Brandon Kriner over at the Nationals' blog Curly W asked me to do a question exchange for our series starting tonight, which I happily agreed to. If you want to see my answers to his questions, follow this link over there.
As for what I was dying to know about the Nationals, here are the questions I asked him:
1. Do you ever get feelings of guilt for stealing Les Expos from fans in Montreal? I mean, the Quebecois were totally played by Jeffrey Loria and Major League Baseball and DC seems to be the biggest beneficiary of that, does that ever enter your conciousness or have you coldly closed yourself off to feeling for your fellow baseball fan?
2. What's the deal with Alfonso Soriano, anyway? Is he staying or is he going?
He's gotta be going. He's the hottest free agent on the market this winter and there's no way that the Nats will be able to spend what it takes to keep him. Nor should they...the team needs to spread the money around to fill out huge holes in the lineup.
3. What have you heard about the new stadium? I heard they wanted to get away from the whole retro-yard trend that Coors was a part of and go another direction. Is this a good direction they're going?
The new stadium is being built in a previously blighted part of town with the hope of "re-vitalizing" (read: gentrifying) the area. The plan is for an ultramodern, steel and glass structure that gets away from the retro thing. I think this is a good idea. The retro thing has been done well but is sort of played out at this point. Besides, we're right down the road from the granddaddy of all retro parks, Camden Yards in Baltimore. The last thing we want is to be like those losers.
4. How long does it look like you'll have to wait for a playoff appearance? The franchise was pretty well gutted before it was moved and while it was in limbo, the farm system was left to decompose and it looks like the new owners have a lot of work to do. What's the prognosis?
I think the Nats will arrive on the playoff scene in the 2010 season. While this may seem a long way off, it will take that long to rebuild the gutting that you've accurately described. The new stadium is scheduled to open for the 2008 season, so the revenue boost we'll get from that should allow us to spend what it takes to win in today's MLB.
5. When the President or other prominent national politicians come to watch games at RFK, do you wonder what it would be like to have Secret Service agents go get your nachos? I mean, that would be pretty cool if you asked me.
I haven't been to a game where this has happened, but from what I've heard it sucks to be at RFK when GWB or Cheney is there. They go all crazy with the security and it's a huge hassle to get in or out of the place. Bush tossed out the opening pitch in 2005 and to my knowledge has attended only one other time. Cheney threw out the opening pitch this year to a chorus of boos from hunting jacket-clad Nats fans. The nachos are already barely fit for human consumption; I'd hate to see what they'd do to Cheney's ticker.
Other national pols don't come 'round too much anymore either since Jack Abramoff took away the ol' bribe-the-Congressman-in-the-luxury- box thing. However, the annual Congressional baseball game, where Reps and Senators square off in a GOP vs. Dems matchup, has been moved to RFK since last season. We also have president races (think Milwaukee sausage races but with former presidents) between innings. Other than that it's just the normal drunken fans you'd expect to see at a game.
Thanks to Brandon for his answers and insights into all things DC Baseball!