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Source: Sunday night opener a "strong possibility"

So in reporting some stuff on Tuesday afternoon, I discovered an interesting tidbit: It looks like not only are the Nationals still in the running to host the ESPN Sunday night opener, but they're right in the thick of it.

You'll see this in the Metro story in Wednesday's paper, which was penned by Dan LeDuc (who will be covering the ballpark and the development around it), but a source with knowledge of the negotiations between ESPN, the Nationals and Major League Baseball told me that, "The Nationals are a strong possibility for this."

The crux (and for those of you who are familiar with the subject matter, forgive me): The Nationals want to host a game on March 30, a Sunday night, one that would open the entire MLB season. It's traditionally reserved for teams that generate a lot of juice. This year it was the Mets and Cardinals coming off their thrilling seven-game NLCS. It's been the Red Sox and Yankees, etc.

This game would likely be the Nationals and Mets. Basically, ESPN can call the shots here, because it needs a marquee matchup to generate good ratings and a nice start to their season of Sunday Night Baseball. So, can the network be convinced that shots of the Capitol dome and the Washington Monument from the roof of Nationals Park, paired with the national cache of the Mets and a few mentions of Ryan Zimmerman et al will be enough to generate the necessary buzz? It sounds to me like they're leaning toward it.

By Barry Svrluga  |  November 13, 2007; 10:52 PM ET
 
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Comments

That would be a sweet way to open the stadium. Much better than a Tuesday day game that will be much harder to sell out.

I'd love to see it filled with Nats fans with no Mets fans to speak of. I can dream, can't I?

Posted by: roman1735 | November 13, 2007 11:05 PM | Report abuse

do it!

Posted by: natsinthevalley | November 13, 2007 11:54 PM | Report abuse

Well, it isn't good for me... but I'll be there regardless.

Posted by: Wigi | November 14, 2007 5:50 AM | Report abuse

The Lerners will need to spend big free agent bucks on star power if they want to be picked for the first game on ESPN. The 2007 starting line-up won't do it.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | November 14, 2007 6:38 AM | Report abuse

"The Lerners will need to spend big free agent bucks on star power if they want to be picked for the first game on ESPN."

Peter Angelos, AKA The Lord Of Futility, has been known to drop large checks into the pockets of perceived stars, but has the Sunday night opener ever been held at OP@CY? (I honestly don't know. If the opponent were the Yankees or the Red Sox, I could imagine it happening. It is, as Barry says, partly about cachet.)

Posted by: Hendo | November 14, 2007 6:44 AM | Report abuse

Phullleeze! What star power. There is simply no one out there worth spending really big bucks on (well, maybe ARrod, but LA is where he's headed).

Oh, wait, we can get Barry Bonds. That'll do a lot of good for the long term.

Posted by: Catcher50 | November 14, 2007 6:49 AM | Report abuse

Do you think that anyone outside of DC is going to tune into a game with Patterson or Hill starting and with a line-up containing Church, Lopez, Kearns, Logan, Schneider, and Guzman? That Nats are going to need a few new names on the team if we are going to get ESPN to pick us over A-Rod's first game for his new team.

There are a bunch of CFs available and the Nats need a whole new outfield, so why not get two? Then sign Livan so we have a pitcher for opening night.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | November 14, 2007 6:58 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, as always, for the crux of the biscuit summary, Barry.

Yes, please, to MLB and ESPN. Sorry, catcher50, but the Wild Things may just lock Bonds up: :-) http://www.washingtonwildthings.com/cgi-bin/dist/news.cgi?id=1194971556

Posted by: natsfan1a | November 14, 2007 8:01 AM | Report abuse

The star power of that game would be the Park. Pretty sideline reporter reporting from the restaurant, from under the scoreboard, from the foul pole, etc.... Back to you Jon & Joe.

It would be pretty cool, a Sunday night opener, then go home and watch the DVR recording of the game. Probably only takes an hour to get out of the stadium to where ever you left your car. Can't wait to use the cupholder.

Posted by: NatBisquit | November 14, 2007 8:01 AM | Report abuse

"Can't wait to use the cupholder."

LOL, NatBisquit, I've been thinking the same thing.

It occurs to me if this spring is like last, those cupholders might be holding cups of hot beverages instead of cold ones. (Note to Stan: Please make sure the new concessionaire is ready to send vendors through the stands with hot-chocolate tanks strapped to their backs.)

Posted by: Hendo | November 14, 2007 8:21 AM | Report abuse

Would this imply that we should get a first peek at the park via an exhibition game on Saturday or Friday before the opener?

Posted by: i hate walks | November 14, 2007 8:31 AM | Report abuse

I think Saturday's already been set for the exhibition game.

Posted by: Hendo | November 14, 2007 8:49 AM | Report abuse

If baseball is "america's Pastime", then what could be more appropriate than opening the new season in DC with a new stadium and the President throwing out the first pitch, the stadium filled with senators and members of congress, plus the James Carville, Wolf Blitzer and Tim Russert's of thw world. Pretty good star power there, me thinks.

Add a free agent or 2 plus the star power that the Mets will bring (You might get Jerry Seinfeld, Spike Lee and others) and you have something to talk about.

Posted by: roman1735 | November 14, 2007 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Just read Boz' column in the .35 edition. The man is in love. I mean seriously in love.

Posted by: Catcher50 | November 14, 2007 9:12 AM | Report abuse

For all who want the Nats to spend big bucks on free agents, it is a good time to remember "The Winner's Curse" a term first coined in 1971 by three Arco Oil analysts to explain why winning bidders for offshore oil platforms weren't making money on them. In an auction, the prize goes to whoever has the most optimistic view of the value of the object being bid upon. In many cases, this also means that the winner is the person who has overestimated the most. "Today's big free agent signing is more likely to be tomorrow's immovable albatross than franchise savior - this is just how the Winner's Curse works." Examples? "We've certainly seen the Mariners run into this problem - their spending on mediocrities such as Richie Sexson, Jose Vidro, and Jarrod Washburn are eating up enough payroll space to keep them from being players for true all-star talents while not returning enough performance to make this team a legitimate contender." And in our neighborhood, anyone remember the O's contract with Albert Belle, or Sammy Sosa? Let's stay put and give the Nats' young talent like JMax a chance in The Show.

Posted by: flynnie | November 14, 2007 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Nice analysis of Free Agent Market which should have been attributed in my last post: "Market Rates" by Dave at http://www.ussmariner.com/

Posted by: flynnie | November 14, 2007 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Thank you Flynnie!!!

One of the things that we are, I'm afraid, going to have to put up with is those who have their heads turned by glamor.

This may be the difference between "seamheads" and fans. As I said, in an earlier post, I think that most of those who are regularly on this blog are basically seamheads. That is a good thing.

Posted by: Catcher50 | November 14, 2007 9:26 AM | Report abuse

opening day at this stadium could be midnight on a tuesday and it would sell out and be jammed packed.

also nats almost singlehandedly crushed the mets hope for playoffs last month of the season. great way to start the year. plenty of stories between the two. zimmerman and wright. manny acta. new generation stadium. biggest HD blah blah. and tv can get some nice snapshots of the capitol building without the redskins fumbling away the follow up scene. but you'd figure this would have been part of the stadium agreement between MLB/DC. bunch of rookies.

standing next to Kasten, Adrian is way out of his league and he knows it. he opposed the only thing on time/on budget he'll ever know. at least he'll get a hard hat.

Posted by: longterm | November 14, 2007 9:26 AM | Report abuse

hey i was a huge fan of that albert belle move. and angelos paid at most 20% of that contract. insurance covered the rest. first thing he ever spun that made me realize he was a crappy owner. that and firing davey johnson.

i'm ready for bowden to make some trades.

Posted by: longterm | November 14, 2007 9:30 AM | Report abuse

We get cupholders? :-)

Posted by: Juan-John | November 14, 2007 9:37 AM | Report abuse

"Just read Boz' column in the .35 edition. The man is in love." No doubt about that, Catcher50.

We Nats fans owe Thomas Boswell (as well as the late Shirley Povich) a big "thank you," by the way, for continually beating the drum for big-league baseball in DC for three decades. He certainly did his share of reporting and columnizing on the Orioles, who after all were the only game in (a) town (an hour away) for that time. But while the George Wills of the world were selling out to the team up the Parkway, Boswell has never forgotten that Washington was and is a major-league city.

Boz deserves to revel in the new ballpark. So, as leader of the DC taxpayers who are financing it, does Fenty -- who, by the way, needs to loosen up just a little. (We know you didn't want it, Mayor. We promise not to forget.)

Posted by: Hendo | November 14, 2007 10:01 AM | Report abuse

I would think this would improve the chances of the Nats getting the March 30 "Opener."

Just posted on Boston Globe and RedSox.com

The Boston Red Sox will open their World Series title defense in Tokyo. Following months of negotiations, the Red Sox agreed to a two-game series against the Oakland Athletics in Japan on March 25-26, and the commissioner's office announced the trip early Wednesday.

Posted by: Sec. 213 | November 14, 2007 10:14 AM | Report abuse

It's exciting that the Nats could open the season on national TV - but it should always be the Reds. Another tradition shot down by MLB.

Posted by: Kev | November 14, 2007 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Kev, with JimBo at the helm, it may very well be the Reds by opening day!

To all the tired moaning about star wattage and being serious only if you blow a bunch of money: we hear you. Can we wait another year at least before more "THE END IS NEAR" doom-saying?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | November 14, 2007 11:27 AM | Report abuse

I wonder if Teddy could throw out the first pitch without losing his head? expect the lame duck will get the nod, but Teddy would be awesome.

XM was reporting this morning that the Nats inquired about a 1 year incentive laden contract for Andruw Jones, but went on to speculate that the offer would not be taken seriously because Andruw will get the multi year offer he desires.

Same show had Torri Hunter taking (slightly less money) to play for a winner. (I'm guessing that the definition of "winner" is someone willing to pay top dollar, but whatever).

Posted by: NatBisquit | November 14, 2007 11:34 AM | Report abuse

The streak continues, new post.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | November 14, 2007 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Kev,

You're right, sort of. Back in the day, there were two openers.

1. The President (or if necessary V.P.) would throw out the first pitch for the Senators, beginning the "official" baseball season.

2. The Redlegs would have an opener slightly later, as an honor that they earned by being the first professional team.

Posted by: Catcher50 | November 14, 2007 11:40 AM | Report abuse

"Peter Angelos, AKA The Lord Of Futility, has been known to drop large checks into the pockets of perceived stars, but has the Sunday night opener ever been held at OP@CY? (I honestly don't know. If the opponent were the Yankees or the Red Sox, I could imagine it happening"

It did happen, and it was against the Sox. 2004.

Posted by: Lenny Harris for Galactic Overlord | November 14, 2007 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Welcome back, Mr. First-Nighter!
Big ESPN audiences are not, almost by definition, predominantly seamheads, as Catcher50 and others point out. People will tune in (or not) to see the new ballpark (but only if it gets enough national hype, which, based recent history, I do not expect).

Posted by: cevans (moving whence?) | November 14, 2007 1:40 PM | Report abuse

That's it! Have Teddy come in in a duck costume, pull a hamstring, and limp off!

_______
I wonder if Teddy could throw out the first pitch without losing his head? expect the lame duck will get the nod, but Teddy would be awesome.
Posted by: NatBisquit | November 14, 2007 11:34 AM

Posted by: cevans | November 14, 2007 1:43 PM | Report abuse

That's the one on your computer, JJ. Just press the button and it slides out. Kinda flimsy, though.

We get cupholders? :-)
Posted by: Juan-John | November 14, 2007 09:37 AM

Posted by: cevansjr | November 14, 2007 1:44 PM | Report abuse

That's it! Have Teddy come in in a duck costume, pull a hamstring, and limp off!

Posted by: Aflac?! | November 14, 2007 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Even Better! Aflak Field! I'll announce the lineups for the first game in my duck voice.

That's it! Have Teddy come in in a duck costume, pull a hamstring, and limp off!

Posted by: Aflac?! | November 14, 2007 05:23 PM

Posted by: GGottfried | November 14, 2007 6:19 PM | Report abuse

It won't be the Mets now, not when they have to play the next afternoon in Florida:

http://florida.marlins.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20071128&content_id=2313191&vkey=news_fla&fext=.jsp&c_id=fla

Posted by: Dan | November 28, 2007 7:23 PM | Report abuse

I'm hoping those schedules are just as they are labeled -- tentative. Most of the teams have announced their tentative schedules, and no team has indicated that it's playing on Sunday, March 30, of course. So if ESPN is televising a game that day, at least two teams' schedules will change. I'm holding out hope that the game will be the Mets at the Nats. It would be the only time all season that the Mets play in D.C. on a weekend. I'd like to see the Nats start the season 1-0.

Posted by: Brad | November 28, 2007 11:34 PM | Report abuse

Rumor in New York is that its going to be Blue Jays at Yankees as part of Yankee Stadium's final season.

Posted by: JimJersey | December 9, 2007 10:09 PM | Report abuse

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