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BOB SHORT WAS RIGHT. ONCE.

[November 14th] -- More than thirty years ago, Redskins' owner Edward Bennett Williams announced the hire of a new, proven head football coach who would lead the team back to prominence in the NFL. This man had a few championships under his belt, and was known to be able to turn around an NFL team almost immediately. No. It wasn't George Allen. He came later. This was Green Bay legend Vince Lombardi. Lombardi turned the Redskins into winners in 1969, their first winning season in 14 years, and only their third since the Truman administration.

Lombardi found something new when the Redskins visited Franklin Field in Philadelphia, owned by the University of Pennsylvania and shared with the Eagles. Gone was the hard grass sod and in its place was a brand new artificial surface. There was a picture of him in the Post, wearing his traditional camel-color overcoat, springing across the plastic grass with a toothy grin that only Lombardi could get away with. St. Vincent loved the feel of the Astroturf as he walked the sideline during the game. He told reporters that he intended to talk to the Armory board about changing the RFK grass to the artifical surface. The Armory board liked the idea of placing Astroturf in RFK Stadium. The cost, over ten years, would be far less expensive than the cost of maintaining a sod field. All that was left was to get approval from Senators owner Bob Short.

It never happened.

Short, in perhaps the only wise move he made during his stewardship in Washington, said "No way." The Armory board, and Lombardi indirectly, negotiated for sometime before finally giving up hope that an agreement could be reached. By the time the Redskins became the sole occupant of RFK Stadium in 1972, Vince Lombardi had been dead for two years and George Allen was the new "sheriff" in town. This sheriff hated astro-turf. That ended any hope of plastic grass at RFK.

Bob Short did the right thing. Man, that is sooo hard to write.

Nats Notes @ 10/11: Still no world on the Bob Carpenter situation. Will he return? Will he go? The Lerner's need to understand that, right now at least, Nationals' fans crave continuity. I am tired of the steady stream of one-year wonders, both on the field, in the clubhouse, and on television ..... As feared, Monument Realty - pronounced sore losers - have sued Metro over their $69 million dollar deal with Ackridge Co. to sell their bus garage. Monument did this knowing that a lawsuit would jeopardize the opening of the new stadium. Hardball at its best. They are going to try to blackmail the city into getting what they want. I wonder if the Lerner's have a security staff like the one Tom Cruise fought in "The Firm." Perhaps a few "black ops" missions might make Monument see more clearly ..... The Harrisburg Senators, owned by the city for almost twenty years, sold the franchise to Michael Reinsdorf (the baby boy of White Sox guru Jerry) for $13.2 million dollars. The good new is that the new owner and all future owners will be tied to Harrisburg for at least 29 years. Perhaps now the city can afford to renovate their old island stadium ..... Dmitri Young was the first Nationals' starter to hit over .300 in three years, and is only the second Washington starter to do it since the Kennedy Administration. Chuck Hinton batted .310 in 1962. Frank Howard came close with .296 in 1969 ..... I came upon a blog yesterday that was touting the new grass soccer pitch (is that right?) at RFK. Several of the commenters were asking when "all that Nationals' stuff" would be removed, and if they would get their soccer clock back. Sounded a little weird, I guess. I don't know a single person who watches soccer. That said, I might be like that Washington socialite in 1972 heard lamenting Nixon's landslide win over George McGovern. "I can't believe this," she began, adding "I mean, I don't know a single person who voted for that man." Maybe I'm the one who's a little out of touch.


Comments:
DC United has had a very strong fanbase from day 1. They are having problems getting a stadium built too. I hope they work something out, it would be a shame to lose the only franchise who has won a championship in a long time. I don't even care for soccer that much and I feel that way.
 
Farid, how long has it been since you lived in or visited DC, anyway? There are lots of Spanish-speaking folks living around here now, and they are huge soccer fans. I've never been to a United game to see it myself, but apparently there are entire sections full of screaming, rabid flag-waving groups of fans of individual players, enough to rival what you'd see at any international soccer match and the likes of which baseball fans around here haven't seen since the glory days of Wild Bill Hagy in Memorial Stadium.

To give you an idea of the total difference between the Nats experience at RFK and the United experience there, on the day of the last Nats game I turned around on my way out, about halfway down the block by the Armory, to take one last photo and noticed that the sign above the main gate that had said "Mezzanine Food Court" had already been changed to something in Spanish.
 
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