For 13 years, we've been without the centerpiece of any American city, big league baseball. RFK Stadium has housed two football teams and a parade of soccer teams, but no Senators' Successor. Michael Jackson has played here, but Reggie hasn't. That's an open wound. That's a shame.
But beside complaining, what can the long-jilted baseball fans among us do? Not much. Sure, we'd bring baseball back in a minute if we had a spare $50 million. But we don't -- and the guys who do have shied away, largely because of Washington's reputation as a crummy sports town.
That reputation says we'll support a winner just fine. But as soon as one of our teams loses as often as it wins, or more than it wins, Washington will stay home and watch Hill Street Blues.
There are two ways we could get a baseball team here. An existing team could move, or a new team could be created. But winning teams don't usually move, and new teams don't usually win. That means a lot of lost baseball games in River City at first. And a losing team equals a losing balance sheet, or so many potential owners believe.
I don't agree with that, and neither does the record. This town made the Senators profitable when they were mediocre. It did the same for the Capitals when they were worse. I know in my bones that we'd back an entertaining baseball team, even if it does lose three-quarters of its games.
But we're dealing with irrationality here -- with a reputation that sticks like flypaper, whether or not it reasonably should. How to rid ourselves of it? The answer begins in four paragraphs.
The D.C. Baseball Commission, appointed earlier this year by Mayor Barry to bring baseball back to Washington, will go to Houston on Dec. 1 and 2 to make a pitch to the major league owners. I figure the commission needs some ammunition. I hope you'll help me provide it.
The questionnaire that follows was prepared with the help of the folks who run The Post's political polls. Fill it out and return it by Nov. 9, please, to:
Bob Levey, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C. 20071.
I'll tabulate the results and publish them for all to see, notably including Jack Kent Cooke and anyone else who may need to look somebody in the eye in Houston and say, "Look at this. Here's what Washington says it will do if it has baseball back."
1) If baseball were back, would you go to at least one game the first season?
2) Three games?
3) Even if the team were a loser?
4) Metro now goes to RFK Stadium. It didn't the last time a baseball team played here. Would you use the subway to get to and from baseball games at RFK? Would the existence of the subway make you more likely to attend games than you would be if you had to drive to RFK?
5) Night baseball games would probably begin at 7:30 or 8 p.m. That would make it difficult for many fans to go home from work, eat dinner and still make it to the game on time. Would you be likely to eat dinner at a night game?
6) A Washington baseball team would play the early part of its season at the same time the Capitals and Bullets play the final parts of theirs. If you now attend Capitals or Bullets games in April, May or June, would you attend a baseball game in those months instead? In addition?
7) The Baltimore Orioles of the American League now draw about one-third of their fans from the Washington area. If a National League team came to Washington, would you still go to Orioles games? If yes, what percentage of the games you attend would be Orioles games?
Any comments that might help the commission?
Many thanks. I can taste those hot dogs already.