Thursday, August 03, 2006

This Is Why Soriano Is Important.

I have mentioned in the past how my wife, Sohna, has never been much of a sports fan. But, when I became a season ticket holder for the Washington Nationals for the Inaugural Season in 2005, she agreed to attend more games. She loves our Section 320, but, what she has come to enjoy the most is Alfonso Soriano. Soriano is someone she can relate too. And, not just his game, but the professional manner he conducts himself. Sohna's attended 88 Nats Home games to date. And, 5 away games.

In late June, We took her female cousin, who had never attended a professional sporting event in her life, to the weekend series against Tampa Bay. After 2 games, the only person she could concentrate on--WAS ALFONSO SORIANO!!. She didn't know anything about any player, yet she noticed something special about Alfonso. Our Cousin called on the day after the trading deadline, and wanted to know why he was still with the team, when everyone expected Soriano to be traded. She was paying attention. And, she was glad he was still in Washington. Her husband believes she has the Nats Fix now.

Today, Sohna and I were in the discount store, Tuesday Morning, and I was wearing my Navy Blue Nats Cap. The lady on the register asked me if we ever atttended Washington Nationals Games. We said we were Season Ticket Holders. The cash register lady looked at us and said, "We've (her family) never had any interest in baseball, but we find Soriano very interesting. We went to a game in May and now have attended 3 more since. We don't know much about the game, but we are enjoying him and learning and love watching him play."

Another male employee pipped in--"I have always been an Los Angeles Sports Fan, in all sports, but I just love watching Soriano. And, my friends and I have attended 3 games so far. And, since he's staying, we're going to try to make a few more. You never know what that dude is going to do, so he's worth the ticket price."

Whereever we go, and the Nationals come up in conversation, the talk always leads to Alfonso Soriano. Everyone knows about him. He's is the face of the franchise, for the non baseball following fans.

This is a very small sample, but it does show how the Nationals and the Lerner Group need to attract the casual fan, not just the die hards like you and me. Alfonso Soriano is just such an attraction. People can relate to him, he's got charisma. He's worth the price of admission. Not much more you can ask from someone.

That's why Soriano is so important to The WASHINGTON NATIONALS FRANCHISE.


Say Hey Klib said...

I think ownership realizes that he is what puts butts in the seats. Without him (as much as I know Zimmerman is a star in the making) there would be little reason for the non die hards to come to the games. Soriano provides attandance while they are rebuilding, attendance = $$$$$$$$, atendance & Soriano = tlevised games, televised games = $$$$$$$$$. Baseball is the American way. Business it the American way. Baseball is business.

SenatorNat said...

Soriano is charismatic and the proverbial straw that stirs the drink on a characteristicly blue collar lunch pail team: cite Nick Johnson, Brian Schneider, Austin Kearns constituting the hub of the latter.

That combination often works very well as a make-up for championship teams, note the early 1980's Redskins under Gibbs, with Riggins stirring the drink(s). The Big Red Machine was workmanlike, plus Pete Rose!

When this season concludes, I suspect that Tom Boswell will be able to write one of his intriquing statistically based columns, that, based on the success of the starting lineup since the trade which brought Kearns and Lopez to it, that had just one starting pitcher had a one-run lower ERA over 16 starts, in keeping with his professional average, the Nationals would have easily been the Wild Card in 2006.

The clear import of his typical post(pre)-season column is that even by staying the course, with only a slight degree of performance elevation by the pitching staff, should position the team well for 2007. (The fact that you can do this for virtually every also ran team, virtually every year, does not make such reading less savory for die-hard fans!)

What would go well now, as fans prepare for 2007, and the new starting line is drawn in lime for it, is the right styled manager for such a complimentary squad: I recommend Cal Ripken, Jr., signed to a three year deal, with New Orleans Zephyrs Manager Tim Foli his bench coach. Cal, Jr. is the perfect successor to Frank - a younger Hall of Fame Oriole with incredible work ethic, commanding every player's total respect from Day One. He is the perfect mentor for Ryan Zimmerman, obviously.

What Ripken may lack as a day-to-day manager can be compensated for, as he learns from his experience, by Tim Foli, who is respected and appreciated by all the young Nationals players...Cal, Jr. even made the transistion from a 40 year old Memorial Stadium to have his final glory in the iconic Camden Yards. He would give the press a lot to write about... Unlike other superstars who have failed {due largely to an intrinsic inability to emphathize with lesser ability players}; or merely been average as managers (Robinson, the younger manager, fits the first description; Robinson, the elder, fits the second)}, Ripken is the son of a journeyman "school of hard knocks" coach who gets along well with the average player who gives it his best. (His temperment is aligned with a certain NY Yankees manager, who indeed was no slouch himself as a player.)

Can you imagine the Nationals' season ticket sales for 2007 based on the longterm signing of Soriano and the likely 2006 NL Rookie of the Year Zimmerman; the new manager Cal Ripken, Jr.; the ability to transfer seating at the brand new Nationals Diamond at the Navy Yard; and the return of Patterson and procuring a free agent starter with real ability? Attendance should be 2.75 million baseline - with any serious Wild Card race pushing it to 3 million...

Add the probability that the games will be televised on MASN through Comcast by an arrangement, either ordered or voluntarily brokered; and the marketing and imprint of professional management by Kasten and the Lerners and the top-notch infrastructure they are busily putting in place, and a feeling of a successful and exciting venture from top to bottom is not difficult to envision. The face of the team would be as follows:

1. a likeable regular guy trying to do the right thing, and let the pro's run the team: Mark Lerner;

2. a charasmatic, articulate, and proven winner: President, Stan Kasten;

3. a press magnetGeneral Manager who, seemingly, is willing to learn new tricks: Jim Bowden;

4. Baseball's Ironman, Cal Ripken, Jr., Manager;

5. One of the five best and most exciting players in the National League, Alfonso Soriano;

6. The probable 2006 NL Rookie of the Year and possibly the Cal Ripken, Jr. of the 21st Century, Ryan Zimmerman;

7. A line-up of solid, hard-playing guys in their mid-twenties, with fair power, decent speed, and good overall defense, willing and anxious to play as a winning team; and the

8. Possible signing of one premier starting pitcher.

"Bang - Zoom go the Fireworks: 85-90 (2007) curly W's are in the books!"

(Do I make Boswell look like a pessimist, or what?!}