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Stan, Me and the Relationship between Reporter and Club

So anyone who watched Stan Kasten's appearance with Dave Sheinin on "Washington Post Live" the other day could probably tell that Kasten was not happy with The Washington Post. There is some background to that story, and it's worth going through a bit.

Earlier that day, Kasten hosted a roundtable with reporters. As team executives go, Kasten is extremely accessible. He'll return my calls and e-mails at all hours, etc. He does, however, want things on his terms. He wants to release and announce news only when he's ready. My job is a bit different - to get news when it happens rather than when it's announced, to ask questions about the way they go about things, about what's going on now and how that relates to the future, etc. In general, to challenge them on their methods, present both sides and let the readers decide if they think they're going about it in the right fashion.

Seven or so reporters spoke with Kasten for an hour, challenging him on various issues. Stan wants to do these roughly every month so we - and therefore, the public - can get updates on the pertinent issues surrounding the club, its offseason plans and its impending move to the new ballpark. That doesn't mean he's ready to answer all our questions, but he feels like he's giving us the forum to at least get some information.

I went into the session the other day with some serious questions in mind - about ticket sales for the new park, about how they intend to increase payroll and improve the major league team without spending big money on free agents, etc.

Some people have told me I walked in there with an attitude. Not my intention. I did walk in to have a serious discussion about the team and its issues.

A bit about my relationship with Stan, as it's developed over the past two years - dating to a time before he was involved with the Lerners, when there were still eight groups vying for the team. Stan and I are both sarcastic. I think we recognized this in each other early on. Therefore, our conversations often sling quasi-insults and overly clever accusations back and forth. For the most part over the past couple years, that's served us well, we get where the other is coming from, and when the time for real, on-the-record discussions come up, we recognize them and deal with it appropriately. We have endured several run-ins, but nothing that wasn't fixable in a day or two.

I left the lunch the other day a bit frustrated because I didn't think we got many real, meaty answers about the team's plans - other than a reiteration that Kasten doesn't like to pursue big-ticket free agents. Not that he would never do that. It's just his third choice behind developing his own players and making trades. This was consistent with what he and the Lerners had said when they took over the team, and though it served as a refresher course on their philosophy, it wasn't "news" in the truest sense.

I marched down to the pressbox and sat down at my computer for my weekly chat, which had been moved to 2:15 p.m. in order to accommodate the lunch. This was probably not the best time for me to sit down and converse with fans. Here's how I started the chat:

Barry Svrluga: Greetings, folks. You want to see the Hindenburg reincarnated? Come on out to RFK tonight and see the Mets. Yikes.
Just finished a "lunch" with Stan Kasten. He hosted some media types out here at RFK for an informal get-together -- at which the highlights, I suppose, are that he doesn't have a goal for attendance next season, he encourages people to take Metro to games next year, and he thinks that signing big-money free agents is "perilous."
So there you have it.

Stan feels the tone was set there, and indeed, I gave some particularly snarky responses to questions later on. Stan, in fact, feels like I led readers to believe he is a "liar."

Here's one thing Kasten says early on when he meets reporters, particularly those who cover his team on a day-to-day basis: He will not tell you things before he is ready, he will not discuss trades or in-house stuff or any of that before it happens, etc. But he will not lie.

In my dealings with him over the past couple years, I have become enormously frustrated at his unwillingness to talk about certain things - including, the other day, when he would not talk about goals for attendance and ticket sales next year. We know that this club drew 2.7 million fans in 2005. We know that it will have to have a huge weekend against the Phillies to draw 2 million this year. And we know that the season-ticket base has eroded, that the season-ticket base is the lifeblood of any franchise, and that rebuilding it will go a long way toward determining whether this franchise succeeds.

The tone of the chat may have indicated that I didn't believe Kasten. Indeed, some questions that followed - and my snide answers - could have been interpreted this way. Take the following:

A River in Egypt: Kasten "doesn't have a goal for attendance next season"? Yeah, right. Why does he bother to talk to you guys if he's just going to lie like that? Probably a dumb question, I know.
Barry Svrluga: Ah, it's as if I asked a question to my own chat.


Over the top? Indeed. I do not think Stan Kasten lies about that stuff. Maybe I'm naïve. But I don't, and I didn't mean to imply it. He certainly took it that way, and in a subsequent "conversation" - translation: one-sided screaming session in which he hung up when he was done - he let me know about it. He has not let it go, and has no intention of letting it go.

So I come here to explain some of all this to you - not to say that I will stop asking questions, poking and prodding him to get real information. Rather, to reiterate that I don't think Kasten lies. He wants things on his terms. He can be difficult, stubborn, arrogant and combative. But I'll trust him on the policy of not lying.

A bit of an odd post, to be sure. But I think some of the stuff I said the other day was misinterpreted, and I wanted to make sure we got back on point and cleared the air. I would be interested if you think being informed on this kind of issue is important.

With that, we can open a discussion that I had been saving for early in the offseason. And it is this: Do you trust that Stan Kasten and the team that he's hired - under the guidance of the Lerners' ownership group - has this franchise pointed in the right direction? Will they, ultimately, get to their one stated goal: Winning a World Series?

I'm off Friday and Saturday (Duke-Navy football, after all), back for RFK's last game Sunday - and then the last week of the season. There's some pretty intriguing baseball going out at the old yard, what with the Phillies on the Mets' heels and all - and your Nats are right in the thick of it. I talked to a friend last night who's headed to the Nats-Phils for a few innings on Sunday before getting back on Metro and heading to FedEx for Redskins-Giants. Sounds like a heckuva good Sunday plan to me.

I'll talk to you later.

By Barry Svrluga  |  September 21, 2007; 11:20 AM ET
 
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Next: RFK's Last Day

Comments

Yes, Stan and his team are pushing the Nats in the right direction. Look at the moves since he came on, expanding the scouting system, making substantial investments in the core of the minor league system and rewarding veteran players for their contributions. All of these things run contrary to the penny-pinching, profit first system some people here and on other blogs complain about. With that said, it is important that the media keep pressing Stan, Bowden and the Lerner group to make sure that they keep on this track and are open about it.

Posted by: NoVA Nat | September 21, 2007 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Keep at 'em, Barry! Someone's got to keep the bigwigs honest...ummmm, not that they're dishonest or anything...

Posted by: Big C | September 21, 2007 11:32 AM | Report abuse

"Stan wants to do these roughly every month so we - and therefore, the public - can get updates on the pertinent issues surrounding the club, its offseason plans and its impending move to the new ballpark"

Well the public sure isn't going to get these updates in the Post when Barry's editors don't give him the space to write about it, as was the case yesterday. Guess we will have to start relying on Ladson or something, oh well...

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | September 21, 2007 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Stan:

If you're reading this, one question: WHAT ARE YOU SMOKING?!?!?

In NO WAY did what Barry said in his chat come CLOSE to implying that you are a liar. Did you have a fight with your wife or stub your toe getting out of bed that day or something?!? Take a deep breath before calling a reporter to scream at him.

Barry: You did NOTHING WRONG.

Stan: Do that again, and I may just decide NOT to renew my 20-game plan.

Posted by: Juan-John | September 21, 2007 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Your job is made easeirt by getting answers to your questions. His job is made easier by answering what he wants to answer. A little friction tells me you're both doing what you need to do.

Posted by: Opinion from afar | September 21, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Right now, Stan and the Lerners have relatively little to worry about aside from making sure the new park opens on time, that fans actually attend, and that our baseball product continues to improve.

Okay, so that's actually a substantial list (aside from the first thing, which hopefully should be hard to stop from happening at this point).

That being said, however, I think everyone should generally be very pleased with the apparent progress in all directions. Of course, what makes the relationship difficult, is that the things we wonder most about, are the things that Stan is most tight-lipped about. That speaks against neither him nor you, Barry, but rather to the delicate nature of relationships of this type.

So to answer your question, yes, I currently trust that Stan and the Lerners have this franchise headed in the right direction. There are many steps along the way, and we seem to be making the first few with much forethought.

Separately, I also trust that you and Stan will repair whatever damage has been done over the past several days. I think its actually a good sign that Stan reads what you (and we) write so closely, because it means that he is attempting to keep a close watch on the pulse of the fans and their information sources. That being said, hopefully he will recognize the unique aspects of your perspective and writing style, and you will not feel compromised in expressing yourself on any pertinent topic.

In effect, you almost represent a constituency when you ask questions for the rest of us that cannot. It is understandable that Stan is worried about his image and the team's image (although hopefully the latter is more important than the former) when focused through your writing. In all honesty, its almost a form of flattery to the Svrluga (and the position that you have) when he places such an emphasis on how you represent his positions and statements.

Put it this way: if I went on some other corner of the Interweb (as if one exists!)and wrote negatively about something that I heard Kasten say while walking through RFK last night, Stan couldn't care less. But because of who you are and the audience you can reach, he recognizes the power of your words and the opinions formed therefrom.

Posted by: faNATic | September 21, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Ah, a classic Washington media power-struggle! I'm sure the Post has plenty of people to give you tips, Barry.

This was interesting to hear about and I think it's a good thing that you get this out there for Stan to see in order to clear the air. It's the sort of thing that Milbank ought to do once-in-awhile, but never does. I, for one, took all your comments as heavy sarcasm and never thought that you believed Stan was a lier. But I can see why Stan was a bit offended.

Stan, for his part, should cool down a bit, too. He's an old hand and knows that the media is going to ask really tough questions and going to hold his feet to the fire. It's good that he's not going to let the media get away with it either. Neither side can be too strong. But he's had his yell and defended his line (and communicated a message to all us Nationals fans that he's not going to lie, nice) and now you move on to the next cycle.

And with this clash of Media and Corporation all of us fans benefit.

As to the other question, I trust Stan and his team totally. They haven't failed me yet, and I am an EXTREMELY skeptical person. That's not to say I don't think Barry shouldn't hound them.

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | September 21, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Stan did it in Atlanta. Why not here? He says it will take two full years before we see any results, and he's given us a much better year than expected by using a great bargain-basement GM. I don''t think Stan is a liar. He comes here as a proven winner. Like Pat Gillick, who came here in a different way last night. The Phillies week: Sunday: finish sweeping Mets; Monday, almost lose 12 run lead to Cardinals, but win; Tuesdsday, beat cards in the bottom of the 14th, get to within 1 1/2 of 1st; Wednesday, lose by 1 in the bottom of the 10th; Thursday-come from 4 runs behind to win against Nats. Talk about the heart of a champion, honoring the game, etc.! And how does Peter Angelos feel when he looks up the road and sees Pat Gillick's team in the thick of the pennant race for the second year in a race, the same Pat Gillick he fired? Probably the same as he feels when listening to Jon Miller broadcast ESPN's Sunday night baseball. I look forward to seeing this sort of team begin to bloom after next year

Posted by: flynnie | September 21, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

After reading the chat transcript on Wednesday, I didn't take away the idea that Kasten is dishonest, though there was a snarky tone to the chat. But we're used to that. :)

Yes, I do feel that Kasten and the Lerners are on the right track to build a winning team. My glass is half full!

But you forgot to say when you might stop by on Sunday, Barry??

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 21, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Barry,

I don't think you implied that Stan lie's. I do think that you told it like it is and that is that he isn't being completely honest when he says that he has no attendence goals in mind. I do think that it is wierd that he is totally against signing free agents. This team is building and its number 1 goal should be to build up the farm system. It also need to put out a competitve team (which this one has been since going 9-25) to build up a fan base and thus build up ticket sales. The only way to do that, in the short term, is through free agent signing. Now I'm not saying they should go out and get AROD, but they promised that they would spend money. The goal is to spend money wisely and not just throw money at free agents.

I don't want to be the Braves 2.0 or even the Reds 2.0. Bowden has done a great job and should be here for the long haul. However, I'm not crazy about Stan. He seems he is thinking too much in terms of the Braves (I'm sure he had something to do about bringing Sutton here). The Braves, sure they won 14 straight division titles, but how many world series did they get too? Not too many. That is not a team I want to emulate. All that winning did not bring fans to the game because they new the Braves would win the divison, but lose in the playoffs.

Anyway, the fans need answers and it is your job to get those answers. Stan might not like the job you are doing, but that is because you are doing your job. Thanks!

Posted by: Sec 413 | September 21, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

You guys probably know where to find me. I help unravel not lies from Kasten, but careful wordings lawyer double talk.

Posted by: StanSpeak Translator | September 21, 2007 11:51 AM | Report abuse

this is good stuff! i'm glad you are trying to clear the air. i know i'm super happy with both of you. no surprise conflicts might pop up. sounds like small potatoes to me though.

i'll say it again. this team is being run very well. priorities are setup to maintain success. this division is going to be extremely competitive.

Posted by: longterm | September 21, 2007 11:52 AM | Report abuse

I don't think the issue is one of trust. And if I were you, Barry, I'd wouldn't appreciate someone spinning a conversation that way.

The issue, rather, is accountability. Kasten needs to recognize that DC is footing the bill for a vehicle for private owners to make a boatload of cash. In return, the fans expect the team to build a competitive team worth watching, and to be accountable if they do not.

What happened on the major league level this year was an embarrassment. And for Kasten to try and lower expectations even more for next year...well, that is just not acceptable.

We need writers like Barry and publications like the Post to ask the tough questions. If the Nats' officials don't respond, then that's worth printing.


Posted by: Ashburn | September 21, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Where are you folks meeting on Sunday? I've been trying to catch up on posts, and have seen allusions to tailgate (?), but no specifics?????

Posted by: nats fan in annandale | September 21, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Barry,

In all honesty, I believe that it is partly a result of the failings of the Post's coverage of the Nationals that make me unable to give you an informed response to your question. If there were columnists at the Post who really dug deep into what Kasten and the Lerners were doing; if you were given the space to write stories other than your game stories about what Kasten and the Lerners were doing; and if other writers (i.e., Sheinin) had any interest in writing stories about what Kasten and the Lerners were doing; then that might help me better form an opinion and respond to your question.

I am an extremely knowledgeable baseball fan. But as it relates to management and their actions and plans, I fully recognize that I am on the outside. You, and your colleagues, are intermediaries, for better or worse. Without getting information from the media, I can't make a judgmment on this stuff, all I can make a judgment on is what I see on the field (which is not what your question is directed to).

It is precisely for this reason that I and others have been complaining about the lack of depth in the Post's coverage of the Nationals. Your editors have let us down by reining you in and not giving you sufficient space in the paper, by not having columnists who write anything about the Nats (other than Boswell's factually-uninformative poetry), and by not encouraging other writers to write about the Nats. Maybe if some of this changes, I will be able to answer your question. I hope so.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | September 21, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Barry - This is a masterful piece of writing. You demonstrate an ability/willingness to take responsibility for effect of your statement without either whining that it was not your intent or falsely apologizing. You offer Mr. Kasten respect, without sacrificing your own. In a career spent dealing with cranky judges and thin skinned opposing lawyers (each often a little chary their professional role requires them to act differently than they might "in shirt sleeves") I have seldom seen such an articulate and well tuned effort at creating an opening for a return to civility. I would not want you to give up your current job, but have you thought about law or diplomacy?

Posted by: Section 314 | September 21, 2007 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Hi annandale, here's the official invite again. If everybody comes who has indicated interest recently, we'll have a couple dozen attendees:

Come one, come all to celebrate the last Nats game at RFK with a BANG (and, hopefully, a ZOOM) at the NJ blogger's tailgate event!

Date: Sunday, September 23

Time: From 10:05 AM (when parking lots open) to approx. 11:35 AM (game time is 12:05)

Where (NEW DIRECTIONS): Northeast corner of Parking Lot 8 at RFK, i.e., the corner nearest the East Capitol Street Bridge, away from the stadium, and furthest in from the entrance from the freeway. It's in the upper right-hand corner if you look at the RFK parking map at

http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/was/ballpark/directions.jsp

The ballpark link above has driving directions. If you are coming from the Stadium-Armory Metro station, walk past the Armory and towards the main gate of the stadium. At the front of the stadium, turn right and go down the steps. Walk straight ahead, past the MASN trailer on your right and the ticket windows on your left, then go through the tunnel that runs under the road to Lot 8. Proceed to the tailgate site as described above. Look for Hendo's black '07 Miata with the Planet NJ sign on top. Hendo will also provide a sound system for our musical pleasure.

Attire: Baseball casual (Nats gear or Meat Hook t-shirts for the carnivores among us)

What to Bring: Chair, if desired, your own drinking water, and something to eat or drink. Volunteered so far have been sweet muffins or scones and fruit, bagels and cream cheese, English muffins and hard cheese, croissants, crab dip, poached salmon, coffee, white wine, and plates/cups/napkins/utensils. Other contributions are welcome.

Your hosts include: Jenn-X, Hendo, Natsfan1a, SC Nats Fan, and Wigi

Please come join us so that we can put faces to the monikers (we'll have name tags on hand to fill in)!

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 21, 2007 12:03 PM | Report abuse

maybe if the stadium was named WaPo Field it would get some more front page coverage. Lots of pictures of the park, etc. although less from the Times i'd assume.

it does seem that the post is taking a wait and see approach and isn't promoting the stadium and team as aggressively as it could.

Posted by: longterm | September 21, 2007 12:03 PM | Report abuse

I absolutely do think that the Nats are headed in the right direction. I am sure that there are plenty of people that would disagree (and they'll show up here), but I think there are quite a few very encouraging signs...

First, I think that the chemistry in the clubhouse is probably the most visible sign of progress. Manny could not develop that chemistry with his team if there was turmoil in the organization above him - that is just how organizations are - if the leadership gives clear, concise signals, they trickle down to the rest of the organization. If someone in the food chain is not on board, they get replaced. You rarely have a happy, achieving bottom-end of your organization with chaos in the front office.

Second, The Nats have resisted the temptation to spend a lot of money on salaries when they would not have brought any additional benefit. Honestly ask yourself... at the beginning of the season, if the Nats had spent another $10 or $15 million, and got to 71-91, would you think it was worth it? Well, they're on the verge of doing just that without spending that $15 million... and if they had spent it, it probably wouldn't have made much of a difference at all.

Third, the farm system is on the mend. I still don't have a good sense of how the Nats system compares to others in MLB, but it is clear it is better than it was a year ago. The emphasis on pitching has always beem the right one, and I am glad to see that it seems to be paying dividends.

Fourth, the emphasis on scouting and player development (related to the farm system, of course) is really important. This is one of those places where I think it would hurt to lose Rizzo, and Kasten should jump in and do what he needs to do to keep Rizzo in place... short of preventing him from interviewing for GM jobs. Put Rizzo in a place where he's not interested in other positions (that is, pay him...).

From a day-to-day, going to the park and watching the games perspective, the progress is slow, and at times, tedious. But that is what we were told it was going to be.

As for Sheinin's comment about being disappointed that more young guys didn't get a chance to show themselves this year, I thought that Kasten had a really good answer to that... that nobody was prevented from making an impact. I don't think that the farm system is at the point where we could reasonably expect a lot of prospects to be beating down the door of the Nats clubhouse. The alternative would have been to put a bunch of Single A players on the field and get killed, at the risk of their development. There's a reason that they're Single A - they're not good enough to be major leaguers... yet.

Regarding Kasten's complaints about the Post - I think any critical reader would take Kasten's comments, and Barry's reporting of them, for what they are. I don't think that anyone that is following along closely believes that Kasten is intentionally misleading the press or the public. The fact that he might not want to disclose some information makes perfect sense to me, and I wouldn't necessarily call it lying if when asked if there are sales goals, saying there are not, if whatever benchmarks there are are not for the public. There are lots of things going on in our neighbor's houses that we're curious about, but ultimately are not our business... and private companies are allowed to keep some secrets. How things shake out with season ticket sales will be obvious next season... and if they were brisk now, we would know it now. Whether the Nats have set sales benchmarks, and what those are, is really up to them do decide if they are public or not. That doesn't make Stan a liar, but it also is not an unreasonable question for a reporter to ask... he may not get an answer, though.

Posted by: Wigi | September 21, 2007 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Seems to me that Stan needs to develop a thicker skin. Railing against the press is the province of politicians and press secretaries, not baseball executives. There is always going to be, and should be, a healthy tension between those with information and reporters seeking to acquire it. But the relationship works best as an arms-length partnership, and not one where Stan gets to dictate all of the terms. The Nats can help the Post by providing interesting information that sells papers. The Post can help the Nats by giving the team publicity. While Stan can certainly play a role in crafting the Nats image in the press, he can't expect to control it unilaterally.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | September 21, 2007 12:07 PM | Report abuse

can we get Stan and Barry at the tailgate on Sunday?

Posted by: e | September 21, 2007 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Barry & Stan -

I have to agree with "coverage is lacking"'s overaching point. That is - for one reason or another, we fans have no idea about anything that has to do with the Nationals off the field because of limited local and national coverage, and because of Stan's lawyer/politician double speak. Yes, it's not "technically" lying, but it may as well be. We're still not getting any info. "We have no attendance goals for next season"... seriously, how can you expect anyone to believe that?

As far as whether or not we/I think management has the team heading in the right direction; HOW IN THE HELL WOULD WE KNOW, YOU DON'T TELL US ANYTHING. Things look like they're going well right now, but if the new stadium is half-empty after the all-star break next year because of lack of interest in the team (as a result of lack of action by the front office), I'll be ticked.

Having said that, of coure we as fans are pleasantly surprised with the team this year. Management, however, should not confuse "pleasantly surprised" with "content". I won't speak for everyone, but I'm not content. Not even close.

Posted by: Matt | September 21, 2007 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Ashburn wrote: "What happened on the major league level this year was an embarrassment. And for Kasten to try and lower expectations even more for next year...well, that is just not acceptable."

What was so embarrassing -- not losing 100 games as so many expected? All things considered, this was a decent team. Have you followed what's been going on in Baltimore this year -- or the last 10 years? Now THAT'S an embarrassment.

I don't see Kasten as trying to lower expectations for next year. He's trying not to set ANY. You can interpret that as lowering, but I'd rather see a glass half full.

Posted by: Cosmo | September 21, 2007 12:15 PM | Report abuse

P.S. - That ALL CAPS line in my last post was directed at Stan the Man with the Plan, not Barry.

Posted by: Matt | September 21, 2007 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Barry,
There was a thread of frustration in your chat, but at no point did I believe you were being disrespectful to Stan or accusing him of lying.

That said, to suggest that there is no goal regarding season ticket sales says one of two things; either Kasten and the Lerner's are poor businessmen (something I refuse to believe) or that there is a goal and he wasn't being honest. Which one makes more sense?

By intimation, Kasten seems to be telling us that ticket sales are slower than hoped and the team doesn't want to embarass themselves by admitting it now. Perhaps later, when sales picks up, he'll come clean.

But I have to admit that once I read that "no goal" statement, I began to wonder if anything else he's told us (that I've to this point believed) might be less than candid.

Posted by: Farid @ Beltway Boys | September 21, 2007 12:16 PM | Report abuse

I personally don't know a lot about Stan Kasten other than what I've read here. However, his track record speaks for itself. I will say that when I heard he was involved with the Lerner group vying for the right to purchase the team, I privately believed that the Lerner/Kasten group was the only group assembled who could insure the long term success of the franchise. The moves and progress we've seen at the lower levels, particularly the signifcant investment in the Latin communities and the infancy of such inroads in Asia speak volumes to me about how serious he and his group are taking things. Ultimately I think he will get us there.

What I'm not so sure about is the Lerner's themselves. I believe they're playing a very dangerous game with spending money in relation to attendance. I believe attendance is directly proportional to the quality of product on the field, and perhaps more accurately, the team's chances to be competitive. I believe that attendance for this year was doomed from the beginning. By coming out and telling the world that they were slashing payroll to spend on minor league development and in effect knowingly dooming the big league team to a year of looking up in the standings at most of the rest of the league that they gave the casual fans little to no reason to attend games this year. They even publicly coveted the number one overall draft pick in 2008; leaving many of us to believe they acutally sought a last place finish. Why would anyone other than Nats diehards and visiting fans buy tickets to see what's supposed to be a terrible club in a dilapidated stadium?

The last thing this club needs is to get itself into a chicken and the egg scenario in regards to payroll dollars and attendance figures. The only group directly empowered to change that is the ownership. I maintain that they have the proper approach by building from within, but I also believe you need a to make a splash or two each year during a building process to keep the fanbase interested and to give the casual fan a reason to plunk down their hard earned money to watch them play. There has to be hope. Even if it's a couple seasons of false hope while the real work goes on at the lower levels.

First impressions are hard to shake. The Nats find themselves in the unique position of having a second chance to make a first impression. The new ballpark is going to draw people but it's the team, the product on the field that's going to keep people. Picture two scenarios if you will:O

One where the team built largely the same way it is today is playing in the beautiful new ballpark in late July or August of next season. They're in 4th or 5th place in the division and are not part of any serious playoff discussions. The park is crowded but the team is mired in another hitting funk late into the game so the crowd is subdued, even listless. Father and son, mother and daughter get up to leave after the 7th because the game is not very exciting, the kids are bored, and they've seen everything the new park has to offer. They just spent $100 on OK seats and probably close to the same thing in concessions and transportation. How likely are they to come back any time soon?

Now picture that same family cheering on a 2nd or 3rd place team that's only a handful of games out of the wildcard chase watching a 7th inning rally where last offseason's big acquisition just hit a go-ahead double. The crowd is cheering, music is rocking, father and son high five, mother and daughter dance and clap along. All of a sudden the memories and fun outweigh the money spent. Husband and wife exchange a glance that says the unspoken "we have to do this more often."

People are fickle. They are choosy with how they spend the limited amount of disposable income that families typically have in this area. Playing in the free agent market may indeed be "perilous", but I contend that playing games with the casual fan is even more so.

Posted by: MKevin | September 21, 2007 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Interesting post. There may be a bit of a generational gap going on here. Blogs are for yapping at e-friends, casually imparting some info, and having some fun. It isn't the same as what you find in the somewhat stodgy but much beloved 35 cent'er, nor should it be. It is much more off the cuff, has typos, and happens in real time without the opportunity to do a second take, or have an editor do it. Barry treats it that way, Stan may see it in more traditional terms. A snarky comment in a blog is just a snarky comment; in the print version comments take on a lot more weight and so that writing is much more finely nuanced. Maybe Stan had a newsprint reaction to a blog snark.

Anyway, yes I believe in the Nats. Ya gotta have heart, yes?

Of course, I've spent the last 10 years believing that the Sknis will go back to the superbowl, this time for sure...

I sure have been pleasantly surprised by the last season though, so why not expect good things in the new abode? Yeah, the Nats will make the playoffs in 2009, that time for sure....

As to the tailgate, I believe it is Sunday at 10, lot 8, bridge end. See you then.

Posted by: NatsFly | September 21, 2007 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Mark Lerner was on the radio broadcast with Charlie and Dave last night, and he said sales for next year are beyond their expectations, and that they're very pleased. Does that make him a liar too?

(Let me go ahead and supply the punchline now in order to pre-empt the hundreds of you out there who are already wiggling your fingers and preparing to type it in yourselves: No, it just means he's too cheap to buy commercial time to say it.)

Posted by: Section 419 | September 21, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse

I think the front office has put it self in a really bad position this winter regarding free agents. They've declared that they will up payroll, so everyone thinks a big free agent is on the horizon, but look at the market and there really isn't anything out there of significance.

If they spend the money the will most likely get a player who is a shell of themselves. If they don't spend the money they look like liars and fools.

On top of all this they have acknowledge that they don't really have anything worth trading outside of A ball.

I think they would be better off building another year like this one, and find out who is legit and who isn't. Then next winter make a strong run at an ace like Santana or Sabathia. I don't know if they could afford to wait that long from a P.R. point, but does anyone really think over-the-hill, high injury risk veterans like Jones, Hunter and Rowand are really going to improve this club?

Posted by: Nathan | September 21, 2007 12:30 PM | Report abuse

I think Stan and the Lerners have us going in the right direction at the moment. I was heartened by the 2007 draft signings, including McGreary, and we have learned a few good things this year about the team "inventory" of players.

I do think Stan overreacted to Barry's chat (and Shenin's point on WaPo Live). As others have said, it's unreasonable for us to believe that the Nats don't have some sort of goals or projections or benchmarks for attendance next year. It's just Stan-speak, and you've got to parse what he said very clearly. We all know that, and, you know what, it's his job to market, spin, sell and put the club in the best light, a job he does very well.

It's also Barry's job to try to pin down Stan on key questions, so there's bound to be some tension. That's a good thing in the right dose. So, Barry, don't let Stan push back too hard, so that you're on your heels. Stay on your toes, bud.

I'll also echo those who are disappointed in the Post coverage of the Nats. Page E5 for the gamer?!? BS!!

Posted by: Sec 128 | September 21, 2007 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Barry,
Thanks for this post which says a lot about you. I agree with nearly all the responses so far. I'm going to throw Stan the Plan a few bones here, just to try them out:

As you've reported consistently all year, The Plan consciously intended to save money this year in order to build for the future. The record this year was almost meaningless, and finding pieces for the future as the main goal. So, when you have a longer range goal in place, day to day questions just don't have as much attention, and, the reality answers about them tend to be unpleasant.

The questions about the Sales Goals for next year, however, are legit AND it is certainly the team's perogative to not want them to be public, especially if/since they are slower now than expected. I think a more reasonable answer would have been:

"Certainly we have targets we are shooting for, but mostly we want as many fans in the seats as possible. Giving a number now doesn't do anyone any good. We want all the fans to have the best experience possible, and that's on the field and off. We're excited so many season-tickets are selling now, and expect sales to pick up even more as Opening Day gets closer. (Such as)"

To me, that's not double-speak, it is acknowledging the reasonableness of your request, while also acknowledging the team's priorities and interests are multi-faceted, not just a number as you requested.

Hmm, maybe I should go media train some politicians somewhere. Such as. The Iraq.

Posted by: ShawNatsFan | September 21, 2007 12:32 PM | Report abuse

I find it hard to believe that Kasten (or the Lerners, for that matter) "doesn't have a goal for attendance next season"

Here's what we've been led to believe: We're not spending money this year, so we can spend it next year when we're in the new stadium. Doesn't this imply that there are certain expectations for what attendances (and, hence, revenue) will be in 2008? Or are budgetary decisions for player personnel being made in the dark?

Now he's saying we're not spending $$ on free agents because he doesn't believe in it? Did he not believe it when Atlanta signed Greg Maddux as a FA the first time? (contrary to belief, Maddux didn't spring out of nursery school as a Brave, he was a very successful pitcher with the Cubs) And Terry Pendleton--did he materialize on the Braves roster as a gift? He may not be a liar, but there's a certain amount of disingenuousness there. Fine if he's using it as a negotiation tactic with agents or other GMs, but is that what's happening?

On the other hand, high marks for willing to spend $$ and be creative in signing this year's draftees.

Posted by: Section 418 | September 21, 2007 12:37 PM | Report abuse

"So, when you have a longer range goal in place, day to day questions just don't have as much attention, and, the reality answers about them tend to be unpleasant."

If that's the case then, are the Post's editors right in their down-playing of much of this year's game stories?

Either this year's games matter or they don't. We can't have it both ways.

Posted by: Chris | September 21, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Look, asking yourself if Kasten or the Lerners are lying is like asking if a politician is lying.

The answer: Maybe, maybe not, but because they speak the way they do (double-speak, non-denial denials, skirting around questions), we (I) don't believe a word they say. Ever.

Posted by: Matt | September 21, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

1. I do think Barry that your frustration with Stan's evasions showed through too much. Stan needs a thicker skin, and should have simply said that he didn't want to comment on these questions rather than saying no goals have been set, but the snark sounded a little too personal I think. Your relationship with Stan is ultimately professional not personal, so your pique shouldn't have been so visible. But no way did I take that you thought he was dishonest - but Stan's words required you to interpret his statements as evasions rather than literal falsehoods. FWIW I have not seen the WaPo live Stan interview, so I missed that part of the back-story.

2. Agree with coverage is lacking. There aren't enough column inches or reporter hours invested in the inner workings of the Nats. For a close to home comparison, the Sun's coverage of the pathetically uninteresting O's is more extensive than WaPo's Nats. So your frustration with the trickles of info is understandable. We share it.

3. I do think ownership and management are moving in the right direction overall in building the team. It's gonna get incrementally more difficult to progress - exceeding a 100-loss prediction by 10 games is a nice start but only a start.

4. I don't have faith in their ability to sell and promote the team. I have to believe it was a conscious strategy to write this season off, and the erosion of fan support is a tangible result. We hard cores know that this is really an appealing outfit, but they haven't been advertising it adequately. If the lack of success on the Aramark, advertising and promotional fronts was not purposeful, it would be a brutal indictment of their management.

Posted by: Geezer | September 21, 2007 12:39 PM | Report abuse

It seems to me that the reason for the explosion was less what Barry was saying, but more Stan's frustration over the ticket sales. This is understandable, honestly, I love that he's frustrated (ideally, there would be no frusteration because sales would be great, but...)

I think Barry does a spectacular job as a columnist and informant. I think that if the Lerner's and Kasten were smart, they would buy Barry off of the Post, kick Ladson off mlb.com, and have Barry do ALL write ups, ALL information releases, ALL chats, all the stuff he does now, but Ladson doesn't.

The nature of the two jobs foments discord, I'm happy that it's there. What I just hope Stan understands is, there are plenty of fans out there who love the Nats, but that love is shared by Barry's coverage of them. I know that it is definitely a part of the reason I am still on washingtonpost.com instead of some other newspaper.

To the question:
I trust the Lerner's. I trust Stan. I trust Bowden. This year, to me, is evidence of where this franchise is going. That we can achieve a similar record with a slashed payroll, that we can scout out such talented arms, that we can raid the trash heap, that we have SOME people in the system who CAN contribute. I love the way it's being run. Period.

I think that a free agent - name required - signing is necessary to help recruit more fannies for seats. I also think that prices should be reduced for the new ballpark. Period. They are simply too high.

Other than those, all I can say is: GO NATS, BEAT THE PHILLIES, END PHILLY'S HOPES IN TWO DIFFERENT SPORTS IN THE SAME WEEK!!!

Posted by: NattyDelite! | September 21, 2007 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Barry Stan (the Man with a Plan, love that!) has a thin skin. He has gone on record, I believe, that in the long term the Franchise needs 3 million a year (?) in attendance. As to direction, so far so good. Tonight is my last game at the above location. I will be at different seats on Sunday. So, in honor of all of us, who use seat locations (or sections anyway), I ask a question that's been nagging at me for a long time. Section 506 (after moving)--Where did you move from and when (I feel why would be gettin too personal)?

Posted by: Sec 417 Row 8 Seat 9 | September 21, 2007 12:44 PM | Report abuse

My mailbag isn't enough for you people?

Posted by: Fake Bill Ladson | September 21, 2007 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Like many others, it didn't even occur to me that Stan was lying or that you were saying he was lying. I noticed the snark and knew exactly what it was: Stan was holding out and Barry was giving him crap about it. I actually took it as kind of playful, having heard (read) Barry say before that they had a combative but generally healthy relationship with Stan. I rather like the idea of our nerdy little beat reporter keeping up with Kasten's ego.

I totally trust Stan and what he's doing. period. I'm so impressed and pleased so far. As far as comments about Atlanta's one world series, I've said it several times recently that I absolutely trust that both attendance and getting to the world series are at the top of Kasten's "lessons-learned" list and he'll get it right this time.

For all the digging around in the weeds we do in this forum--whining and complaining about this cold hot dog or that no-double-play defense--big picture wise, every single thing that has happened so far has been one shiny, amazing little gift after another.

That said. I am just a teeeeeeny bit put off by Stan's trying to control the media so much. It's a little too George Bush-like for comfort.

Posted by: NatsNut | September 21, 2007 12:47 PM | Report abuse

I give you nothing but hard hitting facts about Adam Zimmerman, Gary Church, and Andy Kearns and this is the thanks I get from you people?

Posted by: Bill L | September 21, 2007 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Right Direction: The club cannot go in the right direction if it does not genereate revenue. It cannot sell tickets and generate revenue if fans have no place to park and the process of arriving and departing the ball park is a miserable experience. As of today, the parking and transportation situation will be atrocious. The Washington Nationals Baseball Club is not going in the right direction.

Lying: Stan states he has no goals for attendance in 2008. Any corporation must have a pro forma financial statement projecting future revenue to meet banking covenants, set future direction, meet shareholder requirements, etc. In order for the Washington Nationals Baseball Club to project its revenue, it must project, or, have a "goal" for attendance in 2008. The Washnignton Nationals Baseball Club does have a goal for attendance in 2008 and Stan Kasten is a liar.

Posted by: Sec 224 | September 21, 2007 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Barry, it seems to me that you guys have a pretty healthy relationship. Testing the boundaries every once in a while is OK. It's especially beneficial to us as it allows us to get both sides of the story - or at least a taste of each side. I appreciate you sharing it with us.

I think the Lerners and Co. are pushing the franchise in the right direction. There are definitely some good signs, as some of the others have posted; willingness to go after a prospect, resigning veterans who have contributed, bringing in an excellent and inspirational manager, etc. There are other aspects that we'll just have to wait and see about; the new stadium, how they plan on increasing attendance, moves in the offseason, moves in seasons to come. If anything, it'll be interesting and fun to watch. I'm looking forward to the Nats being a contender some day.

Posted by: Patty | September 21, 2007 1:02 PM | Report abuse

You know, Barry, I do think you have some apologizing to do to Stan if you want to have any kind of a succesful relationship with the Nationals as you cover them going forward. (Either that, or you could just slide on over to the Redskins beat now, you're well prepared with way more than warning track power for that role.) It's one thing for you to conduct a snarky, sarcastic back-and-forth with your colleague Jorge in your respective chats as you did for two years. Both you and Jorge had a forum, so people could read both sides of the snark-fest, and most everyone who read your comments realized they were full of sarcasm and snark but not a grain of truth. Although I bet there were some people out there who read every word you guys wrote and actually believed you two hated each other. Now Jorge has left for greener pastures, and your sarcastic yin has found its yang in Stan Kasten. Nothing wrong with that. The problem arises when you take it public, though, as you did the other day. Stan has no public forum for snark as you do, so there's no way his side of the conversation ever gets heard. There will be people out there who will read what you write about Stan Kasten and not see the snark for what it is. Your comments could and probably have made more than a few people believe that he really is lying to you (and by extension to them) with every word he says. I don't blame him for being pissed at you and the paper that employs you. You stepped way, way over the line. Unprofessional. Even on a blog or a chat, if it's run by a newspaper the comments made by the representative of that paper need to be professional. That's the minimum standard, and you didn't meet it.

But hey, at least Stan will return your calls. I tried to watch that video of him and Sheinin four times, and it crashed my browser every time. He may lie to you, but he won't even talk to me!

Posted by: Section 419 | September 21, 2007 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Stan Kasten is a liar.

He lied about not having a goal for next year's attendance. But that's no big deal - with or without a #, it doesn't really affect the team.

Not wanting to spend $$$ and sign big FAs does hurt the team. Willing to trade prospects hurts the team.

Posted by: mm | September 21, 2007 1:07 PM | Report abuse

With respect to Barry, the question about the goal for season ticket sales next year strikes me as silly. The only problem is that Stan didn't give the obvious answer: 100%. That has to be the goal, doesn't it? What would you say about management if their goal was to sell less than 100% of the stadium with season tickets? Not to say that they have a realistic expectation of meeting that goal anytime soon, but still... A marginally better question would have been what Stan's expectations for season ticket sales are for next year, although I wouldn't expect to get an answer to that either - what self-respecting team executive would publicly admit that they don't expect to sell all the tickets? So you'd still get a non-answer answer, just as I would expect if Barry asked Manny Acta how many games he expects to win next year. His goal has to be to win them all; his realistic expectation clearly would fall well short of that, but you'd never expect him to put a number on it at this point, even though we all know it's highly likely to be between 60 and 90 games.

Posted by: Tom Servo | September 21, 2007 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Originally Posted by Section 419:
"...You stepped way, way over the line. Unprofessional..."

It takes a lot to say a reporter steps over the line and calling him unprofessional - maybe when s/he makes up a story for personal gain/agenda.

Mr. Survluga has done nothing like that. Unless you believe Mr. Survluga was using this forum to retaliate Mr. Kasten's uncooperative inactions.

Posted by: mm | September 21, 2007 1:16 PM | Report abuse

And, in fact, this post itself could be Barry's mea culpa.

Posted by: NatsNut | September 21, 2007 1:19 PM | Report abuse

You all are mis-reading Stan. How's he going to run the Braves all those years and be truly offended by one word from a reporter?

Stan is very, very good at his job. Either consciously or subconsciously, he has shifted the discussion from "how are you going to fill the stands" to "do you trust me"? He's also set in our minds the "I will never lie to you" mantra. Honestly, why do we care if he lies to us?

Finally, with the righteous anger (much like the MASN anger), he is instilling the media with a "Nats need to be treated with respect" mentality. Stan is going on the beginnings of a PR offensive.

The more I think about it, the more I like him.

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | September 21, 2007 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Cosmo,

I respect your enthusiasm (and your assessments of the O's). But I don't think the Nats can celebrate not being the 1962 Mets, and call that year a success.

As to lowering expectations, complaining about over-paid free agents seems like an excuse to do nothing.

And if nothing means a repeat of 2007 performance, then empty seats will adorn the new ballpark.

Posted by: Ashburn | September 21, 2007 1:26 PM | Report abuse

mm sez "Originally Posted by Section 419:
"...You stepped way, way over the line. Unprofessional..."

It takes a lot to say a reporter steps over the line and calling him unprofessional - maybe when s/he makes up a story for personal gain/agenda.

Mr. Survluga has done nothing like that. Unless you believe Mr. Survluga was using this forum to retaliate Mr. Kasten's uncooperative inactions."

Mr. Svrluga directed large amounts of sarcasm and snark toward Mr. Kasten in a public forum bought and paid for by the newspaper he works for as a reporter, not an opinion columnist. Mr. Kasten was not offered equal time in that forum to express his side of the story, nor was he even quoted extensively so that readers could judge whether or not the sarcasm and snark directed toward his remarks were warranted or not. Sounds pretty damn unprofessional to me for a reporter on a major American newspaper that competes for and wins Pulitzer Prizes for its reporting. Not Janet Cooke-level unprofessional, I'll grant you, but unprofessional nonetheless.


Posted by: Section 419 | September 21, 2007 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Barry,

I do believe Stan and gang are doing everything they can to build a winner. He gets it and I respect the guy.

I also believe if he was totally forthright (not calling him a liar) on how long it will take to get there, he would be hurting fan morale, ticket sales, etc. It's going to be a long time before we are making a run at the WS. That being said, you have the right to challenge him on that plan. I want that! Also, I love baseball, it's my outlet. I want it to be fun, funny, interesting, gossipy - I want it to be a distraction to my busy day. Kudos to the Post for allowing more access to my passion. I've never felt this close to what was going on with the team. I will be forever grateful to you Barry, for your work ethic and talented writing ability. I've literally read everything you written (including your book) and spoken (podcast). You have brought me closer to my passion (Nats) and made it fun. I wish you didn't feel the need to apologize. We just don't take this as life and death...but I know they (Stan and gang) do...

Posted by: phillip | September 21, 2007 1:29 PM | Report abuse

I work for a small company. And we have goals for sales each year. And our revenue isn't even a fraction of what the Nationals organization is. I'm sure the Washington Post has goals each year for circulation. And I have read where the Lerner's micro manage to the point where they want to know what is being sent Federal Express and why. And Stan expects us to believe they don't have a goal for ticket sales? Come on Stan. Let's be real. Of course they do, and his stand on it just shows really how far off ticket sales are for next year.

I do believe in the Lerner's, Stan and Bowden. And it took me a long time to warm up to Trader Jim. As long as they deliver what the promise. I know we won't be in a World Series next year, and I'm willing to wait and show patience. I think Manny Acta is the right man for this team. I just hope they follow threw with the promises they have made. Because I seem to remember hearing how they were going to change things at RFK and the last time I was there, it was still not that great.

Remember Stan, you only get so many Mulligans.

Posted by: Bruce | September 21, 2007 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Oh, as to my handle:

A long time ago (2005) in Boz's chats people started posting their location as their season ticket seating. I, having just graduated, had no season tickets and no any sort of money at all. In fact, I would just buy the cheapest tickets I could get and find a new seat that I could actually see the field from (after being at a game verses the Mats and not being able to tell if a fly ball was an out or a home run). Hmm, nothing's changed. I found 506 to be the first section in which you can see all of the right-field corner, but far enough away from home that I wasn't stealing anyone's seat.

So one day, I thought it would be amusing to write in among all the Section 2XX and 3XX with a Section 5XX. Who would buy season tickets there? But, of course, it wasn't even my real section, so I had to add the after moving, which added a shade of patheticness to the whole affair and amused me even more.

Thus my handle. I have plans for a change next year already...

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | September 21, 2007 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Um Section 419 - a chat on washingtonpost.com is WAY different than reporting for a Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper. The forum is completely different and the banter between writer and reader changes accordingly.

You need to lighten up.

Posted by: DE | September 21, 2007 1:35 PM | Report abuse

I think the standards, while high in any case, are different between an article that is written for the paper, which is reporting, and a blog or discussion, which is more opinion and analysis.

Barry didn't write in an article that he thought that Stan was lying. He didn't even do that in the chat -- what he did do was state that he was dissatisfied with the responses that he got -- opinion -- and empathized with a correspondant that thought that Kasten was being dishonest in his assessment of the sales goals. That isn't the same as calling Kasten a liar... and I think the analysis that 506(AM) offers is more or less on-target... it is an opportunity for Kasten to shape the debate.

I would worry if Kasten was all chummy-chummy with any reporter... the reporter wouldn't be doing his or her job in that case... and Kasten recognizes that... and he needs The Post... and the debate is good for everyone.

Posted by: Wigi | September 21, 2007 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Barry,

As a sarcastic and cynical person myself, I've made the same mistake of pushing peoples' buttons at moments when (in hindsight) it was a really poor idea to do so. Without taking issue with your overall style and approach to covering the team (which I greatly enjoy), you decided to press Stan on what have to be the three most personally painful issues for him right now:

1) how do people plan to get to their brand new stadium when parking looks like it is going to be the trainwreck people forecasted it could be before the DC Council had even approved the team, and is that going to hit them in the wallet due to decreased attendance;

2) did they move too agressively in pricing seats at the new stadium, including massively over projecting the number of people who would buy club or premium seats in this town (see also, e.g., Fed Ex Field, seats, yellow level), with the resulting possibilty that they may see an attendance bump (if any) on par with Pittsburgh's new park rather than Milwaukee's, placing their long term viability in question (given their TV revenue cap); and

3) How are they going to take a team that is held together with duct tape and bailing wire, that overperformed this year just to reach 10 or 15 games below .500, and make it better next season, when they are looking at a mediocre and over-paid free agent class and potential revenue issues (see points 1 and 2 above) that may hamper them from raising payroll?

All told, I guess you could have gotten snarky with Kasten about whether he beats his wife or is a member of the Communist party, but short of that I think opening the door to the implication that he's a liar about any one of these issues must have felt like a physicl slap in the face to him, given that they're all likely keeping him up at night and worry him too. While I get (and got at the time) where you were coming from in that chat, I think it is understandable he reacted as he did. I think your post today should go a long way towards making things better, but I feel like a behind the scenes "sorry for going a bit too far -- this time" might also be in order.

Posted by: Section 408 | September 21, 2007 1:38 PM | Report abuse

I thought Stan Kasten's comments were rife with hedging and wriggling as compared with his previous statements to the public. It's in a beat reporter's interests to report to the community of the paper for which he works. That's what I think Barry has been doing, and brilliantly. His reporting is more in-depth than the New York Times seems to provide for the Yankees and Mets. There does seem to be an edge to some of his comments regarding Stan's relationship with the media. That's good to know, too, and Barry's background on his and Stan's relationship was probably some of the most honest reporting one could ever hope to read in a newspaper-affiliated blog.

As to whether Nationals' management is on the right track: I think so, for the most part. Developing the farm system and minor league levels is smart, as is not going after free agents with a blank check. (Not closing the door to all avenues to improve a team is important, too, though. How do you bump up payroll another 30-some-odd million, as had been projected by the team last year for 2008, if not in an instance or two by free agency?)

I'm concerned about the advertising the team does - sure, there's advertising in the Post; can't speak for TV as I don't watch except on Grey's Anatomy Thursdays; but there's precious little on radio other than the team's flagship station. Public events involving meet-and-greets, etc, aren't publicized nearly as heavily as I think they should be. There was a baseball clinic for women at RFK last weekend. I happened upon a flyer for the event a few weeks prior. Then, the radio broadcast team mentioned it in the week's broadcasts. That's it. I saw nothing else anywhere.

I used to question Bowden's maneuvering - over the past year, I've come to respect most of his decisions and I think much more highly of the job he's done.

As I've mentioned earlier today, I question the team's price points of seats in the new stadium. I also think much of the fan entertainment in the present stadium could be safely jettisoned in favor of just allowing the sounds and rhythms of a baseball game to unfold as the game intended. Not everyone who comes to games has an MTV attention span, as ownership seems to think.

I'm enjoying the onfield product immensely, win or lose (winning's easier to stomach, of course, but the games are still mostly fun, regardless). If improvement isn't seen in a few years, I'll still love this game I've discovered over the past 3 years, but I think the team will lose the greater community at large. This is a fickle, achievement-oriented city. I wonder at times if, in their decisions and plans, Nationals' management is reading this market's pulse correctly.

Posted by: samantha7 | September 21, 2007 1:44 PM | Report abuse

This saddle chafes?

Posted by: Section 419's High Horse | September 21, 2007 1:47 PM | Report abuse

This saddle chafes

Posted by: Section 419's High Horse | September 21, 2007 1:47 PM | Report abuse

I've been lurking for a while (too much posting during work), but I wanted to chime in here.

I was reading the chat, and I didn't think Barry crossed the line. I've come to expect - and appreciate - sarcasm from Barry, and I didn't feel like anything inappropriate was said.

506 (AM) has the post of the day - so what else is new? - as far as I'm concerned. Masterful job deflecting attention by Kasten.

Posted by: John in Mpls | September 21, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Hey, John in Mpls, good to hear from you! I've been wondering where you were (well, other than your being in Mpls or at Burger King).

I agree -- Sect. 506 has done it again. He's two-fer in postings!

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 21, 2007 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Keep going after them Barry. The team got a $600 million gift from the city and now they are going cheap on payroll and standing idle with an impending parking disaster. If they can't handle tough questions, they shouldn't have bought the team.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | September 21, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Somehow, we are losing sight of a number of salient facts:

1. The Lerners' have a not inconsiderable personal investment in this club (unless you consider $450,000,000 a mere pittance).

2. None of us is as knowledgeable as we think. Having been on the "inside" a little, I have a faint understanding of how complicated a business baseball is and I wouldn't begin to be able to tell if Kasten is doing a good job, yet. Those who are pumping for expensive F/A signings, this year, are simply clueless. Agressivly pursuing free agents, when you are at least a year, probably two, from serious contention is simply a waste of money and a way to create problems.

3. No, you actually don't have a goal of selling 100% of the tix to season holders. Baseball is not like pointy ball. The schedule has an 81 game home schedule. If a casual fan (read: customer) really has no chance of deciding that he or she would just enjoy going to the ballpark tonight, walking up and getting a ticket at the gate, they are more likely to lose interest.

4. Just as no one really knows what the ballpark will play like, no one really knows what the 81 game / 40 game / 20 game base is. After the park is open for a couple of years, and the team has had a chance to really tie itself to the community, goals will be much more logical and reasonable.

5. Barry is simply doing his job, which is to push the club for info, and be skeptical of exactly what is put out. Kasten is simply doing his job, which is to provide that information most likely to benefit the Washington Nationals, who pay his salary. In fact, if the "news side" of the WaPo was to do a better job of pushing some of our government officials to answer some questions and to push them when skepticism indicates that they may be telling a lie, we might all be better off.

6. All of the above having been said, we all need to remember that the WaPo has always had a serious level of dichotomy. Is it the local paper? Is it a national paper? In a tight pennant race, does the WaPo have an obligation to spend more ink on the Saux & Yankees than on the Nats? There is certainly a significant Boston contingent in the area.

7. We are never going to see the likes of Shirley Povich, again. Get used to it! Boz is very good when it comes to on field events. He has never gotten the off the field machinations. Sure, he probably devotes more effort and angst to the team up 95, but he has a lot of years invested there. It hurts to see the disaster of the last decade. He is much more of a columnist than a reporter at this point.

Posted by: Catcher50 | September 21, 2007 2:35 PM | Report abuse

One other thought about team management: the city is giving them a $611 million stadium. Of course the spotlight will be on Kasten et al with regard to everything big and small regarding the team. Sure, they might be developing ulcers over some of the issues they face at present, but what's that old saying? If you can't stand the heat, etc, etc? Scrutiny is going to come with a new, prepaid stadium in a market where baseball hasn't been for several decades, and where another team not so far up the road has been strangled by owner apathy for a decade or more. This comes with the territory. Scrutiny is good. So is debate, and even the occasional flaring tempers.

Posted by: samantha7 | September 21, 2007 2:37 PM | Report abuse

i subscribe to what my uncle used to say: the proof is in the pudding. well find out soon enough (maybe as early as the middle of next year) what road the team is heading down.

with all the discussion, i decided that im not going to buy season tickets. i am not sure if i want to feel invested in something that is so fragile. dont get me wrong, i watch or listen to every game. but ill come and go at my leisure without serious physical involvement - just like my status on this wonderful forum.

enjoy the weekend. hopefully ill see you all sunday.

Posted by: theraph | September 21, 2007 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Barry, I can't see much wrong with how you played it, the chat simply reflected your frustration at the time, that's the downside to forums like that.

I don't think Kasten is lying in that he was trying to mislead Barry (and by extension us), but I will say that while Stan and the Plan might be working in the long term for the team on the field, promises given to those in the stands have to this point not been kept.

I say this as a season ticket holder from day 1 who waited almost from the day I moved to DC for the opportunity to buy tickets to a team here. I expected great things once the Lerner group took over last year, and this year I have seen none of that. Service and communication to ticket holders is so negligible to be almost non-existent. I occasionally visit other stadiums and I get more communication from them from the handful of tickets I buy there than the team I buy 81 games to.

Marketing overall is lacking. Why are you running ads for the Nationals only on the Nationals broadcast? Trust me, if someone is going to watch a ballgame on MASN, they're coming to at least some games. Where are the ads otherwise? I rarely see any. Compare this to other cities like Philly and Cleveland, where the team is well known - almost everyone knows when they're in town. We had to get the details on the program for Sunday from Barry, the only thing I got from the Nationals on it was an e-mail from "Indians.com" telling me the game had been moved. Oh yeah, and a postcard addressed to my old address that I had called in and changed months ago.

The "ballpark experience" I suppose we should reserve judgment on until we see the new park, but there were very few improvements at RFK this year. The last few weeks, I've even noticed FEWER than normal concessions open, leading to even longer lines. No real appreciation for the season ticket holders this year other than opening the gates an hour early...during weekday games. Great, I'll take off work early to watch fielding practice. What happened to the nice picnic they did last year? Sure the lines were long, but at least they were trying.

There are two sides to this equation - the on team part, which seems to be progressing albeit a bit slower than some may like, and the "experience" part, which seems greatly lacking. I'm still excited about seeing the new stadium next year, but improvements are going to have to be great in all parts of the experience to keep me in the stands beyond that.

So yeah, Barry was snarky and Stan may not have "lied." But I can't blame everyone for being frustrated and taking that out on Kasten or the Lerners when they hide behind double talk in response to legitimate questions.

Posted by: Becoming disgruntled... | September 21, 2007 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Looking forward to it, theraph!

---

enjoy the weekend. hopefully ill see you all sunday.

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 21, 2007 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Dear Stan:

Please forgive Barry for his snarky attitude. He is an excellent reporter and his reporting has added significantly to my appreciation of the Nationals players and management. Barry was unfair to you and I would be upset too. Clearly he is remorseful. It takes courage and humility to publicly acknowledge mistakes and I think that Barry has demonstrated both.

By the way nothing I have read from Barry's writings have led me to form a negative impression of your efforts or results. I am still a big Stan Fan. If you want to avoid over priced free agents I am in full support. If you have not established a public goal of X season tickets, then I am ok with that too. It is silly to think that you have modest goals in this regard. Of course you have goals. Barry and the rest of us don't need to know.

Cut Barry a break. He seems to like to do an honest day's work. And at the end of the day. We could do much much worse.

Sincerely,

NatBisquit.
(Renewed Partial Plan Holder)

Posted by: NatBisquit | September 21, 2007 2:57 PM | Report abuse

DE sez "Um Section 419 - a chat on washingtonpost.com is WAY different than reporting for a Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper. The forum is completely different and the banter between writer and reader changes accordingly.

You need to lighten up."

Um, no, I think you need to learn the difference between what someone says and how they say it on their own personal blogs and chats and what they say and how they say it on blogs and chats that they are being paid to conduct as a part of their employment as a reporter on a major newspaper. Funny how people here seem so anxious to give the institution of the Washington Post credit for what happens on its website as if it was a part of what the paper does in its print edition, but then seem surprised at the suggestion that the same standards need to be applied online as would be in the print edition in terms of journalistic ethics and behavior. Snark and sarcasm are not out of place either online or in the paper (Exhibit A: the Style section), but they need to be employed carefully and appropriately. Ever notice Barry or any other Post blogger directing snark or sarcasm at people who comment on their blogs and chats (including me, and I've probably deserved some more than once)? No, because that would be unprofessional - while in a personal blog, snarky give and take between blogger and commenters is the norm. Likewise, snark and sarcasm directed toward one of the major subjects of Barry's reporting is inappropriate and unprofessional coming from him in his chats or blogs on the Post website, while it's okay coming from us commenters - provided we stay within the Post's posting guidelines. I guess you just don't see that distinction.

You know, I wouldn't be surprised if Barry's apology today was prompted not only by his own pangs of conscience but also by a call from Mr. Garcia-Ruiz or another one of his editors. I can't believe that the Post would want to poison its relationship with the Nationals the way its relationship with the Redskins has been poisoned. On the Redskins front, obviously Daniel Snyder played a big part in that poisoning, and it may not have been entirely the Post's fault that the relationship went sour. But Stan Kasten, flawed as he may be, is no Dan Snyder and I'm sure the Post's editors do not want their beat reporter painting him into a corner as if he is, either accidentally or on purpose. Professionalism on the part of everyone involved is what will keep the Post-Nationals relationship from going the way of the Post-Redskins relationship.

Posted by: Section 419 | September 21, 2007 2:58 PM | Report abuse

What is Stan going to do when I call him in a few months screaming about who my season ticket group with seats right begin the Nats dugout in Section 220 got screwed in the reassignment process when they had to move all those people from behind the plate down the the lines because, low and behold, they did not want to shell out $250 a seat. Stan better start thinkening up that skin because he is going to have start dealing with more than just a snarky (and excellent by the way) beat reporter soon.

Posted by: Nats Fan in KC | September 21, 2007 2:58 PM | Report abuse

lot of people jumping in on this and taking time to level their thoughts. go baseball!

i wonder if the offseason spending increase has more to do with extending long term contracts to Zimmerman and others. Maybe one of those trades-in-the-works has the same idea behind it. That always seemed to work well for the Cardinals. We don't need a grade A free agent to increase spending. Trade for Santana/Peavy and give them what they want!

"Liar" is not the right word for what's going on here. That's a way over the top.

Posted by: longterm | September 21, 2007 3:05 PM | Report abuse

PSA, Boz is on:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2007/09/14/DI2007091401046.html

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | September 21, 2007 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Okay, took a couple deep breaths and read a lot of the ensuing comments after mine, most of which -- regardless of their opinion -- were far more measured and thought-out than mine.

Yeah, Barry, your comments in the chat (while NOT implying that Stan Kasten is a liar), were a bit snarky and not really appropriate.

But Stan, your reaction to that snarkiness by screaming at Barry over the phone and hanging up on him was EQUALLY inappropriate and unprofessional. Not only does it cast a bad light on you personally, but also on the organization you represent.

Posted by: Juan-John | September 21, 2007 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Barry,

I've been reading (as have lots of others I bet) since the blog in Spring Training '05...when they weren't on TV, you and Charlie Slowes were how I got my Nats fix...and if there's one thing I know, your style is powered by snark (and Panera sandwiches). Do I think you probably should have thought twice about taking "A River in Egypt's" question - yeah, maybe. Do I think it was completely out of bounds...meh. Not really. I certainly didn't think you called Stan a liar, and I think after a few days, he won't think so either. I imagine he's laying down a marker with you, so that you understand he's not going to have you direct that much snark at him. Fair enough. I think this post goes a long way toward establishing, earnestly, what you actually thought and meant to say and it's well done.

As for whether or not I trust him - I trust he's doing what he can to build the franchise the best way he knows how. I don't trust that he will do everything I would do if I were in his position, but that's ok. I'd like him to recognize, publically, more often, the difficulties of building up a long-term significant fan base in DC by discussing, in detail, what it is they plan to do instead of just feeding us "The future is so bright!" kind of lines - yes, I can see good things on the horizon, but I'm confused - last year, the issue was that our farms were horrible - now we're talking about trading away prospects for older vets? How is that "the Plan?" I trust that he's making an honest effort - I just wish he let us inside the thinking behind that effort a little more often, and a little more clearly.

Posted by: Svrlugite | September 21, 2007 3:22 PM | Report abuse

I think what might be frustrating to everyone, Barry included, is that Kasten creates this illusion that running a baseball team is some sort of unique and difficult skill that we can't possibly understand. Running a ball club is probably a heck of lot easier than running, say a fortune 500 company or a say, a Senate campaign. And the shareholders or voters, which in this case are the paying fans and taxpayers of DC, expect a bit more than hollow assertions. The condescension, behind closed door mentality, and the cheesy marketing speak really don't play well in DC. The fans around here aren't a bunch of yokels. We understand the complexities of both business and politics, so the relatively simple business of running a ball club. But most imporatantly, DC is a winners town. Kasten really hasn't proven anything about his ability to win here, so he doesn't get a free pass with us.

Posted by: TimB | September 21, 2007 3:33 PM | Report abuse

I respect Stan and am willing to continue to back that respect by buying tickets and by talking up the Nats any time I can. He needs to keep doing his job (including improving marketing) and to promote the Nats by all available means.

I also respect Barry, and root for him to get as much exposure as possible -- which helps the Nats, whether Stan believes it or not. He needs to keep doing his job and not feel too bad about getting bawled out. (That he subjects his reportage to an internal fairness check is a credit to him and to the Post.)

If Stan and Barry stopped speaking, I'd frankly look askance at them both.

Posted by: Hendo | September 21, 2007 3:34 PM | Report abuse

419, you first state that "snark and sarcasm are not out of place either online or in the paper (Exhibit A: the Style section), but they need to be employed carefully and appropriately."

Then later in the same post, you say that "snark and sarcasm directed toward one of the major subjects of Barry's reporting is inappropriate and unprofessional coming from him in his chats or blogs on the Post website."

Which is it? I think the former, not the latter. Is snark appropriate in a factual column reporting on events, citing sources, etc? No. Is it appropriate in a style section column, or in Dana Milbank's political column, or on the op ed pages? Certainly, it's there all the time.

A chat is in real time and considerably less formal than even a "light" column in the print edition; accordingly I think snark is even more tolerable (even desirable) in that forum.

Now, does being snarky risk pissing people off? Sure, rightly or wrongly. But I don't think anybody needs to question Barry's journalistic integrity, that's pretty far off the reservation.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | September 21, 2007 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Tension between the press and team ownership is not at all unusual. If there isn't some acrimony, someone probably is not doing their job the right way. The job of the reporter is to convey to the fans more than just the party line spouted by management. It's also understandable why management doesn't want to telegraph their every move publicly. There you have it.

162 games makes for a very long season. There are bound to be blow-ups during this type of marathon. Were you being "snarky" (great word, by the way) during your chat? Sure. Was Stan out of line on Washington Post Live? You bet.

Bottom line, neither profession is for people with thin skins. I hope you and Stan can put this behind you and move on. The fact is you guys both need each other more than you'd ever care to admit in order for you both to be successful. I hope you can work things out.

Posted by: Vienna, VA | September 21, 2007 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Barry asks: "Will they, ultimately, get to their one stated goal: Winning a World Series?"

No.

Posted by: JohnR (VA) | September 21, 2007 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Worth noting that "Nats Fan" Boz is now also rooting for the Phillies, he had this to say on his chat this afternoon:

"The Phils are a lot of fun right now. I'm pulling for them, either as a wild card or in the East."

Posted by: Bob L. Head | September 21, 2007 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Bob L. Head sez "419, you first state that "snark and sarcasm are not out of place either online or in the paper (Exhibit A: the Style section), but they need to be employed carefully and appropriately."

Then later in the same post, you say that "snark and sarcasm directed toward one of the major subjects of Barry's reporting is inappropriate and unprofessional coming from him in his chats or blogs on the Post website."

Which is it?"
Snark directed at Britney Spears in the Style section is appropriate. Snark directed by a political columnist toward a major national politician who is running for or holding elective office is appropriate. Snark - especially snarkish exchanges reported from the reporter's point of view only - directed by a beat reporter toward the CEO of a privately-owned corporation that he has been assigned to cover is not appropriate, whether that corporation is the Mars Company or the Washington Nationals. And it's not a wise move on the reporter's part either, if he intends to keep using that CEO as a source for his reporting in the future, as Barry may find out the hard way. He's obviously doing some damage control here.

"I think the former, not the latter. Is snark appropriate in a factual column reporting on events, citing sources, etc? No. Is it appropriate in a style section column, or in Dana Milbank's political column, or on the op ed pages? Certainly, it's there all the time."

Well, there you've answered the question yourself. Barry Svrluga is a beat reporter, not a columnist, right? His relationship to his sources and subjects is different than that of a columnist.

"A chat is in real time and considerably less formal than even a "light" column in the print edition; accordingly I think snark is even more tolerable (even desirable) in that forum."

But in that forum Barry is still a reporter, not a columnist. For reasons of prudence alone, he shouldn't be trashing his subjects and sources even in "informal" situations.

"Now, does being snarky risk pissing people off? Sure, rightly or wrongly. But I don't think anybody needs to question Barry's journalistic integrity, that's pretty far off the reservation."

I don't recall questioning his integrity. I said what he did was unprofessional. At the very least, he suffered from poor judgment, and good judgment is one of the traits of a professional. So in that sense for sure, and perhaps in others, as I said before, it's unprofessional.

Posted by: Section 419 | September 21, 2007 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Section 506 (After Moving)- Thanks for the answer. Ha, ha, that's why I asked. Who would move there?? Thanks again.

Posted by: Section 417 Row 8 Seat 9 | September 21, 2007 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Boswell had high praise for Manny as MOY candidate in his chat today. (Also in the chat: general discussion of baseball and other teams, including some humorous notes about Red Sox Nation sweating it out against the Yankees' resurgence.)

Posted by: samantha7 | September 21, 2007 4:27 PM | Report abuse

I moved about four times last night, but I didn't try 506. Perhaps tonight.

Posted by: Five Dollar Ticket | September 21, 2007 4:27 PM | Report abuse

I hope the Nats win tonight so everyone stops being so cranky. Jeeeeeze

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | September 21, 2007 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Just a random thought:

I wonder what the relationship was in Atlanta between Kasten and the AJC reporters? It's possible it was all southern hospitality and charm. Contrast this with the hard-nosed east coast approach of the WaPo. Mint juleps vs scotch on the rocks.

Some things in his behavior suggest he's not accustomed to what he's experiencing in D.C. Maybe it's culture shock that's bothering Stan as much as anything else.

Posted by: JohnR (VA) | September 21, 2007 4:41 PM | Report abuse

I'll go back to some of the snarkiness on both sides coming from Stan the Plan not able to really offer some good news for a while. The "Good Stuff" has to wait until next year.

It's a little annoying to get asked constantly about questions that don't have very positive answers: parking, next year's sales, free agent signings. It's much easier to talk about good stuff, but think about how much good stuff there has been! Stadium on schedule, great draft, Acta's managing, the surprise record, the piecing together of pitching, etc. but those questions aren't coming anymore!

I fully expect the marketing staff, TV ads on multiple local channels, and push for season tickets sales picks up after RFK is done. Building up momentum for the season to come, instead of trying to raise the profile for newbies to come to RFK and turn on the team. Build interest, especially after T-giving around the holidays and really pick it up after the New Year comes.

Oh, and, about the parking... ;-)

Posted by: ShawNatsFan | September 21, 2007 4:51 PM | Report abuse

All right, off to a quick Happy Hour before heading out to RFK for 3rd game in 3 nights! Let's put a big L on the Phils! And shut a few Phans up in the process!

Posted by: ShawNatsFan | September 21, 2007 4:53 PM | Report abuse

419: Britney could be called the CEO of a privately-owned corporation too. Dude, it's BASEBALL. Last I looked it was a GAME. Chill.
_________
snarkish exchanges reported from the reporter's point of view only - directed by a beat reporter toward the CEO of a privately-owned corporation that he has been assigned to cover is not appropriate, whether that corporation is the Mars Company or the Washington Nationals.

Posted by: NatsNut | September 21, 2007 4:57 PM | Report abuse

ShawNatsFan:

We had them shut up pretty good till the middle of the game last night.

Here's hoping for a better result (and the end of my streak...).

Posted by: Wigi | September 21, 2007 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Another version of what many others have said: I think the Post has not done a good job covering the team, to the point that they look like they want it to fail. I go back to Boswell talking about "both our region's teams" in April, Wilbon announcing on ESPN after the Soriano signing that "Nobody cares about the Nats", providing the team with virtually no front page sports coverage in September, etc. Its the Washington Post, and while its understood that a newspaper is not supposed to work as advertising for the team, its coverage (or lack therof) provides a negative vibe before the team even has a chance to execute its plan to succeed. If the Post's M.O. towards the Nats has angered and annoyed many of the hardcore fans (and by reading this blog over this season, its clear that it has), does anyone at the Post really expect Stan Kasten to give you a scoop at a media luncheon?

I think Kasten is pretty honest -- you know he is confident in his ideas and that he is only going to tell you what he wants to. So to be frustrated by this 15 months into his team presidency seems to be a bit perplexing. I think there's no reason to be critical of Nationals management at this point -- they are doing what they said they were going to, they warned it would take time, and they provide an entertaining (if not yet winning) product at the major league level.

No, I didn't think you called him a liar. But the tone of the chat was that the Nats management were carnival hucksters trying to sell you, the cool guy, a bill of goods and you were too smart for it. And I think that implied characterization of this organization is unfair, at least at this point in the team's development.

Posted by: Ray | September 21, 2007 5:20 PM | Report abuse

What a "mountain out of a mole hill" this group makes of this topic. It is all conjecture. Why does a fan care if the team doesn't make its business numbers. This fan cares what the product on the field looks like and how it performs. If the Lerner/Kasten group puts a good product on the field all other problems will be taken care of themselves.

My concern is Kasten and Bowden are already lowering expectation for the team they will put on the field next year by saying there are no good free agents this year and the only way the Nats will improve is through trades (with Arizona?).
Can our Kasten Speak translator interpret that for me? And I believe Wigi mentioned he's worried about keeping Rizzo. Well it looks like he may be Pittsburg's next GM.

Fans don't need to get into a squabble between a beat writer and a team President. Stick to what really counts: ON THE FIELD IMPROVEMENTS.

PS WaPo send the Metro and Business section writers out to dig up info on the business side of the team not the on the field beat writer.

Posted by: Tom | September 21, 2007 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Breaking News from the Washington Post's Barry Svrluga: Front Office May Lie

Stay tuned for tomorrow's in-depth special "Money is Important"

Posted by: love | September 21, 2007 5:35 PM | Report abuse

"Baseball is a Funny Game"

Posted by: exclusive report | September 21, 2007 6:33 PM | Report abuse

First of all, when did the word snarky suddenly make its reappearance (BTW, it came up in my o.l. spell-check as not a word)? I've heard it recently in a number of media. Is it just fashionable?

Second, running a ML franchise may not be running a fortune 500 enterprise, but it's far from your neighborhood ice cream fountain.

Third, if you go back four or five years, and check the WaPo columns by Boz, T.K, Wilbon, etc. you will see that, almost universally they pontificated that DC would not get the Expo's franchise and would probably never get a MLB franchise. The atmosphere has, to a certain extent permeated their writing ever since. No, it is not their job to be homers. It is, however their job to either be honest viewers / reporters, or make known their biases.

Posted by: catcher50 | September 21, 2007 6:40 PM | Report abuse

i'll agree w/some comments here.

1) i think the team (on the field and in the minors) is going the right direction.

2) i think marketing, customer service, stadium management, ticketing, etc., is still ridiculously poor. and that concerns me greatly. maybe it is a throwaway year, but the honeymoon will be over next year if they have a great new stadium but still can't manage to market their way out of a wet paper bag, communicate with ticketholders, manage a stadium, etc.

what really bothers me is that was the area i expected them to improve sooner. it's far easier to treat your customers better immediately than it is to rebuild the organization on the field. and yet they've failed at that so far and certainly have not met the expectations they set after taking over the team.

Posted by: the other 506 | September 21, 2007 6:49 PM | Report abuse

I like what has been going on, but no one will know if this whole thing will work until the last out of the final game of the first World Series they win. Gillick did it in Toronto, but hasnt succeeded (ie; winning a WS) anywhere else yet. It all sounds good on paper, but who knows if all of this will translate to wins in the future. We can hope so, but we cant be certain.

Posted by: Andrew Stebbins | September 21, 2007 6:51 PM | Report abuse

was just watching local news - nats on for about 30 seconds on nbc4; blond news chick didn't get yesturday's recap quite right.

since espn love isn't coming soon, maybe we can complain about this also. local team should get good local news coverage - in print and on tv.

Posted by: tv coverage | September 21, 2007 6:59 PM | Report abuse

You know, I was thinking on the way home...

As a veteran of Weingarten's chat, I think it's very safe to say that Barry's snark is nowhere NEAR the line in a Post online discussion. No menstruation describing, bowel movements analyzing, god-bashing, suicide-endorsing, or Yankees praising went on and as far as I'm concerned, WaPo.com and dead-tree editors, that's an exemplary thing. Just give Gene a run at the Nationals chat next week and see what calls come from Stan Kasten...

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | September 21, 2007 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Sometimes when you cross a line it is hard to get back across. When you cross the line multiple times it becomes difficult to regain trust. When you lose trust you reduce your ability to do your job well.

Every spring Buster Olney writes about a humbling experience he had with Deion Sanders when covering a minor league team. Buster had been a little unfair, assumed too much, and crossed the line between reporting and guessing.

I believe Buster writes about this incident every spring in part to remind himself and the rest of us about the danger of crossing lines.

Posted by: NatBisquit | September 21, 2007 7:25 PM | Report abuse

>> The shareholders or voters, which in this case are the paying fans and taxpayers of DC, expect a bit more than hollow assertions. The condescension, behind closed door mentality, and the cheesy marketing speak really don't play well in DC. The fans around here aren't a bunch of yokels.
TimB <<

What he said

Posted by: Ashburn | September 21, 2007 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Coupla points:

419, a pleasure debating with you. You make credible arguments. I think that the issues we have identified boil down to two things: first, whether a beat reporter is acting as a beat reporter when participating in a chat; and second, whether a beat reporter participating in a chat should be careful about what he says given that it might jeopardize his relationships with his sources.

On the first point, I maintain that a chat is not a gamer, and I don't care whether we're talking about a beat reporter or a columnist; the forum is what matters. A chatting beat writer is the same as a beat-writing columnist; the rules apply to the forum not the individual person.

On the second point, I do think it is fair to say that a beat reporter normally relied on to report facts takes some risks when he or she is willing to report his or her opinions in a chat, particularly where those opinions are negative and can be detrimental to such reporter's relationship with sources of information.

Having said that, I am grateful that Barry has the stones to do this, and to involve all of us in the sausage making inside info here.

New media has blurred the traditional lines (see the media referring to everyone that sends them cell phone footage as "i-reporters" in order to gain first amendment status). But my line is that beat reports should be fact, and that chats can be opinions, and that it's up to individual reporters to determine whether they're willing to give us their opinions in chats or other informal forums, or not.

Barry has been willing to give us access to his thinking, and many of us are grateful for that. Obviously, doing so presents some risks for him, but I hope that he will continue to take those risks. Transparency and candid disclosure is good.


Posted by: Bob L. Head | September 21, 2007 9:05 PM | Report abuse

Also, my compliments to love, who has it right again, happy to put this to bed on that basis.

"Breaking News from the Washington Post's Barry Svrluga: Front Office May Lie

Stay tuned for tomorrow's in-depth special "Money is Important""

Posted by: Bob L. Head | September 21, 2007 9:09 PM | Report abuse

Sect. 506, I think I need a top-off tonite. GHF perspective please?

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 21, 2007 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Can anyone fill me in on what happened with WMP early on in the game (I forget what inning) when he was batting and then Church came up and finished batting for him and the coaches came out to argue with the umpire? I know there are probably some technical terms I should be using to describe that scenario but, while I am a huge Nats fan I'm kind of new to baseball. I was at the game but missed what happened.

Also, was anyone else near section 458 and the insane group of Phillies fans? While they were overly obnoxious, I hope next year that the new stadium also brings with it some rowdier Nats fans!

Posted by: mw | September 21, 2007 11:16 PM | Report abuse

Re what happened to WMP during the game: I was in my seat in 419, which is right behind the plate, five rows back in the purple seats, and listening to Charlie and Dave on the radio while watching the game, so this comes both from what I saw and what they said. The pitch came in and hit WMP on the hand or wrist, but appeared to be a foul ball from the ump's viewpoint. WMP knew he was hit and started taking his gloves off to go to first, but the ump was calling it a foul ball rather than hit by pitch. Manny came out to argue the call and basically had WMP show the ump the welt on his hand. Like Doubting Thomas in the Bible, the ump now believed and gave WMP the base. Then Manuel came out from the Phillies dugout to argue with the ump over the call. Charlie and Dave were speculating that he was saying the home plate ump should have asked for a second opinion on the call from one of the other umps who had a better view. Manuel was in the ump's face for a good three or four minutes. I'm surprised he didn't get tossed.

Posted by: Section 419 | September 21, 2007 11:44 PM | Report abuse

""Breaking News from the Washington Post's Barry Svrluga: Front Office May Lie"

Breaking news from a reader of the Post for over 40 years: Don't believe everything you read in the Post either. Including stuff enclosed between quotation marks.

Posted by: Section 419 | September 21, 2007 11:47 PM | Report abuse

Barry - no problems with your coverage it has been very good.

But as others have said, the Post has not covered the Nats sufficiently. Columnists rarely write about the Nats, too many times, exciting wins have been delegated to the back pages. Anyone remember the headline when Zim hit the homer to beat the Yanks last year. Could not have been more understated.

Why not get rid of the rehashed Tony-Wilbon ESPN comments for an actual column about the Nats!

Posted by: Cabraman | September 22, 2007 12:21 AM | Report abuse

Great, now after reading Preston Williams' excellent gamer, WMP might not be in the lineup on Saturday.

It was nice to see Guzman in the 9th.

I'd love to actually see a game in person before the season is out that featured Guzman, Zimmerman, Wily Mo and Meat Hook all in the same lineup.

Posted by: Juan-John | September 22, 2007 12:52 AM | Report abuse

The Nats are fighting to stay ahead of the Marlins. The Phillies are in town and in the middle of a heated pennant race. This is the last home series of the year, and in fact the stadium is closing for baseball. And yet the Washington Post Nationals beat reporter is off for Navy/Duke football? Do you think Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe is taking the weekend off from the Red Sox for an early season college football game?

I can't imagine why people complain about the Post's Nats coverage.

Posted by: Ray | September 22, 2007 8:20 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, the Nats beat the Mets twice in dramatic fashion last week and you can't find the story. Now the Phils come to town and we get a front page story, with a picture, about Jimmy Rollins. Then the Nats lose last night and the replacement writer gets an above-the-fold story about the Phillies hitting homers. This is more than a little annoying. Sometimes the press has a story it wants to write (i.e., the Nationals suck) and they write that story even if the facts on the ground are different.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | September 22, 2007 8:38 AM | Report abuse

The other 506: your comments are spot on.

I would add that no matter how legitimate the beef, it is not a good idea for the president of a corporation (read Stan Kasten) that lives or dies on public acclaim (or lack thereof) to carry a chip on his shoulder regarding the coverage of said corporation by the premier media outlet in D.C. (read WaPo).

What I learned from decades of lobbying was that no matter what (negative) thoughts you harbored about the people on the Hill with whom you had to deal, you were always pleasant, supportive and cooperative. Reason? To get things done.

People in this town are almost universally smart, and they can turn really nasty in a nanosecond. Stan needs to get over his habit of wearing his grievances (legitimate or not) on his sleeve and he needs to do it quickly or the knives will really come out.

Posted by: JohnR (VA) | September 22, 2007 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Isn't it obvious? Barry snarked at the sports editor once too often and all of his stories are now relegated to the nether regions of the sports section...

---

Yeah, the Nats beat the Mets twice in dramatic fashion last week and you can't find the story. Now the Phils come to town and we get a front page story, with a picture, about Jimmy Rollins. Then the Nats lose last night and the replacement writer gets an above-the-fold story about the Phillies hitting homers.

Posted by: Barry's mom | September 22, 2007 9:16 AM | Report abuse

One thing I learned from this post and one suggestion.

I learned Stan Kasten is a total prick. I just hope he's this much of a prick in player personnel moves and that it translates into a winner.

My suggestion is to put Dana Milbank on the Kasten beat from here on out.

Posted by: Steven on Cap Hill | September 22, 2007 9:52 AM | Report abuse

One thing I learned from this post and one suggestion.

I learned Stan Kasten is a total prick. I just hope he's this much of a prick in player personnel moves and that it translates into a winner.

My suggestion is to put Dana Milbank on the Kasten beat from here on out.

Posted by: Steven on Cap Hill | September 22, 2007 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Maybe I've lived in Washington too long, but the interaction between an official with a party line, and a reporter with pointed questions, just seems very familiar. Also, I think maybe Washington has four year cycles ingrained into its subliminal consciousness, and in the third year, we expect to be seeing results.

Barry -- I commend you for clarifying for us the tone you intended in your chat, and I think you and Stan have a lot of respect for each other, and an excellent working relationship. Right now, I think there are a lot of question marks (parking at new stadium, who will the team have available, where and and how will they upgrade where needed, and on and on and on), so everyone's a little on edge.

I think Kasten and the Lerners are taking the team in the right direction. at the new ballpark next year. But so far, the team has exceeded expectations and managed to play respectable baseball in the face of formidable obstacles. It wasn't so long ago we were debating whether there would be a stadium at all, and the question of whether we'd have pitching this season seems like yesterday (well, maybe it was). Maybe I'm an optimist, but I think it's going to be okay.

Posted by: Sect. 422 | September 22, 2007 10:13 AM | Report abuse

JohnR (VA) sez "What I learned from decades of lobbying was that no matter what (negative) thoughts you harbored about the people on the Hill with whom you had to deal, you were always pleasant, supportive and cooperative. Reason? To get things done."

The relationship between a lobbyist and the Hill is nothing at all like the relationship between the Nationals and the Post. The lobbyist is trying to get money or legislative results out of Congress, and they live or die based on whether they succeed in doing so. So naturally they have to "play nice" or else. The Nationals are trying to win ballgames, because they live or die based on what happens on the field. If they win games, fannies will be in the seats, whether the Post covers the team or not. Nothing the Post does or can do will affect how many games the Nats win. Unless of course they buy the team - but how did that one work out for the Chicago Tribune, eh? At this point in their tumultuous two-year relationship, the Washington Post needs the Lerner/Kasten Nationals to succeed a whole lot more than the Nationals need the Post to succeed. Both the Nationals and the Post have suffered from declining attendance of late, but the Nationals are widely perceived as an organization on the grow, with a plan for success, while the Post is an organization in decline, or at best in flux and unsure about how it can operate in the future in a changing multi-media world. So if either of these parties absolutely has to "make nice" to the other in spite of any nastiness that may occur in the relationship, I would say that the party that should be sucking up is the Post, not the Nationals. If worst comes to worst, the Nats can always buy advertising in the Post to counter anything the Post says or doesn't say about them. The Post won't turn down their money.

"People in this town are almost universally smart, and they can turn really nasty in a nanosecond. Stan needs to get over his habit of wearing his grievances (legitimate or not) on his sleeve and he needs to do it quickly or the knives will really come out."

Funny, the only place I see Stan "wearing his grievances on his sleeve" is when he is quoted or characterized in the Washington Post. It's not like he's plastering himself across the airwaves ranting against the Post specifically or the media in general or anything of the kind. He needs to build a winning team and a quality organization, and he has a plan to do that. Whether or not his plan matches the plan the Washington Post wants him to have, or whether or not he tells the Post all of the specific details of his plan, his team needs to succeed on the field and the new stadium needs to be the success it has been predicted to be. Nothing the Post does or doesn't do can have any effect on either of those. If there are massive logistical problems at the new park, it won't be because the Post predicted them. Likewise, if things go smoothly, the Post will have to report that, because they are a legitimate newspaper and they will have to report the truth, whether they want to or not, because every other news organization in town will. If anyone needs to "get over" anything in this latest dust-up, it's the Washington Post that needs to get over its notion that what it does can make or break the Nationals, so the Nationals better pay heed to the Post, or else. Because that ain't the case.

Posted by: Section 419 | September 22, 2007 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Last call....if somebody who is driving could bring a folding table to put the food on, that would be great!

Come one, come all to celebrate the last Nats game at RFK with a BANG (and, hopefully, a ZOOM) at the NJ blogger's tailgate event!

Date: Sunday, September 23

Time: From 10:05 AM (when parking lots open) to approx. 11:35 AM (game time is 12:05)

Where (NEW DIRECTIONS): Northeast corner of Parking Lot 8 at RFK, i.e., the corner nearest the East Capitol Street Bridge, away from the stadium, and furthest in from the entrance from the freeway. It's in the upper right-hand corner if you look at the RFK parking map at

http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/was/ballpark/directions.jsp

The ballpark link above has driving directions. If you are coming from the Stadium-Armory Metro station, walk past the Armory and towards the main gate of the stadium. At the front of the stadium, turn right and go down the steps. Walk straight ahead, past the MASN trailer on your right and the ticket windows on your left, then go through the tunnel that runs under the road to Lot 8. Proceed to the tailgate site as described above. Look for Hendo's black '07 Miata with the Planet NJ sign on top. Hendo will also provide a sound system for our musical pleasure.

Attire: Baseball casual (Nats gear or Meat Hook t-shirts for the carnivores among us)

What to Bring: Chair, if desired, your own drinking water, and something to eat or drink. Volunteered so far have been sweet muffins or scones and fruit, croissants, bagels and cream cheese, English muffins and hard cheese, crab dip, poached salmon, coffee, white wine, and plates/cups/napkins/utensils. Other contributions are welcome.

Your hosts include: Jenn-X, Hendo, Natsfan1a, SC Nats Fan, and Wigi

Please come join us so that we can put faces to the monikers (we'll have name tags on hand to fill in)! If everybody who has indicated interest comes, we'll have a couple dozen attendees.

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 22, 2007 12:03 PM | Report abuse

I may add that Barry (the Nats beat reporter) in this very post is suggesting that fans leave the game early (and all its post-game festivities) to attend a routine regular season Redskins game. I'm uncool -- I like the Nats better than the Redskins, and until the festivities at RFK are over, I could care less what happens at FedEx. Doesn't mean that I'm not smart. I'm not suggesting that the Post operate as a promotional tool for the Nationals, but it could recognize that there are people out there that love this team.

Posted by: Ray | September 22, 2007 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for continuing to post details for tomorrow natsfan1a. Every time I make a plan to go back and look at past posts for it, there you are, spoon feeding it to us. Nice going.

Posted by: NatsNut | September 22, 2007 2:19 PM | Report abuse

I feel like a bit of a Johnny-come-lately to this Barry/Stan discussion, but work's been busy lately, and I'm just getting to reading all these posts.

The only thing I have to add to to this discussion is a take on whether the Nats are heading in the right direction.

On the field:

I like what they are doing. They seem to be building through the draft. They've collected a good nucleus of scouts and development people, and this should pay off eventually. They clearly invested a lot in this year's draft, and if they do that again next year, the farm system will finally be up to MLB caliber.

I also like that they are spending their money carefully with free agents. As Mike Bacsik pointed out this morning with Phil Wood, signing two pitchers who make a combined $1.5 million to win 10-12 games for you is a lot better than giving someone $4 million to win 10-12 by himself.

My only beef is with fans who think the Nats are close to contending. They just aren't. They'll be 75-78 win team next year at best. They may be on the fringes of the wild card by 2009.

Off the field:

Someone mentioned earlier than Stan Kasten's "track record speaks for itself" Well..... you're right, but maybe not in the way you meant it. He has been president of three professional sports teams before the Nats - the Braves, Atlanta Hawks, and Atlanta Thrashers. As businesses in terms of drawing fans, the Hawks and Thrashers were absolutely miserable under his leadership. The Braves were better, but made money primarily because Ted Turner had the foresight to start a national TV network (TBS) to broadcast his teams games. No one had every done that before.

Kasten has yet to prove he's a great businessman. This year's complete failure to market the team and create any sort of juice around the remarkable season they are having is another sign that he doesn't quite get it. My fear is that he turns what should be a franchise with the ability to have mid to big market level payroll into one that has to scrape along like the Athletics because of his business mismanagement.

I really hope I'm wrong. I will continue to buy my season's tickets. I will root like heck for my beloved Nats, but I'll believe the hype about Kasten's business acumen when I see it.

Lastly, did anyone catch Bacsik on WTEM this morning comparing Nats' fans to Cardinals' fans in their unwaveringly positive support for the players. He contrasted it to the negativity one sees in most East coast cities. He cited NYC and Philly particularly. It was pretty cool. He attributed the team's never-say-die attitude in part to the Nats' fans positive Mojo.

Posted by: #4 | September 22, 2007 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, NatsNut!

---

Thanks for continuing to post details for tomorrow natsfan1a. Every time I make a plan to go back and look at past posts for it, there you are, spoon feeding it to us. Nice going.

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 22, 2007 2:42 PM | Report abuse

That's cool, #4, thanks for sharing!

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Lastly, did anyone catch Bacsik on WTEM this morning comparing Nats' fans to Cardinals' fans in their unwaveringly positive support for the players. He contrasted it to the negativity one sees in most East coast cities. He cited NYC and Philly particularly. It was pretty cool. He attributed the team's never-say-die attitude in part to the Nats' fans positive Mojo.

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 22, 2007 2:43 PM | Report abuse

I'm feel the same way, Ray! (so I'm also uncool, but we already knew that...) ;)

---

I'm uncool -- I like the Nats better than the Redskins, and until the festivities at RFK are over, I could care less what happens at FedEx.

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 22, 2007 2:45 PM | Report abuse

This may be symptomatic of the benign, kissy-face coverage that the Post gives the Redskins in that very rarely is anything published that is negative or overly critical about the team. Stan probably figures that the Nats should have the same treatment. The Redskins are handled as a "see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil" fiefdom that tries to micromanage its image. Also, don't forget Stan was the major sports El Jefe in Atlanta, a one newspaper town, where he may have been in position to partially dictate media coverage and perception by withholding media access to the Braves, Hawks and Thrashers. As a "reformed" journalist I think it's good for the sports media and the teams they cover to have an undercurrent of tension between them rather than the drink the Kool=Aid like way the Redskins are treated.

Posted by: leetee1955 | September 22, 2007 5:57 PM | Report abuse

I lurk the NJ more than I post, but I would like to attend the tailgate. I have a very small folding table, not nearly big enough for a large group of people, but I do have a charcoal grill that will handle a whole lot more than the few sausages I will be cooking, so there there will be plenty of extra room if anyone else needs to cook their dogs or burgers. (I will also be conducting the MASN Cup Award Ceremony, the Nats have won over the Os for the third straight year.)

#4 - I did not catch the entire interview with Bacsik, but I was not impressed with what I did hear. Based on the suggestion that the reason RFK stinks when it rains is because the Skins used to play there, I will be booing if he comes in the game tomorrow.

leetee1955 - Dan Snyder cancelled many of the season tickets owned by the Washington Post, I'm sure he doesn't feel that his team has received "kissy-faced" coverage.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | September 22, 2007 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Natsfan1a. See you folks tomorrow!

Posted by: nats fan in annandale | September 22, 2007 8:42 PM | Report abuse

#4, again you nailed it. There should be a symbiotic relationship between all the media and the Nats - Stan has not sold this year's appealing product at all well, and if he pushed the team better it would bring in dollars to build the on-field product.

It's probably been said before in NJ, but our frustration that the team is not as popular as we think it should be is one factor in my frustration with the limited Post coverage- if hte Post had given the Nats more ink, more people might taken notice and come to the park.

Posted by: Geezer | September 22, 2007 8:42 PM | Report abuse

Powerboater69, Bascik has noted several times in the past that he's a die-hard Cowboys fan and he good-naturedly takes the heat for it.

Posted by: NatsNut | September 22, 2007 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Just reiterating what has been said by many others. I think Stan is taking Barry's comments too personally. If you (the reporter) is in the business to get facts and the other party (Stan/Nats leadership) is trying to be vague so they can keep wiggle room, clearly there will be friction. Do I trust Stan? Yes. Do I believe in The Plan? Yes, especially with the commitment made to scouting and the draft over the past 12+ months.

But, Stan, do I believe some of the generalities and non-answer answers that you give? No. Nor do I always believe some of the wasted comments that come out of Gibbs, Gruenfield/Jordan or Hanlon's mouths. That's to be expected.

To the Post editors: Part of the frustration must be laid at your feet, too. The Post does not cover this team enough. The Plan is about the future. So, for the next 2 years, put game summaries and full box scores of all rookie, A, AA, & AAA games. Go twice weekly on telling us about the farm teams. I shouldn't have to go to nationalfarmauthority.com to get the info (great, great blog, btw). If the Nats got half the coverage of the 'Skins, that would be a huge increase.

Posted by: Nats fan in NJ | September 22, 2007 9:37 PM | Report abuse

Wrong blog address. Here's the correct one:
http://www.farmauthority.dcsportsnet.com/

Great summaries so far on our Dominican teams and GCL Nats.

Posted by: Nats fan in NJ | September 22, 2007 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, powerboater, that all sounds great, especially the MASN Cup Award Ceremony. See you all tomorrow!

---

I lurk the NJ more than I post, but I would like to attend the tailgate. I have a very small folding table, not nearly big enough for a large group of people, but I do have a charcoal grill that will handle a whole lot more than the few sausages I will be cooking, so there there will be plenty of extra room if anyone else needs to cook their dogs or burgers. (I will also be conducting the MASN Cup Award Ceremony, the Nats have won over the Os for the third straight year.)

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 22, 2007 11:07 PM | Report abuse

Nats Fan in NJ sez "Just reiterating what has been said by many others. I think Stan is taking Barry's comments too personally. If you (the reporter) is in the business to get facts and the other party (Stan/Nats leadership) is trying to be vague so they can keep wiggle room, clearly there will be friction. ....But, Stan, do I believe some of the generalities and non-answer answers that you give? No. Nor do I always believe some of the wasted comments that come out of Gibbs, Gruenfield/Jordan or Hanlon's mouths. That's to be expected."

Well, look at it this way. Start by re-reading Barry's blog post, where he re-counts the dust-up that got Stan pissed off. Note how Barry did not explicitly write that Stan is a liar, but when posters to his chat did, Barry piled right on with them in agreement. Never said "Hey, wait a minute, just because we don't believe what he's saying doesn't make him a liar" or anything like that. He just piled right on in agreement with chatters who said that Stan tells lies, i.e. is a liar. That's a pretty strong accusation, much stronger than saying he's spinning the story or stretching the truth or covering up something. I think Stan has a right to be upset at this treatment in print by a Post reporter, and to call him up and tell him so. Screaming at Barry, while extreme, was not out of place under the circumstances, in a personal phone call like this. Note that we would have known nothing about Stan's screaming call to Barry had he not reported it here.

Then ask yourself if any Post reporter has ever treated Gibbs, Gruenfeld/Jordan or Hanlon (who is he, anyway?) this way. I don't think so. This was not the normal give-and-take, to be expected. Barry stepped over the line here.

Posted by: Section 419 | September 22, 2007 11:42 PM | Report abuse

Arrrrgh, this Saturday's game was a tough one.

Redding did pretty well. Scratch that -- he did VERY well.

But GAWD, wotta way to squander Schneider's triple with no outs in the 7th.

And what was Manny THINKING with having Guzman pinch-run for Schneider?!?

Posted by: Juan-John | September 23, 2007 12:42 AM | Report abuse

Juan-John:

Schneider would have been even more out than Guzman. Maybe he should have pinch run Pena or Maxwell. The runner at third had to go on contact on that play (if he holds, it is a double-play ball), so the faster you get there, the better. Guzman is a pretty good baserunner, and while you give up a little in speed, you get it back in knowing when to start running.

There were a half dozen places the Nats gave the game away tonite. A frustrating outcome, and my streak is (improbably) intact.

This brings me to another topic. I don't mind if Phillies fans come to see their team play the Nats... but many of them are just nasty... taunting Nats fans. Fear for your life notwithstanding, I am sure there are few Nats fans that would go to Philadelphia to see the Nats and then taunt the Phillies fans. I must admit... a very nice woman (Nats fan) was sitting in front of me, and some Philly fans were squatting in some seats down the row... and she told them to stop shouting her down, or she'd have the security guys check their tickets.

They were strangely polite after that...

Posted by: Wigi | September 23, 2007 1:58 AM | Report abuse

"Traffic heavy on Northbound I-95. Leave early to avoid delays..."

Posted by: Sign you won't see on scoreboard, but wished you did | September 23, 2007 2:00 AM | Report abuse

please anyone at the game tomorrow...join me in my chant..."Joooooeeee Carrrr-teeerrr" it really gets to them. Mitch Williams is good too. out smart beats out loud. DC is smarter than philly

Posted by: love | September 23, 2007 2:40 AM | Report abuse

Late (early?) edition: We now have a grill and a table (not to mention the planned MASN Cup Award festivities), thanks to powerboater.

Come one, come all to celebrate the last Nats game at RFK with a BANG (and, hopefully, a ZOOM) at the NJ blogger's tailgate event!

Date: Sunday, September 23. TODAY!!

Time: From 10:05 AM (when parking lots open) to approx. 11:35 AM (game time is 12:05)

Where (NEW DIRECTIONS): Northeast corner of Parking Lot 8 at RFK, i.e., the corner nearest the East Capitol Street Bridge, away from the stadium, and furthest in from the entrance from the freeway. It's in the upper right-hand corner if you look at the RFK parking map at

http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/was/ballpark/directions.jsp

The ballpark link above has driving directions. If you are coming from the Stadium-Armory Metro station, walk past the Armory and towards the main gate of the stadium. At the front of the stadium, turn right and go down the steps. Walk straight ahead, past the MASN trailer on your right and the ticket windows on your left, then go through the tunnel that runs under the road to Lot 8. Proceed to the tailgate site as described above. Look for Hendo's black '07 Miata with the Planet NJ sign on top. Hendo will also provide a sound system for our musical pleasure.

Attire: Baseball casual (Nats gear or Meat Hook t-shirts for the carnivores among us)

What to Bring: Chair, if desired, your own drinking water, and something to eat or drink. Volunteered so far have been sweet muffins or scones and fruit, croissants, bagels and cream cheese, English muffins and hard cheese, crab dip, poached salmon, sausages, coffee, white wine, and plates/cups/napkins/utensils. Other contributions are welcome.

Your hosts include: Jenn-X, Hendo, Natsfan1a, SC Nats Fan, and Wigi

Please come join us so that we can put faces to the monikers (we'll have name tags on hand to fill in)! If everybody who has indicated interest comes, we'll have a couple dozen attendees.

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 23, 2007 6:46 AM | Report abuse

oh, yeah, and PROTECT THE HOUSE!!

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 23, 2007 7:01 AM | Report abuse

Last, but not least, to natscan, John in Mpls, and other bloggers near and far who cannot be there today, we will be thinking of you and will represent!

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 23, 2007 7:32 AM | Report abuse

I'm bringing OJ and Champagne.

Posted by: NatsNut | September 23, 2007 7:39 AM | Report abuse

Sweet!

---

I'm bringing OJ and Champagne.

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 23, 2007 8:16 AM | Report abuse

"oh, yeah, and PROTECT THE HOUSE!!"

If you guys happen to run into Mr.Svrluga at your little pre-game soiree, and assuming he's removed his tail from between his legs after his little run-in with the big, bad Mr. Kasten, be sure to urge him to PROTECT THE PAPER! Some Phillies fan named Eli Saslow managed to worm his way in to write the gamer for last night's game. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/22/AR2007092201576.html) I bet even the AP's gamer, should they have chosen to run it, would have mentioned the Nationals more than Saslow did. I hope the Post stationed extra vendors at Union Station for the weekend to peddle papers to fans headed back to Philly. If not, they have no right to criticize the Nationals ever again for marketing lapses. And the Post wonders why the Natonals management doesn't like them Geez...

Posted by: Section 419 | September 23, 2007 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, natsfan1a!

Get y'all down here now. Found a great spot and it sure is a pretty morning 8^)

Posted by: Hendo | September 23, 2007 9:40 AM | Report abuse

419 is of course dead-on with the above post. The paper's coverage the past week has been laughable and worse than ever. Not a single quote from anyone affiliated with the Nationals in today's article, while instead we get to hear from paragon-of-virtue and batterer Brett Myers tell us how he likes to "keep it light" in the Phillies' clubhouse. Was Mr. Saslow too busy sucking up to the Phillies to get any quotes from the Nats?

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | September 23, 2007 9:51 AM | Report abuse

This morning's gamer was flabbergasting. I think Barry said before that a more natural rivalry for DC was Philly, not Baltimore, and I think he's right. Wd a Post football writer spend his time talking to the Cowboys and have next to nothing to say about the Redskins? I feel really cheated that Mr. Saslow apparently made no attempt to talk to our team, esp since it was the next-to-last game at RFK. And especially since the Philly fans are really rude!

Posted by: Section 406 | September 23, 2007 10:11 AM | Report abuse

For comparison's sake to the Philadelphia Inquirer article that Mr. Saslow was somehow able to slip into the WASHINGTON Post's sports pages, here is a link to the Tampa Tribune's article about last night's Rays-Red Sox game: http://www2.tbo.com/content/2007/sep/23/sp-late-homers-lift-boston/

The difference between that article--also recounting a game between the home (losing) team and a playoff bound visiting team--and Mr. Saslow's article is stark.

Here is the first line of the Tampa article: "The Devil Rays took their best shot at keeping the Red Sox from locking up a playoff spot for one more day, but Boston's counterpunch was bigger and better." And here, by contrast is the first line of Mr. Saslow's article: "Charlie Manuel pressed his chest against the railing of the visitor's dugout at RFK Stadium last night to watch the latest in a long string of what he calls "gotta have 'em" games."

Now, here's the wrap-up of the Tampa article:

"But once again - just like in four consecutive games on the just-completed road trip - a late edge wasn't sufficient for the Rays. 'Our guys played with a lot of heart today - we did,' said Rays manager Joe Maddon. 'But we've got to get to the point where these games mean more to us than the other team, and then you'll see us doing just what they did to us tonight.'"

And, of course, here is Mr. Saslow's Philly-centric wrap: "This team has what it takes to get it done, but we're not there yet," Manuel said. "We're going to fight, and it's going to be close. That much we know."

This nonsense speaks for itself. If the Post keeps it up, maybe Stan will just stop returning Barry's calls and inviting him to his monthly chats altogether.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | September 23, 2007 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Nothing justifies SK's rant against the WaPo on their own video. Very unprofessional.

Posted by: Section 445 | September 24, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

I fully support Kasten's response to you and to the WaPo as of late. This paper's coverage of the team all season long has been nothing short of consistently terrible. In every single post or article there is a clear bias against this franchise, a bias against Kasten and Lerner, and almost a mocking arrogance each time attendance is mentioned.

Considering this paper should be the hometown team's primary outlet for news coverage, it is clear that every person on the WaPo sports payroll has failed. Hopefully, the Times will capitalize on your negligence and really put a quality product out there re: the Nats this offseason and beyond.

Posted by: DC NatsGuy | September 24, 2007 2:06 PM | Report abuse

The recent playing-out-the-string coverage notwithstanding, I've got no gripes with the Post's Nats coverage -- particularly the excellent writing by Barry Svrluga, which compares favorably with almost every baseball writer I've read (and seems mile ahead of anything Boswell has written in decades).

Seems to me the bigger problem is the Post is the only media outlet consistently covering the Nationals. When was the last time WTEM or "Triple X" did anything other than rip-and-read Nats game coverage? Do any of the local TV stations have a regularly scheduled Nats show as they do with the Redskins?

Sure, the Post's coverage may leave you wanting more. (It certainly has left me feeling that way.) But, the fact that no one else is providing that isn't the Post's fault.

And, DC NatsGuy....the Washington Times??!! Get real, have you ever read their lame coverage of the Redskins and Wizards? Why would you expect Rev. Moon et al. would be any better at covering baseball?

Posted by: stratford-o-matic | September 24, 2007 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Sorry I'm late, been out of touch.

Yeah, The Post's Nats coverage is less than enthusiastic. The team's play is mediocre, too, and their own marketing is either nonexistent, or what's worse, annoying (MASN is STILL running NICK JOHNSON commercials??!@@). It's not The Post's job to market the team; they *sell* ad space for that.

The snarky-sarcastic thing got old for me a long time ago. Yeah, yeah, they suck, very funny, now grow up. It's beneath a writer of Barry's caliber. I think he knows that. (Saslow, I'm not so sure. And Solomon is the kind of writer who gives sportswriters their reputation for being idiots. That Philly piece is the kind of nonsense that makes me cancel my subscription and force them to beg+bribe me back (works great, btw).

I can imagine the FO waiting to see how the new prices and parking play out, and insist on having "projections" instead of "goals" for next season's attendance, and maybe even convincing themselves there really is a difference between the two. But it wouldn't bode well.

Barry *did* call Stan a liar, unambiguously -- I can't believe we're debating that -- but unfortunately for B., truth is no defense for a beat writer. He may not need the relationship more than Stan does, but Stan is apparently more willing to walk away, and that's who the deal goes to, which Stan well knows. Hence the "Mistakes were made ... I didn't mean it ..." song at the top here.

Posted by: cevans | September 25, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

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