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About Those MASN Defining Moments


You know that series of MASN ads in which Orioles and Nats fans describe their "defining moments," moments that justify and redeem their fandom? Another round is on the way; you can submit a 2009 defining moment online, or go to open auditions at Nats Park this Sunday or at Camden Yards the following Sunday.

Last time around, there were about 200 submissions, which led to about 40 in-person auditions. One problem with the campaign, of course, is that there have been relatively few "defining moments" for both of these franchises in the recent past, or at least, moments whose definition isn't "take two Prozacs and call me in the morning." Certainly, there have been fewer than 200. So what do you do if you're MASN and more than one of your winning contestants has submitted the exact same moment? What do you do if, to be specific, at least three of your winning Nats fans all chose Wil Nieves's walk-off home run as defining? Well, you assign some of those fans a different defining moment, and e-mail them a script about that moment, of course.

"I had to spend the day on YouTube seeing how the Tomahawk Chop is done," joked Cathy Taylor, who submitted Nieves but was told her "defining moment" would be John Lannan out-dueling John Smoltz. "I researched the game I sent in; I didn't research the game I got."

"They weren't forcing it down my throat or anything, they just didn't want two guys doing the same moment," said Mark Searle, who also had submitted Nieves but wound up starring in the Elijah Dukes ad. "In fact, I liked that one better, the more I thought about it."

And to be fair, none of the people I've talked with expressed even the slightest concern that their "defining moment" was defined by someone else, at least initially. But the whole "Name Your Defining Moment" refrain? The verb seems wrong somehow. I mean, this whole thing has jarred my faith in the verity of televised advertising, at least for a couple minutes, anyhow.

"The people were real, the moments were real," MASN spokesman Todd Webster told me. "They may have been submitted by another fan, but that doesn't make them any less of a defining moment."

Adam Gresek agreed. Adam is the guy pictured in the above video. He suggested a defining moment involving a home game that featured thunderstorms, a long delay, and a gang of diehards sticking things out till the final pitch. He was accepted, and "when they accepted me, my script was totally different," he said Instead, he would be talking about the Mets coming to town in first place and leaving town in disarray.

"I remember it, I was here, but that wasn't the moment I submitted," he told me. "Even if the moment wasn't totally genuine, the experience of being connected with the team like that is a really good feeling. And from what I gather, most of the people who participated were still really really happy. It was still an awesome experience, just a great experience to be connected to the team that way."

Searle agreed, explaining that even at their auditions, after discussing their moments in their own words, applicants were given sharp, fast-paced scripts to read.

"We're dealing with real people here, people who had never been on a television shoot before, who were justifiably nervous during the auditions," Webster, the MASN spokesman, said. "So in order to help them focus and make the shoot as efficient as possible, some fans were given a dialogue synthesized from their e-mails, from interviews and from the improvs."

"Here's the main point, we're all great fans and we're all watching the games, and they're all great moments," Searle told me. "I'm watching the other guys like, 'Yeah, that's a great moment, too.' I would have been happy doing any of them, they're all great to me. They did a good thing here, getting the fans engaged."

And the fans seem to be engaged. Gresek gets stares at the ballpark, hears the "hey aren't you..." refrain at games. He's posed for photos with fans. He got recognized by a visitor at his job, when he wasn't wearing a shred of Nats clothing. And he's auditioning again this time around.

His next moment? It's the home opener. Nationals Park. Adam Dunn's gonna launch some bombs. The Big Donkey, trotting into D.C. Gresek has a replica 1949 glove. Dunn unloads. First batting practice home run. Up goes the glove. Here comes the ball, packing more punch than a drunk Phillies fan.

"It hits the glove and pops out the back," Gresek recalled. "I felt an Adam Dunn home run, but I couldn't contain the power."

Let's hope that's a defining moment.

(More negative feedback: "Damn, they are just bad," from Nationals Pride. Fantasies of doing unspeakable things to the stars from the disturbing Ballpark Guys. Mister Irrelevant's list of 10 actual defining moments, which will require a whole handful of anti-depressants with a vodka shooter.

"The reality was we didn't have a single defining moment from 2008 about which we felt passionate enough to subject ourselves to such embarrassment," from Luke Jones. "To some viewers, the commercials are clever, cute and downright funny because of the full-fledged enthusiasm of the fans. To others, they are irritating, silly and serve only as reminders of how unexciting the Nationals and Orioles have been in the past year," from Tim Lemke at the WaTi.)

By Dan Steinberg  |  May 22, 2009; 9:09 AM ET
Categories:  Nats  
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Comments

Yawn. I figured that they were scripted anyway. Guess that I'm one of the few fans who think that the commercials are kinda cute. There have been some who complained about MASN commercials every year. Maybe there's just no pleasing some people? Nah.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 22, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Mr Steinberg,

So are you coming out to Berryville this weekend for the herding trial like you said you would in your chat? Go to akc.org
and then events. Select VA and herding and get directions.

Have a great weekend!

Posted by: sheepherder | May 22, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

If the Nats want to expand their fan base (not that there's really any concrete evidence of this, but if) then are these really the people they should be holding up as their model fans? Sorry, but the MASN ads make NatsTown look like a red white and blue version of a dungeons and dragons convention. But hey, they've got marketing professionals who know DC and know baseball right? I'm sure they've got a plan.

Posted by: MoMonroe | May 22, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

What creeps me out about those commercials are how finely the eyebrows of the guys in them have been trimmed.

A true Nats fan dare not got to a game with unkempt eyebrows!

Posted by: mike8 | May 22, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

My MASN defining moments:

(1) They advertise a game as being in HD, and then show the standard definition picture with those black bars on either side of it.

(2) They're only showing the Nats game on MASN2, which is standard def by definition, yet they run commercials for MASN HD during the game, talking about how great it is.

(3) They run Orioles Defining Moments commercials during Nats games.

(4) They force Nats fans to endure the Orioles announcers during the Battle of the Beltways.

(5) MASN's standard definition picture is so bad that players look clean shaven one moment, then turn their head slightly and are sporting a five day growth of beard. Yet as bad as this picture is, it's still not enough to keep Jim Palmer's multiple facelifts from scaring the bejesus out of me every time they have him do the announcer standup. Yet another reason not to watch the Orioles.

(6) And the ultimate MASN defining moment for me: The first time I caught a glimpse of Phil Wood's scary haircut. Talk about a face made for radio!

Posted by: nunof1 | May 22, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

My defining moment...the day we traded for Austin Kearns. That was the day we really started to suck. I cant wait until we trade Willingham because "Kearns has really been working hard with hitting coach Rick Eckstein and can now adjust to inside pitches" Austin, you're supposedly a major league hitter. My high school hitters know how to make basic adjustments at the plate. Take more ABs away from our young outfielders and I cant wait until Willingham drops 30 bombs for a contender this fall.

Posted by: TheycallmeThriiiiiiilledge | May 22, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Defining moment...
Winning a game against somebody. That game when that happened was a total shock and totally awesome. Getting hits, runs, striking guys out.... it doesn't get much sweeter!

Posted by: law3 | May 22, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

I just don't get the term "defining moment." Outside of the first season, my favorite Nats game I attended was Labor Day 2006, when Ramon Ortiz no-hit the Cardinals for eight innings and hit a home run in the bottom of the eighth? But what does that define? That even a pitcher with a 5 ERA can have a great game?

Oh, and if I hear that guy go "Will Nieves? Will Nieves" one more time, I might throw a brick at the television. I was at that game too, and enjoyed it--but calling that a defining moment just makes me depressed about how awful the Nats were last year.

Posted by: TheFingerman | May 22, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Really, they should call them Memorable Moments rather than Defining Moments. That would make more sense. Although it wouldn't make the commercials any better.

And now that it's been revealed that many of these actor/fans were handed their scripts rather than coming up with them on their own, I have one burning question. Did that lady in the Milledge haiku commercial come up with that herself, or was it forced on her? Because if I was her and someone forced me to read that, I'd be suing MASN for abuse and public humiliation!

Posted by: nunof1 | May 22, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

My defining moment? I have 2.

1st, Julian Tavarez pumping his fists and screaming expletives after his 1st save (post Hanrahan part 1), thinking he locked down the closer role for the rest of the year. We all know how that story ends.

2nd? It hasn't happened yet, but will. Ray Knight begging Stan Kasten to become the next Manager of the Nats after they let Acta go. If there is a God, Stan will say no. Right?

Posted by: TheMichael | May 22, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Austin Kearns has actually been one of the more solid players over the past few seasons. He's just been slowed up by injuries. He's had some clutch at bats this year and is one of our better RBI guys. Willingham hits the occasional home-run but doesn't come through like Kearns does in the clutch. I'd much rather see Kearns in right then Willingham.

Posted by: Natsnut571 | May 22, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

I can't believe I actually read all of this. What a horrible post. I want to die.

Posted by: MarylanDChris | May 22, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

What I love about the Orioles' 'definining moments' is how many of them come against the Yankees. Talk about having a complex. When's the last time the O's finished ahead of the Yanks in the standings? 1997. There's your defining decade-plus, O's fans.

Posted by: Incredulous2 | May 22, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

I guess a career .240 batting average with RISP is pretty clutch. Do we suck that bad that he is a solid player for us? God help us all!!!!!

Posted by: TheycallmeThriiiiiiilledge | May 22, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

My defining moment is the Nats are possibly the worst team in the league. At least the Orioles have a future. The Nats suck and always will. They will get swept this weekend by the O’s.

Posted by: cj658 | May 22, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Well this season (like last season) Nats are hosting " defining moment" giveaways to other teams. This bonanza offer is limited to first 162 games only!!!
Instead MASN should do a series of ads on "dismembering or disintegrating moments". Predict the "disintegrating moment" for the game and win a pair of tickets to godknowswhere. All they care is viewership right. Get people to watch one way or the other.
We miss Chad real bad...

Posted by: KarK | May 22, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

“4) They force Nats fans to endure the Orioles announcers during the Battle of the Beltways.”

That’s because the O’s announcers are better. Everything about the O’s is better: The team, the announcers, the stadium, the fan base, the history, EVERYTHING.

All Nats fans are just band-wagoners or not real baseball fans. 75% of them we’re O’s fans before the Expos came to town, and jumped ship to root for the Nats. Now that’s loyality right there.

Posted by: cj658 | May 22, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

His career batting average doesn't have a clutch factor, I'm just saying he comes up big in key situations. I haven't seen that from Willingham yet.

Posted by: Natsnut571 | May 22, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

uh, cj, I'm pretty sure that you have to have a winning team to be a band-wagoner. ;-) I'm afraid that doesn't apply to either of our teams at present.

I don't know where your stats come from but, for the record, I've never rooted for the O's. The Nats and the P-Nats are much closer to my neck of the woods and more convenient as far as getting to games. I'm also more of an NL person.
I didn't live in this area in the years of the Senators, but I embraced the Nats as soon as they came to town in 2005. I'm acquainted with a number of fans who lived here in the Senators years and did not transfer their allegiance during the drought years (though I'm aware that there are those who did). Not sure that 75% is accurate at any rate.

---

All Nats fans are just band-wagoners or not real baseball fans. 75% of them we’re O’s fans before the Expos came to town, and jumped ship to root for the Nats. Now that’s loyality right there.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 22, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

here's a few defining moments:

1. Nats draft Aaron Crow in the 1st round in 2008 after he goes 13-0 with a 2.35 ERA and 127 strikeouts in 15 starts (including a string of 43 consecutive scoreless innings) but end up leaving him unsigned.

2. in only the 2nd (!!) season at their brand new stadium (considered by many to be a taxpayer-funded boondoggle), the Nationals average fewer than 20,000 fans per home game, falling behind such teams like the Twins and Devil Rays and their god awful domes.

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/attendance

Posted by: dimesmakedollars | May 22, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

All Nats fans are just band-wagoners or not real baseball fans.

yeah. well, to have bandwagon fans you have to a band and a wagon and fans. if you haven't noticed, the nats have neither. and hard to pin the term "bandwagon" on a team in its 5th season that was never any good.

and ONLY real baseball fans would be fans of the nats. certainly the casual fan doesnt follow the team.

seems like the bandwagon moniker is the one other teams fans want to hang on dc fans when they have nothing else to say. in this case particularly, its pretty laughable...

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | May 22, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Uh, I'm gonna have to say no on the sheepherding. If it was in D.C. on a Tuesday afternoon, heck yeah. But in Berryville on a weekend when no one except the deranged are on the Internet....not sure.

If anyone wants to send me photos and a recap, tho, by all means.

Posted by: DanSteinberg1 | May 22, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

quoth the bog: "I mean, this whole thing has jarred my faith in the verity of televised advertising, at least for a couple minutes, anyhow."

quoth i: i have kept my faith in the veracity (not really a synonym of 'verity' and thus a better choice here) of tv ads in a jar for a long time. i think i snuffed it out and put it in embalming solution when '20 mule team borax' ads featured an empty cowboy hat named ronald reagan. it is a greenish, thickish jar, and that poor deformed preserved dead faith floats inside that jar like the brain of a.b. normal did.

Posted by: natty-bumppo | May 22, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

@Natty, I sure do often screw up on word choice, but I think verity is one of those words that used to mean something else but now means what everyone thinks it does, because the definitions have caught up to the usage. "the quality or state of being true or real" works for me in this case.

Posted by: DanSteinberg1 | May 22, 2009 5:43 PM | Report abuse

So if I go to the audition and explain my Nats defining moment as hearing Stan Kasten going on Philadelphia radio and begging Phillies fans to come to Nat's park on opening day.....do you think I'd make the ad? Sadly, that IS my Nats defining moment.

Posted by: DisgustedinArlington | May 22, 2009 8:40 PM | Report abuse

O's fans, so pathetic. Just like the team. I am neither a Nats or an O's fans, so speaking objectively.....I'd rather be a Nats fan.

1. You talk about fan loyalty. Ok, I've been to Yankees and Red Sox games at Camden Yards. Let's just say the noise was much louder for the visitors than for the home team.

2. Wasn't there a time that EVERY O's game was a sellout? What happened to that? Oh yeah, because O's fans are so "loyal".

3. The O's announcers aren't capable of calling a Little League game nevermind a professional game. The Nats announcers aren't great, but they provide much more insight than the two bums the O's have.

3. I've been hearing about the O's "future" for the better part of a decade now. I believe Bedard and Cabrera were supposed to bring the O's back to the playoffs.....how'd that work out?

4. Sammy Sosa and Albert Belle. Austin Kearns may suck, but Sammy Sosa and Albert Belle?

The Nats have a long way to go, but it seems they are attempting at getting younger. Every time the O's start to get young and have a future, they trade it away. Peter Angelos is the MLB version of Al Davis.

Posted by: RobInVaBeach | May 22, 2009 9:28 PM | Report abuse

yes, it has.
http://www.nowgoal.com/22.shtml

Posted by: suesue3 | May 23, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse

I think Colin Cowherd called the ownership of the Orioles the equivalent of a dumpster fire. If that is true, then the Lerners are the equivalent of an oil drum fire in some vacant lot with some homeless people hanging around it.

Posted by: Randy_Hawkins | May 24, 2009 7:56 AM | Report abuse

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