Baseball Stuff

What a fairy tale opening to Nationals Park yesterday. The stadium was introduced to the American public on national television last night and star third baseman Ryan Zimmerman put the dot on the exclamation point with his line drive walk-off home run to the left field power alley. What a moment.

But let's not get too carried away. The attention being lavished upon Washington is embarrassing. For example, you have this lazy turd of a sentence from Jerry Crasnick on ESPN.com: "Best of all, the shindigs cost a mere $611 million -- or roughly half the price of the new Yankee Stadium."

This is where we are now? A mere $611 million? That's the number being bandied about by baseball and it's not true. It's a fabrication. The stadium financing plan had a $611 million cap, but once the fine print came into play, the stadium actually cost $674 million. But what's a $63 million difference between friends?

Furthermore, the comparison to New York is, for the lack of a better word, stupid. If someone is telling you that the stadium was a good deal and uses the new stadiums in the Bronx and Queens as an example, please ignore that person. That person is a moron who is not worthy of your time.

Baseball has proven itself to be a successful commodity in New York City. Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium are huge. They both sell out on a regular basis. On the other hand is Washington, DC. A city with such a grand baseball tradition that two different franchises have left the city for the greener pastures of Minneapolis, MN and Arlington, TX. So even if the investment is higher in New York, the risk is much lower.

But the investment isn't higher. Sure the New Yankee Stadium is going to cost over one billion dollars and be the most expensive stadium in American history. But Crasnick is doing a great disservice to his readers by pretending the final expense is all that matters. Who pays for the stadium is just as, if not more, important than how much it costs. The taxpayers of New York City are paying only $450 million for New Yankee Stadium. Citi Field, the new park for the New York Mets, is going to cost New York's taxpayers $164 million. So New York taxpayers get two new stadiums at a much lower risk in a city with a much larger budget to work from for $614 million.

Yeah, Jerry Crasnick, we got one Hell of a deal.

One thing that ESPN kept mentioning in their broadcast last night was how quickly the stadium was completed. It only took 22 months. That's pretty fantastic and exceeded my wildest expectations. Sure that means the area surrounding the stadium isn't even close to being ready for the spotlight, but hurray for the city for managing to not default in the sweetheart deal they gave to Major League Baseball.

But if the city isn't ready, the city isn't ready. On Saturday night I was traveling from a BBQ in Bethesda to The Black Cat for The Raveonettes concert. That meant transferring to the Green Line.

When our Green Line train came, we noticed a ton of people in Nats gear. I remembered that Nationals Park was hosting an exhibition game that night. We got on the train and squeezed ourselves in with the hometown faithful.

One stop later the conductor asked everyone to leave the train. It was out of service. About 200 people waited on the platform at the Convention Center stop for 20 minutes and watched four empty trains go by. One person loudly remarked, "Now I remember why I love Washington baseball so much." Everyone laughed.

But a $674 million publicly funded stadium? The joke's on us.


DC Cab Drivers Still Up to No Good

Let me start off by saying, "Preach on, brother. Preach on." A pro-DC blogger, David Alpert, was getting the moron treatment from a cabbie and Alpert handled it by the book. When a cab driver refused to drive him to an undesirable location, Alpert called the Passenger Rights hotline and asked for the driver's license number. When the driver refused to let him see his information, Alpert ended up on with a supervisor. And by supervisor, I mean Leon Swain. The guy in charge of the whole shebang.

Alpert got his ride and it was made clear that the driver was going to be in the doghouse.

So, congratulations to David Alpert for doing everything by the book. But I can't shake the feeling that he still doesn't quite understand the problem. First the cabbie fucked up by refusing to drive Alpert where he wanted to go in the city after he got into the cab. Then he doubly fucked up by refusing to let Alpert see his information. Then he triply fucked up by telling Swain that he didn't want to drive Alpert unless he got the fare in advance. Drivers can do that, but that wasn't the issue at hand. So three fuck-ups. Major ones. And Alpert admits he's heard of these horror stories through the Internets.

Yet his sentiment is that he hopes that the driver didn't get into too much trouble. What? The driver was a liar and a crook. He certainly had no interest in obeying DC's taxi laws. Why would one hope that he didn't get in trouble?

"Will this driver face actual penalties? I don't really care. I didn't want to ruin his day..."

What!? Well, I care on your behalf. I want this guy off the street. He works in bad faith. Not everyone is willing to put themselves on the line for bullshit like this. For everyone who is willing to sit in the backseat and complain about a driver who is sitting three feet away or who is willing to loudly boycott a Subway over trying to extort an extra 11 cents, there are a hundred people who would just leave the cab or pay the extra money or whatever. The timid need protection too.

If people don't get outraged by this, especially when they know that many DC cabbie's share these habits, then what's the point?


WaPo Still Not Clear on Blogging

The Washington Post hosts one of the best sports blogs on the planet. The D.C. Sports Bog is clever, informative, and an easy way to accidentally kill an hour. Stuff like the most recent post on the West Virginia men's basketball team loving the shit out of some Manny and Olga's pizza. The Bog has helped make DC the country's preeminent destination for sports blogging. It's wonderful.

Unfortunately, it's set the bar a bit high for the rest of the paper. The Post just launched D.C. Wire, a blog devoted to "news and notes on District politics." And it's awful. I don't understand how the Post can get it so right when dealing with sports and so wrong when dealing with its host city. The Wire is terrible.

Let's take a looksie at their most recent post. It's dealing with an issue near and dear to my heart: The Nationals Park fiasco. The post is meant to accompany a piece about the six billion dollars being spent to develop the area surrounding the ballpark. Eminent domain lawsuits have prevented developers from getting all the choice land they want. These lawsuits are also driving up the cost of the stadium.

Ok, fine. Nothing really new there, but still important information for people who don't understand how incomplete the neighborhood surrounding the stadium is. Anyways, here's the gist of the blog post on the subject:

The land owners have asked for $24 million more than the city has offered. Remember, the D.C. Council's cost cap did not include the land prices since there was no way to predict what the court would do. But that's why people like council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) voted against the financing package. What do you think--was the cap disingenous [sic] or were people like Mendelson being nit-picky? Let us know in the comments section.

Spelling errors! How bloggy!

This is the worst kind of blogging. "There's Opinion A, but wait! Here's Opinion B! Which one is the best? Please tell us in the comments." This is not effective writing. And just to be clear:

nitpick –verb (used without object)
1.to be excessively concerned with or critical of inconsequential details.

It is definitively impossible to be "nit-picky" over tens of millions of dollars. How 24 million dollars is spent will always be of consequence to someone or other. So not only is this post a waste of time, it can't be even bothered to get the crux of its own question right.

I think the problem here is that sports writers are supposed to be homers. They have a clear bias towards the Wizards, Nats, Capitals, and R****ins. They root, root, root for the home team and their readers expect that.

But journalists are supposed to be unbiased. They can't just come out and say that the stadium agreement was a good or a bad deal for the city. That would be appropriately criticized.

So what is the fucking point of even hosting this blog!? Making us aware of events is already covered by the newspaper. If we're not going to get some analysis or some educated opinion, why should I bother? The D.C. Wire will always be handcuffed by being written by objective people. And "objective blog" should probably be an oxymoron. Have the balls to state an opinion or get the fuck off of my Internet.


Where Have I Been?

Sorry for not updating recently, but I can't get in a lather over gun laws or the protesters. I've written about my hatred for DC's handgun ban too many times to count. And if you think one hundred moron protesters is going to work me into enough of a lather that it'll be worth it's own post, then you've got another thing coming.

I just wanted to offer a temporary olive branch to the good people at Metro. DCist just posted this Metro ad up and called it "the worst, and somehow at the same time the absolute greatest, Metro ad campaign we've ever run across." I vote for greatest. This is fantastic. And, yes, I am that easily won over.

This is the greatest DC-centric YouTube video since HRH King Friday XIII came out this seven months ago:

Hope these videos entertain you. NCAA games start in half an hour!


Nats Fever! Catch It!

Every March I almost keel over in anticipation for the start of the new baseball season. This year is of course especially important for my fellow DC residents. The new Nationals Park opens in only a few weeks. And, sure, the parking situation still hasn't been figured out and the team will probably be pretty terrible, but, come on! Baseball!

To celebrate, let's enjoy this video from WTOP on the state of the neighborhood surrounding the stadium.

Wow. This looks fantastic. Sidewalks are for wusses anyways. Why let pedestrian safety issues get in the way of a good ballgame?


Who Would Consent to This?

Guns and illicit drugs have a lot of things in common in the District. They're both illegal. They're both highly valued by their owner. And they tend to be expensive. One who owns a handgun or some crack or weed is not going to want to part ways with his/her prized possessions.

So I don't really understand what the the city is trying to accomplish with the "Safe Homes Initiative." DC police officers are asking to search homes and seize guns and drugs with no warrant in exchange for amnesty. (If a seized gun has been used in a crime, then the amnesty no longer applies.)

Let me be perfectly clear about something. I have no guns and no drugs in my domicile. If a police officer asks me for permission to search my house, I am going to tell him to fuck himself. There is no way come Hell or high water that any one is going through my shit without probable cause. I value my civil liberties too much to let some cops monkey around in my closets.

Furthermore, what good do Mayor Fenty and Chief Lanier think this is going to do? If I am particularly attached to my gun or my crack (and I am because I probably went through hoops to get them), why would I just give those up to the police? And if I had used my handgun in a crime, I certainly wouldn't just give my gun, and thus myself, up to the police.

So, again I ask you, who would consent to this? Only people who have nothing to hide. I hate the people who have nothing to hide. Because they give everyone else a presumption of guilt. I have nothing to hide either. I just don't like it when authority figures feel the need to circumvent the Fourth Amendment.

I can't wait for the day when the police view certain houses and apartments as suspect because they never got permission to search there.

Ronald Hampton, executive director of the National Black Police Association, questioned the Washington effort. As a lifelong D.C. resident and a former police officer, he said, he would not consent to his house being searched.

"They haven't earned that level of access or respect from the community," Hampton said. "I just can't believe they're trying to do that. I've never heard of anything like that in my life."

Good work, Mr. Hampton. Unfortunately, and in all fairness to DC, Boston and Philadelphia are also trying to implement similar programs.

Arthur B. Spitzer, legal director of the Washington office of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the program is "a very bad idea." He said officers might act so aggressively that residents feel coerced into letting them in.

"It sends the message to the public that the police ought to be able to search your house anytime for any reason," Spitzer said. "People will be intimidated. That cheapens civil liberties and privacy for everyone."

Mr. Spitzer is absolutely right. The message that's being sent is that either you have something to hide or you're clean. There's no in between. Any token respect given to civil liberties is being ignored.

The program is scheduled to start March 24 in the Washington Highlands area of Southeast Washington. Officers will go door-to-door seeking permission to search homes for weapons. Police later plan to visit other areas, including sections of Columbia Heights in Northwest and Eckington in Northeast.

We can stop this. We can go door-to-door before March 24th and urge residents and tenants not to consent to these ridiculous searches. I don't know how many Washington Highlands and Eckington readers I have, but I'm positive that I have some readers in Mt. Pleasant and Columbia Heights. I know this for a fact. (By the way, did any of you catch the fire last night? I have never seen more fire engines in my life. Over 20 on a block. That was wild. And my prayers are with those that were displaced.)

It wouldn't be hard to distribute fliers. Or to get word of mouth going. These searches are the worst kind of bullshit. A civil liberties disaster in sheep's clothing. We should not stand for it. We should not feel guilty or be perceived as guilty if we don't want Big Brother searching under our mattresses.

Guns are bad. Addictive drugs are bad. But civil liberties are more important. Sacrificing them for a plan that will not work is the worst kind of initiative. We can not allow this to happen.


I Called 911 for the First Time!

I mean, there's really nothing to this story. Some crazy dude wearing ear phones was shouting and running in circles at a busy intersection. I called 911 because I did not want it on my conscience if he got brained by a semi . The operator said that guy was responsible for more 911 calls than anyone else in the city. So at least I got to walk past a local celebrity.

So, not as much fun as my drunken 311 adventure when the operator hung up on me. But it's still two calls that have basically gone unheeded.

UPDATE: And here he is in all of his spandexed glory:


How Does This Affect Rusty?

I've never been to a Target before. Will it make things better or make things worse? It'll make things better for the city and for Columbia Heights property owners. Not so much for tenants. But, what about me? A young adult living in AU Park. Does having groceries and televisions under one Metro-accessible roof actually that much more convenient? Is Target any better or cheaper than making separate visits to Best Buy and Safeway?

The most comparable store to Target is probably Wal-Mart. Unfortunately, that comparison is moot since I've never been inside of a Wal-Mart either.

So, should I be excited, cautiously optimistic, or angry that a mega-store is going to have so much influence on a single neighborhood? What's Target like?


Personal Experience > Reliable Source

So, Wonkette's Liz Glover and Washington City Paper's Angela Valdez got into an altercation with Late Night Shots's Reed Landry. Landry broke Glover's camera and, according to Glover, twisted her arm. This is, to put it oh so delicately, a big no-no. You just don't physically threaten a person. This is the double truth Ruth if a male is threatening a female. This isn't breaking news.

The Reliable Source actually published Glover's account in today's paper. Here's what caught my eye:

Later, she [Glover] ran into Angela Valdez, author of a critical City Paper article last summer on LNS, who had just had a similar encounter. ("I just wanted to say hi so maybe we could not be enemies, and he started yelling at me to get away from him.") Fortified by a cocktail or two, Glover decided to take Valdez over to Landry and get a comment for her video.

Here's my response to the City Paper article in question. It was overwhelmingly negative. Something the City Paper should be used to from me.

Anyways, a few months later I ran into Ms. Valdez at Wonderland. I was at a going away party and it looked like we had some mutual acquaintances. I tried introducing myself (with my real name, not Rusty).

Well someone told her I maintained this site because I got the cold shoulder. No eye contact, no pleasantries. She actually walked away with my hand outstretched. To her credit, that's the best way to make someone look like a jackass.

So when I read Valdez saying something like, "I just wanted to say hi so maybe we could not be enemies, and he started yelling at me to get away from him," I call bullshit. I've been down that road with her and she was playing the Landry role (albeit with much more dignity and grace).

What Valdez and Glover really wanted was to stir up trouble. Which is fine. They succeeded and I congratulate them. Honestly, I do. I've been to two LNS events and I failed to stir up trouble. They are better at this than me.

But the tone of the Reliable Source piece doesn't fit with what probably happened. Landry had every right to be pissed off. Two people were following him around. Both of these people had a history of trying to destroy something he created. The video camera was just icing on the cake. He's still the villain, but Valdez and Glover are no heroes.

If I'm mistaken, I'd love to personally apologize to Angela Valdez back at Wonderland. I'll even buy the first beer. And I won't break your belongings or twist your arm. All I ask for in return is for you to not treat me like an enemy. And maybe throw in a handshake.


The State of Washington Newspapers

The Washington Times has a well documented history of racism and incompetence. It's a paper with absolutely no "integrity." A right-wing propaganda rag that is beyond even the most outlandish parodies with the added bonus that it's owned by a convicted felon and cult leader who claims he's the son of God.

Things are looking up for the paper. New Executive Editor John Solomon changed the Times's style guide. No more referring to a United States senator and presidential candidate by her first name. No more scare quotes around "gay marriage." The paper has nowhere to go but up, so it's a start.

The "nowhere to go but up" bit can not be said of The Washington Post. The Post has a pretty good reputation. And it's being squandered on nonsense. If people are going to call out the Times for their racist editors, I think it's about time that the sexist drivel the Post publishes gets its due.

I've spent many, many hours reading, writing, and stalking all things Laura Sessions Stepp. Her anti-feminism and promotion of not reporting rapes have been duly noted by myself, DC blogs like DCist and Wonkette and feminist blogs like Jezebel and Feministing. There's no surprise there.

But the editorial the Post published on Sunday really goes beyond the pale. Its thesis: women are dumber than men. There is no evidence used to back this up. Save for hilarious junk like this:

Depressing as it is, several of the supposed misogynist myths about female inferiority have been proven true. Women really are worse drivers than men, for example. A study published in 1998 by the Johns Hopkins schools of medicine and public health revealed that women clocked 5.7 auto accidents per million miles driven, in contrast to men's 5.1, even though men drive about 74 percent more miles a year than women.

Um. It's accidents per million miles driven. A ratio. So it does not matter if men drive 74% more miles. Jesus, isn't someone at the Post supposed to check this stuff? And that flawed nonsensical piece of garbage is the only evidence in the entire piece!

The piece then devolves into the female author, Charlotte Allen, claiming that she doesn't know how many pairs of shoes she owns. Ergo, she is another dumb female. Well, let's make one thing clear. Charlotte Allen is a dumb woman. There is no debate there. Everything else in her piece can be easily refuted.

My problem isn't with Allen anyways. It's with the Post. Read that editorial and ask yourself why the Post's editorial staff would decide to publish that piece. It isn't clever. It isn't funny. It isn't accurate. It isn't compelling. It was either done solely for attention (which is inexcusable) or someone at the Post really thinks women are "dim" (also inexcusable).

I buy the Post every weekday. I spend $120 a year on the Post. I can't do it anymore. I just can't buy that paper in good conscience. I will not support an organization that promotes such outdated and misogynistic bullshit.

Both major newspapers in this area are damaged goods. I refuse to support Reverend Moon and I refuse to support sexism. And I refuse to support the Washington City Paper because at the end of the day I prefer some semblance of quality in my reading materials. That leaves me with what...The Examiner? Oy vey.

Looks like I'm spending $240 a year on The New York Times.