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Know Your Fans: Nats Fan David Gregory

Latest in an extremely infrequent series featuring well-known fans of local teams.

The Nats Winter Caravan is underway; highlight's include tonight's celebrity cook-off at the downtown ESPN Zone (8-9) with special judging from a brave Manny Acta, and Sunday's open-to-the-public NatsFest at the Park (1-5), featuring clubhouse tours, autographs, front-office Q&A sessions and George Will. Monday will bring several community appearances.

There is also a "Hot Stove Luncheon" this afternoon for season ticket holders, starring Jim Bowden and Stan Kasten and hosted by, of all people, Meet the Press moderator David Gregory. Which seemed reason enough for asking NBC News' former Chief White House Correspondent a few baseball questions. He's a Nats season-ticket holder, goes to about 20 games a year, and is hopeful that the team will win a World Series before his three young children leave town.

So are you actually a Nats fan?

I am. I've got three kids and my oldest is six now, so I was just really excited to get baseball in D.C. I grew up a big Dodgers fan--I'm from L.A.--but once the team came to town, I was just so fired up. I think being a baseball fan is about your youth, about your boyhood. My boy loves the Dodgers because I do, but he's gonna love his home team, which is the Nats. So I am [a fan], and he is, and we're into it.

Do you root for the Dodgers still?

Yes, I do root for the Dodgers. You know, I can't shed that loyalty. But I'm definitely a Nats fan as well, and I'm dedicated to the hometown team.

Impressions of the new ballpark?

Love it. Just great. It's easy to get to, I've found it's in a good, close-in location, close to the action, great for the kids. I think they've done a great job.

Are you the most famous Nats fan?

I don't think so. I don't know, maybe George Will?

C'mon, you're as famous as George Will.

There's lots of high-profile people out there.

Has the D.C. media establishment embraced this team?

I think so. I feel that way. There's a lot of people who love baseball and love to have it here. Al Hunt sits a couple of rows up from me, and I know he's really into it.

A lot was made last year about the team's pretty tiny television audience. Do you watch the MASN broadcasts?

I do. I do. I think they do a pretty good job. I like Don Sutton. I've enjoyed him, I think he's smart.

I guess the concern is that the number of people watching isn't very large.

That would be a concern. I don't know why that's the deal. Look, they're gonna struggle for attendance [initially] as well. It's been a great destination for people, whether they're dedicated Nats fans or they want to be a part of a cool venue in town, but look, that's gonna be a struggle based on how good the team is. I love baseball and it's important for me to have this with my kids, so we're gonna be fans. I grew up in L.A. with one of the most famous sports franchises in the world, so it's a different deal. I had some moments early last year when I was really frustrated, but by and large I still found them entertaining to watch.

What about your son, does he mind if they lose?

He's ok with it. He just loves going out there and knowing all the players. That may increase over time. It's not keeping him from going, let's put it that way.

Do you get the sense that it's taking a little while to build this fan base, maybe because there's so many people like you who grew up rooting for other teams?

You know what, whether there's pre-existing loyalties or not, I think any of us who love baseball are just really excited to have a team in D.C. D.C's like that, where everybody comes from different places. I think it is a challenge. Is it any different from other towns? Maybe so, but it's just a challenge as the team builds. People are only going to be so patient unless you're really a baseball fan, as I am.

Do you believe in The Plan?

Look, as a fan, I believe in some of the development they're doing around key players like Zimmerman. He's exciting to watch. I think all of us would just like to see some pitching.

Not to be uncivil, but I've always been told that even though I don't cover politics in any way, I'm not allowed to give even five cents to a political campaign, or put a political bumper sticker on my car or whatever, so that we don't look biased. So I've sort of never understood why people who cover politics don't have to be objective about sports. Any thoughts?

That's interesting. [laughing] I think it's ok to be subjective about sports. Why do we need objectivity about sports teams? I'm not covering them directly. I've got to be a citizen of my city first.

Ok, how about this: Nats fans criticize us at The Post for not covering the team as much as a big-league city deserves. How have you found the local media coverage?

I actually have been happy. I think the coverage has been good. I think you guys have actually done a good job, between columnists, following the day-to-day and the trends of the team. I'm satisfied. I've got no complaints.

Do you resent the Redskins monster? Some Nats fans sort of resent how much of the local media space the Redskins suck up.

No, not at all. The Redskins are a great franchise. They've been around for a long time, and they're a big part of this city. I don't resent that at all. People in D.C. are really happy to have the Nats here, love the stadium, love the development that's going on, and you've got to be patient. For me, it's kind of a different experience, because I grew up around the Dodgers, but you've got to have some patience, and it has to happen over time. There's nothing like success to get everyone fired up and, get the [media] attention going.

Ok, quickly. Odds Obama throws out the first pitch at the home opener?

I bet they're pretty high.

Best Nats game you've ever attended?

I would say that would have been the Father's Day game against the Yankees, when Zimmerman hit the home run to win the game.

Favorite ballpark food?

I like the Ben's Chili Bowl there. I think that's excellent.

Win-loss prediction this season?

You know what, I'm trying to keep it realistic. I'd just like to see us above .500. I want to edge out the Marlins. I'd like them to be above .500, competitive. I'm wiling to have the slow build. The main thing is, I'd like them to be entertaining to watch. Then I'm there.

By Dan Steinberg  |  January 23, 2009; 9:02 AM ET
Categories:  Know Your Fans , Media , Nats  
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An intriguing interview. The Nat's need to put up some cash for a team. I hear they are so cheep that even the ticketing office is on a hiring freeze (really).

Posted by: alex35332 | January 23, 2009 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Refreshing candor about the Post's coverage.

It's still not enough, no matter what Gregory says (nicely spun by him BTW), but at least the Post now seems willing to do more than dismiss the question.

Posted by: Hendo1 | January 23, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

david gregory is a liberal a**hole

Posted by: mopp04 | January 23, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

the 'Paris Hilton' of newsmen.

Posted by: JefftheGreek | January 23, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

If he starts saying "Go Nats!" at the end of broadcasts, I swear to God...

Posted by: Section117 | January 23, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

"I'm trying to keep it realistic. I'd just like to see us above .500."

I don't see how these two sentences can be in a row like that.

Still, great interview, Steinz.

Posted by: jamesmottram | January 23, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Thanks much for the interview. I hadn't realized that Mr. Gregory was a Nats fan. As you probably know, another high profile Nats fan also had a MtP connection, Tim Russert.

(and I also appreciated the candor re. coverage)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 23, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

david gregory is a liberal a**hole

Posted by: mopp04 | January 23, 2009 9:52 AM

ha ha - you're life sucks

Posted by: Kev29 | January 23, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

ha ha - you're life sucks

that's your, not you're're means "you are". get an education.

Posted by: mopp04 | January 23, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

You're right! Your life sucks

Posted by: Kev29 | January 23, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

I would like to note that one does not need to be a "liberal" to be an a-hole. You have a-holes across the cultural and political spectrums as proved by the existence of all blogs, everywhere, ever.

Posted by: alex35332 | January 23, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Amen to that, alex.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 23, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

what an a-hole this guy is.

Posted by: poguesmahone | January 25, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

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