This past Sunday my local paper (that’s The Washington Post) ran a story under the headline “A training camp deal that went south.” Front page of the Sports section, and it couldn’t have been better.
The piece, written by hit-and-miss author Liz Clarke, points to the “deal” the Redskins struck five years ago with the City of Richmond to hold their preseason training camp in Virginia’s capital. What sounded like a good idea at the time…
I visited Richmond a few weeks ago, at the beginning of the mania that surrounds every preseason, and yes, the atmosphere was congenial, of course. It’s always fun until the bill comes. According to Clarke (who scores a touchdown with this article), not only is the City of Richmond paying the ‘Skins upwards of $500,000 a year for the privilege of hosting, the team has made good on only about 10% of the money it “borrowed” from Richmond to build that flashy new $10 million training facility. Sidenote: the Redskins are the NFL’s fifth-most valuable franchise, estimated to be worth just under $3 billion. That’s billion with a “b.”
Redskins economists point to increased tax revenue and charitable contributions in an attempt to balance the scales. It’s funny because this is what the government usually does to justify spending public money on sports, not the other way around. It seems here that public officials in Richmond have embraced the Vanguard way of thinking about such deals (that tax dollars spent on sports is useless and unfair) but are now stuck. Clarke notes decaying infrastructure in Richmond City Public Schools (which should benefit from such a deal, no?), a cheap journalistic trick I’ll let slide because in this case I agree. Schools with decrepit facilities while the city funds millionaire athletes. Sounds like a bad comic book storyline on display.
Amusing sidenotes include the revelation that under the deal, the ‘Skins are not allowed to play scrimmages against other teams in other training facilities. There are football and fan reasons for undertaking such exhibitions. Can’t do it under the current deal though. Good one, guys. Reminds me of one of the more ridiculous stories still discussed in Washington circles: that shortly after owner Dan Snyder bought the team he decided to charge fans to come to preseason games. Distasteful but not stupid, right? Well, when you give the tickets away you can sort of vet who’s getting them, no? But when people are buying them they can sort of go to anyone, right? Guess who figured this out and started coming to ‘Skins practices? Try “scouts” (spies) from other teams in the league. Whoops.
That one’s in the “what sounded like a good idea” file as well.
File’s getting pretty thick.
I feel as though complimenting Howie Kendrick and Mike Rizzo again today might border on gloating (two home runs for the former last night and solid bullpen work set up by the latter), so let me shift a bit on Washington business.
One of my favorite features in my hometown rag (that’s The Washington Post) is “Date Lab,” the paper’s matchmaking service usually good for a laugh. This week my friends have launched “Date Lab 2.0,” with new writers and apparently some greater focus on something. It isn’t exactly clear what.
This week we were treated to descriptions of four such dates, rather than the usual one, and the difference in style was noticeable. The writers this week, all four of them, spent half their pieces writing about themselves, as though they were on the dates as well. Were they? I’m not sure.
One bit of good old-fashioned Date Lab remains. On one encounter, when complimenting his date’s sense of humor, “Alex tried to convince her that he had voted for [Donald Trump] and that he was a good president. ‘I think she knows I was joking and she was game,’ he said.”
Because anyone in Washington indicating he or she had voted for Trump is obviously joking, right? Trump! What a ridiculous notion. Might as well say you preferred the Nats’ old bullpen!
I’m still pushing Mike Rizzo for President this week, offering now Howie Kendrick as his running mate. The future vice president is hitting .371 in 11 games for the Nats, and in two weeks he’s gone from never-heard-of-the-guy to possibly my best friend. In picking up Kendrick at the trade deadline GM Mike Rizzo once again looks like a genius. Last night’s walk-off grand slam for Mr. Kendrick, capping two wins in three games in 24 hours, made both spots on my presidential ticket look like shoo-ins for the White House.
Or the World Series.
Mike Rizzo has got to be the most popular president in D.C. right now. Currently team president (and general manager) of the Washington Nationals, I say Rizzo moves his office up the street from the Navy Yard to Pennsylvania Avenue immediately. Let last night’s ballgame be Exhibit A.
Starting pitcher Tanner Roark leaves the game after six passable innings, unfortunately on the wrong side of a 2-0 game. Washington scores two in the bottom of the sixth, getting Roark off the hook, then the beleaguered and much-maligned bullpen shuts down the opposition for the next three innings, during which time the Nats tack on the winning run. We have Messrs. Kintzler, Madson, and Doolittle to thank, none of whom were on the team but a few weeks ago. That’s good GM-ing, especially considering none of those guys was an overpriced free agent and/or obvious rental player.
An even greater bargain, of course, may be the game’s offensive star, Mr. Goodwin, who scored two runs and knocked in two, including a home run to provide the aforementioned go-ahead run. Let us recall that Brian Goodwin was drafted by the Nats in the first round of the 2011 MLB Draft, the same draft in which the Nats picked up Anthony Rendon. This was the draft after the Nats picked up a certain Mr. Harper (2010) and a certain Mr. Strasburg (2009). Know who became GM in 2009?
For the past four or five days I’ve been hearing criticism of President Trump’s comments re: the state of New Hampshire. You know, the drug-infested den.
I find it amusing and certainly a sign of our times that controversy surrounding this statement has centered not on its accuracy but on its coarseness, meanness, and presidentialness. What a meanie, say most in the media, and many from the state that literally mentions death in its motto.
How about: Is New Hampshire a drug-infested den?
Maybe it is.
And I think that’s the place to start.
Gotta hand it to Bill Nye, kid show science guy from 20 years ago somehow still relevant, and more than just in a has-been, nostalgic-y kind of way (though there is an element of that).
It helps that “environmentalism” writ large has become an increasingly discussed topic the past few decades, especially now among hipster millennials just aching for a real problem to solve in a world in which everything else comes pretty easily. Bill Nye’s in one of those enviable positions in which one’s public crusade is also somehow profitable, and allows one to hobnob with other celebrities, etc.
Bill’s our go-to guy for “science,” out Al Gore-ing even Al Gore these days. This week’s Parade magazine (the thing that shows up in your Sunday paper) features Nye and a couple “science” kids talking about the upcoming solar eclipse (coming to a planet near you on August 21). Yup, if there’s going to be an eclipse the man you want to interview about it is Bill Nye.
Bill’s also featured in this month’s issue of Playboy, becoming I believe the first person to appear simultaneously in those two legendary publications. In case you’re wondering, Bill is fully clothed, including his trademark bow tie, of which he claims to own 500.
Five hundred bow ties? Sounds like someone preparing for the Apocalypse.
Wait… Apocalypse? There’s an apocalypse approaching?
We’d better check this out.
Someone call Bill Nye.
My hometown Washington Nationals head to Wrigley Field to play the defending World Series champions (still weird, isn’t it?) for three games this weekend, all day games, of course, beginning today at 1:20 Central time. Classic.
Unbeknowst to Cubs management I have replaced the “W” flag at the park with one adorned by a red curly W, currently my son’s favorite thing to point out wherever we go.
Curly W, Daddy!
It’s the little things in life.
Step #1: Stake best pitcher in baseball to a 6-0 lead.
Step #2: Have best pitcher in baseball leave game after one inning due to some kind of bizarre neck spasm. (Apparently he slept on it funny. Or something like that.)
Step #3: Have MASN put graphic on board showing how great the new-and-improved bullpen has been since acquiring Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle.
Step #4: Don’t have either one of those guys pitch.
Step #5: Watch said bullpen blow lead and lose game 7-6.
Step #6: #smh
Being home from vacation never really feels too great. Actually, being home is great, it’s going back to work and one’s regular life that leaves a bit to be desired.
Still, though, I look at the standings and see both the Yankees and the Nats in first place, NFL training camps in full swing, and tomorrow Netflix adds Jackie Brown to its universe of stellar, stellar options to keep real life at bay just a bit longer.
Life is good.
There’s an old baseball expression about seeing something you’ve never seen before. Four home runs in a row? Five in an inning? Eight in a game? Watching TV with a beach in the background
Yeah, I’m still on vacation.
For the Nats’ sake I think I’m going to do this more often.