Friday, March 23, 2007

Why I'm a Nationals Fan

Growing up, I was a fan of my hometown baseball team, the Rochester Red Wings. They were then the AAA-affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. This was right in the midst of the O's decades- long run as the savviest and best run operation in baseball.

I saw Cal Ripken play third base as a minor leaguer. As a matter of fact, I once took a young lady of my acquaintance to her first professional baseball game, at Silver Stadium, to see the Wings play the Toledo Mud Hens. I got great seats, right by third base, and was rewarded with a nine-inning running commentary on how dreamy Cal's blue eyes were.

With the sting of that memory in mind, no O's fan was any happier than I when Earl Weaver made the fateful switch that changed Cal from a decent third baseman into the new archetype for a generation of shortstops.

When I moved to DC for college, my allegiance switched easily. I'd seen most of these guys play as minor leaguers. I was there for the '83 run to the World Series, the opening of Orioles Park at Camden Yards (still my favorite ballpark), and all of the well-deserved hoopla that accompanied Cal breaking Lou Gehrig's consecutive games streak.

So when DC finally landed the Nationals, I faced a dilemma. Could I have two favorite teams, the O's in the American League and the Nationals in the National?

I decided that was too much. I'd never lived in a town with a major league team before and, by gum, I was gonna be a homer. I retired my Orioles yarmulke and commissioned a Nationals one from

It helped that the Nationals' manager, for their first two years in DC, was Orioles hero and all-around class act Frank Robinson.

But the decision was still much easier than it should have been. Because of this man, Orioles majority owner and managing general partner Peter Angelos:

This billionaire bully has turned a storied franchise into little more than a laughing-stock. If the team were an airplane, this uber-troll's influence would have long since transformed it into a smoking hole in the ground.

Washington Post sports columnist Thomas Boswell is a national treasure. He combines deep insight into the game with unparalleled access and a writer's keen eye for detail.

Earlier this week, he summed up the problem(s) with Peter Angelos better than I ever could.

Check it out.


dmarks said...

"...Rochester Red Wings..."

Now that in itself does nothing but confuse me. I am very familiar with the Detroit Red Wings. I am also very familiar with the Minnesota cities of Rochester, and Red Wing, which are near to each other.

David in DC said...

Funny you should ask.

Before Rochester was the O's affiliate, they were the Cardinals' farm team. That's where the name comes from (get it Red Wings are baby Cardinals).

My Grandmother used to tell stories of living around the corner from Stan Musial when he was a Cardinals minor leaguer.

On a just barely related note, in the late 70's, when I first heard a Polish Cardinal had been elected Pope, I thought it was Stan the Man.

Evil-E said...

I take for granted a hometown baseball team. I have been a Tribe fan all my life. I used to go to ballgames at old, smelly, run down, and nearly empty Cleveland Stadium back in the late 80s and early 90s. That team was horrible.

We (the taxpayers, drinkers, and smokers) built Jacob's Field. If I could compare it to another park it would be Camden Yards. Same basic set-up and size. That team took Indians fans on a good ride for most of the 90s. I actually came withing 2 outs of celebrating a World Series win, but....Cleveland Karma.

A rider on Camden Yards. That park is excellent. I have seen three games there (including a playoff game vs the Tribe) and it is my favorite of the new parks. The atomosphere is really good and the food in Baltimore is the best in the majors.

When are the Natties getting a new park if at all? There has not been much about it of late.

David in DC said...

E-E: I envy you growing up with a major league team. Even if the Tribe hasn't always been the best.

I agree that Jacobs field is great. I saw a game there during a weekend pilgramage to the Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame.

Camden Yards food rocks. Especially the stuff from Boog Powell's barbecue pit, and still more especially when Boog is in the house.

DC gets it's new stadium for the 2008 seson and the 611 million dollar project must be ready on time or the city has to pay the owners some ungodly per-day fines. It'll be ready. The sightlines will be amazing. It's being built in Southeast DC and past the outfield, fans will see the monuments on the National Mall.

It's supposed to spark redevelopment of a blighted part of town.

We'll see.