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Mark Lerner calls ownership "a trusteeship for the city"

One of Ted Leonsis's hallmark moves is referring to the Caps as "a public trust," an organization that serves some slightly larger purpose than mere money-making. Leonsis has attributed the concept to Abe Pollin, writing on his blog earlier this year that it was from Pollin "that I learned owning a team is a public trust. I have learned that owners have a responsibility to do everything in their power to build a great team that can achieve immortality for their fans by striving to win championships."

If public trusteeship is linked to championships, then Pollin was perhaps not the best example, but Leonsis had stuck to this talking point.

"Mr. Pollin was kind of the archetype of teaching owners that teams are a public trust," he said a few weeks later on the LaVar and Dukes show.

Now, whether he actually believes that deep in his heart, who knows, but I'd rather have an owner who pays lip service to that idea than one who doesn't. Which brings us to Leonsis's friend and business partner Mark Lerner, who seems to have adopted the theme in his own discussions of the Nats.

"As I have said many times before, owning the Nationals is a public trust that our family takes very seriously," Lerner told this fall.

Lerner -- who watched Game 7 of the Caps-Canadiens series from Leonsis's box -- was recently interviewed by Johnny Holliday and Ray Knight on the MASN set, and he used that trust language again.

"Honestly, not a day goes by that I don't pinch myself," Lerner said, when asked about ownership. "I watch people's faces on the fan days when they walk in the dugout, and I say I still get the same tingle when I walk in the dugout now. It's quite special. We're very honored to be able to have the Nationals, and it's a trusteeship for the city. And we're gonna win one day, no doubt about."

With Leonsis running the Capitals and Wizards and the Lerners in full-on trusteeship mode, that leaves Daniel Snyder. If he starts talking about how the Redskins are a public trust, go ahead and run for the hills.

In Lerner's MASN interview, which was conducted more than a week ago, he was also asked about the team's surprisingly competitive start.

"All the credit this year certainly goes to Mike Rizzo," he said. "Mike's done a superb job working with Stan, and we got just about everybody we had our sights on in the offseason, so we're very proud of that. And most of them are contributing, and a lot of them who aren't I'm sure will be soon.

"But as far as the future, I think we're right on the cusp. If you look at just the starting pitching next year if everything goes well, Stephen [Strasburg], Drew [Storen],Chien-Ming Wang, Jordan Zimmermann will be back healthy, John Lannan, [Luis] Atilano -- who knows, he could be a star, you never know. But it's all pitching pitching pitching, defense defense defense. All good things will come from that....So if we can get that starting pitching going on a regular steady basis, I think the sky's the limit for us."

By Dan Steinberg  |  May 4, 2010; 9:18 AM ET
Categories:  Caps , Nats  
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Next: Ovechkin's Caps and Gretzky's Oilers


Could've sworn Storen was a reliever.

Posted by: fushezzi | May 4, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

I wonder if he would have pulled out that "trusteeship" stuff if this April started like the past Aprils. Quick Mark, give the the trusteeship line before we are 20 games below .500.

Note: I hope the Nats dont tank. I'm jst saying, the blind squirrels finally found a nut

Posted by: makplan20002 | May 4, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

"Could've sworn Storen was a reliever."

I was thinking the same thing, brain and mouth out of sync I suppose.

At least things are moving in the right direction this year, and there is reason to believe the future is brighter than the past.

Posted by: Rogueone | May 4, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Its all good in NatsTown right now. Its amazing what happens when you are winning!

Posted by: dmacman88 | May 4, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Should be an exciting summer in DC regarding the Nats. They patiently are building through the draft much like the way the caps did and now are starting to see the results. The core nucleus gets stronger every month. Storen and strasburg will both probably be in pro ball sometime in June. Everyone will soon found out that DC can be a great place for a baseball team. Caps and Nats are built basically off the same strategy.

As for the Redskins. What a joke. Greedy owner finds every way try and rip off a loyal fan base. Trade away all your picks every year and pick up one or two big name free agents. Not its not ok. Thats why the long time season tix holders are cancelling left and right. Fans are moving from upper deck to 15 rows from field because all the long time fans are dumping their tickets. What a shame!!

Posted by: dc_sports_md_va | May 4, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Pollin saw the Wizards/Caps as a public trust and paid for their arena.

Lerner sees the Nats as a public trust and did NOT pay for their arena.

Interesting dichotomy. I'd say Lerner has a stronger argument.

Posted by: Juan-John1 | May 4, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Anyone looking to Abe Pollin as an example for sports ownership is a fool. The guy was a disaster as an owner and one merely need look at the tecords of his teams over the years to see that.

Posted by: poguesmahone | May 5, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

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