Life begins on Opening Day (now with lineups at the bottom)
Or so says esteemed colleague Thomas Boswell (henceforth referred to by the Journal only as "Boz") who, within a matter of hours, will be seated to my right here at RFK Stadium.
In looking out over the field here at RFK (and 10-foot-tall Abe and Teddy are already on the warning track by the first base dugout), I'm struck by the fact that this will be the last Opening Day here. I've spent a good deal of ink subtly (very subtly) putting this place down, and that's mostly because I've been to all these new parks and I know what it'll be like when the District has one like that.
(Jon Rauch walking in from right field now, where the players' parking lot is. He just patted Teddy on the head - and had to reach down to do it.)
I've lived here since 2003, so my perspective on RFK is gleaned through chats with friends and colleagues. I'd invite you, in the spaces provided below, to weigh in over the course of the day - or, since the good folks at the Journal have decided to plow head-on into the season, over the course of the next six months - on your favorite (or least favorite) RFK memories. Skins? DC United? The Stones? Zimm's walk-off against the Yankees? Whatever you want.
Okay. With that out of the way, some notes about our programming. I've said over the past couple of years that, as DC gets used to being a baseball town again, we're still getting used to being a baseball paper. We've tried a few new things over the past couple years - and anyone who likes numbers and stats has to like our box scores/standings page, with all kinds of matchups on it, etc.
But I think this year is going to be our best. You can already see, in this morning's ink-and-paper edition (just $.35), a series preview box, which is nothing revolutionary but will certainly help throughout the year. I'm also going to have a minor league notebook, as I did for most of last year, that will run in the paper once a week. It won't be huge, but it will be there, and I'm thinking of running an expanded version of that in the Journal on the same day the little one runs in the paper. I'll agree with Stan Kasten on one point (and, probably, one point only): The farm system and the players down there are a huge story for this team, so hopefully we can bring you a few updates on that.
Secondly: Apparently this whole World Wide Web thing isn't going away, so we're going to have an expanded Nats presence at washingtonpost.com. Not only will the Journal continue (and we'll talk about that in a moment), but there will be other bells and whistles.
First, I'm going to do a podcast after every game I cover. (Full disclosure: Never listened to a podcast myself. Would you folks actually be interested in something like that?) It should include not only a little audio from me after the game, but interviews with players and Manny Acta, etc.
Second, the Nationals page is going to have little bios of every player on the team - or at least it will when I finally get them to the good folks over at post.com. (They've been patient with me, at least to my face. God knows why.) The whole Nationals section of the site - which you can get to by clicking on "Nationals" on the left side of washingtonpost.com/sports - should really take off in the next couple of weeks. (It would already be taking off if I had completed those little bios of all the guys. My apologies.)
Finally, the Journal: I'm not sure what form it'll take during the year. I think the reason (some? five?) people liked it during the spring was because most of the games weren't on TV or the radio, and they could just mess with the thing during the day at work if they really wanted to know what I had for lunch.
During the season, most of the games are at night. So I'm thinking you'll likely get some sort of pre-game post with any news from batting practice, etc. - and that might be kind of late in the day, like around 5 p.m. or so - as well as some sort of additional post during the day. Not sure. I've got to keep my day job, too, so we'll see how it goes. But any feedback on what you want will be (ignored?) taken into consideration.
Today: The opener. Dontrelle Willis vs. John Patterson. Or, in a nickname world, D-Train vs. Nasty. I know Patterson's not putting pressure on himself, but this is when we begin to find out whether he's going to be able to be the leader of this staff. I'm already fascinated.
Tickets: Just heard Kasten on WTWP (Washington Post Radio) as I was driving into the park. "Someone is sending a message with this weather that you really should be at the ballpark," he said. And I will say - what a day. If I didn't have to work, I'd be blowing off work.
And one last thing you're welcome to chime in with: Your won-loss prediction for the season. Remember: With the sun shining, the dew glistening off the grass, a cold beer in your hand and your buddies around you, it's an easy day to be optimistic. "I'd rather be optimistic," Manny Acta said, "than realistic." But try to keep all that in mind when filing your predictions.
(Oh, one last, last thing: I'll be on the Tony Kornheiser radio show (hosted today by David Aldridge) at 9:15 a.m. talking about all this, as well as on "Washington Post Live" on Comcast SportsNet sometime between 5-6:30 tonight, live from RFK. If you care.)
Update: 11:45 a.m. (didn't want to make a whole new post). Lineups:
Florida Marlins (0-0, half game back of the New York Mets in the National League East):
Hanley "ROY" Ramirez -- 6
Dan Uggla -- 4
Miguel Cabrera -- 5
Mike Jacobs -- 3
Josh Willingham -- 7
Joe Borchard -- 9
Miguel Olivo -- 2
Alejandro De Aza -- 8
Dontrelle Willis -- 1
Washington Nationals (0-0, half game back of the New York Mets in National League East):
Felipe Lopez -- 4
Cristian Guzman -- 6 (have you seen what Mithcell Page is saying about this guy? Read notebook in paper this morning.)
Ryan Zimmerman -- 5
Austin Kearns -- 9
Dmitri Young -- 3
Brian Schneider -- 2
Ryan Church -- 7
Nook Logan -- 8
John Patterson -- 1
RACING PRESIDENTS NEWS: I'm not allowed to say what I saw earlier today, but let's just say that one of the 10-foot-tall presidents -- and I certainly won't divulge who -- will be the subject of some level of discussion later today. I mean, WOW.
Enjoy the day, game, season. I'll chime in at some point.
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