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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

 

New Boswell Column ("It Turns Out D.C. Is a Baseball Capital After All") and "Md. Firm in Line To Build Ballpark"; The Hurricane and Rick Short

New Boswell E-mail (or newsletter) "It Turns Out D.C. Is a Baseball Capital After All"

Boswell's column is about the attendance at RFK, how "[a]s this season has progressed Nationals attendance has exploded, rising each month until it has now surpassed even the most optimistic preseason estimates. This barely noticed trend has profound implications for the sport's future here."

The Nationals have averaged 37,097 fans in their last 5 homestands compared with the overall 2005 major league average of 29,802. And if this pattern continues into and throughout the 2006 season, "then Washington may, in a stunningly brief time, move from the status of an "average" team to becoming one of the "crown jewel" franchises of the sport. . . . the town that baseball spurned for a third of a century may eventually set the pro sports record for saying, "We told you so.""

The team compares favorably with the best attended teams, excluding LA and NYC, with their averages of between 35,155 (Boston) to 39,228 (Giants), and the Nationals are playing in the very old RFK. The Nationals have had steady month to month increases in average game attendence. Overall? The Nationals average attendence for the entire season is 34,370. "The Nats are 11th in the sport in attendance . . . By next week, Washington will pass Houston to reach the Top 10."

Boswell notes that the team may end up near an average attendence of 35,000, which is close to the Red Sox sold out average of 35,155.

As Boswell points out, the large average attendance number is nice, but the fact that trend has continued to go up while the team has been in a deep slump is "most fascinating about the Nats' attendance." "Last week's crowds of 38,721 arrived even though the Nats had been in a (15-27) slump for eight weeks and fallen from first place to last in the NL East."

Boswell mentions that "[a] year ago, I spoke with a source with access to studies about potential Washington baseball attendance" and came away with numbers in the 25,000 to 30,000 range for average attendance.

So, it appears that Washington DC can, in fact support a team, but what about those poor suffering O's? Has their market evaporated? Is the reason that the Nationals have had such great attendance numbers based on an evaporating O's attendance? The question, of course, is what has been occurring up north.

Three year average for the O's: 32,588. This year? When the team is in its 8th losing season in a row? This year the team's average is: 32,599.

So far this year, the combined Baltimore-Washington DC market has supplied an average of 67,349 fans to two baseball teams for each home game. For the last three years, the combined market supplied an average of 32,588 fans for each Camden Yards game.

"The least expected of all outcomes -- no impact whatsoever on the O's -- has come to pass." "Somebody tell Peter Angelos to stuff an orange-and-black sock in his mouth. " "After just five months, it is now reasonable to wonder if Washington, so long scorned, might actually turn out to be one of the best baseball cities in America."

Live discussion with Boswell - Friday: 11 AM.
Here's a transcript of the last discussion on August 5th.
"Md. Firm in Line To Build Ballpark" by David Nakamura of the Washington Post.

"The D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission yesterday voted to award a $23 million contract to Clark Construction of Bethesda to build a baseball stadium in Southeast Washington by March 2008."

Clark Construction will attempt to build the $279 million stadium in 2 and a half years. Clark built FedEx Field in 17 months, but that was in an open setting, compared with the cramped urban setting of the proposed new baseball stadium.

Interesting. The stadium is budgeted at $279 million, but has "Other" costs that will raise the total price tag to $535 million. A lot of "Other" expenses there.

The City hasn't bought the land yet, and if it needs to, "the city has the option to take the land under eminent domain."
The Hurricane and Rick Short: "'I hope baseball finally gives him back what he deserves'" by Jim Litke of the AP.

The Nationals AAA affiliate, the New Orleans Zephyrs left the city shortly before the hurricane struck and have lost the rest of their home games for this season.

"People in New Orleans have so many more hurdles to jump than I do,'' Short said Tuesday in Oklahoma City, Okla., a few hours before the first of nine straight road games the Zephyrs will play to close out their Pacific Coast League baseball season. "It kind of puts it all in perspective.''

Short's story is mentioned because he is a career minor league player that is also having a career year, hitting almost .400. "It's been 44 years since anybody hit .400 in a full-season professional league."

Short, though, is now hitting .388, and has just nine road games before this season is over (if he isn't called up to the majors; and if he is, then those hits in the majors, or lack of hits, wouldn't count for or against his minor league average). The team, as mentioned, has cancelled the rest of its home games, three, that would have likely given Short about 12 more at-bats.

"As soon as I started talking about it,'' he explained, "my average went down.''

"After 11 seasons with 12 clubs in eight different leagues, in locales as far-flung as Japan, Jackson, Tenn., and Mexico, Short finally made it to "The Show'' with the Nationals this year. He went 1-for-1 as a pinch-hitter on June 10, but returned to New Orleans when they traded for Junior Spivey the next day. Short was back up with Washington again at the end of the month, grounding out to third and coaxing a walk, only to be shipped out just as unceremoniously a day later when Jose Vidro came off the disabled list."

Short had been drafted by the Orioles in 1994, and has a career .312 average since then. Short can play anywhere, and has in the minors. Because of that ability, Short's chances at making the bigs was actually curtailed because he couldn't establish himself at any one position.

Oh, and the hurricane. Litke ends his article by noting that Short and his family live in Peoria, Illinois and that all that Short lost in the hurricane was his security deposit on his apartment and three home games.

Comments:
site at: **SLOT CAR**
 
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