Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I Understand

I understand that each and every Fan of Our Washington Nationals wants to cheer for a winner. Desires to see them drub The Mets & Phillies each and every time we play them. Hopefully soon, be competitive. Win Division Titles. And Eventually, WIN THE WORLD SERIES!!

I understand how when MLB Announced in late 2004 that The Montreal Expos were moving to The District Of Columbia--SO MANY WERE THRILLED OUT OF THEIR MINDS!! At long last, pain had turned to fortune. Never again could Washington, DC be slighted as being a MINOR LEAGUE TOWN. And, for anyone my age (now 47), who grew up with The Washington Senators, I understand all your years of grief, and emotional ties of Major League Baseball finally returning to DC. It was, and ALWAYS WILL BE, a Great Moment in my life! I am sure, yours also.

I understand the EXCITEMENT of that 50-31 Start to Our 2005 Inaugural Version of Our Washington Nationals. Not a baseball fan in this area was not DANCING IN THE STREETS. After over 30 years of being BASEBALL's long lost Stepchild, Our Nation's Capital DREAMED OF A WORLD SERIES! On July 1, 2005--who wasn't believing that? Just two months later, we all were just hoping for a .500 record.

I understand that disappointment. But, Honestly--WHAT A 2005 SEASON!!

I understand that once 2005 turned over to 2006, MLB again held us hostage. Not selling the team. Not giving Our Washington Nationals an owner. Not developing the team's talent. And, continued to siphon each and every last dollar out of EVERYONE's Pocket.

I understand the bitterness--Over The Stadium Debacle. The Threats. The Downright ILL WILL that existed throughout the entire Stadium Leasing and Owner Hiring process. It was nasty. Yet, we somehow survived. And, we moved on. Baseball always rises above the fray.

I understand that Our 2006 Version of Our Washington Nationals struggled at times, faded early, never recovering--but we were TREATED to ONE FABULOUS SEASON from Alfonso Soriano and The EMERGENCE of a GREAT YOUNG PLAYER in Ryan Zimmerman. Yeah, I understand those two were not enough for everyone. Some turned their back. Found other more enjoyable ways for evenings out. That's OK.

I understand that many said they WOULD NOT spend a single dollar on Our Washington Nationals until a REAL OWNER was put in place. Everyone wanted direction, everyone wanted a goal to meet. Everyone wanted to see stability.

I understand that when Ted Lerner and the Lerner Group was officially named The FIRST OWNERS of Our Washington Nationals people were quite happy. A local buyer. A local presence. And, they were sharp enough to bring on board one of the most SUCCESSFUL SPORTS EXECUTIVES IN THE HISTORY OF GAMES--Stan Kasten.

I understand that many fans were hopeful. Many seeing GREAT POSSIBILITIES for Our NEW FOUND FRANCHISE. Yet, many of those same fans don't feel the same way now. When Ownership started to trade off veterans for younger talent, cutting payroll, rebuilding now for strength in the future--accolades turned to scorn. And, many more fans decided to walk away. Many not willing to give them a chance. After being treated like riffraff by Major League Baseball for 2 years, Fans wanted more. And, they wanted it now.

I understand that feeling. I am not blind. Everyone wants to see a winner. Everyone wants to be emotionally attached to THEIR TEAM. That's harder to do when your team is struggling.

That being said, I understand the so called "Plan" and I am sure you do too. Yet, I am willing to hear The Owners Out. I am willing to suffer a little now for future glory. Glory that is NOT GUARANTEED. But, has a FAR BETTER CHANCE FOR SUCCESS. Whether you agree to their "PLAN" or not--we're all still baseball fans. I am positive many of you, like me, LOVE THIS GAME. And, you want to see each and every game played at its highest possible level. Even during the rough early stages of a rebuilding plan, you can still enjoy this GREAT GAME.

I understand 2007 is a frustrating season so far for Nationals Fans. Each and every game brings worry to my heart. Not knowing what I might see next. Never knowing who might get injured. What error will cost us tonight. Everyone in DC is familiar with The University of Maryland phrase "FEAR THE TURTLE". Every time Chad Cordero trots out to the mound for a save, I "FEAR THE CHIEF". And, that's not a good thing (I'm just being funny here, don't rip me. I love "THE CHIEF")!

I understand the suffering of the losses, some in excruciating style. Team President Stan Kasten personally told me "I Hear Ya," when I mentioned just this fact about Our GREAT FANS.

I understand criticizing effort, bitching about their play, questioning managerial moves. Wondering, WHY IN THE WORLD IS ROBERT FICK IN THE GAME? That's all apart of being a BASEBALL FAN. It comes with the territory. Because, who knows the game better than you, and I. Baseball is the only sport where EVERYONE IS AN EXPECT.

I understand all that. I understand many losing their emotional ties due to the frustrating times. But, what I don't understand is THE HATRED THAT SEEMS TO BE BUILDING--more and more--each and everyday toward The Lerners, Management, Our Washington Nationals and their Players, even toward the TV and Radio Announcers.

I don't understand that. It bothers me. Just because times are disappointing, PLEASE DON'T TEAR DOWN ALL That's BEING BUILT IN THE PROCESS, JUST FOR PERSONAL REVENGE. Its not worth it.

Please look up, away from your computer screen, just for a moment. The Sky is Blue Today. The Weather Beautiful. Nothing like a Spring Day in Washington, DC.


I understand you. Please understand me.


Maryland Orioles' Fan said...

SBF - I think people expect a winner when it comes to big-time sports -- it's a business. People from all walks of life invest a lot of time, money and emotion it it.

We all get very emotional over sports - perhaps overly so at times.

Myself, I am glad baseball is back in DC, and while yes, I'd like to see the Nats' be competitive, the alternative -- no baseball in DC is worse.

I'd be at RFK anyway whether the team was 20 games over .500, or 20 under just because I love the game as a fan, and also back when I played.

Basil said...

Interesting post, SBF. I'm not sure I see the hatred for the Lernastens, though.

I see some criticism of the way they've run things, some mistrust of their commitment to spend rather than merely pocket, but such suspicions and criticisms are hardly unique to Washington's ownership group. I'm not sure I see a hatred of the announcers, either. If anything, we know what to expect from Charlie by now, including the good (a nice voice, enthusiasm) and the bad (too loud sometimes, a failure to update the game reset enough). I think some people, including me, are disappointed (and surprised) by Carpenter. Given all his experience, he doesn't seem to know the game all that well (a two-out squeeze play? what in the world?). On the other hand, I think many fans, including myself, have really taken to Sutton. He's a pro.

I think sometimes it's hard to separate love for the game with passion for the team. I love the game, and I'll watch any Nats game I can (within reason) simply because I love the game and root for the team. I'm passionate about that. But I cannot say I'm passionate about this team, this year, as constructed, this year. I don't even get the impression the front office expects us to be, this year.

In light of "The Plan," what the team is doing is giving us the chance to look at these guys from a distance, a bit dispassionately, and evaluate who's really part of the plan long-term and who's a functionary. I'm not going to expend too much passion on functionaries, because for many people (including me) passion and patience are in some tension. I'm in patience mode.

Sometimes it's not easy to sustain that patience. It's only reasonable to have periods where we want to see a winner, right now, or a serious commitment to winning, right now. That's human nature. But part of what I'm doing to combat those urges is to try to avoid having a daily passion for the team consume my perception of the long-range goals.

You seem to be able to confront these issues differently, interjecting a lot of passion on a daily basis. I commend you for that. But I don't think it's the only way to go.

Screech's Best Friend said...

Basil: FABULOUS COMMENTARY!! That's a well informed, thoughtful reply. Thank you so very much.

I do see some bitterness out there, in some parts. It just bothers me. Anger just to divide.

Carpenter does surprise me also. I know Chris Needham feels the same way. He seems less knowledable than you would expect. His constant covering for a Nats mistake in the field, bothering. Sutton is TERRIFIC. Always has something that makes me think--"That's interesting." Or, "I didn't realize that."

I love Charlie and Dave. Even Charlie's Theatrics. In just a short time he's coined "Bang Zoom" & "Curly W in the books" both of which I adore.

Yeah, I understand my passion is different. I just want everyone to enjoy the team as best they can, without constanting ripping it apart.

Thanks again for a very nice commentary. I really appreciate your thoughts.

kristen23 said...

Thank you for staying positive. It is tough, but you're right. It's here in Washington. It's ours to appreciate and build. And it can only get better from here.

BrianH said...

SBF -- Great Post. I admire your passion and joy for all things Nats.

I don't feel hateful or bitter. But I am at best guardedly optimistic, often frustrated, and at worst, skeptical about the future of our Nats.

I want to be passionate about this team, day in and day out. I listen to every game and cheer whether I'm at RFK or at home. I wear my Nats gear with pride.

I want this city/area to get excited too. But Mr. Lerner and Mr. Kasten must convince me they share my passion. Not with words, but actions.

Last year started great. The Grand Re-Opening, Random Acts of Kindness at RFK, and signing Smiley Gonzalez, demonstrating a willingnes to spend money for top-notch foreign talent.

But any 2006 momentum is dead. Mr. Lerner's and Mr. Kasten's actions in 2007 indicate a disregard for my loyalty and money TODAY with the HOPE of a bright future. And that pisses me off. No hatred or bitterness, but some well-placed anger.

Mr. Lerner and Mr. Kasten: Cook the hot dogs. Don't nickel and dime ardent fans with higher parking fees. Try to market the team with real promotions not tied to premium ticket prices.

I must see promises come to fruition -- excellent customer service and at least the appearance of trying to field a winner and build the fan base.

My faith is not blind, my enthusiasm is not unwavering, and my patience is not eternal.

JayB said...

Thanks SBF and everyone for a great conversation on what really is the important part of 2007. That is, how are we going to come out the other side of this very Fickrating (sorry, frustrating) season?

I love Sutton. He is great! Carpenter does not know the team or baseball and just detracts from Sutton.

I met Stan at the last home stand and he does care so that is a relief.

Lerner’s I think are trouble.

They have made several poor decisions. Raising the parking for this team was really stupid. Marketing plan of pledge your allegiance and get in line for the new stadium was simplistic and short sighted. Washington fans are much deeper than this simple approach.

Who ever is holding back on the fan experience at RFK is making another strategic error in my judgment. I will blame the Lerner’s because they made a point of saying how accomplished they were at customer service......ya right!

Team is fine, Acta promised us some better fundamentals but as long as he is being forced to play JimBo's trade bait in hopes one will get hot just as a team in the running needs him, it is tough to blame Manny yet for not following through on fundamentals.

But can someone teach the outfield to call the ball please?

For me I do not hate but I do feel taken advantage of by the Lerner’s both in parking and broken promises at RFK.

So was it worth savings some bucks by breaking your promise to the fans, Mr. Lerner? Time will tell but the think Ben was right…"penny wise and pound foolish".

Cut parking do not raise it, pump some cash into the RFK experience and do not keep pumping pay now or you will miss the the whole new stadium thing… is like nails on the blackboard at this point.

Kevin A. said...

I just wanted to agree with the general sense of disappointment in Carpenter. I wasn't the biggest Mel Proctor fan, but boy do I miss him now.

I wouldn't mind seeing how Charlie does on TV with Sutton. I know they don't do the solo radio booth anymore (except for Vin), so they'd have to find someone to go into the booth with Dave if they went down that road.

I'm not even going to start with trying to fix the train wreck that is Nats Xtra. But what happened to broadcasting the entire postgame press conference?

natsfan7 said...

I'll be freakin angry if I want; I hate the cheap Lerners, Stan "the man with the stupid plan" Kasten and all the crappy and under preforming players!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THIS TEAM SUCKS!!>!!//?!>*))%^&#&$@

JK(Just Kidding for those who don't speak internet, ROTFLOL!!!). I guess I'mone of the most negative people in the Nats Community, so if you want you can single me out and get angry. Latley I've tried to be less negative and more supportive of the "PLAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!". However, I will never stop critizing something I don't think is right (I FREAKIN LOVE MY 1ST AMENDMENT RIGHT!!). So for all the complainers out there, I'm sorry SBF.

Screech's Best Friend said...

Brianh-I understand the cold hot dogs, warm beer and defiinitely the $15 parking. No one more than I have complained about the parking fee. More than once. Face to Face. With Management. I actually had all those on my notes for the post, but just forgot rushing to get it done while at work this morning. Thanks though, terrific comments, and honest.

Brianh & Jayb--I understand the public relations nightmares this team has struggled with all year. I think most, if not all, of those concerns will be taken care of. Jayb, I am glad you met Mr. Kasten, he is a straight shooter. Despite what others may think and many my think of my relationship--he does care. I am not pulling any falsehoods.

For everyone: The whole point of my post was too get this all out in the open. I just don't want to see people TURN THEIR BACK on Baseball in Washington. It means alot to me. I know it means alot to all of you.

Natsfan7--Its ok to criticize, be upset, angry--we have all experienced that with not only Our Washington Nationals, but any other sport team we have followed, closely. As long as the bitching has merit-fine. Its apart of being a baseball fan. Like I said in the post. We are all experts. We follow the game closely. It mean alot of all of us. What I find disturbing is the VENOM that has arisen, personal attacks-all in attempt to personally slam others for selfish reasons. Reasons that eventually become rote as they are past on and on--whether online or repeated in persons to others. That stuff really bothers me.

All of you. Thank you so very much for participating. Its a good discussion. Really, it is. And, why all the blogs can be useful and helpful.

Your comments have made my day!

Fav61 said...

I am a transplanted Red Sox fan who loves baseball. I have to then, root against the Orioles, which drew me to the Nats locally. But I have to say, sometimes I enjoy watching these Nats as much as my beloved Sox. To watch a young team and its young players develop, the new manager, the new owners, the new stadium, RFK's last season. There is a LOT to be excited about. Let's give everyone a chance. As a fan of the proverbial 'hard luck' franchise before the Sox won the Series, I know what its like to support a loser, to complain about ownership and general managers and managers. I think that is part of the game as a fan. But I love the Sox. They are like family. I can bitch about them, but nobody else better (especially a freakin' Yankees fan!). So we feel the same way about the Nats. Like family, give them a chance. Even Carpenter. The Lerners haven't even been in the game for a year yet. "I understand" that people should be given a chance to turn things around.

JayB said...

With all this understanding going on....

I do NOT understand how Nook can stand and watch his bunt?

Even once he knew it was fair, he did not even try to run, just walked away. Manny I do not understand, help me please!

Medley said...

SBF -- Thanks for your post and your enthusiasm -- you're at the top of the NatsBlogs cluster in my feedreader. Good stuff. And hey, when you know what section you'll be in next year, I hope you'll share that info -- you might find a crowd joins you. ;-)

I've never lived in/near a baseball city before and am enjoying it a great deal, but I do definitely feel like TheManagement is not doing right by the fans they're presumably trying to entice over to the new stadium.

If Mgmt is reading, they should understand, for example, that TheSpouse and I are the only ones in our social circle who are really 'into' the Nationals and baseball, right now, but were we so inclined, we'd be able to recruit people to come to games with us and get into it and start following along. Frankly, never knowing what the 'casual fan' experience at RFK will be like (last game I was at the seats were filthy and hotdogs were delayed 5 minutes in the middle of a long line), I'm reluctant to encourage our friends to join us.

I like the game, enjoy watching these players (who seem to have a positive attitude and don't seem to be prima donnas), and look forward to seeing the team (and Acta) develop. But, team mgmt has gotta do more and better by casual fans.

While I believe what one of you guys on the blogs said earlier this season: "A bad day at the ballpark is always better than a good day at work" not everyone is convinced of that.

So, fellas, come on - give me a reason to talk up the team and the whole experience to my friends (who are all 30-40-something white collar professionals happy to spend money on entertainment).

No hate from this end tho -- I do worry about the players and how this season might affect them and I agree with the notion that it's hard to get too attached when it's not clear who's around for the longer-term and who's not.

And I agree with Jay -- *what* was Nook thinking? TheSpouse said he thinks we've seen him do something similar before... what the heck?

Joe Riley said...

I am, admittedly, very biased in many of these matters. I'm extremely partisan where the team ownership is concerned, I think that they are doing a great with what they have.

This is a growing-pain year, folks. Get over it and just sit back and enjoy the fact that we have baseball in our town again. I waited almost my entire life for this, the Senators left when I was 6.

As for Bob Carpenter, I don't see the enmity here. Have any of you watched a "Nats Classic" game from 2005 recently? Mel Proctor, whom I liked at the time, makes Bob Carpenter sound like Vin Scully. Bob is a major improvement, and I both enjoy his broadcasts and feel that I learn something almost every time. He has that same mid-western appeal that Johnny Carson had (Carpenter is from Oklahoma, Carson was from Nebraska). I can also tell you from personal experience that Carpenter studies the game VERY hard and does his homework. He makes his job look easier than it really is. I think that he and Don Sutton have great chemistry, too. This aspect of the Nationals experience needs no fixing. Again, I'm very biased here.

Nats Extra? I actually suggested last year that MASN have some sort of postgame show with interesting features, and they do an okay job. I like Holliday and Knight. What more would you want?

Screech's Best Friend said...

fav61: You need to stop by Section 320. RallyTimeRichard and SeyHeyKlib are THE BIGGEST RED SOX FANS I NOW!!. Both from Massachusetts. But, transplanted Nationals Fans. Thanks for the comments. JUST TERRIFIC!!.

Medley. You are welcome to join us in Section 320 or at the New Park. I will be letting everyone know where we shall be in 2008. Mr. Kasten has told me there is NO SECTION 320 in Nationals Park, unfortunately (which is very said to all of us that sit there at RFK Stadium).

Thank you both for GREAT COMMENTS. I am so happy with the responses today.

Fav61 said...

Thanks SBF. My pleasure. You are truly a fan of the game and of this team, Our Washington Nationals!

Nice win tonight! Very entertaining to see all those runs scored (four field goals and a touchdown!). I'm liking this team better and better. The bats are awakening, Simontacchi looks good, and we no longer are the worst team in baseball!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad that we have a team, finally, and I'll always support them. But as a season ticket holder for all three seasons, I have to say I feel cheated. I felt cheated when Selig, Dupuy and Co. jerked us around about the timing of selling the team (they lied to Tom Boswell!), which prevented the team from making any real improvement last year, and resulted in Bowden pulling the trigger on the initially criticized Soriano that eventually, luckily, worked out OK.

When we lost Soriano, I think it was reasonable to think that some of that money would be spent on other players, that we'd still be getting close to the same value for our ticket-buying dollar. That didn't happen. Stan Kasten seems like a used car salesman to me. He can preach The Plan, but every team has a plan, and one thing you learn in sports is that just because you're successful once, whether you have success the next time is pretty much an independent event (Joe Gibbs, anyone).

That being said, it hasn't been as bad as I expected. I don't hate Kasten or Lerner, but I have a large portion of disdain for them. To date, they've done little more than take our money and run their mouths.

I wish I could be as positive as SBF, but I'm a product of DC, and it's hard to shake the cynicism.

All this, and I don't even really give a damn about the hot dogs. Never bought one there, probably never will.

An Briosca Mor said...

I'm a little late to this discussion, but let me add my perspective anyway. I'm a first-time STH this year. After going to six or so games a la carte each of the first two years, I bought a 20 game plan and have a great seat right behind the plate - in section 419, upper deck, fifth row back. I have no complaints so far. (Okay, one complaint. They ran out of hot chocolate in the 6th inning of the 41-degree Saturday night Arizona game.) Why'd I buy a season ticket this year? Mainly to get a foothold into the new park, not so much for a season plan because I believe tix will be readily available (albeit not so much as they are this year, but more like they were the first year in RFK) but more so that I can guarantee that I'll be able to get in on Opening Day without paying scalper prices. Say what you will, you know that will be the hottest ticket in town next spring.

As for other peoples' many complaints here and elsewhere: On the "fan experience" issue, I think you need to remember that not only is this a lame duck year in RFK, the Lerners don't even have control over a lot of these things. They did a good job ramping things up last July, but unfortunately things have slid back a little this year. But it was not the Lerners who removed Hard Times or Burrito Brothers, those businesses decided on their own not to return - probably because they were having to deal with Aramark, a situation that the Lerners have no control over. Aramark has to know that they're out after this year, so they have absolutely no incentive to perform now, and the Lerners have very little leverage over them. So what's the result? Less-than-optimal food service, especially if the crowd is large. But you know what? It doesn't bother me, because I get there before the game, buy my food and beer, sit in my seat and watch the game. After all, that's why I'm there. If I'm looking for a fine dining experience with attentive service, I'll go to a restaurant. I do fully expect things to be much better next year when the Lerners have more control. If they're not, then I'll complain, but for now I'm willing to cut them some slack.

As for parking, I take Metro to the games so the parking fee is not an issue for me. But guess what? Unless you're an extreme high roller, you'd better plan on taking Metro to the new park as well, even if you're driving now. The new park will be an urban stadium, whereas RFK (and FedEx too, for that matter) is really a suburban stadium. Completely different paradigm. Parking for all is not part of the urban stadium experience. I suspect that the real reason for the parking price hike this year was to serve as a disincentive for people to drive to RFK, even though the space is available there, in order to ease them into the sea change they'll be experiencing next season and beyond. I can guarantee you that anyone who is paying and bitching about the $15 parking fee now will be paying even more than the current cost of their seat and parking next year for an equivalent seat - and that will NOT include parking. If you want to drive next year, prepare to pay a private lot for parking, and I bet it will cost you at least $15 too. Those garages at the stadium are for the high rollers, not for you. You should be taking Metro. And don't blame the Lerners for this either, because this is not their doing. The situation was handed to them by the DC government, so that's who you should be blaming.

As for all the negative comments about "the Plan" and the failure to put a competive and/or entertaining team on the field for 2007, consider this. The Nationals' record last year on this same date, with Soriano, Livan and all those other guys (including Nick and Patterson, who are unfortunately hurt right now) was EXACTLY the same as it is today. So anyone who complains about the Lerners being too cheap to field a competitive team had better have been making those same complaints last year with MLB running the team, otherwise you're just someone who's blindlessly buying all the bad and irrational stuff the media is spewing out. There's no guarantee that the Lerners' plan will work, but there's no guarantee that ANY plan is going to work until you give it the time to work itself out. The Lerners are new at this. Give them a chance before you start hating them the way you (rightfully) hate Peter Angelos and Dan Snyder, okay?

I really have to think that all the hatred for the Lerners and Kasten (and there really is some hatred out there, although not a whole lot) comes from people who thought they'd be able to cash in on the arrival of MLB in DC by buying more season tix than they could personally use themselves and then selling their excess tickets at high prices to lower their own overall cost. In other words, season ticket resellers, not season ticket holders who are true fans. Now, since for various reasons they are unable to do this, these folks are angry because they've spent a lot of money on tickets they can't even sell at face value. They blame the Lerners for this, when really they should be blaming themselves for having unrealistic expectations, taking a gamble and then losing the bet. In a way, these folks bought "stock futures" in the Nationals three years and are angry because they've lost their investment. But who sold them those stock futures three years ago? Not the Lerners, so it makes no sense to blame them now. But angry people have no sense, do they? They're just blinded by anger. Me, I'm just glad we have team to watch, and that it's on the upswing. See you at the game!

Screech's Best Friend said...

an briosca mor--Nice Comments. Good response. Thanks so very much for participating.