- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 21, 2008

When the Nationals returned from their road trip to play the Texas Rangers, it could have been viewed as new Washington vs. old Washington.

I prefer to think of it as the Boys Town Series.

The Nationals and the Rangers are baseball’s 12-step programs for their respective leagues. The serenity prayer should be a daily requirement for fans of either organization.

Manny Acta and Ron Washington must feel like Father Flanagan sometimes, given the second chancers on each team - Josh Hamilton, Milton Bradley, Dmitri Young and Elijah Dukes among them. And remember this Rangers team was the only one willing to take a chance on Sammy Sosa last year.

The Rangers do have standards, though. After bringing the wayward Sidney Ponson into the fold, they cut him, even though he was pitching well enough, because he was a disruption. You might think there wasn’t any place to go after being released by the Rangers, but low and behold, the Yankees signed him. That’ll work.

The Rangers’ salvation projects are serving them better than the Nationals, as Texas came into the series with a 37-37 record, while Washington returned home with a 29-45 mark.

But the focus before Friday night’s series opener at Nationals Park was not on the field, but behind the center field scoreboard, where the Nationals had the grand opening of the Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk bar. This now means you can walk from the very popular Red Loft to what was last night the new and very popular Scoreboard Walk bar.

The bar featured a band called, “Dr. Fu,” and they were all wearing Nationals jerseys. However, the jerseys were all for players who are no longer here - Ryan Drese, Bill Bray, Billy Traber and Felix Rodriguez. Might as well put them to good use, I guess. People didn’t seem to notice, as it was quite a festive scene. Of course, this was before the Nationals actually began playing baseball.

This might be a strategy that works at Nationals Park. They might want to consider opening a new bar every time the Nationals fall five more games under .500.

The opening of the Scoreboard Walk bar was a lot more successful than the Nationals promotion scheduled for Sunday - kids jersey giveaway. They had to cancel it for, according to a club statement, “circumstances beyond our control.” The first 10,000 kids 12 and under at Sunday’s series finale against Texas will get a voucher for two complimentary tickets to any future Nationals home game this season.

But, as usual, club officials missed out on another promotional bar concept by not revealing the details of the “circumstances beyond our control.” Turns out the circumstances have at least a hint of international intrigue to them.

The Nationals giveaway jerseys, along with ones for the Marlins and Pirates, were seized by customs and have been locked away, according to Major League Baseball spokesman Pat Courtney, though Courtney said they had no explanation for why they were seized. Nationals president Stan Kasten said he was told the same story and that he didn’t expect to ever see those promotional jerseys again.

That would seem to mean that there is evidence in some kind of international probe, which is certainly more interesting right now than Nationals baseball - unless you really care when Austin Kearns is coming off the disabled list.

With this international intrigue, why not have a Casablanca Night at the ballpark? Five more games below .500, and why not open a Rick’s American Cafe?

During the presidents race last night in the middle of the fourth inning, Teddy didn’t even run. Instead, they showed him hanging out at the new Scoreboard Walk bar.

Story Continues →