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Tony Kornheiser

Who's on First?

By Tony Kornheiser
Thursday, February 10, 2005; Page D01

Honestly, I don't know how many people around Washington feel this way. But am I the only one in town who hasn't the slightest idea who the Washington Nationals are going to put on the field? Am I the only one who thinks it's great we have a team -- but who the heck are they?

There are 40 players on a major league roster now, before the season starts. So the Nationals have at least 40 guys.

A team of no-names, we won't be tell Nationals outfielder Jose Guillen, left, from pitcher Zach Day without a program. (Jonathan Newton -- The Washington Post)

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Go ahead, name 10 of them.

Okay, name five of them.

Everybody in town knows who starts for the Wizards, and probably the first three or four guys off the bench. Everybody in town can go two-deep position by position with the Redskins. It's not just pros. People will argue for hours whether Gary Williams should be starting Mike Jones.

So name three Nats.

Nat King Cole doesn't count.

I mean, we're only days away from pitchers and catchers reporting to some tiny outpost in Florida (Viera, named for Meredith, I guess) for the beginning of spring training. We're only weeks away from Opening Day. And this is an unknown team.

The other day four players showed up at some sort of fashion show to model the new uniforms (which are terribly dull, by the way, and so Old School that they appear to have been designed by Betsy Ross; it's the type of uniform an owner would redesign, if only they had an owner). The next day their pictures were in the paper, and it occurred to me that they didn't have to be actual Nationals players at all -- they could have been models hired to pose as players. How would we know? I mean, when was the last time you got into an elevator with Terrmel Sludge? (What a name! I'm sorry to tell you, ma'am, but you're going to have to pump out that basement. It's overloaded with terrmel sludge. Oh, it's Sledge? My bad.) The Nationals have players, I'm sure. We just don't know their names. They could be Manny, Moe and Jack for all we know.

The ownership situation is murkier. We don't know the names of the owners because there are no owners.

Bud Selig is still sifting through bids from people who want to own the Nationals. I'm told Duke grad and relentless book churner Junior Feinstein offered $3.9 million out of proceeds from his upcoming book "Me And Mike Gminski: The Early Years." But it's contingent upon him being able to name the field Cameron Outdoor.

This wouldn't be so bad if the season was going to start in, say, 2007. I guess I'm old fashioned, but I'd like to think that if I was living in a city that was going to put up $350 million to build a baseball stadium (which I do), that somebody would actually own the team that was going to play there this season! But I guess if baseball can live for more than 30 years with one league using the designated hitter and the other league not using it, then why rush into getting an owner for the Nationals? Worse comes to worse Linda Cropp can sign the checks, right? Hahaha. That's a joke.

Again, Opening Day is just weeks away. Here's the scorecard on the Nationals:

No owners yet.

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