- The Washington Times - Friday, October 1, 2004

Congratulations on overpaying for a bad baseball team, plus the right to help ensure Peter Angelos’ coffers remain full for as long as the Orioles are in Baltimore.

And to think they said it couldn’t be done. Good show.

Anyway, the club is yours, the nonfootball national pastime is back in Washington and all of us appreciate your efforts. You have our undying gratitude, maybe even for a whole year, certainly for a whole week. Give or take a few days.

After that, well, we don’t mean to ask what you have done for us lately. But really — what have you done for us lately?

Don’t get the wrong idea. We’re grateful. But we’ve waited for 33 long years and not for the chance to support the Milwaukee Brewers East. This is the most powerful city in the world (those pyrotechnic Wizards intros tell us so). We expect results. And we want them two days ago since yesterday is already booked.

It’s up to you to deliver.

Think of this as a marriage, baseball and the District. The honeymoon won’t last forever, and when we’re back from Bora Bora, it’s time to get busy. And by busy, we mean the business of you making us happy. Each and every day. ‘Til death — or a better municipal stadium deal — do us part.

Look, we want to make this work. We would hate to send you packing — to Portland, Vegas or, God forbid, back to Montreal. At the same time, we have to protect our interests. Angelos would understand. So you really ought to know what we want and need.

Lucky enough, we’re here to tell you. Only don’t view the following as a prenup. Instead, consider it some practical advice from the blushing bride.

Ready? Here goes:

Please don’t use the color teal, even though it seems to come as part of the major league franchise starter kit. You can do better. We all can do better.

If you must stick with pinstripes, please take a good, hard look at the mid-1990s uniforms of the Orlando Magic and Houston Rockets or the Arizona Diamondbacks’ current duds. Then do the opposite.

Please don’t name the ballclub after a local event of dubious historical significance, such as the 1967 World’s Fair. This means no Washington Cicadas, Million Mom Marchers or Michael Jordan Will Save Our Troubled Youth-ers. What seems like an earthshaking occurrence at breakfast is often forgotten by lunch, even earlier in the case of Steve Spurrier.

Please don’t use the nickname Senators. Forget the D.C. statehood controversy; a name like Senators wouldn’t be fair to the hard-workin’ public servants in the House of Representatives. Who still have some say over baseball’s antitrust exemption. If you catch our drift.

Please don’t name the team Nationals. Republicans in both houses will want it changed to Washington Reagans.

Please don’t pick Sea Dogs. In fact, don’t even consider it. You’re welcome.

Please don’t fancy up the new ballpark with trendy gimmicks like outfield swimming pools or replica pirate ships. We already expect you to bust the proposed $440million budget; use our civic funds to build a stylish, cozy, fan-friendly facility that gives us no reason to drive up to Baltimore and give money to Angelos. Ever. Unless the Yankees are in town.

One exception: If possible, please have the outfield open into the Anacostia River, so dudes in kayaks can jump into the water and wrestle over home run balls. We can’t get enough impromptu water polo.

Please don’t install seats with obstructed views. Foul poles, we can live with. Concrete pillars? Not so much.

Speaking of architectural inspiration: Please don’t look to FedEx Field. For anything.

Please don’t stick us with the bill when the ballpark goes over budget. We’re cutting back on hospitals and schools; heck, we can barely afford to cover those gaping craters on Massachusetts Avenue. So get creative. Or just hit up Congress for more money. Surely they can slip something into a Homeland Security appropriations bill. What sort of terror-loving freedom-hater would vote against that?

Please think long and hard when auctioning off stadium naming rights. We want you to cash in, of course. But keep in mind that if you sell the rights to Kentucky Fried Chicken, the ballpark will henceforth be known as the Bucket; strike a deal with Biore face strips, and we’ll be watching baseball in the Big Pore. Ewww.

Please provide adequate parking and smartly designed roads in and out of the ballpark area. Not all of us can ride Metro, and we would like to spend the bulk of our leisure time at the game, not in traffic jams. Oh, and please don’t close public sidewalks if we decide to park in nearby areas and walk to the stadium. Just because Mr. Burns built a sun-blocking machine on “The Simpsons” doesn’t mean you should do that sort of stuff in real life.

Please don’t charge eight bucks for a cup of suds. Not unless a movie ticket comes with it. When Arturo Moreno bought the Anaheim Angels, his first move was to lower beer prices. Fans treated him like a god. Would you rather be Zeus or George Shinn?

Please don’t be cheap. The old Expos were a de facto farm club for the rest of baseball. If you have the next Pedro Martinez on your hands, pay what it takes to keep him. We would like to root for a winner; better yet, we would like to recognize more than two guys on the roster come Opening Day.

Please don’t spend wildly. Only one team can be the Yankees; otherwise, throwing money at baseball problems seldom works. Just look at the Orioles (or switch sports and ponder the Redskins). Take the dough you save on lavish free agent signings and invest it in your player development system. You will get a better return.

Please read the book “Moneyball” — not to familiarize yourself with statistical player analysis but so Oakland’s Billy Beane doesn’t rip you off in a late-summer trade.

Please don’t drop the New Orleans Zephyrs as your AAA minor league club. For one, they have a cool name; it also gives us an excuse to visit New Orleans.

Please don’t hire Norv Turner, Gar Heard, Jim Lewis, Leonard Hamilton, Tom Maher or Steve Spurrier in any capacity. Trust us on that one.

Please do bring Cal Ripken into the fold. Give him any job he wants. He’s local. He’s an icon. He’s interested. He’s really, really sharp. Oh, and adding him would make Angelos look even worse. Everyone wins.

Please don’t give President Bush any managerial input, a la Richard Nixon drawing up plays for George Allen. The former Texas Rangers owner will end up dealing away the next Sammy Sosa. (If Kerry is in charge, no worries: He will be too busy windsurfing on the Outer Banks to meddle).

Please consider giving away team-themed mini-towels at every game. Washington is a sticky, sweaty place in the summer, and we need something to wipe our foreheads. In return, we will provide atmosphere by waving them for the club, sort of like Pittsburgh’s Terrible Towels. Only soggier.

Expos throwbacks are fine, but please don’t trot out Youppi! or serve french fries with mayo during Turn Back the Clock nights. Some things are better left in the past. Especially if they’re furry.

Above all, please don’t mess this up. We already have botched this baseball thing twice; one more strike, and we might be out for good. Even in a town that turns over every few years, that’s more heartbreak than we can bear.

Sincerely,

Your soon-to-be-paying customers

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