July 23, 2006

Starting to Come Together, Pepper

Lots to talk about this weekend, and for a change most of it is positive. New ownership 99.44% in place, a refurbished RFK, and a 3-game sweep of the lowly Cubbies on "Paint the Town Red" weekend. That's almost more good news than I've been conditioned to handle, given the recent state of the franchise. With so much going on, I'm going to divide the post into two broad categories: Off the Field and On the Field. And away we go...

Off the Field

Away from the green, green grass of home it's all over but the ridiculously huge wire transfer. Monday morning Ted Lerner will stroll down to the neighborhood Check N' Go, order up a $450M money order and ship it off to MLB Headquarters, overlooking the 4th circle of Hell. Then it will be official. Bob DuPuy is dead, long live the Lerners, their progeny, family by marriage and assorted hangers-on.

Hopefully this will put to bed the brief hysteria that sprang up when MLB declared the District "in default" of the stadium agreement, and indicated that the delayed documents could hold up the ownership transfer. The legal manuvering betweend the city and baseball isn't just for show, and it could have serious financial consequences two years from now if the new stadium isn't ready on time. But it's nothing that's going to impact the ownership, stadium construction, or on-field makeup of the team in the meantime.

While all that was going on behind the curtain, out front a (slightly) renovated RFK opened its gates Friday night boasting a fresh coat of paint, new outdoor food court, additional vending stands, more Aramark employees, and a generally improved attitude. I shook hand with new CBS sportscaster and local legend James Brown and got my not-at-all shabby red Nats hat. So that was quite alright. As the Federalist noted, Triple Play's very own Dave is one of the leading arbiters of fan experience, so I'll leave the in-depth commentary to him.

For my part, I give Stan Kasten and his team full marks for doing the best they could with what they had in the time (a little less than 2 weeks) allotted to them. Both the Capital Q brisket sandwich and the Hard Times chili mac from the new terrace food court were good, but neither was outstanding. I still want to see a Ben's Chili Bowl outpost, if not at RFK at least in the new stadium. This was opening weekend, so I'm reserving final judgment until I see what the atmosphere is like once everyone's off their best behavior. Misschatter was there on Friday too, decked out in her Gary Bennett memorial BP jersey, and she has the pics to prove it.

On the Field

Oh by the way, we also swept the Cubs in a three games series this weekend. Now for most teams this would rank right up there with mugging a local girl scout troop for their cookie money in degree of difficulty, but the Nats can't afford to be so cavalier. A sweep is a sweep and we'll gladly take it. Dave, Watson and I were in the stands for Friday night's series opener, and Dave and I returned for the rubber match on Sunday. Saturday I caught one of the Nationals rare network appearances while struggling valiently (but unsuccessfully) to salvage some productive time from my weekend.

I'll update with the full on-field recap this evening, time permitting...

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