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Nats Plant Trees

One mayor and two presidents.

The Nationals' brain trust gathered beyond the left field fence at Nats Stadium this morning to plant the 13th 14th of 14 cherry trees that will adorn the plaza. The ceremony began once Mayor Adrian Fenty arrived. Giant Racing President Head George Washington immediately attached himself to Fenty's side.

"We made him leave his axe at home," Nats President Stan Kasten noted.

The six-month banner.

"Ok, good," Fenty said. "How are you?" he asked Giant Racing President Head George, who enthusiastically indicated that he was just fine.

Me, I was still stuck wondering whether the sort of cherry tree that George Washington might have cut down with his giant inflatable racing axe was actually of the same sort as the "cherry blossom tree" now being planted by a bunch of public officials in suits and Curly W hard hats.

"I have no idea, I use them interchangeably," Kasten later told me. "You might want to consult with a horticulturist."

"That's why we brought the experts in," principal team owner Mark Lerner said.

"You know, I wish Holly was here," Lerner Enterprises VP Frank Gambino said, referring to team horitcultural advisor Holly H. Shimizu, executive director of the U.S. Botanical Gardens. "Last year she gave me a cherry tree for dummies lesson, and I forgot to ask that question."

Botanical debates aside, Kasten took to the podium and said through his many years in the sports biz, this would be his first tree planting, and also that something new seemed to happen at the park every week.

"If you come back next week, we're going to install the leaves," he said, gesturing toward the still barren trees. "And then the next week, we'll paint them pink."

"Oh, go on, you funny man!" indicated Giant Racing President Head George, pshawing his hands playfully in front of his Colonial body and no doubt wishing he had that axe.

"When you see the cherry blossoms, you'll be able to instantly recognize, that's the ballpark in D.C.," Kasten continued.

The tree waited patiently through more speeches, and then the talking wrapped up and everyone wandered over to the ceremonial shovels, and the tree, which, truth be told, was already pretty much planted and just needed some more dirt. Twenty Kwanzan trees--just in case some didn't make it--had been selected by Gambino from a nursery in Pennsylvania last summer, with planting and varietal advice provided by Shimizu. And the fertile minds of the team's baseball trust evidently sprouted under her guidance; Kasten began talking this morning about the height and width and caliper--"that's a term for the stem"--of their chosen trees.

"We spent the extra money, we got a bigger caliper tree," Lerner said. "It'll be much more spectacular."

Fenty and Kasten invited Lerner to seize the middle shovel, and the dirt was foisted, ceremoniously, upon the planted tree, and Kasten got all neurotic about his shoveling form--"I told you, it's my first tree planting, Adrian, you've probably planted a lot more trees than I have," he said. One photographer jumped inside the hole to get a better shot, while another asked the officials whether they might coordinate their dirt-transport efforts. And then after a few shovel-fulls of dirt, everyone wandered over to look at the giant National League banner that took six months to design, and the future location of the Sony PlayStation Pavilion and Build-a-Bear Workshop and Miller Lite Beer Pen, while the landscapers filled in the rest of the dirt.

Meantime, the braintrust began referring to someone as "The Godfather of the Cherry Tree." Because I'm a bad person, I figured this person was Frank Gambino. No, no, Gambino told me; the team's president is actually the holder of that title.

"I call Stan 'The Godfather of the Cherry Trees,' " Lerner confirmed, before consulting with the chief landscaper about whether to install red and white pansies and then petunias around the bases of the 14 trees.

The shoveling.

By Dan Steinberg  |  March 6, 2008; 2:17 PM ET
Categories:  Nats  
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They couldn't bury the Screech costume, could they?

Six months to design a banner with your own logo on the bottom right? Weak.

Posted by: Kim | March 6, 2008 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Fenty continues to act like he didn't try to derail the whole stadium process. Jerk.

Posted by: mike8 | March 6, 2008 3:12 PM | Report abuse

And if I make the team, I'll bless you with blooming cherry trees for Opening Day...

Posted by: Katsuhiko Maekawa | March 6, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

you'd think the teams would be in alphabetical order on the banner. Most look like they are, except for Colorado before Chicago, Pittsburgh before Philadelphia and San Francisco before San Diego. Unless the person creating the banner was a victim of the travesty that is the DC Public School System.

Posted by: e | March 6, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

For someone who has never planted a tree before in his life to be anointed as the "Godfather of Cherry Trees" must mean that Stan can do it all, no?

Posted by: Chris in SS | March 6, 2008 4:37 PM | Report abuse

E, I think you meant Colorado before Cincinnati, but your point was made.
If they're not going to put the teams in alphabetical order, then why stick the Nats in the bottom corner?

Posted by: Will | March 6, 2008 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Chris in SS, you're totally right. Stan really can do anything! love him.

Posted by: S | March 6, 2008 9:21 PM | Report abuse

Awful, just flat out awful. I guess the Lerner grandkids were doing the Alphabetical order for the banner.

Posted by: Section 505/203 | March 6, 2008 11:43 PM | Report abuse


Can you get us an answer as to why the banner is alphabetically incorrect?

Posted by: swinreston | March 7, 2008 11:24 AM | Report abuse

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