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P.A.-gate

OK, finally a few minutes to address the item I posted on the Journal last week, and then put in my notebook in the actual Washington Post print edition newspaper (which I actually still write for, I think, though I haven't seen the actual print edition of the paper in two weeks and I hate it when it's not on my doorstep in the morning and reading it on-line just isn't the same I don't care how many times people tell me that that's all my kids will read and plus I don't even have kids and it's only $.35 anyway and if you read even one thing that you find informative it's probably worth $.35, right?).

Jim Clarke, the Nationals public address announcer at RFK Stadium the first two seasons the club was in Washington, is apparently out for the upcoming season. I was told this by several people within the organization last week. However, it appears Clarke wasn't told as early as I was.

According to Tom Ward, the Nationals' senior vice president and chief marketing officer, "This is all premature." But make no mistake, Clarke will not be back. My mistake was this: I wrote that he was included in a tryout the club had that involved three candidates. Not so, said Ward. He was considered for the job, and among the group of candidates, but did not audition.

"He did not need to audition," Ward said. "Everybody knows what he can do. He's been doing it for two years. But we're looking at everything. Jim knows that. He was told that. And we still haven't made a decision."

Last week, after the note appeared in the paper, I received a call from Jim Clarke's wife, Jody, who was so upset about the move that she took the newspaper, walked across Connecticut Ave. NW to the Nationals' downtown offices at Washington Square (which she said is across from where she works), and threw the paper in Ward's face, along with a stream of obscenities. Ward did not tell me this. Jody Clarke did.

"I told him what I thought of the whole thing," she said. "I told him how classless I thought it was."

Anyway, this has clearly become a bigger deal than I would have ever guessed. How do I know? Well, not only did the ex-P.A. announcer's wife throw something at his former boss, but Clarke himself has gone on-line to defend his body of work. Here's what he posted on the fan forum on nationals.com. (And if Steinberg has dealt with all this, my apologies.) (And this is a direct cut-and-paste job below.)

"First of all, I'd like to thank each and every one of you for the kind comments. I'm sorry you found me so offensive. I want you to know that I did my very best. I was always well prepared, was obsessive about name pronunciations, never missed a game and busted my rear to please the fans with proper information. Did I make mistakes? Yes I did but I corrected those mistakes and moved on. I'm sorry I talked so much between inning's but that's what I was asked to do by my bosses. If I missed a player change, it was because they had me reading so much copy between inning's I was unable to see or hear the changes. We brought in a spotter and that problem was corrected. Another thing to remember is that I beat out over a hundred applicants for this job and there were some very good anouncers. Some from as far away as San Francisco. The Nationals chose me. If your angry with anyone, you should have taken it up with management.
I can however, always say, I was the first. You mentioned Charlie Brotman, The Nationals treated him very poorly on opening day 2005 and didn't let him introduce the President. I was appauled at his treatment. I hope you'll now be able to enjoy the games without my annoying voice in your ear. I hope the new person meet's with your approval. It's been a pleasure the past two seasons and I hope you'll accept my appolgy. Good luck and God bless!

Jim Clarke
ex-PA Announcer for the Washington Nationals"

He went on to quell suspicions that he wasn't the real Jim Clarke, said he was treated poorly by the organization, etc., in subsequent posts. It has caused quite a firestorm on the message board, and it's clearly unsettled Clarke himself.

Anyway, Ward said that he is not prepared to make an announcement on the situation. "I don't have it today," he said. "The whole thing is a bit premature."

And, hopefully, this is the last we hear of it until there is a new P.A. guy (which could very well be the fellow who backed up Clarke last season). Of course, I'll probably put a small item in my as-yet-to-be-written notebook that will run in tomorrow's print edition of The Washington Post (only $.35!).

And that would be it from Viera, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking and all the children are above average. (G. Keillor, again.)

By Barry Svrluga  |  February 27, 2007; 5:13 PM ET
 
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Comments

Steinberg has not dealt with this yet, despite my tip on the message board thread yesterday morning. How about a shout out to the PowerBoater? I could easily send my tips to the Times.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2007 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Ever wish you had one back?

Posted by: tomterp | February 27, 2007 6:18 PM | Report abuse

the children are above average? now thats just odd

Posted by: Marc aka MDG | February 27, 2007 6:25 PM | Report abuse

PowerBlower needs to get a life.

Posted by: Hank Cat | February 27, 2007 6:44 PM | Report abuse

There was another part where he told off a fan in the message board. I feel bad for him, but wow, good luck getting another job!

I have to give him this - he sure could bellow GUUUUUUUUUUZ-MON!

Posted by: misschatter | February 27, 2007 7:43 PM | Report abuse

Zilla aka stat-boy. Too bad you can't edit your posts here.

Posted by: Hank Cat | February 27, 2007 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, PowerBlower, you're got it wrong (as usual).

Posted by: Real Hank Cat | February 27, 2007 8:56 PM | Report abuse

Would Powerboater like a cookie?

Posted by: Nat Fan | February 27, 2007 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Hank Cat, real Hank Cat, and Powerboater, three peas in a pod.

Posted by: Zimmm | February 27, 2007 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Barry, thanks for geting it right and being fair. Though I've asked my wonderful wife never to do that again, I applaud her for it and I love her even more. It was done out of stress that Josh Golden and Tom Ward caused my family and me this past off season. Sure, I was told by Josh Golden that they were going to try some other announcers but he also told me that because of my experience and hard work, I had nothing to worry about. Weeks before your column about me being replaced, no one from the Nationals organization would return my calls or e-mails. I even ran into Tom Ward's right hand man John Gualiano (sp.) on the METRO and he was not even friendly. Then your article. What was one to think. Ward says it was "premature", what a great way to cover his ass. I just wish he and Josh Golden would have been honest. As far as answering the message boards, I'm 55 and it's all new to me. People trashing you that have no idea what I'd been through. I felt a need to defend myself and I did. It's a shame people can write such mean spirited things while hiding behind a computer screen. I never wanted to be in the limelight, I never wanted to detract from what was going on on the field. I just wanted to do the best job I could. I hope Jerome, my back-up announcer, spotter,this past season and friend, gets the job. He's a wonderful guy. I only hope the Nationals treat him more fairly. Thanks for you time and space. I'll always be a huge Nationals fan and wish them the best of luck. See you in Woodbridge!

Jim Clarke
Potomac Nationals PA Announcer

Posted by: Jim Clarke | February 27, 2007 10:03 PM | Report abuse

I was one that was convinced that it wasnt really you posting since it seemed so bizarre. This story will fade away. Good luck.

Posted by: hillnat | February 28, 2007 7:28 AM | Report abuse

So is Jim the new PA guy in potomac, I'm assuming? Word. See ya there...and good luck.

Posted by: .390 | February 28, 2007 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Jim for your work over the years! I will see you in Woodbridge. After reading this though I have 2 major concerns...

1. The way nationals brass treat people. See Frank Robinson, Jim Clarke, and all of those ticket buyers who logged in to buy tickets first thing Saturday only to find out better tickets have since been released and they are "stuck" with inferior tickets because they cant exchange them for the better ones available now( By the way, doesn't this make you think our season ticket base is at nill or at least drastically shrinking and who can blame it considering a AAA team could beat us!) It was interesting to see comments NHL player Bill Guerin made yesterday after his trade to San Jose and talking about how the St. Louis Blues were 'pure class', and how that contrasted with what the Nationals have been doing with Robinson & Clarke...(even if they were hired by MLB and not Lerner & Kasten & Co.) Obviously the nats are 0 for 3 in this category. Even Guzman has a better BA than this so far this year!

2. I am slightly concerned over the fact that Barry Svrluga is the only one down there that seems to be uncovering the dirt on this team. It seems any time a writer writes a story on the Nats that put them in a bad light, immediately that person switches his stance (see Boswell). Are the Nats really this controlling of the media? Thanks Barry for your work! I personally don't care if you cite message boards or not, I am enjoying the stories.

I think in many ways the battles for the job at 1b, LF, pitching rotation spots might be more exciting than this season itself.

Posted by: Eric Hardman | February 28, 2007 9:19 AM | Report abuse

So you know for a fact that more tickets were released or perhaps you dont understand how buying tickets works?

So Robinson was allowed to finisht he season address the fans and invited to a day honoring him for the super long tenure of 2 months as a Lerner employee. call it five if you want but what was he suppossed to get a new car.

So where is the long list of poorly treated Nationals two maybe. Wow what a scoop.

Posted by: hillnat | February 28, 2007 9:25 AM | Report abuse

The thing is, hillnat, as I know you know, it was not the firings, but the way they were done. There-s having the right, and then there-s doing it right. Not the same. -- Good luck to you, Jim.

Posted by: cevans | February 28, 2007 12:39 PM | Report abuse

the -2 months- thing is a weasel dodge. you buy the house, you buy the fixtures. No one says they didn-t have the right to fire employees, but doing it via leaks is not classy, and this is starting to look like a trend. And good luck to you, Jim.

Posted by: cevans | February 28, 2007 12:45 PM | Report abuse

I just dont see a trend. Did they botch the release of robinson not being resigned? Yes. He wasnt fired by the way. I think the jury is still out on what really happed with clarke so its premature to see a trend.

Posted by: hillnat | February 28, 2007 12:53 PM | Report abuse

I know for a fact more tickets must have been released. I was one of the ones looking at tickets on Saturday morning, I was dismayed at my lack of options (being offered section 435 as "best available" ) and chose not to buy. A few days later I checked again, just to see what was still available (Suddenly I could sit downstairs nearly behind home plate). Then when I heard of this PA story last night I checked out the Fan Forums on nationals.com and saw a thread there of angry fans who did buy on Saturday only to find out they could have had better seats had they waited. I can corroborate their story.

Posted by: Eric Hardman | February 28, 2007 2:22 PM | Report abuse

great hes coming here. they didt want him up there then why send him here.

Posted by: potomac | February 28, 2007 3:01 PM | Report abuse

I've worked with and around several pro sports organizations in this area for quite some time. I've also seen it from outside the area much in the same way Jim has. It's a frustrating business.

I'm thankful that the organizations for which I do some work are appreciative of the work I provide them and show it on a regular basis to the point that I can call the people I work with friends and associates.

Jim did do a good job. I heard him on two occasions -- though once in a mascot suit -- last year. He has a good delivery, doesn't scream like some announcers in other areas, doesn't sing-song, and has a solid voice.

Now the game producer in me comes out in saying that sometimes you have to fill every second between innings with some sort of talk. Why? Because of a little thing called money. Someone else is giving it to your bosses to have you talk about them and finding places to put it can be very difficult. It's not Jim's fault that a company bought ad space. Do you yell at Charlie Slowes when he reads an ad on the radio? No. It's the same thing. Missing subs, it happens. MLB has a strict timing policy between innings that you HAVE to go by or get fined -- money thing again. It's not Jim's fault, he's the messenger.

Those who know me know that I wanted to be in that original tryout before the '05 season and that when I moved back here wanted that job up there. Some of those people even went to the point of trashing Jim in places and attempting to build me up, getting into my head about it. I've separated myself from them and for good reason.

I'm burnt out on pro baseball right now. Maybe the urge will come back sometime on down the road, maybe not. But leave Jim alone. It's not his fault a runner or someone in the press box didn't drop a note next to him with the changes. It's not his fault that the Nationals want to make money. Likewise, it's also not the fault of those scheduling the innings and promos. It actually nobody's fault. Without those ads, no money. No money, no team. No team, nothing to talk about!

I run a website and business dedicated to Sports Announcing -- add .com -- and would love to have anyone out there give it a shot and be at the level of Jim or Wes Johnson with the Caps or the Redskins guy -- I haven't heard the Wizards announcer. Anyone can be an announcer, but only a few can do it well. If you think you can do it, you're right. Can you do it well??? Call me and I'll set something up.

Posted by: Jarrod Wronski | February 28, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

I'm a good personal friend of Jim Clarke. I know that Jim has been upset over what's been happening the past week with his PA job and the Nationals. I think I know why the over reactions by he and his wife. Jim found out the day before the article appeared in the post that his 88 year old father has cancer and is only expected to live another couple months. The two combined is enough to make anyone upset. Jim's and his wife are very good people and I new it was more than just the PA thing. Please say a prayer for Jim and his family.

Posted by: Jeff Nelson | February 28, 2007 7:11 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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