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Nationals Television Fail

Behold: the face of a bottom-of-the-ninth-inning baseball comeback.

If you are either an insomniac, a masochist, a Diet Dr. Pepper addict, a taxi driver on the night shift, Tom Boswell, a degenerate gambler, a blogger with Rob Dibble interviews to transcribe or a diehard Nats fan, you stayed up through more than two hours of rain to see if the home team would pull off the dramatic bottom-of-the-ninth comeback. They did.

But as that comeback accelerated, then shuddered to a halt and stood staring glumly at the finish line, some of the above souls (Comcast and Cox subscribers, apparently) who tried to watch baseball on MASN2, were instead shown Senator Tom Coburn, speaking on C-Span2. He was gone, and baseball was back, sometime in the 10th, but by that time the most exciting part of the game had already passed. Here's the episode summary of the replacement program:

Senator Corburn [sic] talked about major legislation facing the Senate, including health care. Among the topics he addressed were proposals to create a public option for health care coverage, financing health care reform, and potential rationing of care.

That would be the same Coburn who has campaigned against federal funding for Metro. I'm sure he'd recommend Nats fans who stay out late for rain-delayed extra-inning games take pogo sticks home.

MASN, meantime, was showing an Orioles replay, even as the Nats sent their game into extra innings and fans were calling it "one of the rare bright spots of the year." "I wonder what a rally looks like, I haven't seen one in a while, maybe I should re-check MASN. Nope, Aubrey Huff just flied out," one fan wrote me. "This is too much fail to ignore," another wrote.

This was "the Nationals 10th rain delay of the season, to go along with three rain outs and a suspended game," according to MASN's Pete McElroy. Not sure how many were played in front of three-digit crowds, but I don't think this was the first.

Johnny Holliday variously estimated the crowd size as 86 and 23, as I recall. And yet, Coburn aside, there were plenty of us watching this on television, each for our own sad, lonely reasons. Actually, via Twitter, I received some specific explanations:

-Masochism? (@Half_Street)

-Because its only 9:20 on the west coast (@chronicleprod)

- Because it's that or college rugby on ESPNU (@jtannenwald)

- Because like Agent Mulder, "I want to believe." (@mathewbrown)

- Because steve nash won't be on letterman for a few more minutes? (@malitzd)

- Because it gives me a great excuse to be drinking past midnight in the middle of the week. (@tradepolicyguy)

- Because even if the nats give up 10 here, it's still more entertaining than jimmy fallon. (@JohnWillmott)

- The only other option was Washington post live. (@twtsports)

Believe it or not, the Nats--who haven't come from behind to win after the 8th inning in more than a year--went on to lose this one in 12 innings. Their record is now 0-8 in extra innings, and 15-42 overall. A couple years back, the New England Patriots needed 16 regular-season games to reach their 16th win. The Nationals have played 57. We're still waiting.

"This has been a crazy season," Ray Knight said during Nats Extra, or Xtra, or whatever it's called. That's true. This is truer.

"Not scoring at 12:45 a.m.; you and I are one, Washington Nationals," @chaztopher wrote.

(Another good quote, from Adam Dunn, about getting picked off second base in the sixth: "It's, I guess, me being a bad baserunner. Is that what you want me to say? Because I'll say it. It's me being a bad baserunner.")

(And yeah, Holliday's mic conked out during the post-game show, so Rob Dibble had to volunteer his.)

(Noted, as always: I believe the Nationals will succeed wildly in the near future, and I will jump on the bandwagon with all four limbs when that happens. Growing pains, is all.)

(Previously: Nationals Uniform Fail, Nationals Bobblehead Fail, Nationals Bat Fail, Nationals Sausage Fail, Nationals Kosher Fail, Nationals Fireworks Fail, Nationals Timekeeping Fail.)

By Dan Steinberg  |  June 11, 2009; 1:24 AM ET
Categories:  Media , Nats  
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Next: Nationals Gift Fail [UPDATE]


Just when you think things couldn't get any worse...

Though in fairness to the Natinals, (no, we're not letting that one die anytime soon, get over it), this is NOT their fault and they should not be blamed for this.

It is the fault of the spineless MLB Commissioner, Bud Selig, who insisted on turning over their TV rights to another franchise who has no desire to see them succeed.

Pin the blame for this failure squarely on the Miser Angelos Sports Network and Selig.

Though, again, we've all seen the ratings so who was really watching anyway??? What angered me more was that once they got to the post-game show, they didn't show the highlights of the comeback nor mention who did what in the comeback to force extra-innings in the first part of the show.

Posted by: CapsNut | June 11, 2009 1:53 AM | Report abuse

That's probably because they only had footage of Senator Coburn as well.

Posted by: LukasWP | June 11, 2009 7:01 AM | Report abuse

I guess I missed it in the article, but what was the official explanation from MASN on why the end of the game was not shown?

Posted by: Dougmacintyre | June 11, 2009 8:19 AM | Report abuse

Angelos wanted the Senators

Posted by: sitruc | June 11, 2009 8:33 AM | Report abuse

I thought it has rained quite a lot in the past month or two. 10 rain delays and 4 other games affected by the rain seem to confirm that.

Posted by: xlynwoodx | June 11, 2009 8:36 AM | Report abuse

It's not up to MASN to turn it on - it's up to the cable carriers to switch to alternate programming on MASN2 (usually a temporary channel shared with other programming) in rain delays and someone fell asleep at the switch to turn it back on when play resumed. I went through this multiple times with RCN when they would black out games shown on DC20 and then never turn the channel back on in time for the next day's game and getting someone with the power to do so was a ridiculous exercise in futility. So I'm on FiOS now and had to watch Push-Pause and fitness programming that I promptly fell asleep to until the game came back (it did - I remember hearing it and opening my eyes briefly).

Posted by: misschatter | June 11, 2009 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Last night was just a culmination of MASN's bizarre rain delay strategy. Within seconds of a rain delay, they switch immediately to ESPNews (you'd think they'd at least give Johnny and Ray some time to chat about what's happened so far or something.) The graphic they put in the corner of ESPNews to indicate rain delay is so tiny that it's unreadable and would only be seen by someone looking for it. And they put NOTHING on the screen at any time to tell you when they might be rejoining the game or even giving you an update on the weather. It's like they don't even care if you come back to watch after the rain delay.

So last night--where for some reason MASN2 went back to CSPAN2 at 10 p.m., but MASN failed to pick up the broadcast (even though it's supposed to)--just proves that MASN doesn't even care if anyone watches after the rain delay ends.

With ten rain delays this season, this is a problem.

Posted by: TheFingerman | June 11, 2009 8:42 AM | Report abuse

I'm sure the dozen or so fans in the area watching were frustrated, but really, who cares? The ownership of this team has served up a big stinking plate of garbage and called it a baseball team. Nobody's going to the games and nobody's watching. Who cares...15-42?

Baseball always fails in Washington and always will.

Posted by: jollyroger2 | June 11, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

There should be a "fail" category for these blogs at the bottom of the post. Maybe it should just replace the Nats category, or it can be to keep track of the list that seem to be in every Bog post aobut the Nats.

Posted by: cheeseburger53 | June 11, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

How about this, the nats should have rights to Baltimore's broadcast in MD? That would even things out.

Posted by: alex35332 | June 11, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

the nats are the backdoor mat of MLB you could give me front row seats and I would burn the tickets . But this is what we except in Dc

Posted by: terryreece | June 11, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

What I want to know how this is a Nationals fail ?
It appears to be a MASN COMCAST FAIL. That MASN is, has been and will continue to be a FAIL, seems to be of no concern to you. And Comcast is rooted in FAIL why they should make their phone number 1-800-WEFAILU. Why don't you try to stop the snark and place the FAIL's where they belong. The uniform is a Majestic FAIL, the Bobblehead is a manufacture FAIL, the kosher FAIL would be the kosher vendors FAIL. If you need help on the humor of FAIL in the same vein as the bobblehead without the snark try this site it will do you a world of good.
The only FAIL the Nationals have through all of this is their play on the field and record. That is the FAIL of the moment.

Posted by: CBinDC | June 11, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Agreed, this is a MASN/Cable companies failure. And I was going to send in the same photos.

Posted by: Kev29 | June 11, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

CB has a good point. MASN, as Mr. Angelos' [insert snarky word of choice here] network, would be an O's fail rather than a Nationals fail.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 11, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Okay, maybe a Selig fail, too, but what else is new?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 11, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Sorry CBinDC, while all of those parties are indeed responsible for the respective failures - the Nationals are also responsible.

The Nationals didn't have to put the bobbleheads on the shelves of its store. The Nationals didn't could have noticed the Natinals error and fixed it before sending its two biggest stars onto the field with misspelled uniforms. And the Nationals don't have to sit idly by while the broadcasts continue to suck - they could make damning public statements.

Finally, I knew nothing about the Kosher thing...but after a quick read, it appears the Nationals had a part in that failure too.

Posted by: combedge | June 11, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

OK, so maybe "damning public statements" wouldn't make much of a difference.

But, my point is that I don't think it's mere coincidence that all of these ridiculous failures are happening to one franchise.

Posted by: combedge | June 11, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse

And they put NOTHING on the screen at any time to tell you when they might be rejoining the game or even giving you an update on the weather. It's like they don't even care if you come back to watch after the rain delay.

They come back for a brief update at the top and bottom of each hour - more or less. It's quick...easy to miss.

Posted by: tha_prophet | June 11, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

And if you try to call Comcast to complain about this programming failure the only phone number you can find is a calling center that's only able to talk about billing questions and adding/subtracting service. Ask for a local phone number or even the corporate headquarters phone number and they won't give it to you. Ask for a supervisor and you're told they're all in a meeting for the next half-hour. I think this exemplifies why Comcast came in second (behind AOL) in a recent poll for worst customer service in the U.S.

Posted by: greggwiggins | June 11, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Some of these fails are irritating/infuriating (MASN's "Hide the Game" strategy), but some of them are truly amusing even to those of us frustrated with the team's losing. You'd think some sharp publicity person in the FO would find a way to capitalize on Sausage Fail, Bat Fail, and Timekeeping Fail.

Sausage Fail reminds me of WKRP in Cincinnati's "Thanksgiving turkey drop" (" God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly..."). Timekeeping Fail... well, how about replacing the lame "Guess Today's Attendance" jumbotron game with, "Guess The Actual Time?"

If the team is going to be lousy for another couple of years, why not at least try to be loveable losers, like the '62 Mets?

Of course, the Nats' FO would probably fail at that, too. They'd probably drop frozen turkeys into the stands...

Posted by: gilbertbp | June 11, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps the lovable losers concept is what got us into this in the first place. Let. Teddy. Win. (with Dibble in the costume)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 11, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

But Dan, you said the network wasn't an issue. This wouldn't be a problem if the team was on Comcast. You know the dc centric network that carries all the other DC teams.

Posted by: JDB1 | June 11, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Baseball Card Fail-
Has anyone noticed that on the wall in the Stars and Strips Club Bar there are several photos of TOPPS 1974 baseball cards that are error cards? One such card is of Willie McCovey, who never played for a Washington Team. In 1974, it was rumored that the San Diego Padres were going to be moving to Washington. Topps assumed it was going to happen as they began printing Padres players with "Washington" and "Nat'L Lea." instead of San Diego Padres. The Natinals proudly display three such error cards (of McCovey and two other Padres that never played for a Washington team). See
for a side by side photo of the error card and corrected version.

Posted by: Y2kob | June 11, 2009 10:23 AM | Report abuse

"Baseball always fails in Washington and always will."

I guess if Baltimore had 2 winning teams since 1945 baseball would fail there as well. It's people like you who make blanket statements without knowing the facts.

Posted by: JDB1 | June 11, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of baseball cards, I like the idea of posting big baseball cards of Nats players from each day's lineup outside the team store, but I would like it even better were they placed in their order for the lineup.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 11, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Never thought I'd be so happy to have bought an iPhone earlier in the day. Was able to buy the MLB At Bat application and listen to Charlie and Dave live while Comcast imitated a puckered sphincter.

Posted by: Juan-John | June 11, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

MASN1 was supposed to show the Reds-Nats at 11:30 last night. Instead they showed the O's game. I was at the Nats game but left after an hour of rain delay (we had to work this am and couldn't stay). I'd really like to have been able to see the rest of the game. Thanks for nothing MASN!

Posted by: redsfan323 | June 11, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

The good news is - we're developing quite a chip on our shoulders. Of course, that's probably what the Lerners want, for us to turn into bitter but high spending Cub-like fans.

Posted by: Kev29 | June 11, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Snark aside, Chico is looking into this and has a post up over on Nationals Journal to solicit MASN viewer feedback on the issue.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 11, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

The Nats will always get screwed by MASN. Why is there any surprise about that?

Posted by: poguesmahone | June 11, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Where is the media to report this?

Posted by: JDB1 | June 11, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

No, this was bogus. I left the game last night in the middle of the 9th so I could get soaked walking back to my car. So when I got to my home I wanted to see the end of the game, understandably. But I couldn't. Yes the poor play of the Nats has much to do with the lack of fan interest but so is the lack of accessibility of the product. Obviously this latest problem was Comcast/Cox's fault but why isn't the Nationals organization creating a fuss over this. It's like they don't care if people watch them on TV.

Posted by: bg703 | June 11, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

"the Natinals proudly display three such error cards (of McCovey and two other Padres that never played for a Washington team"

As they should.

The non-move of the Padres here is an interesting part of Nat's history.

Posted by: joebleux | June 11, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Comcast may be partially at fault for this, but don't let MASN off the hook. If one team is on the main MASN channel and MASN HD, and their coverage is over, MASN said at the beginning of the season that they would then switch MASN HD to coverage of the other team if that game was still going on. It happened with West Coast Orioles games last week, and thus there's no reason why MASN and MASN HD shouldn't have switched to the Nats game (or the rain delay of the Nats game) last night.

Posted by: TheFingerman | June 11, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

I watched the entire game on Fios, and there was no delay of service. This is clearly a Comcast/etc FAIL, as I saw it all.

Posted by: flyingdonut | June 11, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

MASN / Holliday FAIL: During Tuesday night's game Holliday repeatedly told us the score in the 5th innning was 3-0, even though Dukes had homered in the bottom of the 4th and the score was actually 3-1.

Posted by: bryandc | June 11, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

You guys are lucky. My Comcast MASN2 channel was not working for the whole game.

What a joke. The Digital Guide doesn't even show the MASN2 line up on Comcast in Arlington. So unless you specifically know the Nats are on MASN2, you would never be able to find it. It has been two years like that. Get an F'in clue Nats Media department. Get on the Phone with the local cable providers and get it fixed.

Posted by: dominic10464 | June 11, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

I loved WKRP in Cincinnati. It's hard to love the Nats.

Posted by: sitruc | June 11, 2009 6:02 PM | Report abuse

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