Friday, October 3, 2008

In Case You Don't Ride the Metro, Go to Cosi, or Ever Set Foot in the District...

...and missed it, the City Paper, never a fan of the stadium deal in the first place (or the return of baseball to DC at all, some would say), has a cover story piling on the Nationals attendance problems and a Loose Lips column on the stadium rent.

Nothing really new in the cover story, but Loose Lips has some detail on the pissing match between the Lerners and the DC Sports Commissioner that I haven't seen before.


traderkirk said...

So a building with substantial leaks, electrical problems and a flooding dugout is "substantially" complete? Close enough for government work I suppose.

Imagine you rented a new house (well imagine you were forced to rent the new house, this part is always left out of the "district built them a new stadium for free" canard) and the lights didn't work and the roof leaked. Pay the builder anyway?

Wonder why HOK refused to sign off on the facility being complete? It seems the Lerner's wouldn't have a leg to stand on if the people who designed the building agreed with the District that is was done. But they didn't. Why? They would seem to have an interest in doing so.

Nate said...

"Substantial completion" means nothing by itself. It's a term of art created by lawyers to allow them to rack of huge fees arguing with other lawyers about what exactly it means. Whether or not there were a few nails sticking out here and there, the stadium was complete enough to host 81 MLB games, a papal mass and an opera simulcast, not to mention 20-30,000 fans a night plus staff.

Like the City Paper said, do the Lerners have every legal right to rake the city over the coals? Sure, MLB had DC over a barrel negotiating this deal, and it shows. That doesn't make it good PR. The Lerner family needs to realize thet they are the face of the franchise every bit as much as Ryan Zimmerman.

Steven said...

I tend to agree with both of you to some extent. Nate's totally right that the PR is terrible, and, unlike most of the Lerners' business, the Nationals are hugely dependent on brand strength. Fan affiliation and good feeling is their whole business. The value of their property is completely dependent on public goodwill (well, that and the entertainment value of the on-field product... oops!).

On the other hand, in this case I would tend to give the Lerners the benefit of the doubt IF this was the only instance of this kind of aggressive miserliness.

The problem is the cumulative effect of ALL the "Lerners are cheap" stories. Personally, I said all along that I don't care about the "they'll fight you over a FedEx envelope" stuff. I've gone on and on about how I don't care about passing on the type-
A long-term FAs. But then add the stadium rent and not putting the big shiny ball on the Red Loft and Crow and all the little nickel-and-diming of season ticket-holders stuff... the cumulative effect is that it becomes impossible to root for these guys. That's me, someone who defended not signing Soriano and was still giving them the strong benefit of the doubt just 6 months ago. If you're one of the people who was pissed after that very first off season I can't imagine what you're feeling now.

@trader--you're right that it's not fair to say DC bought the Lerners a stadium for free as the City Paper oversimplifies over and over, but they did build MLB a stadium for free, and Bud and Monopolist League Baseball made out like bandits. From the perspective of the majority of DC voters who thought RFK was just fine thank you very much, it's really a distinction without a difference. All these rich bastards who run MLB are one big cabal of evil.

Don't show a fool and unfinished job said...

BPG post said City Paper is in bankruptcy, and editor lasted 2 days at Village Voice. I'm a big supporter of Jim Bowden. You kidding me, he got Dukes, Hanrahan, Flores, Shell, Alitano, Martis, Mock, Chico and Gonzales, not to mention the older guys for nothing, and the farm system is much improved. The only trade I don't like is Boni, and Rauch had three shoulder operations.

Steven said...

@dsfuj: well knock me down with a feather. I can't remember the last time I saw a comment from a pure unapologetic Bowden fan here or on NJ or BPG or anywhere else. Comments defending Jim without fail begin with disclaimers like "I'm not a fan of Jim either, but..." But loyalty is a valuable trait, so welcome.

On the substance of your comment, other than Dukes, do you really think any of the players you mentioned are key pieces of a winnner? Hanrahan maybe is a 3rd or 4th bullpen guy on a WS team. Flores I think can be an above average C. But aside from that, none of these guys would even make the 25-man for the Sox or the Cubs or the Angels. I don't blame you for rooting for them, but these are not very good players, if they are the best you can do making the case for a guy.

Bottom line, I'll ask you the same thing I asked Jim--why isn't it fair to evaulate Jim based on whether his teams actually win or not? He's sitting on 7 straight non-winning seasons. Next year will likely be 8. Isn't that the definition of failure?

Don't show a fool and unfinished job said...

I love your site. I left out Mock, and remember the older free players. Who else gets three robust players for nothing?

I loved the trade of Vidro for Snelling for Langerhans plus Fruto for Carter for WMP. Classic JimBo funky. WMP, comeback player of yr. I'm teasing.

Also, Gallaraga for Zimmermann and Smoker and 1 yr. of Sori looks pretty good

List of players from Expos still active (from memory-spelling optional):
Livan (sort of)
Hill (sort of)
Vargas (sort of)
Darryl Thompson

The first year we were better because we had 1,2,3 starters. Those guys were 1 yr. wonders.