Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Mark Lerner On The Past 48 Hours

As Nationals Park filled to the brim with fans last night anticipating the debut of Stephen Strasburg, Principal Owner Mark Lerner chatted with Nats320 about the attention Our Washington Nationals have received over the past 48 hours. With that, here is that conversation which took place during batting practice:

Nats320: It’s been a pretty exciting last 24 hours right?

Mark Lerner: I think it has been a pretty exciting last 366 days since we picked him (Stephen Strasburg). It’s certainly been amazing. Since the opening of spring training, the entire experience surrounding the team has been wonderful.

Nats320: Do you find it ironic that the team lost 100 games two years in a row and that turned out to be a good omen--in some respects--because of the top choices available in each successive draft?

Mark Lerner: You could say the exact same thing about The Washington Capitals getting (Alexander) Ovechkin. Sometimes when you are bad, good things happen from it. We happened to hit the motherlode in the right two years with Strasburg and Bryce Harper. So we were very lucky in that regard.

Nats320: How about all the talk surrounding The Nationals in the press, on the street, on TV? Wherever you go in this town, people are talking about The Washington Nationals right now.

Mark Lerner: I think we saw that buzz being created coming out of spring training, even though our record was poor in spring training. We had that good streak right after the season started. The other teams are taking us for real. And all the baseball people we talk to keep saying: 'keep doing what you have been doing. You are doing it right.' And a lot of the managers will tell you--they walk up to Jim (Riggleman) after a game--or Mike (Rizzo)--and say 'you guys are going to be fine.' So, that is great to hear. And we will take it one step at a time.

Nats320: We were just talking to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. He’s been pretty critical of the team and he believes this franchise is moving in the right direction because of the way the draft is being handled.

Mark Lerner: Well, we have a great staff with Mike at the top. Roy Clark and Kris Kline are in there working hard right now in our War Room (for the 2010 Draft). We are very confident they know what they are doing and we are going to get some more good parts out of it.

Nats320: You’ve got this happy look on your face, I have to say.

Mark Lerner: It’s a very cool day. It’s the same buzz seen the very first day in the new stadium--which I loved. And just to see the fans run in and say: where is he? (Strasburg) it’s special.

Nats320: Everyone is here for baseball, not just because it’s a new park or a team has moved back to the city--it’s about forward progress.

Mark Lerner: Exactly. One day, maybe it won’t be this fever pitch, but there will be a strong demand for seats as we get better and it will be cool to see this type of buzz every day.

Nats320: Did you speak with Stasburg today?

Mark Lerner: I did. I spoke to him for about 60 seconds today when he walked in and I just wished him my best and how excited we are for him and his family. He couldn’t have been nicer. He’s a fine young man and I can only imagine what he is going through--not only in the last few weeks--but the last couple of years. The build up has been incredible. His parents did a terrific job with him. And you hope, god willing, he stays healthy and has a great career.

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