April 08, 2007

First In War, First In Peace...

It's going to be ugly this year for the Washington Nationals baseball team. Fielding a team mostly comprised of cast-offs, wannabe's and never-were's, a lot of preseason pundits proclaim them the worst of the league this season. So far, they're playing like it.

I don't hate them, but I have no love for them either. For all the talk about how much baseball means to DC, the fact remains that on opening day they drew 40,000 in a 56,000 seat stadium. It's not going to get better, and they need a miracle of biblical proportions - ala the Amazin' Mets - just to reach up to the level of lousy. Opening day may well have been their high point for the next couple of seasons. So much depends on this new ownership.

...Last in the American National League.

Here's hoping for a Washington/Baltimore World Series in the very near future.

Posted by Ted at April 8, 2007 06:15 AM | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

Opening Day was the high point in terms of what, attendance or play? Because next season, the attendance will be fine because of the novelty of the new stadium; the quality of the play will depend upon the success of that rebuilding plan.

Going from Caps fan to Nats fan has been a completely seemless transition. Similar issues, similar rebuilding strategy...similar sense of defensiveness and despair among the fans.

Posted by: nic at April 8, 2007 08:11 AM

I think this opening day is a harbringer of dark times for the Nats. The new stadium won't have the parking it needs (what, 1500 spaces?!?!?!), and I think I remember hearing that it'll only seat 40k. I still don't trust the DC City Council to leave it alone and it'll become a political bargaining chip and continuous point of contention.

I haven't heard of a "rebuilding plan", but they're between a rock and a hard place. I think there's a lot of excitement about the team, but no deep loyalty yet, so expect a serious drop in attendance unless they improve quickly.

That means free agents, which is even more uncertain than building with youth, and way more expensive. Plus, like Soriano, unless they can convince the players that they're making progress, it will be difficult to keep them (unless they throw obscene amounts of money at them). I haven't seen anything to make me think these owners have deep pockets.

I'm hopeful, but not optimistic.

Posted by: Ted at April 9, 2007 05:22 AM

Perhaps I can pull this together as a post of my own...you inspire me, Ted. ;-)

Two quick thoughts: there is deep loyalty. Not everybody freezing their asses in RFK this weekend was a D'back fan or a masochist. It is a small band, just like the Caps core fan base, but please don't question our loyalty.

Rebuilding: the gist of it is, rebuild from the ground up, focusing on young talent to be developed through the farm system (which was utterly destroyed in the MLB-owned years.) There's a reason why this year's bobble head give-aways are the racing presidents...the only guy on the team who is sure to be a National in October is Ryan Zimmerman. He is the real deal, talent-wise, but it concerns me that he's a young guy under so much pressure as the Future of the Franchise. (Not to beat a dead horse, but see another hockey parallel?)

Overall...this is not a good city for sports. Too many people aren't from here and have no built-in loyalty. That means, except in championship seasons, the teams market to the casual fan and out-of-towners to make money at the gates.

Posted by: nic at April 9, 2007 07:03 PM

You torked her off already, Ted. May God have mercy on your soul.

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