October 30, 2008

Cordero Orr Wagner? None of the Above

The once-promising Flat Hat era ends not with a "Bang! Zoom!" but with a whimper, as the Nats cut ties with former franchise closer Chad Cordero this afternoon. Cordero, along with reliever Ryan Wagner and IF Pete Orr were outrighted off the 40-man roster and elected to test the free agent waters rather than accept a bus ticket to Syracuse. Really, can you blame them?

The NTP crew will try to pull together a group retrospective and appreciation of the Brim Reaper in the days to come, but first a few brief thoughts on Wagner. I'm more than a little surprised to see Ryan given his outright walking papers. On the one hand, it suggests that Trader Jim isn't, or is not being allowed to, cling desperately to his toolsy former Red reclamation projects. That's a good thing. But man, that Kearns/Lopez/Wagner for Bray/Majewski/Harris/Clayton/Thompson deal, that I enthusiastically endorsed at the time, looks pretty bad as a Kearns for Bray/Thompson deal, don't it?

As far as I can tell our current bullpen consists of closer Joel "Wild Thing" Hanrahan, setup guy "Everyday" Saul Rivera (due for the patented Luis Ayala Spring Training elbow implosion c. March 2009), middle reliever Steve Shell and lefty Mike Hinckley. The team must be impressed with the work of young relievers like Zech Zinicola and Adam Carr, judging from the nearly-positive reviews from Pitching Coach Randy St. Claire, the man with the most job security in Washington.

What about Pete Orr, you say? What can I tell you. First Jamey Carroll, then Rick Short, Brendan Harris and Pistol Pete. DC's a tough town on scrappy utility types.

October 18, 2008

Breaking News! Nothing Happening!

Nationals not trading for Peavy, signing Sabathia or firing JimBo. But, in the Motion Masquerading as Progress department, last year's rent will be paid any day now and new road unis in 2009!

My vintage 2005 Guzman away jersey is now a classic. Score!

In other news, Langerhanscendentalism wins a convert and hey, whaddaya know, the Nats AFL team doesn't completely suck! (No thanks to Bill "Larry Broadway" Rhinehart.)

October 15, 2008

So Long Screwy, See You in St Louie

An ignominious end to the Charlie Manning-era in DC. With Reagan long gone we're free to unleash the full might of Hinckley.

Langerhanscendentalism isn't dead, it's just pining for the fjords. Make way for the Tao of Rog?

Gal revels in Syracuse is more like it.

"Bye, Everybody!" Bye, Dr. Ben.

October 2, 2008

And for 2009... we're choosing to be homeless.

As Nate alluded to in a previous post, the NTP crew has made our season ticket decision for 2009.

Like a great many other folks, we will not be renewing our ticket package.

I in particular have taken a lot of grief over the years for my pro-season ticket holder stance. (See "The Business of Baseball" and "Value of Investing in the Team") So this represents a major change in our thinking as fans and “investors”, if you will, in the team. An explanation is in order.

First and foremost, there’s just no added value in owning season tickets to the Washington Nationals. We aren’t in line for preferred seating at the new ballpark. Frankly, hanging onto our tickets from RFK didn’t get us where we wanted to go anyway, and at this point, we’re not looking to increase our investment to snag “better” seats than Section 223. At best, we’d be looking to continue our current spending, but there are better uses for our hard-earned money. The economy IS down, and justifying a big expenditure on tickets is much harder now than it was several years ago, particularly when there are other ways to get the same or better seats with less outlay.

The final straw was my experience with the Padres/Nats game on Saturday. Watson had the tickets, and was taking his family. Ticket price was $25 per ticket, and we sit in Section 223, Row L, seats 8 to 11. My wife and I decided we wanted to go, as well. So off to Stubhub I went, looking for seats. What did I find? Section 223, Row C, Seats 9 and 10... For $12 each. LESS THAN HALF what we pay for our seats farther back, and I didn’t have to reserve anything. Not a thing! Yes, it’s the Padres. But what this showed me was that I could see plenty of baseball, move around the stadium AND get better seats, for significantly less! How about buying a game in Section 104? Then one in 123? Then one up in 402? Then back to 223? Odds are we can practically pick the seats and still spend less than we’re committed to now, at least for 2009.

Now, let’s be honest. The Nats 2009 aren’t going to the playoffs. They just aren’t. The team has gotten worse — much worse — in the short we’ve been watching. I’m looking for a better season next year, but in the words of the immortal Jim Mora, “Playoffs? PLAYOFFS!?!”. So any though of purchasing tickets in hope of having first pick for the post season is folly. We’ll all be happy to be a 81-81 team again, and that ain’t getting you to the playoffs.

What’s more, apologies to Boz, but the Lerners aren’t spending any money. They aren’t paying rent! Say what you will about the stadium not being “substantially complete” , Mr. Lerner, but the city delivered a habitable, useable major league stadium, on-time and on budget. We know because we were there. You look petty — AND CHEAP — with this rent withholding nonsense. It’s bad PR, and when I’m sitting here deciding on my renewal, it doesn’t inspire me with confidence in your commitment to improving the team. Stan the Man may have the Plan, but I don’t see anything turning around fast enough to make 2009 much better than 2008. Certainly not playoff worthy, which is the prime incentive to secure a whole season’s worth of tickets to this mess.

Is the schedule worth it? Securing good seats for premium games? Next year, Opening Day and the last game of the season are both on the road. No special games there. Memorial Day — road. July 4 — home. Labor Day — no game. A 3 game home series with Boston might be a draw, but the annoying Bahstan fans factor is pretty damn high. Looking at the 2009 schedule, there isn’t much worth “securing”. No big first game in the new park. No Opening Day. No Closing Day. Can’t really say there’s anything here that I need to have.

And even if there was, the Nats aren’t even close to selling out the stadium. You can walk up and buy a seat anytime you want, and even with no planning, you can probably get better seats than you’ll get in a reasonably priced season package. If the ownership chooses to push the fans away by not even trying, well, I’m finally done rewarding them. I have every confidence that in a year or two I can line back up for season tickets and get as good or better than what I have now. With season ticket purchases dropping each and every year, the trend suggests that taking a year off won’t cost me any ground.

You need me more than I need you, Mr. Lerner. I can buy what I want anytime I want. You need me to commit to a season ticket purchase to help prop up your revenue base. Your corporate sponsorships haven’t appeared, the demand for tickets isn’t there, and you can’t sell those $400 seats. And now the economy is in the tank to boot. You may not have needed me in 2006, but you will in 2009. You’re in it for the cash too, Mr. Lerner, and I’m looking to get value. And what am I getting for my season ticket commitment? From where I sit, not much.

Thus, we’re not renewing. We’ll be at the stadium in 2009. I’m sure of that. But we’ll be there on our terms.

PS – Who am I kidding? They’ll make their money back from us on half smokes, Miller Lights and helmet sundaes. It’s not for nothing that MLB is a six and a half billion dollar business.