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Get used to apologies

So I think if the good folks at the Journal are to keep this thing running during the season, you're probably going to have to get used to me saying I'll get back to you with, say, a report from Columbus, and then me simply not doing it. So let's have an understanding -- kind of an umbrella over the whole season -- that if this happens:

1. Nothing pressing is occuring, or I would surely let you know (at least that you could read about it in the $.35 version of the paper).
2. I am working on something else (as was the case yesterday, when I had much to write and flights to take and games to (sporadically) watch and all that stuff).
3. I am off (which does, in fact, happen on occasion, and in fact will hopefully be the case on Fridays and Saturdays when the team is home during the season, because I want to actually use the tickets I purchased from our friendly neighborhood salesman Mr. Kasten).

Sheinin's in Norfolk today monitoring the return of Nook Logan. This message actually comes to you from the corner of 15th and L NW, where I am sitting at my desk.

Instinct on Logan: I think he plays Monday. He was flying around the bases yesterday. More pressing point is whether he'll hit balls that will cause him to have to run like that.

Shameless self-promotion (get used to this kind of thing, although I'd say you actually might be interested in this): I'll be on "Washington Post Live" today, and I'm praying -- praying -- they talk a little (read: a lot) of Nats. But please, do not tune in to see me (it's at 5 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet), but rather to see Mr. Kasten, who I believe is joining us, though I'm not sure if it's in-studio or from some live remote. I'll also be on from RFK on Monday.

Good seats available for the opener, by the way. Really good ones. Is this a baseball town? The next few years are going to help determine that, and the next few years start on Monday.

By Barry Svrluga  |  March 30, 2007; 12:31 PM ET
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Next: Life begins on Opening Day (now with lineups at the bottom)


My question for Kasten is, if really good seats are still available then why were upper deck behind home plate seats the 'best available'back during the 20-game season ticket holder pre-sale? I wanted to get the best seats I could for the opener and thought they were all gone. Ridiculous.

Posted by: Paul | March 30, 2007 2:32 PM | Report abuse

What happens to Casto if Logan isn't on the DL? is the roster set?

See ya Monday...

Posted by: Wigi | March 30, 2007 3:08 PM | Report abuse

If Logan is good to go, what is your view of the Lineup? I sort of worked one out without Logan which was:

1. Lopez
2. Schneider
3. Zimmerman
4. Kearns
5. Young
6. Casto
7. Church
8. Guzman

SO, if Logan plays, he'll of course lead off. How do you see the rest of the lineup?

AND, I am ashamed that opening day isn't sold out. I know things like that will happen once a winner is put on the field. I think what could have helped - if only the ownership would do it - is a reconnection to Washington's baseball past. We were a huge baseball town that fielded continually horrible teams. Do you know Washington has hosted more Major League Baseball games than Baltimore - even with a 33 year hiatus? We have 12 hall of fame members. These milestones should not be associated with the Twins or the Rangers - they should be associated with Washington Baseball. Anything that has to do with the Montreal Expos needs to be left in Montreal. By stressing this connection with the past, current Nat's fans would feel as if they have a greater investment in the team.

Posted by: 6th and D | March 30, 2007 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Paul--Upper Lower or Upper. I have a 20 plan for upper/lower behind home plate that I love? My seat for Monday is in same area and is best seat for Opening Day in three seasons. To each his own, I guess.

Barry--understood and understood. Given my age, I read the deadtree Sports everyday, so enough with the .35. Most baseball fans are over 50 maybe 55 and havenot forsaken the old ways. When does the broadcast repeat?

Posted by: Section 417 Row 8 Seat 9 | March 30, 2007 3:11 PM | Report abuse

1. Not really a question. For yuks, I looked for Opening Day tickets online. They were available pretty much everywhere. I'm going to be surprised if the crowd hits 30,000.

2. Why Dmitri Young?
3. Why Dmitri Young?
Is he REALLY part of the future of this team? I can't imagine. So put someone over there who might could help you down the road. Can't Casto play first?

While I'm at it, is Nook Logan REALLY part of the future of this team?

Chico is The Man.

Posted by: Questions Questions Questions | March 30, 2007 3:32 PM | Report abuse

I got section 515 row 9. I would have been thrilled if these really were the best available prior to general public sale. But they clearly weren't.

Posted by: Paul | March 30, 2007 3:35 PM | Report abuse

At least you guys have your tickets. I paid for mine in December. They're still not here.

I really wish I could get my money back. Bowie's better than this.

Posted by: section 406 | March 30, 2007 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Wow section 406...that stinks! Sorry. I finally got mine on Wednesday.

I tried to take some of those "really good" seats for the opener, in fact, for the whole season. Seems the Nationals didn't want to sell them to me. I really do like my $40 seats in Sec. 205 (and do appreciate the Nats not raising the price of my section), but I was more than willing to step it up to the $50 fat cat seats. Oh well.

Posted by: DE | March 30, 2007 3:52 PM | Report abuse

I think Wilbon said it best a few years back when he called DC a "big event town," rather than a "big sports town." We all know the Redskins have a stranglehold on the sporting atmosphere in the Washington area, but to not even sell out Opening Day is pathetic.

Some of the blame has to go to the owners, as except for the Nats hats around town, the team has no other presence. In Baltimore there are banners and posters all over downtown, you can't help but feel like you're in Birdland.

Here? Nothing, save from a few Metro advertisements and radio spots on AM stations.

Still, Opening Day is one of those events that should sell itself, so some of the shame should be on DC for taking this team for granted so quickly.

Where are all the baseball-starved fans we heard so much about in the run-up to 2005? I guess one good year was enough to satisfy that itch.

Posted by: Rob | March 30, 2007 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Really? Schneider batting second?

Posted by: 10th and F | March 30, 2007 4:36 PM | Report abuse

10th and F: Maybe swap Church and Schneider, but my thinking was that Schneider has been on a tear during the Grapefruit Season, and Church has been in the pew (as in P.U.). How would you line them up?

Posted by: 6th and D | March 30, 2007 5:01 PM | Report abuse

If no Logan:

1. Lopez (bats - switch)
2. Casto (L)
3. Zimmerman (R)
4. Kearns (R)
5. Church (L)
6. Young (S)
7. Schneider (L)
8. Guzman (S)

this allows more flexibility at the bottom of the lineup for pinch-hitting (wouldn't want too many lefties batting one after another). Plus, Casto would be prone to see more fastballs as pitchers would be afraid to walk him with Zim on deck. I wouldn't be adverse to flip Church-Schneider. I'm still not sold on Church. Has talent but only decides to display it when the season is more than half over.

If Logan plays:

Guzman bats second and Logan takes the 8th spot. Everyone else stays the same.

Posted by: e | March 30, 2007 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Opening day is like church on Easter. Forget that, I'll see you guys on Tuesday evening.

Posted by: i hate walks | March 30, 2007 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Telling Stan Kasten to his face that you think the Nats rank 31 out of 30 teams?! My goodness. How did he react off-camera?

Posted by: Ashburn | March 30, 2007 6:54 PM | Report abuse

Eh, three other teams aren't sold out on Opening Day either (White Sox, Mariners and Angels) so i don't feel so bad for not selling out 46,000 seat RFK without much of a draw other than a team that everybody is predicting will be the worst in baseball. It would be nice to see a sell out of course but with no big names (that the general public would know) throwing out the first pitch, and Georgetown in the Final Four early that evening, and the Cherry Blossom Festival, i'm not that surprised. I'd rather have real Nats fans there anyway than people who couldn't care less. The DC area is just fickle with their time. Once the Nats make it "fun" for Joe and Jane Casual Sportsfan to come to the ballpark, (of course that might not happen until the new stadium opens), the people will come in turn, and become new Nats fans. Give it time. Monday is almost like the beginning of the franchise, instead of two years ago when it was owned by MLB.

Posted by: Not that concerned... | March 30, 2007 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Barry, I watched the live program and there seemed to be a bit of tension between you and Stan. I'd be interested in your take on the relationship with Nats management. The impression that I and others have is that the Post is more negative than positive when it comes to covering the Nats. I had a lot of trouble reading all of the negativity during the stadium debacle. If I just went by what was written in the Post, I'd write off our getting a baseball team. After watching the Live program, I was left wondering if the Post has been dissed by the Nats in any way? I do appreciate the fact that the Post is providing coverage, but you need to balance the bad with the good. It isn't all bad!

Posted by: Nats Fan | March 30, 2007 7:01 PM | Report abuse

I studied Washington attendance back to the 1950s and it's hard to tell what kind of baseball town this is, because, except for 1945, 1952, 1969, and 2005, the teams were all wretched. I'd love to see how DC would react to a team that won 3-4 years in a row and made the playoffs or World Series. But that's highly, highly unlikely this year, and probably the next two.

With the Frank Robinson mess, signing not even one free agent pitcher (c'mon, couldn't you have least signed Tomo Ohka?), the lack of a connection to the town and its history, sports or otherwise, the lack of ticket outreach to tourists who visit the city in droves, the lack of a 5-10 game plan for folks who can't go to or afford 20 games, the lack of a family or kids plan, the lack of ticket deals to government and work social clubs, the lack of deals to places like the Columbia Association who could market them to members, the lack of accessible ticket outlets, the mess in delivering season tickets, the lack of tours of RFK and the new park to pique interest, the Nats have missed myriad opportunities to boost attendance now, deciding instead to wait for next year and the new park.

One of my friends said the Nats have decided to essentially "forfeit" this season -- with that perception, ticket sales will falter, but it appears even worse than I thought.

Nevertheless, I still feel that with a winning team and effective marketing, this will be a good -- not great, just good -- baseball town. But we need at least a few winning seasons to really know. Even Red Sox fans turned away after years of losing - from 1961 - 1966, Boston had 800,000 or fewer fans - then, the "Impossible Dream" happened and they've packed Fenway ever since. Same with Wrigley until the 1984 Cubs...Will Washington embrace baseball, maybe, but only if the team wins.

Posted by: Nats Writer | March 30, 2007 11:01 PM | Report abuse

Post and Kasten/Me and Kasten: It'd be worth asking Stan about this, but I think you're reading too much into it. Stan's a pretty (read: unbelievably) sarcastic person. I've been known to, uh, sling a barb or two (only when pushed, of course). So we have a -- I don't know, healthy? -- back-and-forth.

(How sarcastic is he? I wrote in a story this morning a phrase calling him a "sarcastic New York attorney." So I show up at the studio today, and he gets out a paper business card to give to me, complete with Nationals' logo, etc. On it, it says, "Stan Kasten: Sarcastic New York Attorney." I gotta give him credit on that one.)

There will always be a certain amount of tension in such relationships. It is my job, of course, to report when season ticket holders are upset with the fact that they got their tickets late, or when they make a bad trade, or when they make a good trade -- just whatever happens. It is his job to provide the best service possible to his fans/customers and to put forth the franchise's message. I think Stan has a good understanding of the media, but he's always going to push and prod and harrass and try to get the best coverage possible, and I'm always going to listen and consider his opinion -- and then write a balanced account of what's going on, whether he likes it or not.

Believe me, the Post has no ax to grind in this case, and I'd be shocked if Kasten thought we did. My job is to ask questions, to push them on what their plans are and why they make decisions the way they do, and then present their reasoning to the readers. No agenda; just reporting.

But as for any real tension on the set today -- nah, that's just a normal day dealing with Kasten.

Posted by: Barry Svrluga | March 30, 2007 11:16 PM | Report abuse


When you look into Stan's eyes, do you feel like really does know the problem with ticket sales is a self inflicted wound?

He caused the problem by pushing HIS PLAN to the extreme.....It is so clear that his plan is to make money this year while losing games.

Barry when you talk to him face to face do you get any hint that he understands the problem? That is, fans want to win and back a plan that does not mask the forfit factor now with free hats and promises of better seats at the new park.

Stan never gives fans any credit that we get it better than he does. Stan must at least admit the plan is to screw the fan now....even if it is good plan for the long haul which I personally do not accept.

Posted by: JayB | March 31, 2007 7:56 AM | Report abuse

As a sarcastic new york lawyer, I shall defend "the plan" to the fullest extent of nationals law. You must, (should), spend your left over hard earned dollars so that "the plan" may be implemented in a timely fashion. Failure to do so would seriously set the plan in arrears, which would, of course be the fault JayB., and those that fall into your category. Now, I say, get with the plan....PRONTO

Posted by: imitation Stan Kasten | April 1, 2007 12:35 AM | Report abuse

My 20-game plan is in sect. 436! I hope,by some miracle, that I can get better seats in the new park. What do you all think??

Posted by: jack the Dog | April 2, 2007 3:45 PM | Report abuse

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