Monday, February 21, 2005

Monday, lovely Monday

Sleep late, wake late---diagnosis: federal holiday

Just a few tidbits to note on this glorious day . . .

---Jeff Smulyan wants to buy the Nats. I would have to voice a bit of a "Nay" here, if I may. Smulyan is a big-wig in the radio industry; within the baseball industry, he's best known for almost making the Seattle Mariners the Tampa Bay Mariners.

[As an aside, I'll note that "the Tampa Bay Mariners" wouldn't have sounded so bad---unlike the Utah Jazz, New Orleans Hornets, or Arizona Cardinals. Well, that's one distinction on which MLB can hang its hat: when it moves teams, the resulting team names aren't jarringly dissonant.]

This page has a history of M's ownership. The author doesn't appear to think much of Smulyan:

[The firing of Jim Lefevbre, who had just managed the team to its first winning record in 1991,] by Smulyan fueled rumors that he was going to sabotage the team in order to move the team out of Seattle. If the Mariners were too successful, more fans would come to the games. He needed to trigger the
escape clause to find riches in another city. That city was Tampa. Reports began to surface that he was already in talks about a lease agreement to play in their baseball stadium. Then the bomb went off. U.S. Bank called Smulyan's loan on the team. Now he had to come up with the money to pay back the bank. At the same time his 59% interest in radio stations was also on shaky ground. Local officials he was using the M's to blackmail the city and using the money to help support his other investments. The rich person Seattle thought came to town was actually cash poor and had no way to continue as the Mariners owner. It was also a time that the old claims of Seattle not being a baseball town were
chanted. Jeff Smulyan even told the press that he felt Seattle could not support a Major League team.

Far be it for me to make too broad a statement about Mr. Smulyan, but in my experience, guys who joke about not taking care of their mothers in their old age are guys who also torture puppies and ruin baseball teams.

---Important eyes are scrutinizing Mike Hinckley and Darrell Rasner. Hinckley's a fairly well-known guy among Nats watchers; Rasner might not be as well-known (by me, for instance). Marc from Nationals MLB News rates Rasner as the No. 5 pitching prospect in the system (and concurs with Hinckley as the consensus No. 1).

---F-Robby acknowledges the offense sucked last year. Also, the picture caption cryptically notes that Nick Johnson hit 27 homers last season but drove in just 67 runs." I guess Johnson is being confused with Brad Wilkerson; the article notes Wilks hit 27 of his 32 homers as the lead-off guy, and we already know he drove in 67 runs. Whatever.

---The guys behind the new DCNatsFans blog posted a poll in the Ballpark Guys DC forum, regarding whether the Nats need to do anything to engage the African-American community in DC. I won't really comment on the topic or the ensuing discussion, except to say that opportunities for inner-city youths (white, black, Hispanic, Martian, whatever) to play ball decrease every time a 200x300 foot block of land is included in a new Wal-Mart or Target or Friday's or whatever big block retailers are now popping up in environs with more density. I'm not sure if this is feasible, but I think the city should open RFK (and the new owners should open Corporate Park) to kids to play ball on off days. It shouldn't take more than the usual security detail there to ensure no vandalism or fights or whatever.

Then again, I'm not a city planning or a safety expert.

---Finally, there's the last nugget in the Richmond Times-Dispatch Monday media column. The writer notes that the Nats finally have a radio deal and quotes Tony Taveres telling the Post that "we have to build a network . . . extending south to Richmond . . . "

Get it done, Tony. I'm not the only guy who thinks the Nats need to take Richmond, and toot sweet.

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