I was hoping not to get drawn into the hullabaloo and huggermugger -- the foofaraw, if you will -- of picking a name for Washington's new baseball team.
I had a tough enough time naming my kids and our dog. The pressure of throwing my weight behind a moniker that will be splashed on billboards and embroidered on warm-up jackets could bring back my nervous tic.
But a lot of people feel pretty strongly about this. It should be the Senators. It shouldn't be the Senators. It should be the Grays or the Nationals or the Beltway Bandits.
So I won't shirk my columnar duty.
I'm partial to the Washington Monuments. Here's why:
The marble memorials are one of the things this town's best known for. George Washington's obelisk on the Mall looks a bit like a gigantic baseball bat. "Monuments" lends itself to clever headline use: " 'Monumental' Homer Clinches Pennant for Washington."
Admittedly, a nickname is problematical, but I think we could go with "the 'Ments." It sounds refreshing. You can almost taste that sparkling drop of Retsyn.
The uniforms should be as distinctive as the name: grayish white with vertical and horizontal stripes that approximate the mortar lines on the real 555-foot monument. The bottom half of the trousers should be slightly darker than the rest of the uniform. And to top it all off: a pyramidal baseball cap with a tiny aluminum button. (Two red lights that blink on and off, one by one, might be pushing it a bit. Maybe just on the batting helmets?)
But, as I've said so many times before, who cares what I think? What do you think? Send your team name ideas -- serious or silly -- to me. Write firstname.lastname@example.org (put "Team Name" in the subject line) or John Kelly, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.
Tickets, Please, Tickets
Though I watch them both, I've always felt that baseball was better than football in one respect: If all the sponsors pulled out of the NFL -- all the TV networks, all the luxury box owners, all the advertisers -- there would be no professional football. But if the same thing happened to Major League Baseball, the players and fans would find a way for the games to go on. Baseball doesn't require the huge mechanism to keep itself going that football does. A couple dozen guys, a sandlot, some bats and gloves, you've got a game.
But this is a dogs vs. cats argument, and I have to admit that I'm not the world's most knowledgeable baseball fan. I may in fact be the world's least knowledgeable baseball fan. My Lovely Wife has always worn the cleats in our family, making sure we acquired tickets for Orioles games and dutifully keeping score once we got there.
And it was she who in 1987 invested $140 just in case Washington ever got a team.
"Baseball in '87" was the rallying cry then. The D.C. Baseball Commission invited fans to put their money where their mouths were by opening an account at selected banks. Prospective ticket holders could choose from one of three packages: an 81-game plan for $567, a 27-game plan for $189 and a 10-game plan for $70. By February 1987, $9 million had been deposited in banks to reserve 15,000 season tickets.
Robert Pincus, then a member of the D.C. Baseball Commission and a banker, said 25,000 tickets were reserved by the time it was obvious a team wasn't forthcoming.
"After a period of time, especially after expansion to Miami and Denver, people probably closed those accounts," he said.
I wondered, though, whether any of the accounts might still be out there, earning their compound interest.
The thing is, the banks aren't there anymore. National Bank of Washington? Bought by Riggs Bank. First Virginia? Bought by BB&T. Suburban Bank? Swallowed by Bank of America. D.C. National? Bought by Sovran, which later became NationsBank, which later became Bank of America.
Of the 16 banks that accepted season ticket deposits, only Riggs remains. And that name will soon go the way of Hechinger, Woodward & Lothrop, Raleigh's. . . .
Bob Pincus was part of a group of investors who made a run for a team in 1991. They came close, he said, but didn't get the nod.
"I don't mind being yesterday's news," Bob told me last week. "I just want to get good tickets."