Talking Baseball

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Posted by Mike on Saturday, October 02, 2004

The Washington Bureaucrats?

It's official! Almost. After a few years of playing split-season games in both Montreal and Puerto Rice the Montreal Expos has finally escaped their own personal purgatory and will be moving to Washington D.C. for the 2005 season. Major League Baseball has announced that pending a vote by the major league owners the Expos will be playing their 2005 home games in Washington D.C.'s lovely RFK Stadium. For those of you who don't know much about it, RFK Stadium is one of the few remaining generic cookie-cutter concrete cereal bowls that were built during the golden age of stadium construction, the 1960s and 1970s. If you're trying to picture RFK then think of Three River Stadium, Fulton County Stadium, Veteran's Stadium, and Candlestick Park. Except uglier and still standing.

Before the Senators skipped town a few decades ago the stadium looked like this when it was set up for baseball:

Fortunately for the new D.C. team there is a plan to build a brand new baseball-only stadium for the team that should be ready for the 2008 season. That's great, except the fact remains that the team will be playing it's first three seasons (or more pending the inevitable delays) in a miserable ballpark when the team is going to want to be building a fan base. What I'm getting at here is the fact that in the franchise's first few years in a new place when it should be making an impression on baseball fans in the area the team will be playing its games in a sterile concrete bowl. Compare the Washington team and its RFK stadium to the nearby Orioles and their Camden Yards and there's almost no reason to go see a game at RFK short of prefering National League play.

I don't see how Washington could be any worse for the Expos than the situation was in Montreal, in fact it should and will be much better, but what I'm getting at is that this team still faces a number of hurdles. They're going to need to build a fan base, something that might be difficult early on because the team is playing weak baseball and will be doing so in a terrible stadium (RFK) for the next few years. They still face an ownership change, there are suitors but who knows when MLB will actually pull the trigger and sell the team, and they face a great deal of hostility for Angelos and the Orioles. In time the Expos will do just fine in Washington, but they're not over the hump just yet.

Let's not forget that the team is still without a name. The team can't continue to call themselves the Expos because that name has nothing to do with Washington so they will have to choose a new title over the winter. I would love to see them become the Washington Senators, but that is unlikely because Tom Hicks still owns the rights to that name (the Rangers were the Senators before moving to Texas). Here are a few names that seem to be getting serious consideration:

The Washington Grays - A hommage in the nation's capital to a dominant Negro League team from Pennsylvania. Not only would it be a good name but it might also help to build a fan-base and would bridge a gap into the African American community that Major League Baseball had and has done such a great job of trying to keep out for so long. With the Senators tag being unavailable (thanks Tom Hicks) this name is likely to be in the forefront for a while

The Washington Nationals - It's a good classic sounding name. There's nothing wrong with it, there's nothing great about it either. I don't see why the Grays wouldn't be chosen over this, but it's a solid name nonetheless. If the team were moved to the American League then they would obviously become the Americans instead.

The Washington Generals - Honestly, it wouldn't be a bad name but it would depend heavily on what kind of mascot and uniforms they chose.

And for fun:

The Washington Bullets - Stick it to the Wizards for being politically correct pansies. Stick it to them.

The Washington Corruption - Baseball doesn't have enough unpluralized nouns for teams.

The Washington Bureaucrats - This would make then the best-named team in baseball. Period.

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