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Nats Are Cold, Stadium Is Mostly Empty

Ha ha. Just joking, Nats persons. We all know you're undefeated this year.

Anyhow, a media contingent 20-strong gathered outside the Nats' glittering new stadium this afternoon, and by "glittering" I mean "muddy." They were handing out hard-hats, so I took photos of hard-hatted Official Nats Beat Writer Barry Svrluga and Local Poll voter Todd Jacobson and Anti-Caravan Columnist Thom Loverro.

(Todd's been blogging the Caravan very well, btw, plus he got a chance to watch Nook Logan hoop.)

FOX 5's Lou Holder arrived, addressing Loverro as T-sizzle, which might stick.

"I tried to bury that part of my life," T-sizzle said.

The "Nats" part of the Caravan soon arrived, in a First Priority Inc. bus. Clark Construction VP and senior project superintendent Ronnie Strompf and Clark/Hunt/Smoot community relations manager Chrystal Stowe then led the players and the media persons out to the home plate area, where the temperatures were on the brisk side and the concessionaires were few and far between. Nook Logan said it felt like Opening Day in Detroit. Ronnie's father, btw, was a maintenance plumber at the old Griffith Stadium. As a kid he lived in the same Mount Rainier neighborhood as Ed Yost and several other Senators; he saw Mickey Mantle hit an inside-the-park home run at Griffith.

Chrystal noticed that Nook didn't have a hard-hat, so she took mine and gave it to him, leaving my head exposed to possible flying debris and long-term disability payments.

"I've got your back," Chrystal promised me. "Or, more importantly, your head."

We approached some Actual Construction Workers, including Marvin McKinney of Upper Marlboro.

"Which one of y'all baseball players," he asked.

A Nats PR person pointed to Nook.

"He needs to pull his pants up," Marvin noted. The PR person also pointed to Mike O'Connor.

"Hey Mike O'Connor, come here man," Marvin said. Mike signed his hard-hat, and several others.

"How cool is that, to meet one of your favorite players?" the WTOP media person asked Marvin.

"I don't know which one it was," Marvin replied.

I asked him if he could name any Nats at all.

"The old guy that retired, what was his name?" Marvin answered. "What was he, the coach? What was that old guy's name? Frank Robinson, yeah."

Being well-trained media persons, we all tried to ask the players what they thought of their new digs. You can certainly see some outlines, hinting at excitement, the same way the first step into a sour-smelling, dark and shadowy, beer-stained concourse used to hint at the excitement of a ballpark when you were a kid, but really, the honest answer to the "What does it look like?" question would have been "cold and muddy."

"It looks good, I guess," Zim said, accurately. "It's exciting."

"I can go deep in this ballpark," Nook pointed out. "There's no walls. I can hit it and just run."

Someone asked the RZA about this being the House That Zim Built, or the House That Zim Will Build, or whatever.

"I don't know if you can put Ruth and me in the same sentence," he said.

He also said people don't understand how many "really good baseball players" this franchise has, and that their 1-8 hitters are all "very serviceable." Which might be true, but isn't exactly the makings of a strong marketing campaign. "Come See the Nats; Their Position Players Are Very Serviceable!"

I tried to get a preview for tonight's cook-off, but frankly it might be a bust. Nook said his cooking specialty is eggs, sometimes with cheese. O'Connor said he was counting on his partner carrying the load. (The players will be partnered with chefs in tonight's cooking contest). Plus, I had somehow gotten the mistaken impression that Screech would be a contestant. Not so.

Oh, and no Giant Racing Presidents at the construction site, although we all agreed that creating a Giant Hard-Hat for a Giant Abe would have made for an excellent photo-op.

By Dan Steinberg  |  January 29, 2007; 3:53 PM ET
Categories:  Nats  
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