Tom Sherwood’s Notebook: 04/07/10

By Tom Sherwood
|  Wednesday, Apr 7, 2010  |  Updated 12:31 AM EDT
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Obama Leads Egg Rolls at White House

AP

President Barack Obama joins Washington Nationals broadcasters Bob Carpenter, right, and Rob Dibble, in the broadcast booth during opening day baseball game between the Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals at Nationals, Monday, April 5, 2010, at Nationals Park in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

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Has there ever been a sports Monday like this week?

Quarterback Donovan McNabb traded to archrival Washington.

The Caps glowing in their great season.

Tiger returns to the Masters.

The NCAA championship basketball game.

And, oh yeah, President Barack Obama tossed out the ceremonial first pitch at the Nats' opening-day game with the Philadelphia Phillies. (OK, so the president wore a White Sox cap along with his Nats shirt. We'll forgive him for that. The president just can't quite be 100 percent for something in the District unless it's Five Guys food or something like that.)

But what a day Monday.

The Nats wound up losing 11-1, but that's not the big story.

Phillies fans helped fill the stadium. They came by the thousands, and their team jerseys swamped the Nats fans. Either season-ticket holders are selling the games to the outsiders or the Phillies fans are better at online ordering.

The same thing happens when the Mets and the Red Sox and a few other teams come to town.

Here's hoping the regional Nats fans, at the slightest whiff of a winning team, will start showing the love. The nation's capital loves a winner. But how many local fans are true-blue (or red) when the going gets tough?

After a rough couple of economic years, there are growing signs that the commercial area around the ballpark is starting to percolate again in the financing world.

The Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District reports that nearly 2,000 residents have moved into the condos and apartment buildings that have popped up in the area.

And the Lerner family, which owns the Nats, reports that its long-vacant building at Half and M streets SE is finally getting some tenants.

For that, you can partially thank Robert Peck of the U.S. General Services Administration. Peck, a former leader of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, is taking advantage of the soft real estate market to wrap up good office space at good prices for the always-hungry federal government.

"Things are starting to pop," said Bo Blair. He and partner Jason York are the guys who leased the vacant Akridge company space right outside the centerfield gate and opened the wildly popular Bullpen. (They also own Northwest's Jetties and Surfside, among other eateries.)

Down the street in Southwest (where the Notebook lives), the District government is occupying the 500,000 square feet of space it agreed years ago to lease at 4th and M streets SW, a short distance from the stadium. And this month, 4th Street SW will reopen at the site for the first time in nearly 50 years. But for all the opening-day excitement around Nationals Park, the region's focus on Monday was pretty much riveted on the Redskins' nailing down of the 33-year-old McNabb. Has the team once again declared -- as coach George Allen did -- that "the future is now?"

That trade with Philadelphia will be reverberating for months as the 'Skins prepare for the 2010 season.

In all, it's an exhausting amount of sports in our area, apart from the return of Tiger and the NCAA championship. We only wish Maryland had made it to the finals. What a Monday night that would have been.

Maybe next year.

• Sports postscript.

It was good that Obama tossed the baseball, but was it really necessary to close down the South Capitol Street Bridge for as long as 20 minutes? The traffic was bad enough, but many fans were grumbling about the inconvenience of having the president at the event.

The U.S. Secret Service would never hear the end of it if something should disrupt the president's safety, but you do wonder if the sweeping shutdown -- or bubble -- is spread out too loosely.

We kind of felt that way on Sunday down at the cherry blossoms and the Tidal Basin. Even though the blossoms were pretty much gone, the crowd was thick with pedestrians and cars. About 1 p.m., the roadway was brought to a halt as the presidential motorcade returned from the Easter Sunday church outing in southeast Washington. Was it really necessary to come right by the Tidal Basin as the motorcade zoomed up 15th Street to the White House?

We do admit that the tourists were captivated by the glimpse of the Obama motorcade. We can't say the same for many people stuck in their cars, not knowing why traffic wasn't moving.

• Personality politics.

If there was any doubt that D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray would play the personality card, there isn't any more.

On Friday during the Kojo Politics Hour on WAMU radio, Gray was praising his own characteristics, and he included "maturity" on the fairly long list.

Was that an implied slap at maybe the "immaturity" of Mayor Adrian Fenty? Is "maturity" an issue in this campaign? Gray was unambiguous, saying yes it was and would be.

Gray said Fenty has undercut his effectiveness as mayor by picking petty fights and simply not talking much to the chairman or anyone else.

The criticism may have had something of an effect. On Monday, Mayor Fenty was all buddy-buddy with Gray as they opened the Benning Road Neighborhood Library.

As we mentioned above, we were at the ballgame, but news cameras showed the mayor and Gray smiling as they stood together to cut the ribbon and tour the facility.

Maybe the mayor is just putting on a campaign face and will go back to ignoring folks if he wins re-election. But it sure seems like such a simple thing to do to get rid of the image of being -- as Loose Lips says in The Washington City Paper -- a jerk.

On the flip side of that, maybe Gray as a campaign tactic should minimize appearances with the mayor so the mayor will still appear aloof. But that's not Gray's style.

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