Sorry about the swearing.

Monday, June 21, 2004

From the Distinguished Senators Library

The house library here at Distinguished Senators is a cavernous, musty place, full of the eldritch wisdom of the hoary ancients and some really awful LeCarre novels (anyone want a barely-touched copy of Single & Single?). The latest addition to the treasury is the Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers, which I just finished, more or less. It's not really a book you finish, and perhaps that's why I'm left unsatisfied.

I consider myself a fan of both these authors. While I have been finding Rob Neyer's ESPN columns kind of insipid (and certainly not worth paying for), Baseball Dynasties (on which he collaborated Eddie Epstein) keeps finding its way back to my nightstand. Bill James' New Historical Baseball Abstract was pivotal in changing the way I looked at baseball, however much of a grouch the author may seem to be. And in fact, neither man lets us down. The book's best bits are the ten essays about pitchers who
a) pitched at least thirty years ago
b) are not in the Hall of Fame
c) have never been the subject of a book-length biography, but
d) had careers of Hall of Fame caliber.
It's a good idea coupled with good execution. James especially is adept at giving the reader the feel for the era in which his subject played (though he's no Steven Goldman. Keep plugging away, though, Bill!). It's the rest of the book that left me less than amazed.

The lengthy discussions of the origins of the curveball, screwball, et al. were mildly interesting, but one can only spend so much time hearing back-and-forth forkball/splitter arguments. James goes through and rates the top ten fastballs of each five years, which seems to serve little point other than to start arguments. I'm leaving some things out, and that's intentional. Fun stuff to browse through, but nothing that grabs.

It's a 484 page book, and nearly 400 of it contains the Pitcher Census. This is a list of a whole buttload of pitchers, for each of whom is given a brief summary of stats and measurements, pitch selection, and notes. Sources are described, players are consulted, controversies mentioned. Some pitchers get longish essays (such as whether Jesse Haines was a fastball or curveball kind of guy), some get lengthy quotations from other sources, and some get just the minimum. It's handy if you want to settle a bar bet about what pitches Dizzy Dean's brother threw (fastball, nickel curve - and what kind of bar do you hang out at, anyway?).

After the Census, James complains about Baseball Prospectus' Pitcher Abuse Points (he thinks they're a bunch of pap! Ha ha!), and a couple BP guys respond. They're kinda talking about different things, and no one calls anyone names, so don't flip right to the back to get to it or anything. Then James messes around with some stuff I can't imagine anyone caring about (no one has ever gone 27-5!), though I guess the Cy Young prediction system has already started some arguments. Blah blah.

Here's my problem: I bet this book was a lot more fun to research than it is to read. The authors talk in the introduction about what a blast they had leafing through old magazines and scouting reports, and good for them. The Census, though, is going to age fast - it already doesn't have any Zambranos. Part III of the book is just James doing mental gymnastics with dinosaur stats (his fascination with Wins and Losses - possibly the most misleading stats in baseball - is a rant topic for another day), and I got tired of that with a quickness.

This review came out sounding more negative than I meant it to. I don't regret buying the book, and the essays are great. If I thought I was ever going to read the other 400 pages again, I'd feel like I got a little more value. Caveat emptor.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

I Have Acquired a Hat of Significance

I saw the Smithsonian Baseball as America exhibit yesterday, and it was slamming, as the kids say. They had John McGraw's wife's chair, Casey Stengel's 1964 All-Star ballot, and Three-Finger Brown's hand in a jar. There was a special emphasis on baseball in DC, which I took as endorsement of the Cause I so fanatically serve. Walter Johnson's glove was on display, as well as Buck Leonard's Grays jersey and scorecards from a really long time ago. I wish I could be more specific, but I kind of shut that part of my brain off after I saw Jim Palmer's underwear ad. Congratulations, Jim. Your package has been immortalized in the Smithsonian.

Buffalo shots aside, it was nifty as all get-out, and you should see it before it pulls up stakes in October. Perhaps the best part was the end, when you buy stuff. No, I'm not trying to be all cynical about our plastic consumer society, man, I mean it. If there's one thing I dig, it's dead baseball teams (my St. Louis Browns cap will attest to this). Well, the gift shop had dead teams galore. If this blogging gig paid better, I'd be wearing a $255 Senators jersey right now. Or at least the $80 Grays one (something I just thought of - the Rangers still own the Senators name and all that. Does Tom Hicks get the scrilla when they sell Senators stuff?). There was a bunch of other old Negro League and major league hats and whatnot, but I only had eyes for the Senators stuff. If I may direct your attention here, they had the one at the bottom with the cursive W, but the one I got looks like the third one, except the back is blue. This means I can represent 24-7, not only on the Internet, but also in the real world. So if you see a devastatingly handsome fellow with beige hair and a Senators cap, holler at me. Show some support for the Cause. Suggest a new name to call Peter Angelos or another way to say that the Expos can't hit.


In other news, the Washington Post finally deigned to mention this city's life-or-death struggle to get the Expos. I shouldn't complain; it was a fine piece. Not good enough to link to, though - there's something about the Post's registration procedure that really gets to me. If you have a physical copy of the paper, it's on the second page of the Sports section (the front page is taken up with tennis, golf, gymnastics, and soccer. See why we need a baseball team?) The best part is when George Solomon, the author, whom I should probably have mentioned earlier, quotes Fred Malek, head of the DC ownership group, as saying that this is the most optimistic he's been in five years. That, combined with Angelos saying he's resigned to the advent of the Expos, makes me feel pretty good (my new hat helps, too). I'm almost certainly getting ahead of myself, but at the moment I'm more concerned about Northern Virginia getting the new stadium than I am about the area getting a team at all.

WHAM, a homer! WHAM, another homer!

What happens when the worst offense in baseball meets the third-best pitching in the AL? See the words of the immortal Bugs Bunny, above.

I was shocked when the 'Spos managed seven runs on Friday (though not shocked that they lost). Imagine my reaction when I got home last night and saw a "12" next to "MON" in the fourth inning. The Expos don't get to be on TV very often, even in Montreal, but thank goodness for WGN for letting us watch a wacky roller-coaster of a game. Perhpaps in honor of Tim Raines, whose number was retired at L'Estade du Fromage, Juan Rivera "jacked" two "dingers" in an inning, the starters were both gone by the fifth, and Montreal had an inning in which they scored more runs than they had in any game so far. The Expos didn't score in only one inning, the White Sox four. Chad Cordero picked up the two-inning save (he gave up a run, though. It was that kind of game), and Frank Robinson aged two years right there in the dugout.

It also marked the first time this die-hard Expos fan saw the team on TV. Maybe I saw them on TBS a couple times, but that was before my overnight transformation into World's #1 Expos fan, so it doesn't count. The only special insight I gleaned from the broadcast is this: Good Lord does Nick Johnson have an ugly moustache. Jeff Kent looks at that thing and says, "Damn, that's a cheesy moustache." He looks like he lost a bet. I mean, Johnson isn't exactly Travis Lee to begin with, if you know what I mean, and having what looks like two anchovies attached to his lip doesn't help. Well, at least they won't have to come up with anything new for Nick Johnson Bobblehead Night.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

I Read the News Today, Oh Boy

Since starting this blog, I've been trying to keep an eye out for other news on Washington baseball. The Post doesn't seem to care much (who can blame them? It's Mystics season!), but the Times has something every once in a while. Today, there's a column by Dick Heller about . . . I don't know what. Here are his points, as far as I can tell:
1) The Orioles are not good
2) The Senators were not good
3) Peter Angelos is not good
I think that's what he's trying to say. Really, it's two columns, casually joined in the middle, and there's something about Angelos dressed like Santa. I don't know why I'm bothering, but here are bits that stuck in my craw:

On the O's 14-0 loss to Cleveland: " . . . the Indians' batch of banjo hitters scored the most runs by a Cleveland team in three years." These banjo hitters are leading the American League in BA and OBP (did you know that? I didn't). They're seventh in SLG, third in BB, and - most importantly - first in runs. They don't hit many homers (Sorry - "jack" that many "dingers" - I'm still gunning for that Sportscenter job), but homers are merely a means to an end, and that end is runs. By the only measure that counts, Cleveland has the best offense in the league. Buncha banjo hitters.

"Our own little club in Washington or Northern Virginia?" I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Screw Virginia.

"As presently constituted, the O's look like rummage sale refugees anyway." This is unduly harsh. Granted, the Baltimores are having a rough streak, and they sure can't pitch. On the other hand, their lineup is one to be envied, recent scuffling aside. Tejada is probably the league's best shortstop, now that A-Rod has moved left (from the hitter's perspective). Palmeiro's power is down, but his batting eye is sharp, and I'm not going to make a Viagra joke. Melvin Mora is beginning to convince us that he wasn't a fluke last year. It's not unreasonable to expect Gibbons, Bigbie, Matos, and at least one of the second basemen to pick up the pace. The pitching really is atrocious, though. It seems like every time I turn on the O's, the announcer's lamenting that tonight's 25-year-old lefty has thrown 80 pitches by the fourth inning. This team won't contend in the AL East and would have a hard time elsewhere. But they're not - how do I put this? - they're not the Expos.

" . . . the reborn Washington Nationals taking the field in 2005 . . ." It's like this guy hasn't even been reading the Name of the 'Spos. Nationals is out, buddy.

The brutal irony of all this is that a completely pointless column in the Washington Times prompted another completely pointless column by me complaining about its pointlessness.


In other news, this blog is celebrating it's one-week anniversary, and I'm already out of ways to say the Expos can't hit. Here's to another week!

UPDATE: I get done with this thing then go check the scores. The Expos have 3 runs in 3 innings (with a Vidro "dinger"), and the Indians have none. Distinguished Senators - where the irony never stops!

UPDATE II: There's a black fly in my Chardonnay!

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

The Name of 'Spos 3: High Noon at Mega Mountain

In my opinion, this has the finest subtitle of any third installment. Plus it has Hulk Hogan.

But enough of this Gen-X irony and on to the issue at hand. There has, apparently, been a movement to give the Expos the name of a Negro League team when they get here. Grays is coming in second in the Washington Baseball Club poll, and . . . well, that's the only evidence I have. Where these things get discussed is a mystery to me. Maybe I should start reading Boswell.

The very term "Negro Leagues" is a misnomer. Before (and slightly after) integration, teams started and folded, entered and left leagues, and barnstormed. Black baseball in the 20s and 30s had more in common with the freewheeling atmosphere of white baseball in the 19th century than it did with the Major Leagues. New Era, of all things, has an extremely hard-to-read list of Negro League teams over the years, and the sheer number of teams in the same few cities puts me in mind of the American Association or National Association - short league schedules, lots of barnstorming and franchise shifts. Cleveland alone had seven Negro League teams. Washington totaled five: Elite Giants, Potomacs, Pilots, Black Senators, and Grays.

Elite Giants is a fantastic name for a baseball team, but I'm sure the San Francisco Giants wouldn't approve, and pretty much every other town in the country had Elite Giants at some point.

Potomacs is an awful name.

Black Senators sounds like the Senators but with Jim Brown and Fred "The Hammer" Williamson. Obviously, that's completely awesome, but can you picture this guy as a Black Senator?

Pilots reminds us of Bud Selig and the worst caps in the history of the sport.

That brings us to the Grays. I'm not going to go deeply into the history of the Homestead Grays, but if you're curious check out this or this. The Grays were the dominant team of the Negro National League, winning nine straight pennants from 1937 to 1945. They featured Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, and Cool Papa Bell, among others. They are, along with the Kansas City Monarchs, the best remembered Negro League team. They split their time (hell, they split their weekends) between Forbes Field in Pittsburgh and Griffith Stadium in DC. If we're going with a Negro League name, Grays is the one.

So, why would we? Look, I'm not equipped to discuss race, and I do it as little as possible. It's kind of unavoidable here, though. Suffice it to say that Washington is not known as Chocolate City because of its confections. DC has long been a center of black American culture, and if any city is going to pay this tribute to the Negro Leagues, this one makes sense. Personally, I find the Negro Leagues about as interesting as the old Pacific Coast League - pretty interesting, but not overwhelmingly so. In fact, this comparison works pretty well: the Angels are named after a PCL team, so why not have the Grays? While I don't think modern organized baseball needs to beat itself over the head for all eternity out of guilt over segregation, this would be a nice gesture.

And get a load of this: Washington, historically, is an awful place for baseball. The original Senators won about 46.5% of their games. Version 2 did even worse, about 41.8%. In fact, all the Washington teams from the American League, National League, National Association, and Union Association have a combined record of 5506-6887, 44.4%. I'm not enough of an operator with my pocket calculator to do this for everyone else, but DC might well claim the title in this unfortunate category. In 60 years, the Senators managed three pennants and only one title. I think it's safe to say that Washington has the worst record of any of the eleven cities hosting NL or AL teams in 1901, the start of fifty-some year period of stability. The St. Louis Browns were probably the worst of the 16 teams (only one pennant in fifty years, and that was during the war, when players averaged 38.6 years of age and 1.95 arms each), but St. Louis had the Cards to fall back on. Philadelphia had a disproportionate number of the very worst teams, but the A's also fielded some of the best. The Homestead Grays appear to be the only successful thing ever associated with baseball in Washington, which can only be another mark in the name's favor.

Senators is still my top choice, but I would be very nearly as pleased with the Washington Grays. Next time, in the last installment of The Name of the 'Spos, we'll take a look at some dark horses and also-rans. Mainly it'll be an excuse to talk about the Warriors, I think.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

The Name of the 'Spos 2: The Electric Boogaloo

Sorry for busting out that tired Electric Boogaloo joke again. It's a compulsion.

Last time, we had a look at the most obvious name for a DC team, and I proved conclusively that Senators is the only choice. In fact, I probably should have saved that for last, since there seems to be little point in bothering with the rest of the ideas. I shall continue nonetheless, but don't expect anything interesting.

Baseball Reference informs us that the Senators were officially the Nationals for fifty years. I don't know why, and I don't particularly care. No one used it anyway. The name is just as dry and traditional as the Senators, but without the resonance. Ask your average baseball fan who Walter Johnson played for, and he'll say "who?" Ask someone who's read The Glory of Their Times (which is as good as everyone says it is), and he'll say "the Senators." He won't say "the Nationals." The Senators v. 2 didn't bother with it, and neither should we.

Baseball in DC has a poll asking for your choice for the name of the 'Spos. At the moment, Senators is leading, followed by Grays and Monuments. I'll tackle the Grays another day, but where are people getting Monuments? I've never heard of a team with that name, and I hope I never do. I would approve of this name in one impossible circumstance: a colleague of mine had the idea to build a ballpark on the Mall, with the Washington Monument serving as a foul pole (Hi, George). The impractability of this idea detracts not at all from its brilliance. A team playing this park could be called nothing but the Monuments. Otherwise, forget it.

There are two traditional names that have not come up in any discussion I'm aware of, and I present them here only to show off my erudition (by which I mean my ability to surf around on Baseball Reference). There have been two teams known at one time or another as the Statesmen. As far as really Washingtony names go, it's better than the Monuments, but I can't think of a good reason to prefer it to Senators.
1873 saw a National Association team called the Blue Legs in Washington (no doubt over the objections of the owner of the Baltimore Canaries). People back then were incapable of coming up with totally rad names like the Voodoo or the Burn, so they mainly just named teams after what color their socks were. Hence the Red Sox, White Sox, Reds, Cardinals, and Browns. That worked out fine, but calling a new team the Blue Legs would be akin to me saying something like, "the New York Hilltoppers clouted prodigious circuit blows in the World's Series of Base Ball, to the delight of the bugs in the stands." That kind of thing can be cute for a while, but before you know it you're growing a handlebar moustache and listening to ragtime.

Next time I'll take on some Negro League names. This is going to be tough - so far I haven't been doing much but reciting what I dig up on Baseball Reference, which doesn't have Negro League teams. I hope my extensive research (a couple hours at a Barnes and Noble) has provided me with enough information on this topic.

Piling on the Orioles!

Senators and Sabermetrics has more Angelos hatred for you. I don't agree with all of it (I don't miss Jason Johnson or Pat Hentgen), but this is interesting: "The Orioles spend less than 50% of revenue on player payroll, the lowest in the majors." I did not know that.
My experience with Baltimoreans is that they're serious about baseball and love their team. They certainly deserve better than this.

Monday, June 14, 2004

A Team in DC Would Doom the Orioles to Mediocrity . . .

. . . says the owner of the 27-32 O's, who got served 14-0 today by the Indians. Angelos is right, of course; the Orioles are well on their way to an historical seventh consecutive 4th place finish, and the last thing we need is some competition ruining the streak.

Expos Weekend Recap

Well, that was embarrassing. In three games, the Expos could muster one run. To paraphase Bob Uecker, ONE GODDAMN RUN?! At least this was expected - everyone knows the 'Spos couldn't hit a beach ball with a cricket bat. But, the thinking goes, at least the pitching's pretty good. Well, not this weekend. Livan Hernandez was impressive, taking a complete-game loss in the first contest, but Vargas 'n' Armas combined for seven earned runs in six innings total against another offense reminiscent of the deadball era.
It was nice of the Expos to let the Mariners have a little fun for once. By the way, if you ever want to make a Seattle fan cry, just ask him how the Carlos Guillen trade worked out.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

The Name of the 'Spos, Including the Postscript to the Name of the 'Spos

This blog does not exist merely to call Peter Angelos names and mock the Expos' lack of batting prowess (10 shut-outs and counting!). I hope in addition to offer constructive discussion of various issues facing a DC baseball club. The one that has most grabbed my interest (because it requires no actual knowledge) is that of the team's name. Quite a few have been suggested, and I hate almost all of them. Let's have a look, keeping in mind that some have been suggested by no one but me:
Senators
Nationals
Grays
Monuments
Expos
Sexpos
Black Senators
Potomacs
Statesmen
Furies

(NB. There is an unfortunate tendency to resort to the most hackneyed, Capitol Steps-esque gags when this topic arises. I'm not going to waste time talking about such knee-slapping entries as the Lobbyists, Those Fat-Cats in Washington, or the Gob-Stuffed Interns. Unless I just did. Damn.)

Consider the name of this blog an endorsement of the Senators. "Senators" has a long, delicious tradition, from the 1901 squad, led by Boileryard "William" Clarke to a sixth-place finish, to the 1971 version, led to by Ted Williams to a fifth-place finish. In between, the Senators played spoiler to any number of great teams. In 1927, they gave the doughty Murder's Row Yankees a run for their money, coming close to almost winning nearly half their games against the Bombers. 1954 saw the Washington club contribute only 18 of the Indians' record 111 wins.
Just as the Indians have Major League (greatest baseball movie ever made, so stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Costner), the Senators have Damn Yankees, a musical so awesome that is has a butt-rock supergroup named after it. It would be foolish to throw away all this history. Plus, check out these sweet caps!
By naming the team the Senators, we'll be upholding a time-honored and nifty baseball tradition. Look at the Orioles, for instance (well, not today. Ponson's pitching). All told, there have been five versions of the Baltimore Orioles, one which went on to become the Yankees, proving that irony is more powerful than love. When the unlamented St. Louis Browns moved east in 1954, they took the traditional name of their home. A similar dynamic gave us the Brewers (the first Brewers are now the Orioles. It's like the Julio-Claudian family tree up in here), the Angels (an old PCL team), and the Marlins (a minor league team).
So, in conclusion, there is a right answer to this question, and it's Senators. Anything else would make Walter Johnson roll over in his grave (reportedly located on the grounds of a suburban high school), and make me change the name of the blog.
Next time we'll have a look at some of the other ideas, including the ones I just made up.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Good News from a Bad Man

From the Times:
Angelos yesterday told the Associated Press he will grudgingly accept the relocation of the Montreal Expos to the Washington area.

That's real big of him, especially considering that he has no right to keep a National League team out of DC. The article goes on to say that he'd focus on the curtailment of his broadcast range to challenge the move. But now even he admits that it's inevitable, and his poor Orioles will be stuck being the home team for only one major metropolitan area. Poor baby.

Almost Comprehensible Game Recap and Injury Update

When I'm looking for a game recap, I don't go to ESPN or Sportsline or any of that. It's just too easy, and I like a little challenge. So I go here. Let's see what they have to say about last night's exercise in batting futility:
One to Mariners 0 Expos <> 11-day <> Seattle, the SEFUKO field

the Mariners -- 9 times death [ 2 ] bases-loaded -- catcher bow DAZU of 41 years old -- 左前打(ing) -- good-bye -- a victory It has been the score for the first time in 30 innings since 5 times of the Astros game on the 7th. Double play, home base 憤死, check death, etc. were the games of an ineffective offensive continuation.


And what of Tomo Ohka, you ask?
A landlord is to entering a disabled list and a 12-day operation.

it was announced on the 11th that Expos put pitcher Tomokazu Oya (28) who broke the 右手橈 (obtaining) bone into the disabled list for 15 days An operation will be undergone by State Mel Bohn of Florida on the morning of the 12th.

The landlord left the mound in response to the hit ball of a belt run on the 10th to the right hand in the Royals game in Missouri Kansas City.


Anyone who can figure out why Ohka's a "landlord" gets mad props, as the kids say.

UPDATE! Andrew the anonymous gorilla explains in the comments sections why he (Ohka, not Andrew) is called a landlord AND why they call him Oya. Big props. Here's a site that describes my respect.

Friday, June 11, 2004

The Eminently Stoppable Force versus the Pliable Object

My man Pedro, who now uses "BAVASI!" as a grave imprecation, has a preview of the much-anticipated Expos/Mariners match-up. It's tough to get too worked up about a series between a couple teams who'd have a hard time scoring ten runs off a t-ball stand. Ah well. C'est la vie, as the Expos fans say.

DC or Nothing

Off-Wing Opinion has some comments on a Post article slapping down Northern Virginia's bid for the Expos (I'd link to the article itself, but I don't feel like registering).
I live in Silver Spring and work in Alexandria and am well acquainted with both sides of the divide. That said, screw Virginia. I try to be reasonable about this, but inevitably find myself shouting things like, "Hey, who won the war, jackass?!" So just put it smack in the middle with a Metro stop next door, and no one gets hurt.

Thanks to Pedro for the link.

Expos Update

I'm not doing this because I want to. The Expos are not a good team, and every time they get shut out (eight times and counting!), I am reminded that even if they do come to DC, they will have done so too late to keep Vlad Guerrero.
Furthermore, I know next to nothing about them and have no idea what I'm talking about. But I guess that's just one of things you have to overcome if you want to be a powerhouse blogger. So, here goes:
The scalpers had the day off yesterday as the Expos were in Kansas City for a double header. Montreal's finest swept the luckless Royals as Nick Johnson, this blog's favorite Expo and third favorite living American, knocked 3 hits in 5 attempts, along with one of his trademark walks. Young Zach Day was the hero of game one, scattering six hits in a complete game shut-out. Tony "the Baptist" Batista, last seen striking out 400 times as an Oriole, hit two home runs off the hilariously named Jimmy Gobble to lead the 'Spos to a 7-2 victory in the nightcap.
The wins brought the Expos all the way up to 20-38, and now the club has an opportunity to battle it out with the Bavasified Mariners (22-36) for the worst record in the major leagues.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Jumping the Gun

I was going to wait until the All-Star Break to start this, if only to defend myself from heartbreak. But then I started thinking for a change:
We all know blogs are the most important thing in the world right now. Andrew Sullivan tells us this almost every day. I don't know what kind of people are on the MLB relocation committee, but I do know that I don't have the money or the looks to influence them. What I can do, though, is make my case for the Montreal Expos, a once proud franchise reduced to playing in front of 2000 people in L'Estade du Fromage or whatever they call it, to move to Washington, DC. To do this, I am going to outblog the navvies in Norfolk, the hemp-wearers in Portland, the legitimate businessmen in Vegas, and even Monterrey's blogonistas until MLB comes to its senses (it's happened before - remember the spider webs on the bases?) and sends the Expos to RFK Stadium.

Now down to the nuts and the bolts. Obviously, it's not easy to blog about a team that doesn't exist now and hasn't for over thirty years, so I can't promise to stay on topic. At the moment, my baseball attention is divided numerous ways. I am, first and foremost, a Cardinals fan. I get the Orioles on the TV and radio, and am engaged to an O's fan. And with the fateful announcement approaching, my interest in the forlorn, vagabond Expos grows. I think there should be enough material in all that to keep me busy until the Senators v.3 debut.