Wooden's World of Baseball

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The New Ballpark

It's been a week now since I saw the plans for the new ballpark at the Potomac Nationals Hot Stove Dinner. What was more interesting though was the show that owner Art Silber put on for the press, responding indignantly to a Washington Post story that depicted him as a "flamboyant, millionaire owner." Silber gave a laundry list of what the folks in Prince William County have never seen from the P-Nats; to paraphrase, no debauchery, no drugs, nothing short of upstanding young men. It was like listening to Nick Lopardo, except with more charisma and less whining.

As expected the dinner was very much like a Chamber of Commerce meeting, a little schmoozing, a little kibitzing, with a 50-50 raffle for the charity (class move: The winner refused the money and asked that it all go to the ZiMS foundation). It was great to hear the Washington Nationals Director of Player Development describe the new philosophy of patience and power arms (he boasted that the Nats have gone from 7 prospects that consistently throw in the 90s to 35). In fact, just a couple of days ago, it looks like he put his money where his mouth was and bought the North Shore Spirit's J.D. Reininger, most likely so that he can hold the fort at Potomac so that an infielder at Hagerstown isn't playing over his head, as were many of the kids at the AA and AAA levels last year.

A nice affair, all in all, but it's now got me baseball hungry. Luckily, there's just 67 days until the start of the Carolina League season and less than three weeks until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Oh, that takes the edge off...

I know it's a slick PR move, timed just two days before the PWC Commissioners Hearing on January 23, but dammit, I'm excited to see Art Silber unveil the plans for the new P-Nats ballpark. It also doesn't hurt that the P-Nats are stoking (stroking?) their strongest supporters — season-ticket holders — who, in turn, will evangelize on their behalf to the media and the board (guilty on both counts). I'd still rather be in Brockton on the 26th, but getting at something that already appears to be about the size of Fraser Field or Holman Stadium is pretty damn cool.

The artist rendering hints at a cantilevered roof, which I have to say, would be a wise move. As much as I like day games in opposing ballparks, I dislike getting fried in the sun unnecessarily. The P-Nats have wisely moved start times on Sundays from 1:05 to 6:05 from June 24th forward. I'd even further recommend moving the Camp game times from noon to 10:30am for the same reason. It's freakin' hot in Virginia during the summer. Not to mention that it gives the folks a place to "hide" during rain delays.

It's certainly nice to think about the Pfitz having its days numbered, at least as the host of professional baseball. It's even nicer to think about the new digs...

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Hot Stove or A/C?

When it's 70 degrees on January 6th, there's a problem thinking and talking about the proverbial "Hot Stove." In fact, as I write this in my townhouse basement, the A/C just kicked on! Now, granted I'm now in VA, but c'mon 70 degrees?!

The Potomac Nationals are having its Hot Stove event on Sunday, January 21st. I'm still on the e-mail lists for a lot of the Can-Am League teams (including my beloved North Shore Spirit) so I'm privy to who's speaking where... and a little jealous, too.

I'm sure the P-Nats will put on a good show at the Hyatt in Fairfax. In fact, there's a little bit of a story in holding the event some 15 miles north from where the team plays, but I'm sure it comes down to demographics: You're going to hold it where the fans are coming from, not to mention the proximity to the airports and D.C.

But I digress...

Andy Dunn, Director of Minor League Baseball Operations for the Washington Nationals is the keynote speaker. Randy Knorr, manager of the team for the first half of the season in 2006, will also appear. No doubt we'll hear talk about how the Lerners will be putting money back into the farm system, which Major League Baseball put on autopilot under its stewardship from 2002 to last July. And, of course, I'll be looking forward to the silent auction, hoping that it won't be entirely memorabilia from the DC-area legends of the 60s, 70s, and 80s (read: Baltimore Orioles. Yuck)

But truth be told, I'd rather be in Brockton on the 26th, listening to Bob Ryan and Jerry Trupiano hold court at the Shaw's Center. It'd be worth the ribbing from the Rox fans. A close second would obviously be the Spirit's to-do at the Kowloon in Saugus, featuring the Red Sox's PR chief, Dr. Charles Steinberg, who knows a thing or two about how to drum up fan interest (Red Sox Nation, anyone?)

Maybe it's the Red Sox thread that tugs at me, or perhaps it's the affiliated-vs-indy thing that I'm still struggling with, but I think it's just simpler than that. The Rox and Spirit events just look like more fun.