Major League Baseball is not doomed to failure in the nation’s capital (“Keep Off the Grass,” 8/23). As is the norm in any Washington City Paper article, the issues raised in Tom Scocca’s piece dwell on the negative. It seems impossible for your staff to imagine residents and visitors receiving some benefit from the existence of a major-league club in the District or its immediate suburbs.
It should go without saying that Washington is a completely different metropolitan area than when the most recent baseball team left town. The District is experiencing an unprecedented revitalization, and its suburbs are reaching more than 30 miles to the south. Many of the newcomers are young professionals who would love to lay out $100 to go see overpaid jocks give a 50 percent effort on the field. Fair-weather fans, lobbyists, and government bureaucrats would also flock to see such a novel sight.
Baseball economics will be worked out long before D.C. ever gets a team, but, as is the case with new campaign-finance-reform laws, owners will find a way to get around the rules. Still, the area’s ownership groups appear willing to lay out the money to field a competitive team (unlike owners in many of the failing cities). Not that payroll determines success (right, Mr. Snyder?), but players who come with a certain name recognition will bring fans through the turnstiles, just as Ted Williams did when he managed.
Although I have been in D.C. for over eight years, I come from Milwaukee, where the Brewers haven’t even been mediocre in 10 years and haven’t been to the postseason in 20—the longest drought for any professional sports team save the Expos. I know all too well about their poor record, the leaking roof on their new stadium, and their underperforming players. Still, the existence of a major-league baseball team in the city (not in the suburbs, as your article suggests) instills a certain civic pride, which Scocca seems unable to appreciate.
Take some time to smell the roses that may bloom in the outfield of a baseball stadium in your own back yard.