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Kast away - Nats president throws it back

By Evan Bliss

Stan Kasten resigned as President of the Washington Nationals. I’d be elated or depressed if I had any clue what that meant. It’s tough to tell who deserves more credit or blame for where the Nationals sit because it’s tough to tell if things are better or worse for DC’s Nats since Kasten arrived four years ago.

The Nats record improved, Stephen Strasburg briefly electrified a sport in a popularity slump, and the signing of phenom faux-hawker Bryce Harper even heightened national attention on the waterfront. On a lesser scale, Zimmerman’s become a quasi-local hero and .300 hitter, Adam Dunn’s Babe Ruth approach to fence swinging keeps opposing pitchers sweating profusely yet licking their chops, and there have been noticeable improvements in the bullpen. But they still sit at the bottom of the NL East, and still suffer in attendance when the talk of the town isn’t pitching or LeBron’s favorite teams aren’t in town. (I know the King hearts the Bronx Bombers, but it’s more of a bandwagon reference and was intended to include the Bo Sox and Phils “fans”, even if factually exaggerated).

I suppose the signings of Strasburg and Harper alone tell the tale of Kasten’s brief stint in DC. Both are considered the best prospects at their positions to come out of the draft in eons. However, to sign them both the Nats had to produce the worst record in baseball. Twice in a row. I doubt Kasten’s goal was “lose now, win later”, but the Nats were on a “lose now, lose later” path before he got there anyhow.

The timing of his departure is a bit odd considering that these two boys that could define his time in DC are still boys, and if he could spend 20 plus years with dynamite TNT tycoon Ted Turner what’s 2 or 3 more with the Lerners? Then again, he is leaving as part owner of the Nats so Kasten is still technically involved in the organization, even if it’s reduced to collecting paychecks.

My best guesstimate is that Kasten wasn’t brought here to build the Washington Braves. In retrospect it seems more logical that Lerner brought him in as a Tom Hagan to his Don Corleone, a Hollywood for his Iceman, or a Pauly D for his The Situation for all you pimple poppers. Kasten was the guy behind the guy, teaching the guy and his guys the ropes, which earned him a place at the table with all the other bread-winning guys. Not a bad deal for a guy.

If anything, it’s safe to state that Kasten helped provide some stability for a fledgling franchise that desired to be competitive sooner rather than later. Whether or not the Lerners will take his advice and run with it remains to be seen. If they’re successful, I’m sure Kasten will come up in conversations of praise. If not, well they were unsuccessful before he got there. Not a bad deal for a guy.

By Box Seats blogger  | September 24, 2010; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  Evan Bliss, Nationals  | Tags:  Evan Bliss, Nationals  
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Comments

Stability for a franchise that sought to be competitive sooner than later? No. Check out the histories of the Marlins (won WS in 5th year) and the D-Bax (won 100 games in year 2, WS in 4th year), those are clubs that wanted a fast track to contention, and went out and got it done.

Anyway, Stan's tenure breaks down to him pretty much being willing to do anything within budget to sell a ticket, yet not willing to do much to win a ball game.

Posted by: dfh21 | September 24, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Baseball is in a popularity slump because the game is played every day and people don't have the time to sit around and talk about players' up or downsides before they are on to the next game. Unless, baseball has a controversy that can go on for months no one talks about anyone's highs or lows because those highs or lows are long gone within a few days while in other sports, people can talk about some issue for days before a game takes place. Plus baseball games cost way too much for how much each game impacts the season. Maybe if the price was lowered, fans would show up. Also, no one identifies with players anymore. I am a baseball fan, although I can't identify a single player, except for Derek Jeter, if he walked down the street. Compare that with a generation ago when every fan knew all the players on the home team and all the stars on the others. I have no idea what any of the Nationals look like except for Adam Dunn, maybe, and then I would probably think he played for the Redskins. Most important, you have to be a fool to bet on a baseball game. Unlike other sports, you never know who is going to win on any particular night. With gambling the number one pastime in this country, football stands supreme for so many reasons. Lastly, in the old days, every kid played baseball every day because that is what you did. Now if you are no good at baseball you immediately move on to something else in hopes of being good. Why I see more kids on skateboards in a day than I see kids playing baseball in a year. And why not, if you are lousy at baseball why in a few months time and a few missing teeth you can do "circus" tricks that will make you a few dollars. And, of course, if you are good at football or basketball, you have no time for baseball so the only people left playing the sport are those who are good at it. It is so sad to see a kid with a soccer ball because his father never learned how to throw because his father never took the time to play catch. All the baby boomerx out there should be ashamed for not taking the time to teach their kids to throw. Now we have a country filled with children only doing what they do best, which in most cases is still not very good, because the best athletes are found in the big sports. If you don't believe me, just ask the question, how come the US with the best coaching in the world can't find a soccer team to beat Slovenia with its 2 million people, and our tennis players are now pathetic on the world stage. Anyway, until baseball can find a way to attract young people to play it once more and reduce ticket prices the game will atrophy for good.

Oh and why did Stan Kasten leave? I would bet a nickel that he got tired of no one in the stands and The Washington Post's horrific coverage of the team. Why most mornings, it's hard to find front page stories about the Nats and if there is, it is below the fold and surrounded by stories about the Redskins and Lebron James and the NBA.

Posted by: terrysb | September 24, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

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