- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 3, 2007

He came, he played, he cashed in.

That is the legacy of Alfonso Soriano’s one-year tenure with the Washington Nationals.

Everybody cheer now.

Well, not everybody.


It was a strange mixture of cheers and boos Soriano received when he came to the plate last night at RFK Stadium in his Chicago Cubs uniform. It was particularly strange because it was hard to figure out who was booing him, Nationals fans or Cubs fans.

If they were Nationals fans, they were the vocal minority. RFK sounded more like Wrigley Field East with as loud a contingent of opposing team fans as I have heard at the ballpark. And I have no idea why Cubs fans would boo him — unless they resent the $136 million their team is paying him (even though he is playing well now and has made the All-Star team).

Not bad for a guy who was traded for Brad Wilkerson, Terrmel Sledge and a minor league pitcher a year earlier.

“It is very exciting for me to come back here,” Soriano said. “I have a very good time playing here. This ballpark, I played great here and had a good time.”

He did play great, slamming 46 home runs in the leadoff spot with 119 runs scored, 95 RBI and 41 stolen bases for a 71-91 last-place team. It was a great year by a good player who then parlayed it into a great contract. The problem is, he won’t have a great year every year, though he is being paid for that one great season.

“Last year was the key for my contract this year,” Soriano said. “Doing what I did in left field helped me make the jump in this game. Everybody knew I played four or five years at second base, and then I played the outfield as well as I played it last year. That opened the door for the nice contract.”

But always remember, it’s not about the money. It never is.

“The contract is not a big deal, because it is more important for me to have a lot of love and respect for the game,” Soriano said.

Well, he could have loved and respected the game in Washington, if that is what is important.

There are still Soriano diehards who think the Nationals should have tried to re-sign him, but that would have been a foolish move for a franchise that has so many needs. To have that kind of money tied up in a player who is not named Albert Pujols is not the way to build a team.

And, as you are witnessing, they finished in last place with him, and they will finish in last place without him.

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