Hope everyone had a happy and safe New Year's. Let's start 2011 off with some quick-hit news and notes for your perusal...
-- Even though he was traded to the Brewers two weeks ago, Zack Greinke's name keeps popping up in relation to the Nationals. SI.com's Jon Heyman wrote on Twitter last night that the Nats offered Greinke a "big extension" to try to convince the right-hander to agree to a trade to D.C. Greinke, who as we now know exercised his no-trade clause to block a deal to the Nationals, wasn't interested in the contract offer. After seven seasons languishing in Kansas City, Greinke wanted to play for a team that had a chance to win now. He didn't see that in Washington, so that's why he's now in Milwaukee.
There's really no reason to agonize over this any more. The Nationals did everything they could to try to acquire Greinke, and the fact they offered him an extension is no surprise. He's only signed through 2012, so they would have been incredibly foolish to trade away half their roster for this guy and then not lock him up long-term. And it's not all that surprising Greinke turned the Nats down. Look, as much as the organization has improved over the last 18 months, it's still perceived around baseball as an afterthought. Even those who believe the Nationals are on the right track admit they're not ready to win in 2011. Should we be all that surprised Greinke nixed the trade so he could instead go to Milwaukee, where the Brewers are geared up to make a legitimate run at the NL Central title this year?
The Nats can fork over $126 million to Jayson Werth. They can pay record signing bonuses to Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper. Until they actually do something positive on the field against major-league competition (a .500 record, for starters) they're going to have a difficult time convincing the rest of baseball they're for real.
-- Some of you have been asking about the state of the Nationals' broadcasts, both on TV and radio. There's no news to report on either front yet, but I think we'll know something in the relatively near future. The club is still searching for a new color commentator on MASN to replace the fired Rob Dibble. My understanding of the situation is this: Much depends on what Ray Knight wants to do. If he wants to join Bob Carpenter in the booth on a daily basis (and thus begin a full travel schedule) there's a good chance he'll get the job. If Knight prefers not to be on the road so much, he'll be back with Johnny Holliday on the pre- and post-game shows, and the Nats will hire a new analyst from the outside. They've received no shortage of inquiries from interested parties.
As for the radio side of things, the club has yet to sign a contract with a network for the upcoming season. The issue: The team wants its games on FM (as well as AM). The Nationals have had a good relationship with Bonneville since the franchise arrived in town, and both sides want to continue the relationship. Bonneville (which owns 1500 AM and 820 AM) does own three FM stations in town (103.5 FM, 107.7 FM and 103.9 FM). Those all broadcast WTOP News, with the 107.7 and 103.9 stations helping cover some suburban areas the mothership can't reach. Bonneville isn't about to preempt the No. 1 station in town for three hours every night during baseball season, lest they anger thousands of drivers who want their traffic and weather every 10 minutes.
The best FM fit in town is the relatively new "106.7 The Fan" sports talk station, which is owned by CBS. CBS owns only one AM station in Washington: 1580 AM, which transmits only 270 watts at night. Thus, the holdup on all of this getting done. Though rest assured Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler are expected to return, no matter where the games are broadcast.
-- Horrible news out of the Dominican Republic yesterday, with reports that Orioles reliever Alfredo Simon shot and killed one man and wounded another during a New Year's Eve celebration. Simon, who it appears will claim the shooting was accidental, is scheduled to meet with Dominican authorities today.
-- The Hall of Fame announces its 2011 class of inductees on Wednesday. Members of the Baseball Writers Association of America with at least 10 consecutive years of service vote for the players who are enshrined, and I became eligible this year for the first time. After considerable deliberation, I submitted my ballot last week. And I'll reveal my selections (and non-selections) after the results are announced. So stay tuned for that.
-- And for those of you who enjoyed watching Saturday night's NHL Winter Classic, just imagine what it would be like to host that outdoor event here in D.C. You may not have to imagine it much longer. The league, in awarding this year's game to the Penguins, promised the Capitals they would get to host sometime in the near future. And the most likely site of an outdoor hockey game in D.C. would be Nationals Park. Though, as was the case in Pittsburgh over the weekend, weather could very well be an issue. Saturday's high temperature in Washington was 58 degrees. The average high on January 1 is 43 degrees.