City Desk

Cheap Seats Daily: Getting All Outdoorsy Along the Iraq/Iran Border?

The Washington Nationals are setting aside a day for kids with peanut allergies this weekend. Tickets to the game and special peanut-free zone are $30.

$30?

For generational reasons, I'm still skeptical of peanut allergies, though the concept of paying $30 for a Nats ticket to keep a kid away from peanuts makes me feel disoriented and clammy.  (Full disclosure: I brought a huge bag of Safeway bulk peanuts into last Saturday's game at Nationals Park. My row looked like a Superfund site by the fifth inning, there was so much legume-ish debris.)

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DC United used some of its Real Madrid money to buy newspaper ads pumping up the championship match of the U.S. Open Cup.

Kevin Payne, United's president and CEO, signed a letter that took up a full-page of the Washington Post and was also posted on the web at wewintrophies.com, a site registered and created in July by DC United.

Payne builds up the tournament, which he calls "prestigious," and demonizes the opposition, the expansion Seattle Sounders, while challenging local fans to show up.

(AFTER THE JUMP: Who's betting on D.C. United? Team USA 100-1 in World Cup? Was Gov. Sanford hiking in Iraq? Brandon Snyder is playing like Brandon Snyder?)

Portions of Payne's missive:

"On September 2, at 7:30 p.m. at RFK Stadium, we will try to add a 13th title to the D.C. United trophy case when we defend our championship in the prestigious Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, a competition which began in 1914.

The Sounders, and its fans, have said that Washington, D.C. and its fans do not deserve to host the match at RFK. They insisted the match should be played in Seattle...

And now, after 14 trophy-filled seasons, it is time for our fans – for all D.C. area sports fans – to remind everyone who the best sports fans in the country are.

I know not all of you are D.C. United fans. Many of you aren’t even soccer fans, but a challenge has been issued and we expect all sports fans in D.C. to meet it."

The U.S. Open Cup is old, but "prestigious"? United's last three opponents on the way to the finals: the Ocean City (N.J.) Barons, the Harrisburg (Pa.) City Islanders, and the Rochester (N.Y.) Rhinos.

Not exactly murderers row.

"Prestigious"? I'd bet most players on United's roster had never heard of the tournament 'til they played in it.

Speaking of United and betting: Payne is also liberally quoted in a story posted yesterday on online-casinos.com, a gambling web site. Payne shows up on the site's news page, in a story titled "Online Gambling on Soccer in the USA Surging."

The evidence used to support the headline's claim is attendance at the DC United/Real Madrid match, which has nothing to do with betting figures. And you can tell from Payne's quotes that his words were lifted from another news story and taken totally out of context — he makes no reference to gambling.

But, a smart guy like Payne surely knows that if soccer's ever going to go mainstream in this country, it's not going to be because of rivalries like DC United/Seattle Sounders.

It's going to be because people are betting on it.

(BTW: The online-casinos.com story also lists the US team's odds of winning next year's World Cup, which in some circles is even more "prestigious" than the U.S. Open Cup, at 100-1. Spain and Brazil are 4.5-1.)

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On "Meet the Press" Sunday, host David Gregory brought up the three American "tourists" being held in Iran. They were arrested after being found "hiking along the Iran/Iraq border."

Who believes this crap? The usual excuse in these State Department border-crossing debacles — that the hikers somehow accidentally crossed the wrong border — doesn't sound much better, since it would still mean they intended to vacation in Iraq.

Please.

Sounds fishy to me. Either the story's bogus, or the tour guide was Gov. Rick Sanford, who tried to hike the Appalachian Trail all the way to Argentina.

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Brandon Snyder of Westfield High moved a step closer to his cup of coffee. Snyder, playing for the Baltimore Orioles' Triple A affiliate, the Norfolk Tides, was named the batter of the week in the International League for last week.

Snyder, 22, was the Orioles first round pick, and 13th pick overall, in the 2005 baseball draft. He's been injured way too much, but is having a season that keeps hope alive that he'll live up to early billing. He started the year in Bowie and was promoted to AAA last month. Snyder hit .500 for the week, and .421 for the Tides' last 10 games.

The 22-year-old infielder batted .500 (12-for-24) with four RBIs and five runs scored in six games during the week. Snyder struggled initially after being promoted to the Tides in June, but he is hitting .421 with nine RBIs in his past 10 games. He comes from a baseball family: His dad, Brian Snyder, briefly pitched in the majors for Seattle and Oakland, and twin brothers Matt & Mike Snyder both play for Ole Miss. The twins spent the summer playing for the Carney Pirates in the local Clark Griffith League.

I saw Brandon Snyder hit a game-winning home run in the last inning of a Little League championship game in Chantilly when he was 12.

The further he goes, the longer I get to keep telling that story!

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Story tips? Wanna Play the Feud? Tube amps for sale? Send to: cheapseats@washingtoncitypaper.com

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