The e-mail popped in, and Capitol Punishment’s Chris Needham took a minute to digest it. The sender was easily identifiable: Stan Kasten is the president of the Washington Nationals, the baseball team about which Needham comments almost daily via his blog.
Needham had just published an entry titled “StanSpeak,” in which he took the liberty of “translating” Kasten’s words for the club’s fan base, a smart-alecky but smart look at what the man who runs the club might really be thinking.
Needham opened the e-mail cautiously. He knows about this?
“I had suspicions that they read this stuff,” Needham said. “But when a suspicion becomes a reality, it’s surreal.”
Needham, 28, who grew up in Upstate New York, works on Capitol Hill and lives in Alexandria, started “Capitol Punishment” shortly after the announcement in September 2004 that the Montreal Expos would move to Washington. The Expos, he said, were “kind of a great fog.” He did a lot of writing for his job as an analyst, and he wanted an outlet to learn about the team, do some more creative writing and, as he said, “avoid boring my girlfriend to tears.”
More than two years later, he said, “Capitol Punishment” receives a few hundred page views per day in the offseason, perhaps 700 a day when news is happening during the season. The objective isn’t terribly high-minded — “I’m not afraid of the quick, cheap one-liner,” Needham said — but it is almost always amusing and analytical, mixing statistics with personal takes on the team’s moves to go along with top 10 lists, suggestions for holiday gifts for team members, whatever comes to mind.
“Absolutely hilarious,” Kasten said.
Late last month, Kasten sent Needham another e-mail saying simply, “Call me.” The blogger, phone-to-phone with the president, whose words he had made a hobby of parsing. “He’s an honest broker,” Needham said. “But I had no idea what he wanted. I want to make a few jokes at his expense and not change.”
So Needham called. Kasten’s beef: Needham wasn’t on the list to renew his partial season ticket plan.
If the retirement of Rick Helling wasn’t troubling enough news (hands up if you knew he was still pitching), SI.com’s Tom Verducci writes the Sultan Of Sulry has every intention of playing well into his mid-40’s, along with dropping this tasty item :
Bonds is so out of touch with reality that he has tried enlisting Bud Selig — of all people — to lobby Henry Aaron, a longtime personal friend of Selig’s, to show more public support for him, especially when it comes to a blessing of the new record as legitimate.