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Didn't Make the Paper, Vol. IV -- and, finally, a chat

A bit brisk at the old yard last night. This clearly is not helping crowds -- 16,017 last night (remember, that's tickets sold, not turnstiles moved) was the smallest since baseball returned to Washington in 2005. Old low: Last July 5, when announced crowd of 18,441 saw Mike O'Connor and the Nats fall to Florida, 18-9. (Think we'll see that type of score again this year? Yikes.)

But keep in mind: We knew even before the season started that new lows would be set. (I'm talking about attendance. Easy on the other stuff. It's only four games.) Stan Kasten has said that the team sold "15 and change" season tickets, which means somewhere between 15,000 and 16,000, but he wouldn't be more specific and, besides, such things are a little too difficult for some of us to understand anyway, so he doesn't like to get into the complexities of it all. In fact, I'm confusing myself typing this and am getting a headache and may have to stop soon so I can go watch "Barney."

Anyway, because attendance figures represent tickets sold and not people in the seats, you know the lowest crowd the Nationals could have would be, well, 15 and change. Last year, when there were something like 16,400 season ticket equivalents (partial plans and full), that was the low threshold. The first season, even when there were, say, 15,000 people in the stands, the crowds were always announced as 22,000 or more because that's what the season-ticket base was.

(Kasten points out that, even though attendance fell from roughly 2.7 million in '05 to 2.15 million last year, the Nationals are fine, because the median season ticket base in MLB is like 14,800 or so. Always shooting for the median, that Kasten.)

Anyway, it was cold last night. No sane person would have sat in the office and said, "You know, I'd love to go to a ballgame tonight" and walked out to purchase a ticket. Could end up with similar situations this weekend, though I would hope people would want to see Brandon Webb v. John Patterson tomorrow night and Livan Hernandez return again on Sunday. (Love Livo, by the way. Watch him pitch Sunday and tell me if you think he lost some weight.)

Which brings us to a tiny bit of DMTP: LHP Matt Chico is one of the dudes the Diamondbacks traded to the Nationals last August for Livo. He worked his way into the No. 3 spot in the rotation, too, despite not being on Arizona's radar for such a spot for the next couple of years.

So, a bit of irony that in a four-game weekend series, Chico is the only Washington starter who won't get a turn to face the DBacks? "It would've been nice," he said last night. And then he smiled a bit. "It'll happen some day."

Chico's turn falls on Monday's off day, and I thought there might be a chance he would get skipped in the rotation. But it's a pretty good indication of what this season is about -- evaluating young players, etc. -- that Manager Manny Acta is bumping back everyone in the rotation, giving everyone an extra day of rest, and throwing Chico in the first game of a three-game set in Atlanta.

Jason Bergmann: Fifty pitches in the first inning. 5-oh. "That [stinks]" he said.


Talk to you then.

By Barry Svrluga  |  April 6, 2007; 10:01 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Didn't Make the Paper, Vol. III
Next: Bits and pieces of news, plus your frozen lineups


Just looking on the Nats website and could find no mention of the Sunday afternoon Diamond Dash for the kids after the games this season. Anyone know if this has been nixed? Trying to reach someone with the Nats, but so far no luck. If they're not doing it this year, anyone want to volunteer to tell my son?

Posted by: Diamond Dash? | April 6, 2007 11:23 AM | Report abuse

This Sunday is the Nordic Dash -- a new treat for kids with snowshoes.

And Screech is being pulled for Pingu the Penguin.

Posted by: Sam | April 6, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Has Patterson thrown a Bullpen between starts? Did he rediscover that extra life on his pitches? Do starters even go 100% during their bullpens?

Posted by: serviceDept | April 6, 2007 12:01 PM | Report abuse

My plan calls for me to go tonight. It is too cold to go now (approx. 12:30 pm)and thus way too cold at 7:05 pm. So, I am going to blow this one. I think MLB should follow Mr. Tony and Wilbon's adivice and schedule northern tier clubs to play on the road in the South at least through the first ten days of the season.

Posted by: Sec. 417 Row 8 Seat 9 | April 6, 2007 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Here's a modest contribution to the early season analysis. In the first four games last year the Nats went 1-3; this year 1-3. Last year the first four starting pitcher performances were: Livan Hernandez 6 IP, 3 ER, 113 Pitches; John Patterson 4 IP, 4 ER, 90 Pitches; Ramon Ortiz 5 IP, 6 ER, 87 Pitches; Tony Armas 5 IP, 2 ER, 72 Pitches. This year's first four starting pitcher performances have been: John Patterson 3.2 IP, 6 ER, 80 Pitches; Shawn Hill 5 IP, 4 ER, 80 Pitches; Matt Chico 4 IP, 6 ER, 55 Pitches; Jason Bergman 3.2 IP, 4 ER, 85 Pitches.

What does it mean? Nothing really, except that 2007 pitching really is worse than the 2006 pitching so far. Also worth noting that in their first starts this year both Hernandez and Ortiz went 7 innings giving up only 2 runs for their respective teams and both threw 97 pitches. Armas and Ohka are scheduled to pitch for their teams on Saturday.

Posted by: Dog Frenzy | April 6, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

One of these days, Barry, one of these days -- to the Moon!

Posted by: Stan Kasten | April 6, 2007 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Cold? Whatever. Just pretend it's October.

Posted by: NatsNut 447 | April 6, 2007 1:28 PM | Report abuse

There are CLXII games in the regular season. LXXXI of them are at home.

Posted by: Cosmo | April 6, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

National Weather reports that 1 to 2 inches of snow is expected to fall late tonight into tomorrow morning. Temperatures are expected to be in the low 30's.
Bundle up Nats fans. See you there.

Posted by: NatsNut/Journal Addict | April 6, 2007 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Barry. What about making Teddy the official mascot instead of Screech? The fans like him better!

Posted by: TR | April 6, 2007 3:34 PM | Report abuse


In regards to attendance and the Nationals saving money for later/minor leagues, etc: If the nationals spend no money on the team (like now), and in response no one goes, how is that saving money? Do they still make enough money off of paltry attendance to make it worth their while? If they had spend more money, maybe kept one marque player that people would pay to see play (Soriano), would they have actually made more money with higher attendance? Is there a study of actual attendance affects on the bottom line for baseball clubs?


Posted by: sting | April 6, 2007 4:12 PM | Report abuse

They're getting between $20-25 million from MASN. There's another $5-10 from league revenues (tv, internet, merchandise, etc).

They've basically broken even on their major league payroll before even selling a ticket.

There are about 15,000 season ticket holders. The average price of a ticket is about $25 for the Nats (and actually the average season ticket holder price is likely to be higher because they're buying the best seats, in general). Even if you use the $25 figure, that's $30 million just in season ticket sales.

Throw in concessions, parking, sponsorships and other things, and they're probably doing ok, even if nobody who doesn't already have a ticket buys one.

Posted by: Chris | April 6, 2007 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Looking at the attendance figures in boxscores for post-opening day games of other teams (some in much colder climes), it would seem that most have experienced a rather dramatic attendance drop from opening day. Is it really worth getting exercised about at this point?

Posted by: natsfan1a | April 6, 2007 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Also, perhaps the Nats journal could periodically feature president's race leader board updates.

I'd vote for Clammy Sosa as mascot (from the Zooperstars, who were at last Saturday's game). My only regret is that he ate a security staff guy rather than an ump.


Hey, Barry. What about making Teddy the official mascot instead of Screech? The fans like him better!

Posted by: natsfan1a | April 6, 2007 5:52 PM | Report abuse

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