Guess Who Got Hosed by Metro This Weekend

Alright, class. Please open your texts to page 11 of the S-line bus schedule. Pay close attention to the "16th and Irving" column.

I got to 16th and Irving at 2:26pm. Just in time for the 2:27 bus. Better yet, if the 2:27 was early, I'd only have to wait a few minutes for another bus to take its place.

Pop quiz: At what time did my bus arrive?

a. 2:34
b. 2:41
c. 2:49
d. None of the above

I'll give you a few minutes.


Who answered "d"? Correct! None of the above! I stood around like an asshole until 3pm waiting for a bus. On a line where buses are supposed to pop up twice every 15 minutes. That means at least four buses had disappeared from the face of the Earth.

I called Metro's customer service line. They told me that the S-line was caught in traffic. I have no ideas what it was like downtown, but there was no traffic on 16th Street.

Thirty-five minutes. No buses. I wanted to catch what the Patriots did in the NFL Draft, so I decided to get a burger. Afterwards, I walked to my original destination on 17th and R. That's about nine blocks. Guess how many buses passed by? I'll spare you the pop quiz mumbo-jumbo. Zero. Zero buses. There should have been at least two.

Can you imagine having to depend on the bus to get to work on the weekends? Metro has proven itself to be incapable of getting someone from Point A to Point B. I understand that buses will be late. Shit happens. Buses not showing up? That qualifies as ridiculously incompetent.


Nationals Attendance Watch

Anytime there's a subscription only website, I'm loathe to copy and paste large excerpts of their articles. I'm going to do that here.

So let me get this out of the way. If you love baseball, and I mean really love it, there is no excuse for you not to have a subscription to Baseball Prospectus. It's only $40 a year and it's worth every penny.

The good folks over at Baseball Prospectus have finally taken notice of the Nationals' attendance woes. They are very real. In fact, they are almost unprecedented.

Opening Night against the Braves produced a sellout--although the listed attendance of 39,389 was less than the official 41,000 capacity of the new stadium--and the fans were treated to a walk-off home run from Ryan Zimmerman. Upon returning home after a road trip, however, the Nationals averaged just 26,351 fans over their first homestand, a six-game affair. That included a 20,487 night in the second game at Nationals Park, which represented the second-largest drop-off from game one attendance in a new park to game two in the 21 stadiums that opened in the past 20 years:

Year Team New Park Game 1 Game 2 Diff.

1997 Braves Turner Field 45,044 45,698 + 644
1993 Marlins Joe Robbie Stadium 42,334 42,689 + 355
2004 Padres Petco Park 41,400 41,625 + 225
2000 Giants PacBell Park 40,930 40,390 - 540
1994 Rangers Ballpark at Arlington 46,056 45,455 - 601
2006 Cardinals Busch Stadium 41,936 40,648 - 1,288
1999 Mariners Safeco Field 44,607 43,252 - 1,355
2001 Brewers Miller Park 42,024 40,651 - 1,373
1992 Orioles Camden Yards 44,568 42,870 - 1,698
2001 Pirates PNC Park 36,954 35,045 - 1,909
2000 Astros Enron Field 41,583 39,018 - 2,565
1989 Blue Jays Skydome 48,378 45,520 - 2,858
1998 Diamondbacks Bank One Ballpark 47,484 43,758 - 3,726
2004 Phillies Citizens Bank Park 41,626 37,512 - 4,114
1992 White Sox Comiskey Field 42,191 36,420 - 5,771
1994 Indians Jacobs Field 41,459 34,087 - 7,372
1995 Rockies Coors Field 47,228 38,087 - 9,141
1993 Rockies Mile High Stadium 80,227 65,261 -14,966
1998 Devil Rays Tropicana Field 45,369 30,109 -15,260
2008 Nationals Nationals Park 39,389 20,487 -18,902

2003 Reds Great American Ballpark 42,343 22,878 -19,465

The Nationals have something of an excuse, given that Major League Baseball scheduled their home opener as an isolated game to start the season. The Nationals immediately traveled to Philadelphia afterwards, and so did not have the continuity of an opening series to aid attendance--something the Reds cannot similarly cite to save face. That doesn't excuse Washington, of course, especially considering that concerns attendance [sic] formed part of the reason for the failure of the city's first and second iterations of the Senators. If the fans can't come out tonight to watch their squad take on the division favorite and the best pitcher in baseball, then something is indeed amiss in our nation's capital.

Right there with you, Mr. Baseball Writer (Caleb Peiffer). Something is very much amiss. Temperature, pricing, and the Nats being so shitty are all valid excuses. But none of it excuses the city for not being able to support a baseball team. Why can't Nats boosters accept that this area, despite the large population, can't won't support a large market team? The people here just don't care.

Don't believe me? Try watching a Nats home game on television. The seats behind home plate - the best seats in the house - are consistently empty. Even the guys shelling out thousands and thousands of dollars can't be bothered.

So what's the over-under on today's attendance? My guess is 26,000 or so. Most of them will be Mets fans.

(Since I'm presumptuously dancing on the grave of DC baseball, let me remind you that I'm doing my part. I'm going to games and I'm rooting for the Nationals as loudly as I can. I want baseball here. I'm just not blind. It isn't working and the city is going to be left with the tab and the shame of being a minor league town.)

UPDATE: God damn it, Blogger. I know the table is coming up all squiggly. I have no idea how to fix it.



No big complaints, just four little ones.

1. Metro still sucks. On a Sunday afternoon trip from Columbia Heights to Gallery Place, our driver had the peculiar habit of closing the train doors after five seconds, tops. Although it was amusing to see person after person getting stuck between the doors, I'm sure that this practice is neither safe nor particularly customer friendly. I'm sure having a leg stuck in a train door is a frightening experience.

I just felt bad for the people who had to wait an extra ten minutes for the next Green Line train. That's how bad it was. The trip from platform to Metro car was impossible for people to make at busy stops. Shameful.

2. Tonic still sucks. I like the idea of having a neighborhood bar and brunch spot that's only a block from my girlfriend's apartment. I like their tots. I like their omelettes. I really like their Bloody Maries. But it's getting to the point where their atrocious service is really becoming a deal breaker. They're always understaffed, leading to unacceptable wait times just to get a table. The male host is consistently rude and unfriendly. The wait staff borders on incompetent. How our two coffees and one orange juice became four coffees and two orange juices, I will never know. (And yes we were charged for the extra coffee.) As noted in the previous link, their cups have a habit of being unsanitary. The water is clearly from the tap.

Fuck them. Go to Don Jaime's. The service is friendly and fast and the prices are easy on the wallet. Are tots really worth the extra effort and expense?

3. Burglaries are on the rise. Normally this would elicit a "whatever" from me. Unfortunately, the city's response is a little, uh, interesting:

[Commander Joel Maupin] also has increased foot patrols in alleys and instructed his officers to stop anyone walking down a street with electronics to confirm that the goods aren't stolen.

What!? This is what it's coming to? Anyone with electronics in the 7th District is facing a presumption of guilt? What are they trying to accomplish here? Will police officers be demanding receipts? If so, that's a horrible intrusion on civil liberties. If not, this is fucking useless since THIEVES WILL LIE! It's not like they have some kind of honor code where they refuse to lie to the police.

The police seem really keen on bothering people for no reason. Whether it's bothering people with electronics or trying to go door-to-door without warrants looking for guns, Chief Lanier's tenure has been marked by a stunning disregard for civil liberties. Shameful.

4. Cabbies will probably get a meter extension. Unfortunate, but fair. Cab drivers hadn't been installing meters since they're expensive and it wasn't clear if the courts would intervene and prevent the city from their nefarious plans to have people charged a fair amount for a cab ride. Thankfully, the courts made the right decision and we'll have our meters soon enough.

Remember that once the meter deadline comes and goes (it's currently set at May 1), it's a $1,000 fine to any driver without a meter. So if you get into a cab with a zone map, please enjoy the visceral thrill of refusing to pay and knowing that the driver can't do a damn thing about it.


I Hate the Washington City Paper

So why not hate on the Washington City Paper readers as well? The WCP decided to have their first "Best of DC" poll since 1987. The paper features reader picks and staff picks. If the staff picks are as bad as their articles, we're in for a treat!

Now, I'm obviously going to be skipping quite a few of the WCP's categories. Let be 100% honest. I am only going to mention things that I either hate or disagree with. For all I know, this could be a great list. But as long as there's a few things that are, well, stupid, I'm going to focus on that.

Arts & Entertainments:

Obvious Reader Picks:

Obnoxious Staff Picks:


John Wojnowski, This Is Your Time to Shine!

Anyone who takes the N-line to work knows all about Mr. Wojnowski. He's been outside the Vatican Embassy every day for years. His website is a little wacky, but his sign is 100% accurate.

With the Pope in town, I'm willing to bet that the MPD doesn't allow Wojnowski anywhere near the throngs of people trying to catch a glimpse of their false idol. After all, the right to protest and speech only counts in this country if no one important is there to see it.


So, Nationals Park

...is really, really nice.

That HD screen out in center field. Holy Hell is it amazing. It's a shame that the operators don't quite have the hang of it yet.The pitch count didn't move for two entire innings. That's not acceptable, but I am sure that will fix itself in time.

And thank goodness the stadium is using on-base percentage and slugging percentage on top of the typical (and outdated) batting average, home runs, and runs batted in. Maybe we'll get lucky and Nats Park will be the first stadium to showcase VORP.

There are problems of course. Beer and food are prohibitively expensive. Nationals Park has managed to surpass the 9:30 Club in extorting their captive customers out of their hard earned money. There is no excuse for $7.50 bottles of Miller Lite. And beef brisket sandwiches should probably cost under ten dollars a pop unless they're made from fresh sirloin.

Another problem is of course the attendance. For a weekend game against a good team, there were far too many open seats. Baseball is about atmosphere. It's hard to really get the sensation of baseball when the park is only filled to two-thirds capacity.

I'm disappointed in the field of play as well. It's a very nice park with very nice amenities, but the field of play is boring. I'm not demanding anything as artificially wacky (or deplorable) as Minute Maid Park's hill in center field. I'm not even asking for a foul pole at 302 feet or a 37-foot wall out in left. But, the park needs something. It needs something like Camden's warehouse or Kansas City's waterfalls. There's nothing in the field of play that gives the stadium a personal touch. The field is similar to the cookie-cutter parks (like RFK) that have become so unfashionable since Camden Yards opened in 1993.

I ignored most of the extracurricular stuff in the ballpark. I guess a Playstation 3 booth would be nice for the kids, but I'm already a Guitar Hero champion and spend a good portion of my week playing MLB '08. I don't feel the need to prove my PS3 chops when I could be watching a baseball game.

Unfortunately, the stadium has that extracurricular vibe. All that extra stuff is nice, but I'm more interested in a hot dogs, beer, and good baseball. Nationals Park is merely adequate in that regard. I want more than adequate for the stupid financial obligations the city made on our behalf.

This post is getting more and more negative. I don't mean it to be. I just wish the same creativity that went into the stadium's stunning exterior was brought into the field of play. But, man, that exterior. Any bad thoughts I had about the stadium were dashed as soon as I got off the Metro. If this neighborhood develops like the city has planned (which I of course think is highly unlikely), the stadium will be an absolute jewel. The park fits seamlessly into the neighborhood. If it weren't for the ticket gates, one could imagine stumbling into the stands by accident.

It's that exterior that allow me to temporarily forget all of the bone-headed decisions that led to the stadium being built. That opening lets me do nothing but daydream about baseball for three hours. For that I am grateful.


This is a Little Callous

So by know we all know the saga of Jeremy Miller, right? This poor guy had a seizure at 10 G Street, NE. Seizures are bad, but they're especially bad on that block on G Street. Why? Because it's right next to G Place, NE. The medical personnel showed up at the wrong block and drove off figuring it was a false alarm. Oops. When Miller was finally given a lift to the hospital, he was pronounced dead on arrival.

This is especially frightening for me since my block features a 43rd Street and a 43rd Place. If I have a seizure or get hit by a car, I am fucked.

Here's how the city is handling the situation:

In response to the incident, the department announced yesterday that it has purchased 120 GPS devices for its emergency vehicles. The first batch has come in.

Oh dear. GPS devices are only as good as the people programming them. Let's just say that I don't have a lot of faith in DC's Emergency Services.

Even in death, Jeremy Miller can't catch a break. While his body went unclaimed, no one in his family was notified of his death. Miller was getting text messages from his mom and no one bothered to give her a call.

It is unclear who had the responsibility for notifying family members about the death.

The fire department said it was the hospital's responsibility.

Howard University Hospital said Miller was dead on arrival, and when the hospital was unsuccessful in reaching family members, it turned the case over to the medical examiner's office.

The medical examiner's office said it relies on the D.C. police to make all notifications. D.C. police said they were not notified about the Miller case or asked to contact the family.


Shit like this is how hopsitals end up with piles of dead babies.

Prophecy Update

Some people didn't take too kindly to my prediction that the Nationals would flee to Portland, OR with its tail between its legs in the next 20 years. I used Monday's game as an example of why the team's failure in this city was inevitable. The Nationals, in their second game in their new ballpark, failed to reach 50% of its capacity.

Now, one game is one game. It's no sample size. It's an anecdotal example. Nothing more and nothing less. As one commenter, Pettey, so eloquently put it:

We had a higher percentage of attendance on Monday night then EVERY single ballpark that wasnt hosting an opening day game for their team.

The NCAA championship was on, hence no one in America went to a baseball game. Secondly, it was 20 freaking degrees at the game because of the breeze off of the Anacostia (which will be amazing come July and August).

I can't wait to see the attendance tonight. I'll be commenting again tomorrow morning. Thanks dickweed...

As I noted in my response, his first paragraph is a pretty blatant lie. The Nationals were third in attendance percentage for teams that weren't hosting an Opening Day game.


Out of three.

If you're keeping score at home, Denver's Coors Field opened in 1995. LAnaheim's Angel Stadium opened up way back in 1966.

To be fair to Pettey, his second paragraph was pretty much dead on. There were plenty of external factors working against the home town team. It was pretty chilly that night and a lot of people were probably more interested in seeing the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship. (Congrats, Kansas fans!) Not to mention the Marlins and Nationals are terrible.

Of course, my easy counter-argument is that the granddaddy of all external factors is the brand new field. When new parks open, attendance is supposed to increase accordingly. This isn't happening here. This is a problem.

As for paragraph three, I'm right there with ya, big guy. I checked the attendance first thing this morning too.

Nationals Park capacity: 41,888
Attendance: 23,340

So, a hearty congratulations to the Washington Nationals for, barely, eclipsing the 50% capacity mark in the third game in a brand new stadium. Way to support the home town team, DC! Man, we are really getting a lot of bang out of our 674,000,000.00+ bucks!



Let's be perfectly honest. Baseball in DC is going to fail. My best guess is that the Nationals move to Portland or Vegas by 2028. Actually, 2028 seems optimistic.

I know the Nationals aren't exactly a great team. And I know that the Marlins are going to be absolutely dreadful. PECOTA has the Nats finishing the year with 73 wins and the Marlins with 71. Games between two bad teams aren't going to sell out.

But to fail to reach 50% of capacity in the second game ever in Nationals Park is astonishing.

Nationals Park capacity: 41,888.
Attendance yesterday: 20,487

This is the second professional game ever in a brand new stadium! The first game, Opening Night, sold out in minutes. You'd think interest would be through the roof.

But the numbers don't lie. People simply do not give a shit. There's no demand here for a baseball team. Just like there was no demand for the Senator teams that moved to Minnesota and Texas.

At least there won't be any scheduling concerns when Pope John Paul IV hosts a Catholic Mass in 2036.


Don't Stop Bean Counting Just Yet

The Big Lie being disseminated by the Nationals and local media outlets is that Nationals Park cost the city a mere $611,000,000.00. This is not true. And shame on anyone willing to believe it. The stadium is going to cost the city at least $674,000,000.00. I say at least because who knows how much money the city will have to fork over after all of these eminent domain lawsuits are settled.

But that's not all folks!

Hundreds of millions of dollars don't just appear out of nowhere. Much like building that publicly subsidized stadium in Rustyport in Sim City 2000, these things take loans. Loans that are going to be considerably more expensive than previously thought.

The District has begun paying an extra $1.2 million every month because its interest payments have doubled, and in some cases even tripled, on $601 million of these bonds. That represents nearly one-seventh of the city's total debt and includes $24 million for the Washington Nationals' new stadium, the District's treasurer said. City officials were convinced by investment banks that these types of loans would be safe and cheaper than traditional borrowing.

It seems to me that these investment goods just pulled the wool over our eyes. More financial mismanagement and more taxpayer dollars being thrown down the Navy Yard Money Pit.

Not everyone believed the sales pitch on these securities. Auction-rate bonds were shunned by all of the localities that border the District as well as the state governments of Maryland and Virginia.

Hahahaha. Go DC! It's good to know that when there's some kind of rip-off, the District can always be counted on to volunteer our dollars. Got to spend money to make money. Or, alternatively, spend money in order to spend more money.

It must be nice to live in Maryland or Virginia and know that your monies are being properly handled. And sure there isn't a lot to do out there, but you can always catch a ride to Nationals Park knowing that the stadium didn't cost you one God-damned dime. And it won't for the foreseeable future. No matter how shitty the loan, any percentage of zero is still zero.


Chief Lanier Listens to Reason

And not a moment too soon.

Three weeks ago Police Chief Cathy Lanier and Mayor Adrien Fenty unveiled the "Safe Homes Initiative." Metro police officers were instructed to go door-to-door in the city's high-crime neighborhoods and ask permission to look for guns and drugs in exchange for amnesty. My take on the issue is right here. Needless to say, I thought the plan was the worst kind of bullshit. People would be intimidated into forfeiting their Fourth Amendment rights.

Thankfully, some like minded people convinced Chief Lanier to scrap most of the plan. The Safe Homes Initiative is now by appointment only. That way intimidated family members or concerned parents can call for a search without having an intimidating police presence knocking on doors.

Even if the plan works now works in theory, in practice is something else entirely.

A Safe Homes program similar to the District's was announced in Boston last week after several months of citizen resistance and delays. That department has yet to get a call to search a home.

"We're still waiting for the phone calls to come in," said Elaine Driscoll, spokeswoman for the Boston police."

So we've gone from a plan that attacks Constitutional rights to a plan that won't work.

I prefer the latter.


I Need a Courtland Translator

Heard the news about one in four adolescent women having a sexually transmitted disease? It's a truly horrible situation. But a horrible situation doesn't excuse Washington Post writer Courtland Milloy to write a fever dream of a column. I just can't make sense of it.

The relative lack of attention to men's sexual health has consequences, too. The March issue of the Journal of Pediatrics reports on a study that found that circumcision does not necessarily reduce the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease. Why is it taking us so long to deal with these questions? And given that flash of Stone Age insight, should we be surprised if some guy out there still thinks that smashing his penis with a rock will get rid of gonorrhea?

What!? What does that mean!? Milloy is being so obtuse and confusing that it's making it hard for me to attack his silly words.

I'm going to assume that Milloy think it's obvious that circumcision doesn't reduce the risk of contracting an STD. If that's the case, then Milloy hasn't been paying attention.

And if people are smashing their penises with rocks, then, yes, I would be quite surprised.

According to the Annals of Internal Medicine for April 1, almost one in four U.S. women who undergo cervical screening are found to have the high-risk human papillomavirus. HPV is a leading cause of deadly cervical cancer.

Yet there was virtually no public outcry about HPV until a pharmaceutical company came up with an HPV vaccine. All of a sudden, the health of girls is so important that some states have made vaccination a condition of their admission to public school.

The health of girls became so suddenly important because people realized how widespread the problem is. I still don't understand what Milloy is missing.

By the way, the plural "states" is wrong. Only one state has made the HPV vaccine mandatory. That would be Virginia. Washington, DC, which is not a state, passed a similar law. Milloy was against mandatory HPV vaccinations on, wait for it, racial grounds. Check it out here. Here's a particularly nasty excerpt:

Only the most progressive and caring elected city officials -- in this case, two nice white people -- would propose a program to vaccinate against sexually transmitted disease girls under 13 in a predominantly black school system.

And from the CNN page I linked to above:

A virus that causes cervical cancer is by far the most common sexually transmitted infection in teen girls aged 14 to 19, while the highest overall prevalence is among black girls -- nearly half the blacks studied had at least one STD.

Emphasis mine. And Milloy had the nerve to say the vaccinations were a way for whites to control blacks. The easy counter-argument is that the city has a pretty reasonable desire to not have its hospitals filled with cervical cancer patients. Black women are an especially at risk group and DC has tons of black women. It's Chocolate City for Christ's sake. Yet Milloy continues - in a column about HPV being so widespread! - to be suspicious of why people want girls to get vaccinated.

If someone could present Milloy's reasoning in a more understandable way than Milloy himself, I would greatly appreciate it.

It's enough to make you wonder why schools don't do a better job of sex education. You already know why parents can't do the job. Half of the kids most at risk don't have any parents to speak of, and the other half have parents too busy to try.

That's a pretty crazy racial generalization. A year ago Milloy was defending black students from their white Council overlords. Now he's saying that black people, those most at risk, are incapable of raising their own children.

Milloy then goes on to advocate for more comprehensive sexual education. No complaint here. My complaint is with The Post giving this hack copy space. I don't think Milloy understands his own views any better than I do. And he certainly doesn't know what the fuck he's talking about.