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Deals, Debuts, Delays -- And Dukes

The story of Elijah Dukes' tardiness on Saturday at Nationals Park seemed, at first glance, pretty straightforward. Dukes was late for work; he was punished; end of story. Well, it turned out that Dukes was actually five minutes late... because of a community event... involving Little Leaguers... and motivational speeches... and now, mothers are indignant, and Little League representatives are trying to cover Dukes' $500 fine, as you can read about here.

Even without the help of the Great Falls Little League fundraiser, yesterday was an interesting one in NatsTown. Zimmerman signed. Zimmermann debuted. You can read a narrative account of how Ryan's deal went down here. You can read about Jordan's first big league outing here. It was a win. And one of the most surreal endings you can imagine. The final outs, following rain delay No. 2, were recorded in an almost entirely empty stadium.

The timeline went like this:

7:05 p.m. -- scheduled first pitch

9:15 p.m. -- actual first pitch

11:16 p.m. -- start of second rain delay

11:49 p.m. -- resumption of game

12:12 a.m. -- end of game

"You had to have had high school crowds bigger than the number left in the stadium [in the ninth inning]," somebody said to Zimmermann early this morning.

The kid laughed.

"Nah, I wouldn't say high school," Zimmermann said. "Maybe college. High school we might have had ten people there."

And college?

"Oh, college, I don't know, maybe a couple hundred."

By Chico Harlan  |  April 21, 2009; 7:27 AM ET
 
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Next: Beimel to DL; Rivera Recalled

Comments

So how many on here that bashed Joel Hanrahan will give him some credit.

To go in there and face Chipper Jones as your first batter was tough.

So significant to get that Save for JZim's 1st career win!!!!

Now the Nats need to string together a few wins in a row so we can really get excited about something.

Chico, glad you brought up that research on EDukes. He deserves for the team to rethink his punishment on this one!!!

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | April 21, 2009 7:55 AM | Report abuse

500 bucks means a lot more to a little league program than it does to Dukes. Why do so many people care that he was fine 500 bucks??

BFD!

Posted by: Howelsewouldateacherspendhistimeinthesummer | April 21, 2009 7:56 AM | Report abuse

At risk of sounding like a total hard A$$, Dukes should have been fined and I am glad the Nats are sticking too it. He broke a rule that he and others have had a problem with in the past on a team in DESPERATE need of some rules and order. Look what whipping the Giants into shape with his strict rules did for Tom Coughlin...it may not be nice or PC, but perhaps it is what the team needs.

Yes he was late because he was doing some thing good. Are the coaches allowed to be late if they are helping watch their Grandkids? Can I legally drive 100mph on the beltway if I am trying to get to the soup kitchen to serve breakfast to the homeless?

Dukes knows there are rules that come with his position on the team (the very position that enables him to do this fine charity work) and the best thing he can do for himself and his team is to keep that position secure so he is able to be involved in his community for decades to come.

Posted by: JLR75 | April 21, 2009 8:11 AM | Report abuse

End of game: 12:12am
First post: 7:27am

SLACKER!

Posted by: joemktg2 | April 21, 2009 8:45 AM | Report abuse

So if you are posting at 7:27, did you even bother to go to bed last night?

As for Dukes, glad to hear the parents of the litlle league teams are standing upfor him. When you've had as much legitimate trouble as that young man, it sucks when you have to get into trouble for something selfless.

Double-N did a nice job last night. Scared me to death when they took him out, but Kip Wells looked good too.

And I have to say I'm really glad to have Bergmann back too. I'd like to see him get a couple of 3 inning saves this year.

This morning the XM analysts were talking about why attendance is down nationwide this year. Certainly weather, and the economy have something to do with it. But you don't have to experience a bad economy to react poorly to the prices being charged for tickets, parking, concessions, etc.... Both NYC teams have gone to the ludicrous fringe of pricing. I was terribly disappointed when the Nationals did not lower their prices more in the offseason. There is no chance that I will ever pay $300 per seat, but I might have bought a $100 seat 4-5 times this year.

THe $7.50 per beer is just sad. RFK was not pretty, but I'd like to know if the team made more or less money per game there than they do at NP.

Posted by: natbiscuits | April 21, 2009 8:46 AM | Report abuse

It was an incredibly inconsiderate thing to do to the fans -- and season ticket holders -- to play that game last night when they couldn't even start it by 9pm.

Unless rescheduling it would have been an insurmountable problem, why play? You've already got the season ticket holders' money, the walk-up sales would be nil, concession sales minimal from a crowd that small.

To, me it's bad customer relations to tell your core customers, the season ticket holders, "we're taking your money and we're gonna play this game even though we know you probably won't want to come, but we don't care because we've already got your money anyway."

At least that's the message I got.

Posted by: Meridian1 | April 21, 2009 8:46 AM | Report abuse

My group endured the two-hour rain delay last night because we wanted to see Zimmermann's debut. I don't think the delay makes the Lerners greedy bastards. That's just baseball. Several times a year most teams play games that end up in the wee hours of the morning because they played around the weather. Why didn't they just postpone the game and reschedule for an off day or a doubleheader? Because the players union usually opposes too many of those. Last night was just one of the breaks of being a baseball fan - rain delays are an integral part of the baseball experience. Fortunately, my group had plenty of conversation to catch up on and we didn't need to blow money on the concessions.

Posted by: BrantAlyea | April 21, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse

"There is no chance that I will ever pay $300 per seat, but I might have bought a $100 seat 4-5 times this year."

Why don't you then? There are certainly lots of seats available for $100 or less every night, except maybe for the Red Sox series. Or are you saying you don't want to go to a game unless you're sitting in the highest-priced seats? BTW, the Diamond Club which is the back half of the seats behind the plate goes for $170, and I think that includes a food allowance. Why wouldn't you do that 2-3 times a year if you're willing to go $100 4-5 times a year? I'm really not following your logic here.

"THe $7.50 per beer is just sad. RFK was not pretty, but I'd like to know if the team made more or less money per game there than they do at NP."

It's been widely reported that they make more money for the same size crowd at the new park than they did at RFK. Not surprising, I'd say. But that also means the city is receiving a higher tax payoff from its cut of admissions and concessions than it did at RFK, which I think was the general idea when they built the ballpark. $7.50 for a beer actually does not seem all that unreasonable to me when you consider that the taxes are already built into the price. There are certainly bars in and around DC where you'll pay in the $6-$7 range for a beer, even before tax and tip.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 21, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

The late start and rain delays were not a big deal. There are plenty more games to choose from.

As for Dukes, it doesn't sound like his little league deal was completely selfless. He got paid to do it and he did cut it a bit tight by scheduling it before a day game. I think Manny's right to enforce the rules and I'm sorry that the little league's efforts make him look bad. They shouldn't.

However. I'm completely touched by the little league reaction and touched that they're raising the money for the fine. Of course the $500 is no big deal. It's not even that big a deal for me and I make WAY less than him. But it's a wonderful gesture and I think the kids will feel good about it and about Dukes. I hope he responds to the kids kindly.

Posted by: NatsNut | April 21, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

the Nats should accept their $500 and then turn around and donate $1,000 to the program.

Posted by: sjt1455 | April 21, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

I feel great this morning! Zimmerman and Zimmermann, a save by Hanrahan, and a terrific play by Beimel that I wish was on the Nats' Web site--the catch on his knees and throw (with a wet ball) to first. As for Dukes, I think the team needed to follow their rules, but I am delighted that Great Falls little league is standing up for him. The article on that was terrific, and thank you Chico for your gamer posted so late at night and for your enlightening article on the Zimmerman contract.

Posted by: Section109 | April 21, 2009 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Dukes: another PR nightmare for the Nationals, if a cash-strapped little league scrapes together Dukes' $500 fine (ignoring the fact that the little league was in Great Falls and not Anacostia). Yes rules are rules, but wouldn't you rather fine a guy for being late when he was out partying instead of out doing a good deed? What kind of message are the Nats sending to their players by fining them in situations like this? the message i'd take back is, "Don't schedule community service unless its 110% convenient for me the player."

Attendance: as a ST holder for the first 4 years of this team, I have Zero sympathy for the nationals season ticket sales. The seats are over priced, have mostly increased 33% across the board since 2005 while the team bottomed out, the 2005 season ticket holders were across the board screwed over and pushed out by corporate interests during the 2007 relocation, and the customer service of the sales reps is abhorrent.

give me my RFK comparable seats back and acknowledge the many many thousands of dollars I've spent over the years as a customer and perhaps I'll consider re-upping my seats.

Oh yeah, and field a competitive team.

Posted by: tboss | April 21, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

@NatsNut: You left out that Dukes was paid $500, the same amount that everyone here is calling "no big deal" for a major leaguer. Not completely selfless, maybe, but pretty darn close to it. Poor scheduling choice, maybe, but it's not like there are a lot of April Saturdays at home to choose from.

Posted by: tmp2234 | April 21, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

natsnut, i was thinking exact same thing. nobody on here is discussing that dukes got paid for the appearance. i'm a huge fan of his. but even he knew he was cutting it close.

to me this is one of those situations where everyone is trying to do the right thing. a real life mini-drama. not that big a deal.

i'm getting cynical, but i hope we don't see this brought up again as some sort of tax evasion story down the road. i'd rather talk about his rbi's and stolen bases.

but where is the personal ex-policeman watch guy who advises and follows him around everywhere?

Posted by: longterm | April 21, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

"The answer apparently also seemed obvious to Manny, but in light of how his "obvious" decisions have hurt the team in several games this season already, that doesn't carry much weight with me. If the pinch-hitter gets a hit there, it no longer is a tight game, the Nats are up 5-2."

But if the pinch hitter doesn't get a hit there (which is a 70-75% probability, given typical PH batting averages) then they're not up 5-2, and they may well be in need of pinch hitting later in the game. If Kearns or Belliard had pinch hit there and failed, and then the situation worked out that later in the game in a tight spot Cintron was the only pinch hitter left, you'd be screaming every bit as much if not more that Manny had made a managerial mistake by burning all his best pinch hitters too early.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 21, 2009 9:37 AM | Report abuse

sjt1455 has it right - Nats should accept payment of the fine, tell Elijah not to be late again, then turn around and make a large and public donation to the program.

Posted by: Section220 | April 21, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

tmp2234: Didn't leave it out. It was in my second paragraph.

Posted by: NatsNut | April 21, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

"I don't think the delay makes the Lerners greedy bastards. That's just baseball. "

So can we say all of baseball is greedy bastards? Because I could get behind that.

The Lerners should take the $500 from the Great Falls Little League, match it, and donate it to a DC Little League in the GFLL's name.

Then, 1) you get Manny off the hook by letting him keep being an enforcer (hah), 2) you give Dukes an we-get-it message, while keeping the rules message, 3) you recognize the good deed of the little league without rewarding a team flush with money, 4) you help out another little league community.

Seriously, Old Man Lerner, this one is just dying for you to swoop in and score points. Listen to me.

Posted by: Section506 | April 21, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

natsbisquit.

Not entirely selfless . He was paid 500.00 for the appearance.

Also , to others his transgession cannot be equated to Milledge missing a team meeting (Inexcusable)though there was no fine set-up in the organization for that violation. Milledge got off easy I thought he should have been benched. The fact that he will remain in Syracuse for awhile is probably a good attitude adjustment for him. He does not belong as a CF and lead-off role and Acta better get his acta together in that regards. I would think he is on a short leash also.

Posted by: aspenbubba | April 21, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

"If Kearns or Belliard had pinch hit there and failed, and then the situation worked out that later in the game in a tight spot Cintron was the only pinch hitter left, you'd be screaming every bit as much if not more that Manny had made a managerial mistake by burning all his best pinch hitters too early."

Well, that's not true, because I was at the game and said at the time that Manny should either let the kid hit, or put in Kearns or Belliard to pinch hit. This is the same kind of thinking that has Manny putting in Rivera to pitch to Philly's lefties in the key part of the game on Opening Day, simply because Rivera is Manny's "seventh inning guy." If Manny made good decisions, I wouldn't be screaming about anything, I have nothing against him personally. He is just showing that he is not the right manager for this team and that he is not very good tactically, which is too bad.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | April 21, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse

"The Lerners should take the $500 from the Great Falls Little League, match it, and donate it to a DC Little League in the GFLL's name."

This is the best idea I've heard all day - that's $500 worth of PR that's worth $000's. Look good, help Manny, support local little league - what's not to like!

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | April 21, 2009 9:59 AM | Report abuse

"My group endured the two-hour rain delay last night because we wanted to see Zimmermann's debut. I don't think the delay makes the Lerners greedy bastards."

I guess I don't understand why THIS makes them greedy. If they postponed last night's game until a summer homestand (day-night doubleheader), then they'd certainly make more money since attendence is higher in the summer months, plus extra concessions. Look, yesterday was very wet, but tonight is supposed to be bad too, so cancelling last night, might have resulted in 2 postponed games. And THEN rescheduling would be a complete mess.

I'm typically a Lerners are cheap person, like last year's final home game, which was rained out and non-STHs got vouchers for an 09 game while STH's got a credit towards their 09 season tickets. What about those STHs who didn't want to renew? But in this case, I don't think playing last ngiht made them cheap.

Posted by: dclifer | April 21, 2009 10:00 AM | Report abuse

I haven't been bashing on Hanrahan but will be glad to give him his due credit for last night. He went against the heart of the order and got the job done on a messy night. I was particularly pleased to see Flores "charge the mound" to congratulate him after he struck-out Diaz. To me, they looked like a team that wants to win even more desperately than we want them to. Let's get another one tonight.
________________________________
So how many on here that bashed Joel Hanrahan will give him some credit.

Posted by: lowcountry | April 21, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

To be fair, I'm pretty sure the article mentioned that the fine would be donated to the Nat's charity organization already...

Posted by: nervousnatsfan | April 21, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

I stayed up for the whole game last night and was very confused. Could somebody please help me with the following terms?

* The Nats' pitchers kept throwing something called "strikes." What are those? We've never had them before.
* The bullpen surrendered no runs in the ninth inning, or at any point for that matter. I thought that was against the rules?
* Hanrahan recorded something called a "save." Is he allowed to do that?

Please help. I am baffled.

Posted by: SilverSpring8 | April 21, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

> Not entirely selfless . He was paid 500.00 for the appearance.

Seriously? Dukes makes around $450K per year. That's like someone who makes $60K per year taking a $65 job. Do you really think this was purely a profit motive?

> the Nats should accept their $500 and then turn around and donate $1,000 to the program.

Seconded. (Thirded?) I'm kind of surprised the Nats haven't done that yet. (And, I'm also surprised Dukes hasn't told the LL team to keep its money.)

This whole thing is a weird story.

> So how many on here that bashed Joel Hanrahan will give him some credit.

Woo hoo! Our closer wins one-third is successful 33% of the time!

Posted by: mvm2 | April 21, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

I originally posited that they should just turn the $500 back around to the GFLL, but your idea of matching it is even better. That would refund them for the fine and for the fee they paid Dukes.

And have several Nats players there to present the check. Make it a sanctioned team event. Give out hats and bats.

But keep the $1 handling fee. That's just too funny.

-----

the Nats should accept their $500 and then turn around and donate $1,000 to the program.

Posted by: JohninMpls | April 21, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

A note toJLR75: Please get off your high horse and yes you do sound like a hard azz granted Dukes hasn't been a saint but he was doing something good if you've lived in the area any length of time you know the traffic patterns and how crazy they can be, damn give him a break.

Posted by: dargregmag | April 21, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Two Comments:

- I don't like paying $7.50 for a beer either. But if you look around - anywhere that the customer pays an admission, the venue can charge a high price for concessions. MLB, NBA, NHL and HFL. Even if you go to King's Dominion or a movie theater, if they have you in there, you're paying the bucks.

- and as for Dukes, here's what the team should have done - since Dukes is out there, promoting the team and MLB why not count him as having "punched in" for the day when he arrived at the Little League event and cut him some slack and granted him 5 minutes grace.

Posted by: comish4lif | April 21, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

"Seriously? Dukes makes around $450K per year. That's like someone who makes $60K per year taking a $65 job. Do you really think this was purely a profit motive?"

After taxes and child support, $500 probably doubles Elija's disposable income for the month.

Posted by: joebleux | April 21, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

I'm personally very proud of Elijah Dukes for not cutting the Little Leaguers short at all. A lot of major leaguers would have said "sorry, gang" and peaced out. It was absolutely right to wait for them... and then to sprint to his car.

Posted by: Section506 | April 21, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Thought on Dukes: Got to love a team that is focused on demanding operational excellence. Now if they could just spell their name right...

Posted by: BT23 | April 21, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

"Well, that's not true, because I was at the game and said at the time that Manny should either let the kid hit, or put in Kearns or Belliard to pinch hit."

Oh, I see. Because you can just guarantee that Kearns or Belliard would have gotten a hit then, while Cintron wouldn't have? Looking at their batting averages, Kearns has hit .259 lifetime (worse this year) and Belliard has hit .274 (and not batted much yet this year). BAs for pinch hitting ABs are typically lower than for regular ABs, too. So you can guarantee that Kearns or Belliard would have overcome their 75% probability of failure in that situation just because you were at the game watching? Then why aren't you out right now buying up Powerball tickets? Because a gift like yours is much too precious to waste on baseball games!

Posted by: nunof1 | April 21, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

@NatsNut Okay, that $500 mention (in a sentence immediately after one discussing the team paying Dukes's fine) was about the payment, not the fine. Stupid Nats, fining him the same trivial amount he got paid. Good thing they did that, too, to remove the selfish motive Dukes had in showing up on Saturday morning with 500 (there's that number again!) Little Leaguers.

Posted by: tmp2234 | April 21, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

@ I stayed up for the whole game last night and was very confused. Could somebody please help me with the following terms?

* The Nats' pitchers kept throwing something called "strikes." What are those? We've never had them before.
* The bullpen surrendered no runs in the ninth inning, or at any point for that matter. I thought that was against the rules?
* Hanrahan recorded something called a "save." Is he allowed to do that?

Please help. I am baffled.

Posted by: SilverSpring8
-------
LOL!

Posted by: Section109 | April 21, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Here's what makes playing the game so deplorable: Almost everyone who attends Nats games does so by riding the Metro. Given the possibility of a further rain delay -- which did happen -- it meant that almost all of the fans would have to leave before the game finished up.

Whatever reasons the Nats had for playing last night, the Metro factor alone shows a stunning lack of consideration for their customers. True -- other teams end up playing games that run that late due to rain delays, but other teams do not have customers that are dependent on the DC Metro.

This is, of course, also a consideration for extra innings games. There is an enormous difference -- that cannot be anticipated and it is out of the team's control. The rain can be anticipated and the decision to play at all is in the team's control.

I don't necessarily object to the decision to play, per se, if the team is going to do something about keeping the Metro open late. Metro made a promise to stay open late for the hockey fans who came in from out of town to watch the Final Four @ Verizon -- if those games went into overtime. The Nats can and should work out a similar deal with Metro. If not trains, then provide buses that go to the Metro stations, so people can get their cars. Will it cost the team some money? Yes, but not as much as one might think, because it will also mean more ticket sales on rainy days and more concessions sold, especially in the late innings.

Posted by: fischy | April 21, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Bizarrely, I think everyone's winning in the Dukes affair. Elijah put in some nice community work and showed people that he's not the ogre he's commonly (mis)understood to be. Acta kept the hard line that really is needed. And the Little League parents are staying engaged - and supporting a guy that could use it.

With all the terrible PR the Nats get caught up in, this is actually a warm and fuzzy story by comparison.

Posted by: Kev29 | April 21, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Hey, does anyone know--after his injury, will Bernadina be treated (financially, I mean) like an injured major leaguer or minor leaguer? I sure hope the former.

Posted by: Section109 | April 21, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Of course there are no guarantees in baseball. That doesn't mean that there aren't better or worse decisions that can be made at any particular time. In my opinion, Manny made the wrong one here, that's it. If you want to continue to debate it, that's fine, but the exaggerated "guarantee" stuff and the Powerball comments are just unnecessary and counterproductive.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | April 21, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

and still i ask.

every other story about dukes always mentions the ex-policeman/advisor/helper/mentor guy.

where is he when this is going on? he's a nats employee also right?

Posted by: longterm | April 21, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

The article laid out the Dukes' issue and demonstrated how all parties put it to bed appropriately. Not only did Dukes get paid for his appearance, but it wasn't approved by the team beforehand. He shouldn't cut things close. It also sets a bad example if Dukes gets a pass. The Great Falls parents also wanted to set the example for their kids: they contributed to Dukes lateness, they want to take responsibility. Lastly, if you read the article, team fines already go to charitable causes. So essentially you have parents in Great Falls--a very wealthy town--giving $500 to something like maintaining a ball field in a not-so-great part of town.

Posted by: softballgirl | April 21, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

nominated for post of the day (i believe john in minneapolis is the official judge of this category; i am not trying to usurp, but to assist, him...)

-------------------------------------------------

I stayed up for the whole game last night and was very confused. Could somebody please help me with the following terms?

* The Nats' pitchers kept throwing something called "strikes." What are those? We've never had them before.
* The bullpen surrendered no runs in the ninth inning, or at any point for that matter. I thought that was against the rules?
* Hanrahan recorded something called a "save." Is he allowed to do that?

Please help. I am baffled.

Posted by: SilverSpring8 | April 21, 2009 10:14 AM |

Posted by: natty-bumppo | April 21, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

A lighten up moment - we know Wily Mo's production had shrunk, but this WP headline of his signing with the Mets seems a little harsh... :-)
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/20/AR2009042003784.html

Posted by: smallsamplesize | April 21, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

As far as the delays, isn't it the umpires job to call the game - not the owners of the home team? Maybe I'm wrong....

Posted by: goexpos2 | April 21, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

1. Games on the east coast in NY and Philly were called and called early in the afternoon yesterday. There's no way the Nats game should have been played. That was horrendous.
Absolutely horrible weather and to have to drag it out like that was ridiculous.

2. Dukes doesn't need $500. He didn't do the Little League gig for money. Dukes did a really nice thing and Manny Acta is ridiculous for not only fining him but for sitting him.

3.It hurt the Nats more than Dukes. Because Dukes' sub went hitless that day and Dukes got only 2 at bats instead of the five he would have had and maybe the Nats wouldn't have lost in extras if Manny had played his best player the entire game.

4. As a manager you've got to be able to distinguish between different situations and obviously Manny Acta cannot.

Posted by: dovelevine | April 21, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

"As far as the delays, isn't it the umpires job to call the game - not the owners of the home team? Maybe I'm wrong."

I believe the home team decides whether/when the game starts. After the game starts, it's under the umpire's control.

Posted by: joebleux | April 21, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

"Dukes: another PR nightmare for the Nationals, if a cash-strapped little league scrapes together Dukes' $500 fine (ignoring the fact that the little league was in Great Falls and not Anacostia"

you're a tad out of touch; great falls and mclean youth sports leagues play on community-funded artificial turf fields; our kids' allowances are typically hundreds of dollars a week; there was no scraping, trust me.

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 21, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

"The Nats can and should work out a similar deal with Metro. If not trains, then provide buses that go to the Metro stations, so people can get their cars."

What Metro stations? It would have to be every Metro station that has a parking garage, because realistically some fan at the game could have parked there and taken the train in. That's a lot of buses.

And hey, the Nationals are already providing free bus service to RFK for people who park there. That's supposed to run until 1-1/2 hours after the game. Did they announce last night that they wouldn't be doing that? (I wasn't there, so I don't know.) I don't think it's unreasonable for a fan who is determined to see the entire game, be it delayed by rain or extra innings or whatever, to forgo taking the Metro that night and instead park at RFK and take the bus from there. That's what I'd do. Metro has problems enough of its own. It's a totally unrealistic expectation to think that they are going to change anything regarding their schedule on a last-minute basis just because the Nationals ask them to.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 21, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

re: refunds/exchanges
I don't think this is about the decision to play or not play, I think this is about the Lerners reaching out to the fans with some above and beyond customer service and the teams need to get warm bodies in seats at any price. The Nats should allow anyone who had tickets for last night's game to exchange them for a future game. Why? Cuse it would come across well and maybe 5-10k people would take them up on it and there would be more people and more excitement at a next game. Do they have to, no. Should they, yes. I know I would absolutely go to a game if I could exchange the tickets. This team needs to be focused on making their hardcore fans happy and doing whatever they can to put butts in seats.

Posted by: IBC-AS | April 21, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Has any one been to Great Falls Little League......Ave Home Price is 3 Million in Great Falls.....Cars in the Parking lot average $75K.....$500 bucks is nothing to this folks.......

Posted by: JayBeee | April 21, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

jaybee has it right once again.

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 21, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

"In my opinion, Manny made the wrong one here, that's it. If you want to continue to debate it, that's fine, but the exaggerated "guarantee" stuff and the Powerball comments are just unnecessary and counterproductive."

The point is that it's sound managerial strategy NOT to burn your best pinch hitter relatively early in a game when you're ahead, even if you have a chance to extend your lead. Why not? Because your second or third best pinch hitter is only marginally worse than your best guy. You want to save your best guy for later on in the game, because you can always lose your lead and you might need him. Not only that, it made sense not to use Kearns in that situation because there might occur an opportunity later on to double switch him with Dunn to bolster the defense in a tight game. If you've already burned him as a PH you can't do that, and the sixth inning is too early to be double-switching out your best hitter even if he is a bad defender. So the choice really boils down to Cintron or Belliard, and frankly that one is a wash if you ask me.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 21, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Manny is such a piece of work. He can roll people under the bus without trying: he tells us that they give the fine money to team coaches to help with housing costs. Ted Lerne just took a Firestone over his forehead. Yet ANOTHER piece of evidence against the penny-pinching Lerners!! Too cheap to even pay the coaches a living wage! Oh Manny, you are so working your way right outta town.

Posted by: dfh21 | April 21, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

I'm still behind in comment reading so maybe I missed all the celebrating in previous threads (except for Sect. 109 here). At any rate, congrats to the team on adding another curly w and to Zim'nn for a great debut. Also, after watching the post-game show, it sounds like Scooter may have some Jordan competition in Ray Knight. hehe.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 21, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

To echo JayB. No, Great Falls is not hurting for money. Let's not make to big a deal out of the $500.

Posted by: Section505203 | April 21, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Seriously... the mere fact that they're organizing a "community fundraiser" when $500 is nothing to most individual families in Great Falls speaks volumes to the motivation of this initiative. This smells a lot like bored parents looking for a cause. Ask any public servant, especially those in public education in affluent areas about the kinds of problems that "cause-heads" can create for them. It's soapbox fodder for people who are speaking out just to be heard.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Has any one been to Great Falls Little League......Ave Home Price is 3 Million in Great Falls.....Cars in the Parking lot average $75K.....$500 bucks is nothing to this folks.......

Posted by: JayBeee | April 21, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: RicketyCricket | April 21, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

If you are a season ticket holder, and had a ticket last night that you did not use, the Nats already have a program for STHs to turn in unused tickets; they can be exchanged for 1 of 8 future games - it's called the "Unused Game Ticket Exchange Program."

Posted by: comish4lif | April 21, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

elijah has been a paragon lately, and he should get a lot of credit for his play and his attitude. okay, he didn't charge that wet ball single last night, but that guy surprised the entire park with his daring base-running?

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 21, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

"Seriously... the mere fact that they're organizing a "community fundraiser" when $500 is nothing to most individual families in Great Falls speaks volumes to the motivation of this initiative."

Can you say...tax deduction?

Posted by: nunof1 | April 21, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

BTW what the freak was Manny doin pullin J-Zimm out after only 6 innings and only 70-odd pitches. With a bullpen like the Nats have, that is absurd. I'm not sayin burn the kid's arm off, but 72 pitches? Cmon. He was mowin them down. He should have at least, at least pitched one more inning.

Posted by: dovelevine | April 21, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

"he didn't charge that wet ball single last night"

he didn't charge it because it was slick out there and he didn't want to hurt himself. He had already tweaked his groin earlier this year. Also, the ball completely died when it hit the ground, so he had to run further than expected. He wasn't dogging it, just being careful with the slick conditions.

Posted by: brothbart | April 21, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

@nunof1 -- At least 10 buses. One to cover each direction on each line. How much money do you think that costs? Less or more than keeping the Metro open?

You make a good point about the RFK shuttle, though. Perhaps the Nats should better advertise that as an option for those late games.

Right now, it's no big deal -- but what happens when the Nats are good? Playing important games that go into extra innings? Maybe even playoff games? I guess everyone should park at RFK, just in case.

Posted by: fischy | April 21, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

@dovelevine -- A one-run lead in the 6th -- with men on second and third and 2 out. Is there a manager in baseball that wouldn't pinch-hit for their pitcher in that situation -- unless the pitcher were Micah Owings or Mike Hampton?

Posted by: fischy | April 21, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

"BTW what the freak was Manny doin pullin J-Zimm out after only 6 innings and only 70-odd pitches. With a bullpen like the Nats have, that is absurd. I'm not sayin burn the kid's arm off, but 72 pitches? Cmon. He was mowin them down. He should have at least, at least pitched one more inning."

Two reasons first he came up to bat and the Nats had a chance to score a few extra runs. Second, you want him to leave the game on a positive note and a chance to win. They just brought up 4 relievers to get the job done. It was the right decision. If his place didn't come up in the batting order you could probably have thrown him out for the begining of the 7th and if anyone got on pull him then.

Posted by: brothbart | April 21, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

How Dukes ended up at Great Falls Little League rather than DC little league is the real story here people....Great Falls Little League....I bet his lawyer kid plays in Great Falls....Chico that is the story....Find out how much of a discount on his bill he got for this.

Posted by: JayBeee | April 21, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

With regard to the $300/$100 discussion way above, my initial comments were in the context of the XM radio program this morning. Sorry the point was not clear enough.

I spend thousands of dollars per year on tickets, but I don't spend $300 per seat. The point is that the Nationals are not filling the $300 seats. The Nationals - and other teams - have not hit the right price point to fill the seats. If the team won 100 games a year, those $300 and $170 seats would still not be full.

As for the beer price, I guess it all depends on what you think a good price is. I pay the $7.50 2-3 times per game and because I'm usually not alone it's more like 6-10 times per game, plus the $6 to $10 for each food item 1-2 times per game. It adds up and it adds up to too much. I can pay it, but there are thousands of others who really can't.

The discussion on XM explored the reasons why attendance was down 7% nationwide. The root cause is clear - It's the economy stupid. MLB teams had some time to react and prepare, but most teams have not. Certainly the Nationals had adequate time to analyze whther the $300 price point was working for them last year when the park was new and the economy was better.

Anyway the idea I was trying to express was that price points and value propositions currently being offered are not maximizing revenue and profit.

Posted by: natbiscuits | April 21, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

A couple of notes sort of on the line of JayB, how does Great Falls Little League score Elijah Dukes??? I went to Nats Community Relations about a team I coached in Germantown, MD and was told I couldn't get a player appearance through their dept.

Now then, maybe GFL paid for Dukes but would like to know.

Posted by: dmacman88 | April 21, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

One thing that hasn't been mentioned is that the new lobbying rules really hurt the Nats and ticket sales. In 2005 lots of companies bought tickets and we able to give them to staffers etc because they were under the $50 limit. Once the new lobbying restricitions were passed most companies dropped their tickets because they could no longer use them to give to staffers etc. Even taking a friend to a game would become iffy. That was one of the major reason for the tail off of tickets sold from 2005 to 2006.

Posted by: brothbart | April 21, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

I stayed up for the whole game last night and was very confused. Could somebody please help me with the following terms?

* The Nats' pitchers kept throwing something called "strikes." What are those? We've never had them before.
* The bullpen surrendered no runs in the ninth inning, or at any point for that matter. I thought that was against the rules?
* Hanrahan recorded something called a "save." Is he allowed to do that?

Please help. I am baffled.

Posted by: SilverSpring8 | April 21, 2009 10:14 AM |
<><><><><>><><><><><><><><>

Good post and agree with the 1st post that if you dish it out when someone doesn't do their job, give them some props when they do it well.

Facing Chipper Jones to start the 9th in a 1 run game is as tough as it gets.

A good job by Joel Hanrahan, JZim, and the rest of the pitchers!!!

Posted by: dmacman88 | April 21, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

GFLL paid Dukes $500 for the appearance. It's in the article.

Posted by: NatsNut | April 21, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

It is possible that Dukes had a profit motive, even for wht seems like a measly $500 payment. I recall that his pay from the team is subject to serious legal garnishments for child support. didn't is lawyer have to go to court in Florida in the early offseason and essentially say he was broke?

Note that the team commented that this was set up outside their auspices. I am guessing if the team set it up, there would be no $500 payment to Dukes. I find it a little odd that he got an appearance fee, and have to assume he wanted it.

Some speculation by me here, I know. Just wanted to note the possibilty.

Posted by: notreal | April 21, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

People probably would have stuck around if it was a weekend game, but a school night after midnight is too late. And the last Metro was 11:45pm so I heard some fans had to leave early.

Posted by: ilovethenats | April 21, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Also, I criticized Manny last year for many times not pinch running for Dmitri Young and glad he pinch run for Adam Dunn with JMax so MAYBE he gets it.

Even though it didn't generate a run, it was the right move as well as for a defensive replacement.

Posted by: dmacman88 | April 21, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

The article also quotes Acta as saying that the appearance was not arranged by the team, who would likely not have scheduled it before a day game.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 21, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

A note about the $7.50 beers; it's the same price whether you get a Bud Light or a Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA (or one of the other craft beers now available at the Red Porch.) For the high-end microbrews that's actually lower than what I might pay in an area bar.

Posted by: greggwiggins | April 21, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

I forgot to finish with: So my thanks to all you Bud Light drinkers for subsidizing my snobbish beer tastes.

Posted by: greggwiggins | April 21, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

"The Nationals - and other teams - have not hit the right price point to fill the seats. If the team won 100 games a year, those $300 and $170 seats would still not be full."

Since the $300 and $170 seat people had to sign multi-year contracts for those seats last year (which I think even have built-in price increases in the out years) the team may still be ahead monetarily by keeping that price structure and collecting that money instead of lowering the prices now and filling those sections.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 21, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

nunof1, good points in response to mine. I still disagree, but in my view the debate is part of what makes it fun. I don't have anything to add on my part, but I wanted to let you know I read your comment.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | April 21, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

@natbiscuits -- It's true that the Nats made a huge error in pricing their seats. That's true pretty much throughout the stadium, but it's ridiculous that the seats behind the plate go begging. That in itself is irrefutable proof that they have priced those seats out of the market.

What I find really amusing is that other teams have decided to repeat the Nats mistakes -- specifically the Yankees. Except that it's not funny. The city gave them a billion dollars in tax-free bonds, plus they're paying huge amounts of ancillary costs to develop the neighborhood including a commuter rail station. And then the team has the gall to charge $300 and $375 for tickets, and those aren't even the ones closest to the field. For those, they're asking four-digit prices, which they're too embarrassed to even advertise on the site. No one in their right mind pays those kinds of prices. So, the best seats go unused. It's colossally stupid, but it's also a huge insult since these parks that were built with public financing.

Posted by: fischy | April 21, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Another thing to consider with regards to those $300 seats - they required the purchasers to commit to a 3 year contract. So, it's hard for the Nats to reduce the price of the rest of those seats without having to consider giving money back (in some form) to the people that already committed to those seats.

As for the rest of us, the Nats make it difficult to find a bargain in the stadium. I tried to get some $18 seats for the 5/17 Sunday game. According to tickets.com, those seats are not available (which I doubt, but OK), so, what seats does the website suggest for me? Of course, the best available $300 seats. Not $25 seats, or $10 seats. They jump right to the $300 seats. Assinine. Anyone looking for $18 seats, isn't buying $300 seats.

Posted by: comish4lif | April 21, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

It's a shame we have all these PR nightmares... Little League, Natinels, etc. Someone like the Lerners who have been in business for all these years seem to need "PR Police" - to keep them from stepping in s**t all the time. Whether its saying or doing the wrong thing, or just being classless, it's embarrassing as a fan to see the organization make all these faux pas all the time.

Posted by: 1of9000 | April 21, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Top Ten Reasons To Be Optimistic:

1. We play at 7.
2. No errors in the kinda-slop last night.
3. The 3-6-3 and 5-4-3 DPs two games ago were pretty, prettttyy slick.
4. Great peg to third by Flores last night, even tho he had a bit of luck when the ball bounced up to him.
5. Dukes. Just Dukes.
6. Our pitchers can bunt! Well, 'cept fer DCab.
7. Dunnkey can stroke the ball to LF! Who knew?
8. Martis has stuff; NN has stuff.
9. Dibble kind of bullies Carp when he gets tired! Do it! Chin music, Mr. Maglie!
10. No more Shake-scene quotes!

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 21, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Dukes? Fines? Metro? Can we focus back on the important matter here?

I think $7.50 is entirely too much to pay for a beer. I renewed my season tickets yet again, for the 1st Base Club level. Two tickets at $45 each for 81 games. That's $7,400. And this season, the beer in the Stars & Stripes Club remained at $7.50, yet the SHRUNK the cups. One of the only benefits of the club was 20-ounce beers instead of 16-ounce beers.

The reality is, the Nats got good press for lowering the ticket prices for 7,500 tickets. That means tickets remained incredibly overpriced for 33,500 seats. The average price for tickets in Washington is $30 each. I believe the average price for tickets in the MLB is $26 each, which is skewered by the increases in New York's two new stadiums. Many, many cities average $20 per ticket. And they all have a better product. Other cities lowered prices, both in the box office and the concessions. Washington did neither. There's a reason Kasten won't release season ticket numbers this year. And whereas the Nats averaged 29,000 fans a game last year, there's a very good chance the Nats will not break 1.8 million in attendance this season.

Supply and demand, baby.

Posted by: ricandersen | April 21, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

"I went to Nats Community Relations about a team I coached in Germantown, MD and was told I couldn't get a player appearance through their dept.

Now then, maybe GFL paid for Dukes but would like to know."

According to the Post article today, Dukes's appearance wasn't arranged by the team. (The team is presumably smart enough not to schedule its players for a morning appearance when they have an early afternoon game and a game the night before.) So apparently it's possible to hire players for charity gigs without going through Nats Community Relations - although maybe not any more.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 21, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

"he didn't charge that wet ball single last night"

he didn't charge it because it was slick out there and he didn't want to hurt himself. He had already tweaked his groin earlier this year. Also, the ball completely died when it hit the ground, so he had to run further than expected. He wasn't dogging it, just being careful with the slick conditions.

Posted by: brothbart | April 21, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

*******************************

i agree completely.

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 21, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

It's okay, natty. I contract out occasionally.

-----

nominated for post of the day (i believe john in minneapolis is the official judge of this category; i am not trying to usurp, but to assist, him...)

Posted by: JohninMpls | April 21, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Hey Cheeks, just wanted to say nice gamer this morning (well, it's morning for me). I hope the Nats get out of their funk so we get to read more stories like the one today! Go Z2! A bright spot in the rotation - what a concept.

Posted by: PattyinSJ | April 21, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

"he didn't charge it because it was slick out there and he didn't want to hurt himself"

Ummm, no. He trotted over to it with his head down, took his time picking it up, and by the time he noticed the runner going to second, it was too late. I'm not going to rip him to shreds for that one play, but he needs to learn from it and understand that ground ball to center isn't automatically limited to a single.

Posted by: joebleux | April 21, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Nova,

Thanks for the Optimism post, it was much needed.

Going to the game tonight. Let's get 2 in a row!

Posted by: Section505203 | April 21, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

. Our pitchers can bunt! Well, 'cept fer DCab.

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 21, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

************
au contraire, my friend. DCab laid down the prettiest bunt you ever did see at the home opener.

Posted by: NatsNut | April 21, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

As you like it, nova-g-man. :-) (But I was happy to see Nieves win the backup battle.)

"10. No more Shake-scene quotes!"

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 21, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

"I went to Nats Community Relations about a team I coached in Germantown, MD and was told I couldn't get a player appearance through their dept."

It would be interesting to learn more about this, both from NJ posters and the Post's reporters. How about a good feature on what the National are and aren't doing in the community relations dept, including, but not limited to, player appearances, free and discounted tickets, provision of materials, media outreach, etc. The general perception is that their PR effort is atrocious.

I really believe that, Stan's experience with the Braves notwithstanding, the Lerners' real estate development background is a handicap. Developers like to put their deals together privately and work behind the scenes. The Lerners seem to have no feel for an operation that is the opposite.

Posted by: Meridian1 | April 21, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

And I second NatsNut re. the bunt.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 21, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

"Other cities lowered prices, both in the box office and the concessions. Washington did neither."

Not true. The Nationals in fact did lower prices in many seating areas (totaling something like 5,000 seats) and held them steady everywhere else. And as for concessions, while they did not cut prices across the board they apparently have introduced some lower-cost options. (Beer is not one of them, unfortunately.)

And another thing about ticket prices - there are lots of club-sanctioned deals out there. I got half price on a $36 seat last week just by typing TEDDY into the coupon code on tickets.com. I forget how I found out about taht, but I did. Perhaps the team should do a better job of publicizing that kind of thing.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 21, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

One last thing on the $500.00 that Dukes was given:

Are people aware that Dukes stated at the LL event that he was going to be donating that money to charity?

Posted by: TimDz | April 21, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

"au contraire, my friend. DCab laid down the prettiest bunt you ever did see at the home opener."

And another one on Sunday, IIRC.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 21, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

ricandersen:

$7.50 isn't too much for a beer, it is the going rate. A Latte at Starbucks is $4. You can't lower beer prices too much because then more people will drink more and you will get tons of unruly fans.

You don't need a beer or hot dog to enjoy the game. Tickets prices are a great value. If I go to the movies I don't need pop corn or a soda, which is also over priced. I am there to see the movie.

Posted by: brothbart | April 21, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

nunof1,

I conceded that the Nats lowered ticket prices for 7,500 seats. Go ahead and re-read my post. My point, which I also spelled out, was that they kept the higher-priced 33,500 seats the same.

And the only lower-cost concession option is a family pack of a hot dog, bag of chips and small soda.

And the club-sanctioned deals out there don't apply to season-ticket holders, which seemed to be the thrust of my post.

Beyond that, good retort.

Posted by: ricandersen | April 21, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Dukes did it as a favor! C'mon! His lawyer, agent or a friend of. Seriously. He can make a couple thousand by just signing his name! Takes a minute! He high-fived hundreds of kids! He went out of his way for a friend (and for the kids). Yes, he has a six-pack of his own kids and other problems. It only matters in which direction he is going. And he is doing well in that regard. Why the $500, then? I say it was the GF parents' idea, in order to show that most other Little Leagues cannot afford it. And they can't. Just a kinda dumb showing off. Chump change for them. No way was it a 'business' deal for Elijah. It was a favor.

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 21, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

@dovelevine -- A one-run lead in the 6th -- with men on second and third and 2 out. Is there a manager in baseball that wouldn't pinch-hit for their pitcher in that situation
Posted by: fischy

Yes. Lots. First off It's almost a 90% certainty Cintron isn't gonna get a hit. It's just a wasted at bat.
2nd, you're only in the 6th inning. A good pitcher with a lead at that point is more important than an extra potential run, especially considering your bullpen. Zimmermann has to be allowed to go back for 1 and maybe even 2 more innings in that situation. Luckily it worked out, but normally for the Nats it hasn't. It was the wrong decision.

Posted by: dovelevine | April 21, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

forgot how DCab handled the maple stick thingy. sorry.

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 21, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

---Dogfish Ale

Is that right, they've got Dogfish beer now at the Yard? Man, we ate at Dogfish the other night and I had the raisin red lager (not sure the actual name) and that was some amazing brew. Good stuff.

Posted by: dovelevine | April 21, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

On the Dukes fielding gaffe ... he was set up pretty deep towards Right-Center. The ball was hit to the left of second base. He had more territory to cover to get to the ball. Add in the wet conditions of the grass, thus slowing up the ball, and it takes an extra second or two to get to it.

However, he did trot over to pick up the ball, with his head down looking like he was just going to toss it back into the infield. After he realized Diaz was headed towards second, he hurried the throw back in.

I can tolerate the gingerly trot to pick up the ball based on the field conditions and Dukes' history of leg problems. I can not tolereate the lackadasical method to which he went to pick up the ball and preparation to soft-toss it back in.

But, one does have to give some credit to Matt Diaz. Once he hit the ball he sprinted towards first and kept watching Dukes. Diaz was very aggressive in that situation (and rightfully so). Still, Dukes misplayed it and I'm sure that Acta and Grissom both got on him to be more cognizent of the situation.

Posted by: erocks33 | April 21, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

"BTW what the freak was Manny doin pullin J-Zimm out after only 6 innings and only 70-odd pitches. With a bullpen like the Nats have, that is absurd. I'm not sayin burn the kid's arm off, but 72 pitches? Cmon. He was mowin them down. He should have at least, at least pitched one more inning."

Two reasons first he came up to bat and the Nats had a chance to score a few extra runs. Second, you want him to leave the game on a positive note and a chance to win. They just brought up 4 relievers to get the job done. It was the right decision. If his place didn't come up in the batting order you could probably have thrown him out for the begining of the 7th and if anyone got on pull him then.
_______________________________________

I think a better reason for Manny to pull him was to make sure he did not take a loss in his first start.

Posted by: twinbrook | April 21, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

I disagree that using Cintron was a mistake. It was reported by the Atlanta TV crew that when he was called up that he was in the middle of a hot hitting streak, 9 for 18 they said. I'd say that Manny was trying to take advantage of a player who was performing well, albeit perhaps at a lower level. I thought he did well in ST also and probably deserved to be with the team opening day.

Posted by: cokedispatch | April 21, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

A 3-2 victory, possibly the finest score in baseball.

Speaking of numbers, the Nationals' run differential is minus-20, which is not good. However, they have also been extremely unlucky. The Yankees' run differential is a similar minus-17, yet they have a winning record at 7-6. The Twins are minus-18, but they're somehow playing .500 ball at 7-7. And the O's are a horrendous minus-29, but their record stands at 6-7.

Moreover, 18 of the minus-20 runs came at the hands of the Marlins, who have to be regarded as our principal nemesis at this point. The Fish have the best record in the NL at 11-2, and the second-highest run differential at plus-24.

Here's hoping that we just got steamrolled by a hot Marlins team to start the season and that things will even out going forward.

Posted by: BobLHead | April 21, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

brothbart,

$7.50 a beer is NOT the going rate for a beer. At 0.469 per ounce, it ranks the 5th highest price in MLB. (http://www.cnbc.com/id/25283703). From the same article, you will see that the average 12-ounce beer is $4, which works out to $5.33 for a 16-ounce beer. The Nationals charge over $2 more, per beer.

Also, movie ticket prices are in fact, undervalued. It costs much more than $9 or $10 per person to run a movie (the cost of the film from movie houses is huge). As we all know, theaters make their profit from concessions, not ticket prices. On the other hand, Nats tickets are over-priced, AS WELL AS the concessions. My point was, a simple economics bell-curve would illustrate that the Nats should lower either ticket prices or concession prices (if not both) to fall more in line with the rest of baseball.

Posted by: ricandersen | April 21, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

"And the club-sanctioned deals out there don't apply to season-ticket holders, which seemed to be the thrust of my post."

Odd. I'm a season ticket holder, and I was able to take advantage of the club-sanctioned deal.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 21, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

nunof1, I think I understand that you mean a club-sanctioned deal for additional tickets? Or did you pay less for your season tickets than I did? Odd.

Posted by: ricandersen | April 21, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Ricardersen,

From the articles I think it argues for having higher priced beer "The Phillies are the cheapest, believe it or not, at $5 for a 21-ounce beer at Citizens Bank Park." Maybe that is one reason their fans are the most obnoxious in sports.

Posted by: brothbart | April 21, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

as for removing ZNN and pinch-hitting Cintron ...

I think this was the right move beacuse:

1) you don't want your pitcher batting with 2 outs and runners in scoring position ... you should always pinch-hit in this situation.
2) Your choices are Belliard, Cintron, Kearns, Maxwell or Nieves. Nieves is not going to pinch hit in the 6th. He's out. Maxwell and Kearns are, at least, your defensive replacements for the 8th-9th innings (and possibly your pinch-hitters if the game is still on the line later in the game). They're out.

So, it's between Belliard and Cintron. I would have chosen Cintron because

a) he was 4-11 against Lowe in his career. Belly is 2-11.
b) Cintron is a switch-hitter. Lefty versus righty is always a better strategic move.
c) Career batting averages for the two: Cintron .277, Belly .274. Not much difference.
d) Cintron was hitting the ball well in Viera and in Syracuse. Belly wasn't.

Now, the best thing that could have happened was if A Gonzalez would have hit into a double-play. This would have ended the inning with ZNN's spot due to lead off the next inning. This would have allowed Acta to keep ZNN in to start the 7th. But no, he grounded out with the runners moving. Dangit.

Also, let's remember that even with 70+ pitches, ZNN does need to have his pitch count/innings pitched kept in check. By limiting his innings pitched early, this gives the Nats the opportunity to use him later into the season. Don't want to burn him out by July.

Posted by: erocks33 | April 21, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

The fan cost index is always fun to look at (if you are a geek like myself). Of interest to me is that the Nats fielded the worst team last season, yet have the seventh-highest average ticket prices.

(I'm confused about the FCI listed beer price, as I don't know where in the stadium I can buy a 16-ounce beer for $6.)

http://teammarketing.com.ismmedia.com/ISM3/std-content/repos/Top/Fan%20Cost%20Index/MLB/MLB%20FCI%2009.pdf

Posted by: ricandersen | April 21, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

A good pitcher with a lead at that point is more important than an extra potential run, especially considering your bullpen. Posted by: dovelevine | April 21, 2009 12:12 PM
-------------------------------------------

@dovelevine -- I disagree. The only argument to be made in favor of not pinch-hitting there is the poor quality of the Nats' pinch-hitters. I admit I felt conflicted about having Zimmerman come out at that time -- because I knew it was futile. I knew that Cintron wouldn't drive in the runs. However, if I'd had any confidence in his ability to drive in a run, then it's a no-brainer. The extra run or twp is a better bet than sending out Zimmerman for another inning. The game's going to go to the bullpen at some point, so you might as well give it to them with a 2 or 3-run lead, not a one-run lead.

Posted by: fischy | April 21, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Good point brothbart. They are indeed! I would argue that Philly fans are the worst in baseball, even when they are guests at venues with the highest-priced beer.

Can we switch this comment board to a bash-Philadelpha fans forum? Because really, they suck.

Posted by: ricandersen | April 21, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

I was thinking that he'd laid one down on Sunday, nunof.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 21, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Chico we need a new post!

Posted by: FloresFan | April 21, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

"My point was, a simple economics bell-curve would illustrate that the Nats should lower either ticket prices or concession prices (if not both) to fall more in line with the rest of baseball."

Should they do this even if it means they make less money than they are now? After all, no one is being forced to buy those $7.50 beers (it's not like it's a gallon of gas where you have no real choice) yet plenty of people are still buying them. Why should a baseball team subsidize your drinking habit when it can make the same money selling you two $7.50 beers or three $5 beers?

And as for $7.50 being close to the going rate, it is when you talk about DC. No reason the Nats beer prices should be in line with all of MLB. Ballpark beer prices should be in line with beer prices in the bars of the various major league towns. I can get a beer for less in a Baltimore bar than in a DC bar, and I'd expect the same to hold for the two ballparks.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 21, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Love all the comments about Duke's play in the OF. Where's the fire about Dunn turning Chipper Jones' (who can't run and has hamstring trouble) double into a triple.

I don't think Jones could even believe it. His first of the season. Dunn couldn't have gotten there any slower if he was on a riding mower. Seriously what is this guys deal in the OF. No question he's been a big surprise and welcome addition at the plate, but this stuff is nuts and could have cost them the game.

Posted by: dovelevine | April 21, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Paging Section 506 to the white courtesy phone...


---

Can we switch this comment board to a bash-Philadelpha fans forum? Because really, they suck.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 21, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

BTW, love the optimistic lists, nova. I must have missed the lead in during my comments hiatus.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 21, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

"nunof1, I think I understand that you mean a club-sanctioned deal for additional tickets? Or did you pay less for your season tickets than I did? Odd."

Probably both. I sit in the upper infield gallery, which are cheaper seats than yours. So I got less of a price break on the season tix over single game prices than you did. But the fact that I was a season ticket holder didn't prevent me from using that coupon code to buy other seats for half price.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 21, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=4085478

This story is now National news on Dukes.

The Nationals would be smart and make it into a good publicity move for the team by taking the $501 and making it a donation for 1 seat for this Mraz guy for the Dream Foundation Dinner which is for charity and happens to cost exactly $500 per seat or maybe Dukes can take Mraz as his guest!!!

Mraz is a clever guy creating all this good publicity for himself!!! So far, ESPN, the Post and all the local TV News stations are covering this.

Posted by: dmacman88 | April 21, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of Jones, in watching the replay it struck me funny that the mike picked up the handful of fans doing a "Lar-ry" chant during his at-bat late in the game.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 21, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Its less about Hanrahan than it is Acta. There is a lot of pressure when you're 0 - 7, then 1 and whatever. Especially for a young closer. Acta needed to use Beimel more to take the pressure off a bit until Hanrahan adapted to it. He has a good arm, great potential, but guess it requires a certain aggressive demeanor.

Acta does seem to have the "horses" on the pitching staff if he manages to use them right. Now, he really needs to find a way to put together a winning streak to offset the less than enchanting beginning.

The only argument to be made in favor of not pinch-hitting there is the poor quality of the Nats' pinch-hitters.

No, its a dearth of left handed pinch hitting and in the line up. There really is only left hander Nick Johnson who is starting off well. The PH selected was a switch hitter. Bernadina was a lefty. May make sense to bring up Kasto if he can ravage IL pitching. He is a left hander. Its also likely why they brought in Bard, a switch hitting catcher.

Posted by: periculum | April 21, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

nunof1,

"Should they do this even if it means they make less money than they are now?"

Do you know what a bell curve is? It is a continuous probability distribution that describes data that clusters around a mean or average. The bell curve would illustrate what price would dictate the best profit margin for beer sales. I'm saying that indeed, the Nats would make more overall money on concessions if they lower food and beverage prices.

nunof1, I think you like to argue for arguement sake. You are fine to disagree, but at least read my posts before replying. Seriously, I don't know you. Why are you trying to pick an argument. My only point, first made in a light-hearted manner about beer, was that the Lerners and the fans both would be better served if ticket prices were reduced for the 33,500 seats untouched from last season, and if concession prices were more in line with other cities. I would argue that our dismal attendance (currently 28th in MLB) illustrates this.

nunof1, I'll make it easy for you: I like Dukes a lot. I think he's making an earnest effort to change his reputation, and I think he has a good bad. Go ahead and start disagreeing with this. I'd hate for you to have nothing to nit-pik.

Posted by: ricandersen | April 21, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

All this beer talk and Phoolie beer prices being the cheapest...perhaps the Nats could raise the price of beer for games vs. the phoolies to $10. relax...I'm just kiddin

Posted by: cokedispatch | April 21, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Nice to see that no good deed goes unpunished in the Dukes case. Actually, by the Great Falls LL parents ponying up the fine, it makes Nats management look like the fools that they are. Kasten and Rizzo and Acta are idiots.

Posted by: bupbups | April 21, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

what's with the boswellian pace of chico's chat today? paint dries faster than the rate of posts he's gotten to so far.

Posted by: surly_w | April 21, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

With all of the national hype about the Dukes issue, would someone please buy the guy a cell phone? One call to the people who pay him $400000 a year or a few words at the beginning to the people who were paying him $500 would have prevented this whole deal.

In either case, lets move on. Great game all around last night. Looks like were on the right track now. Go Nats!

Posted by: nobleman1 | April 21, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Nunof1, you make a new friend almost everyday.

Posted by: Section505203 | April 21, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Yeah nunof1, I'll buy my new friend a beer at the next game. But I'm sure you'll argue it be served to you in a bell curve, and I'll insist that it makes more economic sense to drive to Kansas City for said beer.

Posted by: ricandersen | April 21, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

ricandersen, you write that "$7.50 is not the going rate for a beer". In the case of the beer I cited in an earlier post, Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, a little research over lunch has enabled me to say that you're right. It's cheaper to drink that beer at this ballpark than it is at a D.C. bar. The 16 ounces of 90 Minute IPA that costs me $7.50 at Nationals Park would cost me $8.00 at RFD on 7th Street NW. As I wrote before, my thanks to the Bud Light drinkers who are subsidizing my microbrews.

Posted by: greggwiggins | April 21, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

I've been following the comments here -- about Dukes, about playing the game last night despite the weather. A few thoughts.

I admit I was struck by the fact that Dukes was paid an appearance fee -- coincidentally the same amount he was fined. It changed my feeling about the team's action a bit. Yes, it was a community event, but Dukes was making a few bucks before the game, and he should have planned better. Nonetheless, it's a touching story that the parents want to help him out, and I think it's mostly because he stayed until he had high-fived all the kids, rather than saying, "oops, sorry, got to get to the park, where's my check, see yah!"

On last night's game. I suppose I would have been happier if they canceled it at around 5 pm. But once they decided to play, I can't argue with how they handled it. As FJB pointed out, the decision on the start time was the Nationals' call, and they were clearly trying to protect Flash Jordan and the bullpen by waiting. That was smart. They almost got the whole game in before the second delay, and Flash was able to pitch a full six innings of superb ball. Too bad so few folks braved the weather to see that performance. That guy has some serious movement and "giddy-up," as Don Sutton would have said, on his pitches (especially as seen from the fancy seats that anyone could move down to last night -- Not the Prez Club, that's off limits, but the seats right behind the dugout were just great.)

As for the transportation issues, I suppose it's easy for me to say since I live near the park, but anyone who came last night knew of the serious possibility of rain delays. Sure it would be great if Metro would stay open till the game is over, but the Nats did announce the time of the last Metro train (11:45) on the scoreboard right after the second delay started. And the free Nats Express buses were there waiting at 3rd and M for anyone who parked at RFK. (I saw them at 11:30 pm when I went home, and I'm sure at least one bus was waiting after the game ended.) Driving and parking at RFK is always an option for people who worry about having to leave early to catch the last Metro train. It's great the Nats provide this option, and I really don't think we can expect much more from them.

Posted by: Section222 | April 21, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

"Do you know what a bell curve is? It is a continuous probability distribution that describes data that clusters around a mean or average. The bell curve would illustrate what price would dictate the best profit margin for beer sales. I'm saying that indeed, the Nats would make more overall money on concessions if they lower food and beverage prices."

So you're saying there's not some point on that curve where you can make the same money selling two $7.50 beers as you can selling three $5.00 beers? If this was a restaurant or bar the Nats were running, your arguments would make sense. But it's not. It's a baseball game. No one is forced to buy food and drink at a game, just as no one is forced to buy popcorn at the movies. Yet people still do, even though the price is high. This is how the theaters and the ballclubs make money, and if people are paying the prices they are charging what reason do they have for lowering them? Your argument would seem to be that they should be doing it purely out of benevolence. Any sane businessman would disagree with you on that.

You said earlier "Supply and demand." It would appear that the demand for beer is still there (and food too, given the long lines) despite the high prices, wouldn't it?

Posted by: nunof1 | April 21, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Ricandersen, when you drive to Kansas City for a beer, have a Boulevard Wheat at Kaufmann Field. It's an excellent locally brewed beer that goes really well with baseball and hot weather.

Posted by: greggwiggins | April 21, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

you're a tad out of touch; great falls and mclean youth sports leagues play on community-funded artificial turf fields; our kids' allowances are typically hundreds of dollars a week; there was no scraping, trust me.

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 21, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse


And you, nova_g_man, needs to learn some reading comprehension if you're going to nit pick my comments. I specifically said, "IGNORING THE FACT THAT ITS GREAT FALLS...."

Yes I know where Great Falls is, who lives there and how wealthy the neighborhoods are. Now ask yourself this: does the rest of america?? As we speak ESPN is running this story about how the Nationals fined Dukes for being 5 minutes late after speaking to a little league on their national wire. Every one in the country who reads the website or reads the RSS feeds now knows that the nationals fined a guy for being 5 minutes late after returning from visiting a little league.

My point is this: this is an unnecessary public relations nightmare for a franchise that ALREADY is viewed as a bunch of clowns in the eyes of baseball regulars. This is unwelcome news for owners that refused to pay the rent on a $600M stadium built and given to them and continually manage to come across as cheap and out of touch despite reports that they're the wealthiest of the 30 MLB team owners.

(and before some yahoo points out that they're paying rent on the stadium blah blah, lets be honest with ourselves. With out this tax-payer funded stadium the Nationals would either be contracted, in Montreal or in some other random city right now and we'd be arguing about whether or not the Caps can win this series instead of talking baseball...)

My point is thus: this was something they should have let slide, instead of making an issue out of. Especially with Dukes, who seemingly cannot have his name in a story with out some lazy reporter also adding in the following clause, "Elijah dukes, who has a history of off-the-field troubles."

Posted by: tboss | April 21, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Amen doveline! And what's worse, Dunn's slowness/weak arm seems to be public knowledge among the other teams (if memeory serves me there was a play in the Marlins series as well). I came away from watching Chipper's "triple" last night thinking that we really cannot play Dunn in RF.
________________
Love all the comments about Duke's play in the OF. Where's the fire about Dunn turning Chipper Jones' (who can't run and has hamstring trouble) double into a triple.

Posted by: lowcountry | April 21, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone here know for sure that the Natinals din't donate the $500 (or more) from Dukes's fine, and just not tell US?

Pinch-hit Cintron, every time, in those circumstances. No question. Sorry, CiL, there just isn't any.

Don't start the game when you know the New Kid won't get a chance to go five, but get it in. There's 150 games left--as Sparky Anderson used to say, "Do you know how many games 150 games is? It's a lot."

$7.50 *is* too much to pay for clydesdale p-water (depending on how badly you need a beer), so you go with whine, instead. Oh well, that's Natstown for you.

Hey, they're only 8 games under .500, and the roster is looking better all the time. More to the point, the sun is out, it's relatively warm, we've got a team to complain about! Life is good.

Posted by: CEvansJr | April 21, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

we need a winning streak. i'm tired or reading all this slop in here.

Posted by: longterm | April 21, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

"Public relations nightmare" is a little shrill, don't you think? Bad press, OK. More like PR indigestion than nightmare, really.

Posted by: CEvansJr | April 21, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

"I came away from watching Chipper's "triple" last night thinking that we really cannot play Dunn in RF."

And we won't, once we find some way to get rid of Kearns or Willingham.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 21, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

longtgerm, I'm with you. It's time to shelve the negativism. GO NATS...GET and STAY HOT

Posted by: cokedispatch | April 21, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Indeed. I wonder, sometimes, how much being on the left side of the shallow learning curve of an essentially new baseball market reflects in here? Certainly some--a lot of posters (excellent people, all--pillars of the community, yadda yadda) don't know a lot of fairly basic stuff, and that's to be expected. It's a complicated game. "Everything changes everything." The inexperience shows, everywhere. Owners, vendors, city govt., fans ... everywhere.

So cheer up--it'll get better.


**********
we need a winning streak. i'm tired or reading all this slop in here.
Posted by: longterm | April 21, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: CEvansJr | April 21, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

For most posters here, it would seem like every day in NatsTown is a public relations nightmare, wouldn't it? It would appear that Nats PR has only two states, non-existent or nightmare. It's a miracle anyone shows up at the games at all. Jesus must somehow be involved in this - and I don't mean Flores.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 21, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Where in the stadium is the 90 minute IPA? I've got 2 baseline brews near my seat and the only that they have worth drinking is Bass.

Posted by: comish4lif | April 21, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

I think there is a lot of learning to be done. The Lerners need to be worried about the low attendance. But as a market DC needs to understand where this franchise is coming from, and what needs to be done to improve it.

It is such a fine balance though between unrealistic expectations, such as expecting prospects spring from thin air because we declare we want to be a smart franchise, and a fan base that slowly starts to accept a culture of losing an failure.

Posted by: soundbloke | April 21, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

nunof1, agreed, this is a very poorly marketed business, esp. considering the polarized-by-nature environment (DC) they are in. Planet NJ is what it is, for better or worse.
Imagine marketing a NY or Philly team with all warm-and-fuzzy Kumbayah ...

Posted by: CEvansJr | April 21, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Dukes, pretty famously, has had a cell phone in the past, so I don't think that's an issue.

It was awesome to get the explanation of the bell curve, there are some really really smart people in this forum.

Posted by: mike8 | April 21, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Soundbloke, I don't disagree, but I suggest we don't over-value winning. The Cubs are, and mostly always were, a very well marketed franchise, despite being a very poorly run team most of the time.

Posted by: CEvansJr | April 21, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Wait, Chico is having a chat?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 21, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

"The Cubs are, and mostly always were, a very well marketed franchise, despite being a very poorly run team most of the time."

How was their marketing during their first five years in Chicago? Did they hit the ground running, or did they have a learning curve?

Posted by: nunof1 | April 21, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

No question he's been a big surprise and welcome addition at the plate, but this stuff is nuts and could have cost them the game.

Posted by: dovelevine | April 21, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

------------------------

Wait, you're honestly surprised by Dunn's production at the plate?! The guy has a career .380 OBP, .900 OPS, and has hit 40 HRs in each of the last five seasons. I suppose you could be surprised by the fact that he only has 9 strikeouts in 12 games - but even that puts him on pace for 120+.

Posted by: combedge | April 21, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

"Wait, Chico is having a chat?"

No, he HAD one. Seems his newspaper forgot to tell anyone about it. Think maybe that's why he had hardly any questions?

Apparently the Nats aren't the only ones who have non-existent or nightmare PR.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 21, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Very true. Although I went to every Expos game I could possibly make it too. Which would seem to indicate I am impervious to marketing. Also, I'm not sure what it looks like. I live in Boston now so as far as I can tell marketing is basically a fine mix of being smug and drunkenly offensive.

Posted by: soundbloke | April 21, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

"I live in Boston now so as far as I can tell marketing is basically a fine mix of being smug and drunkenly offensive."

I get that John Henry, Larry Lucchino et al are smug, but are you telling me they're drunks too?

Posted by: nunof1 | April 21, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, nunof. I would think that would be a factor in the lack of comments.

---

No, he HAD one. Seems his newspaper forgot to tell anyone about it. Think maybe that's why he had hardly any questions?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 21, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Nunof1

No, I was refering to stuff like this being on the nightly news constantly...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=podPyRkslog&feature=related

Posted by: soundbloke | April 21, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

I think that pink hats also enter into it, soundbloke?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 21, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

The marketing, that is.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 21, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

nunof1:

"Your argument would seem to be that they should be doing it (lowering concession prices) purely out of benevolence."

No nunof1. I'm not saying that at all. RIF. Reading Is Fundamental. I'm saying that comprable business models show that lowering concession prices increases overall profits. The Lerners will make more money if they lower prices, because people will be more likely to buy food in the park, or an additional beer. Why do all the other MLB parks charge less for concessions? Because they are making less money? No, nunof1. Most parks have lower concession prices because experience has shown them that lower prices mean more overall sales.

Really, just once, think before you type. And learn to read. You may find it refreshing.

Posted by: ricandersen | April 21, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

--I suppose you could be surprised by the fact that he only has 9 strikeouts in 12 games - but even that puts him on pace for 120+.Posted by: combedge

Actually thats what I was talkin about. I thought Dunn was gonna be an all or nuthin, HR or K batter. He's been a lot more than that I'll admit and it's been very exciting to watch him. I'm really pleasantly surprised. Although again I'll say, I'm not sure I've seen a worse defenseman than Dunn.

Posted by: dovelevine | April 21, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

"No nunof1. I'm not saying that at all. RIF. Reading Is Fundamental. I'm saying that comprable business models show that lowering concession prices increases overall profits. The Lerners will make more money if they lower prices, because people will be more likely to buy food in the park, or an additional beer."

How do you know that they haven't already done the market analysis and business modeling to determine that they have prices set correctly as they are? They are fairly successful businessmen after all. They probably know WAY more about this stuff than you or I do.

"Why do all the other MLB parks charge less for concessions? Because they are making less money? No, nunof1. Most parks have lower concession prices because experience has shown them that lower prices mean more overall sales."

Or maybe because they're charging all their market will bear? Surely it couldn't be that simple. Do you think people in New York would argue that they should be paying DC prices?

"Really, just once, think before you type. And learn to read. You may find it refreshing."

Really, just once, remove the chip from your shoulder and/or the burr from your butt before you type. You may find it refreshing. Or maybe not. You do sound like a bit of a masochistic type after all.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 21, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

"Although again I'll say, I'm not sure I've seen a worse defenseman than Dunn."

Then I guess you never saw Wily Mo Pena.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 21, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

True story, I once was at a game against the Phillies at RFK in 2005 and I was still trying to get a feel for this baseball in Washington thing that I heard about from my parents. Pat Burrell comes up to bat and I immediately begin to question whether we Washingtonians are the sorts of people who can respect a game like baseball because in left ear I hear at 100 decibles...

BUR-RELL SU-UCKS! BUR-RELL SU-UCKS!

Over and over again. Non-stop. Relentless. It's like a 12 pitch at bat, too.

And I finally turn around to tell this jerk to stop sullying the name of our fair city...

...and, you got it, he's wearing a Philly's jersey.

Man, I hate those guys.

Posted by: Section506 | April 21, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

nunof1, just once, stop thinking about other men's butt. You do sound like a bit of a sadist type, after all.

Posted by: ricandersen | April 21, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Those stupid pink hats drive me nuts! Especially as Red Sox hats are some of the most iconic items of fan wear in the world.

But beneath the hate lies a crucial point. The Red Sox are masters of franchise marketing. They portray themselves as fun loving scrappy underdogs (even though they have more money than God). There are more 28 ex-sorority girls trying to be cool wearing those stupid pink hats than you can imagine. The attitude that Red Sox fans are crazy and fun loving makes Fenway a destination regardless of the quality of the team because either way it's a great time (And it really is. Even if you are watching the Nationals score on the Green Monster the whole time while you wife goes on and on about how much she just loves the Sox).

Good marketing. Very good.

Posted by: soundbloke | April 21, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Those 9 K's in 12 games puts Dunn considerably behind the pace Zimm is setting, and Zimm aint gonna be hitting no 40 HR nor 100 BB's to make up for the whiffs. The kid needs some plate discipline in a hurry. If he had it, how killer would that 2-5 be making starters work like hell to get through an inning.

Posted by: dfh21 | April 21, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

In the story about the Little League, Acta said the proceeds from the fine go to "needy clubhouse kids" and "coaches to help with their housing." Excuse me? Is he saying the club doesn't pay its coaches enough for them to afford housing? That they have to be subsidized by players' fines?

That is crazy! I was always under the impression that fines were donated to charity, either of the player's or the team's choosing. This would remove the incentive for the team to fine a player unreasonably. To use the fines to subsidize the team's non-player payroll is, I thought, unheard of.

Anyone???

Posted by: Meridian1 | April 21, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

True. "Red Sox Nation." Brilliant marketing. They must have copied the Dallas "America's Team" Cowboys.

I'd love to see a study of opposing-team caps sold in every stadium. My guess would be Boston first, followed by Yankees, LA, and Cubs.

Posted by: ricandersen | April 21, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

The Washington Nationals today recalled right-handed pitcher Saul Rivera from Syracuse of the Triple-A International League and placed left-handed pitcher Joe Beimel on the 15-Day Disabled List with a left hip flexor strain. Nationals Assistant General Manager and Vice President of Baseball Operations Mike Rizzo made the announcement.

Rivera, 31, has pitched in six games this season with the Nationals and has been a workhorse in the team’s bullpen since his big-league debut in 2006. His 221 career relief appearances and 45 holds rank third in club annals (2005-current). Rivera signed with Washington as a minor-league free agent on November 18, 2005.

Beimel suffered his injury while making an exceptional defensive play during the eighth inning of Monday’s game against Atlanta. In eight relief appearances this season, he owns four holds and a 1.23 ERA. The 32-year-old signed with the Nationals as a free agent on March 18.

Posted by: Brian_ | April 21, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Chico talking about Z'nn: "This was the first time they had a true worthwhile homegrown pitching prospect debut at the big league level."

What's John Lannan, chopped liver? He had the most exciting debut MONTH a team could ask for.

Nats are new, Chico, but they were here before spring, 2008.

Posted by: NatsNut | April 21, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

I knew last night's (this morning's?) win had a catch to it. Beimel's injury proves it: The Nats are cursed.

Posted by: Juan-John | April 21, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

The Washington Nationals today recalled right-handed pitcher Saul Rivera from Syracuse of the Triple-A International League and placed left-handed pitcher Joe Beimel on the 15-Day Disabled List with a left hip flexor strain. Nationals Assistant General Manager and Vice President of Baseball Operations Mike Rizzo made the announcement.

Rivera, 31, has pitched in six games this season with the Nationals and has been a workhorse in the team’s bullpen since his big-league debut in 2006. His 221 career relief appearances and 45 holds rank third in club annals (2005-current). Rivera signed with Washington as a minor-league free agent on November 18, 2005.

Beimel suffered his injury while making an exceptional defensive play during the eighth inning of Monday’s game against Atlanta. In eight relief appearances this season, he owns four holds and a 1.23 ERA. The 32-year-old signed with the Nationals as a free agent on March 18.

Posted by: Brian_ | April 21, 2009 2:30 PM
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Is this an April Fool's joke on April 21st?

Posted by: dmacman88 | April 21, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

I looked at the Chat schedule this morning, No Chico, No Nats. Then 15 minutes later it was up there and scheduled for 2PM. I sent in a question. Then leter, I went back to send in a different question, and the chat was moved up to Noon. But Chico only handled about 15 questions in the hour - and none of mine. So, I know that he had plenty of questions.

Posted by: comish4lif | April 21, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

"Although again I'll say, I'm not sure I've seen a worse defenseman than Dunn."

Then I guess you never saw Wily Mo Pena.
Posted by: nunof1

No I mentioned the bisque.

Posted by: dovelevine | April 21, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I always thought that Red Sox Nation was an etymological descendent of Woodstock Nation.

Posted by: Traveler8 | April 21, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

While other posters here have been known to make up bogus press releases for comedic effect (rarely successfully), that ain't how NFA Brian rolls. Bummer about Beimel.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 21, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

NatsNut - To be fair, Lannan had nowhere near the hype that Zimmermann had entering last night's start. I believe what Chico was referring to was that the Nationals were debuting a guy universally considered a top prospect.

Lannan was a welcome surprise.

Posted by: Brian_ | April 21, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

re Beimel -- crud. WHo's the 8th inning set up guy now? Mock? Bergmann? Lord help us if it's Saul ...

Posted by: erocks33 | April 21, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

As a kid I sat in DC stadium many times anticipating the milestone of 4.5 innings when the Nats had the lead. Then, if it rained, come what may. Ball game. Senators win! What ever happened to that practice? Now teams sit for hours waiting for the skys to clear. Hey MLB! Are you listening? Ten minute wait for a full professor.

Posted by: 6thandD | April 21, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Comish4Lif, the Dogfish Head and several other micro beer choices are available at the Red Porch bar in center field. Not the Red Loft on the level above, unfortunately, because my seats are on that level.

Posted by: greggwiggins | April 21, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

No I mentioned the bisque.

Posted by: dovelevine | April 21, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

****************

LOL! I got your reference, dovelevine. "you can't yada-yada the best part."

Posted by: NatsNut | April 21, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

I believe a bullpen catcher makes something like $30,000 a year.

Posted by: brothbart | April 21, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

The Washington Nationals today recalled right-handed pitcher Saul Rivera from Syracuse of the Triple-A International League and placed left-handed pitcher Joe Beimel on the 15-Day Disabled List with a left hip flexor strain.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Posted by: dovelevine | April 21, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

BobL- way back to your run differential post - to me, that's one of the underrated optimism signs. Not sure if you've read much on Bill James' pythagorean expectation of winning percentage based primarily on runs scored vs. runs allowed, but to cut a long explanation short, the Nats current run differential suggests that they "should" have four wins - actually, last night's close one got them one closer to their expected total. Yesterday their expecation based on run differential was 4-7, today it's 4-8. Anyway, it's really rare for a team to finish too far away from it's pythagorean expectation - for instance, the '08 Nats expectation predicted 62 wins instead of 59 over the course of the whole season, the '07 Nats predicted 70 wins instead of 73. Bottom line, what it suggests is that the Nats have had some really rotten luck so far to be this far off their expectation this early, and I think we see with our own eyes the evidence of that - pick up two out of the three blown saves, and the Nats are 4-8. Pick up all three and the Nats are actually slightly better than predicted at 5-7. I'd think that folks would feel a lot better then.

Anyway, just thought it was interesting. In case you are interested, the Yanks (+2), Twins (+2) and O's (+1) are all outperforming their expected W-L to this point - suggesting they may have gotten a little lucky. I'd say anything in the -2 to +2 range though is really quite normal. TB Rays last year were a +5 which is starting to tend towards the high end, and Seattle was a -6 which is a tad unlucky.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | April 21, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Tell you what, when Guzman comes back, the Nats will have as good a 1 thru 5 as anyone with:
Guz, Johnson, Zim, Dunn, Dukes.

Of course 6 thru 9 remains a problem.

Posted by: dovelevine | April 21, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Even a blind pig finds a kernel of corn once in awhile.

When Hanrahan successfully closes out four in a row, I'll rethink the bashing.
____________________________________
So how many on here that bashed Joel Hanrahan will give him some credit.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | April 21, 2009 7:55 AM |

Posted by: MikeH0714 | April 21, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Willingham/Kearns, Flores and Hernandez are a pretty good 6-8.

Posted by: brothbart | April 21, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

"The Washington Nationals today recalled right-handed pitcher Saul Rivera from Syracuse of the Triple-A International League and placed left-handed pitcher Joe Beimel on the 15-Day Disabled List with a left hip flexor strain. Nationals Assistant General Manager and Vice President of Baseball Operations Mike Rizzo made the announcement."

Terrific. There's 15 days where we won't even SEE if Hanrahan can close out four in a row.... (Insert appropriate explitives here.)

Posted by: MikeH0714 | April 21, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

sheesh. we're nearing 200 comments and i'm getting more news from you guys than the washpost team.

Posted by: NatsNut | April 21, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Great Phillies phan story from 506.

Re. Beimel - Dang! Is this team snake-bit or what?

(And I didn't recognize it until the yada yada part. Well done, NatsNut.)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 21, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Expletives already covered on this end, Mike (but omitted from my post.)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 21, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Bergmann becomes the 8th inning guy now, with Mock as 7th inning or somesuch. No reason Saul goes to the top of the line just because he's back.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 21, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Willingham/Kearns, Flores and Hernandez are a pretty good 6-8.Posted by: brothbart

In whose bizarro book? Hernandez and Kearns are batting .200 and W-Ham is at .100.
Hello McFly??!!

Posted by: dovelevine | April 21, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Your argument would seem to be that they should be doing it purely out of benevolence. Any sane businessman would disagree with you on that.

You said earlier "Supply and demand." It would appear that the demand for beer is still there (and food too, given the long lines) despite the high prices, wouldn't it?

Posted by: nunof1 | April 21, 2009 1:27 PM |
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You overlook the most salient fact: This is a public stadium -- publicly financed to the tune of more than $700 million, when you add in all the infrastructure and such.

If seats are empty because they're overpriced, they are messing up a public good. Not "benevolence", but public responsibility. Maybe they're making as much or more money this way, and maybe they're not. Perhaps, they're holding out until there's more demand -- a better team and a hotter ticket. I don't know and don't care.

Their bottom line is not the only or even primary concern. They shouldn't be forced to lose money or be run out of business -- they should be allowed to earn profits, if possible. However, they also have an obligation to make the most and best use of the stadium. If the best seats are empty, they're not doing that -- by definition.

The public interest should require them to lower prices and make games more accessible. DC didn't invest all that money to have the prime seats go empty solely because the Nats don't want to choose a more reasonable pricing structure.

Posted by: fischy | April 21, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

They sent Rivera down for a reason - to work on some things. Surely, Saul could have not have worked out his command issues in a mere 2 days. Was there not ANY other pitcher Mr. Rizzo could have promoted? And yes, it is a real shame about Beimel. That was a great play he made!

Posted by: DoctorJoe | April 21, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Are there any Washington Baseball historians that know of any curse on Washington Baseball teams? It seems that any team in DC has been cursed since 1925.

I thought maybe the Pope exerciesed those demons. I thinks we need to reverse the curse, but I'm not sure what the curse is.

Maybe we need to change the name of the Redskins. The Redskins' first year was 1937. A washington baseball team hasn't had much to cheer sine 1936 when Walter Johnson made the hall of fame. 1933 was the last time a washington baseball team was in the World Series.

1943 The Nats end a string of losing seasons by finishing in 2nd Place with a solid 84-69 record.

1945 Last time Washington contended for a title until 2005

Posted by: brothbart | April 21, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Re: Beimel. Unbelievable. I have never seen a team that goes up and down, has good news followed by bad news, so fast. Usually that sort of thing has a week or at least a few days between it. With the Nats it's only a matter of hours before the good vibe from something gets whipped around.

Posted by: jonb5 | April 21, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Interesting to see that the Nats have 5 of the top 35 batters in the NL of pitches per plate appearance:

6 -- Adam Dunn (4.51)
21 -- Austin Kearns (4.21)
30 -- Jesus Flores (4.10)
30 -- Elijah Dukes (4.10)
34 -- Ryan Zimmerman (4.09)

These 5 average 4.21 pitches per plate appearance. Only 3 other NL teams place at least 5 players in the top 40. Cincy, Dodgers and Brewers. Fred Lewis (SF) leads the NL with 4.81 p/pa.

Posted by: erocks33 | April 21, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

"Was there not ANY other pitcher Mr. Rizzo could have promoted?"

These were the pitchers remaining on the 40-man that could have been brought up:

RHP Luis Atilano
RHP Collin Balester
RHP Tyler Clippard
LHP Ross Detwiler
RHP Marco Estrada
RHP Saul Rivera
RHP Terrell Young (on 15-day DL)

Estrada and Balester are starting in Syracuse and Atilano and Detwiler are starting in Harrisburg. And Clippard has moved from the starting to reliever role in Syracuse. I'd rather they not mess with any of the minor-league starters, so that pretty much leaves Saul or Clippard. Eh, I guess I'll have to take Saul.

Posted by: erocks33 | April 21, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

BTW Shouldn't Dukes be batting 3rd and Zim 5th? Aside from the obvious reasons, which hold no merit, why is Zimmerman tied to the 3 hole?

Posted by: dovelevine | April 21, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

I'm convinced the curse if from the ballpark construction guys. He was a Phillies fan and wrote something like Go Phillies! on one of the beams.

Sure enough, we get all the injuries and Phillies win the World Series.

Posted by: NatsNut | April 21, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

"Their bottom line is not the only or even primary concern. They shouldn't be forced to lose money or be run out of business -- they should be allowed to earn profits, if possible. However, they also have an obligation to make the most and best use of the stadium. If the best seats are empty, they're not doing that -- by definition.

The public interest should require them to lower prices and make games more accessible. DC didn't invest all that money to have the prime seats go empty solely because the Nats don't want to choose a more reasonable pricing structure."

The stadium is being paid off partly by a tax on admissions and concessions. The more revenue that's generated, the higher the tax payment to the city, and the sooner the stadium debt is paid off. That right there trumps any argument you can make about "the public interest." If the Lerners are maximizing revenue with their current price structure, then they're doing the right thing. I don't see anyone from the DC Council arguing that they should be cutting prices. Do you?

Posted by: nunof1 | April 21, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

beimel injured and no update on nj? chico...tracee...sheinin....boz...ANYBODY?

Posted by: surly_w | April 21, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

...crickets...

Oh, wait. New post up.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 21, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

From SI.Com: HMMM....

Is Ryan Zimmerman really a franchise player?

How much real value is there to being considered "the face of the franchise?" If you said $38.4 million, you understand the difference between Edwin Encarnacion of the Reds and Ryan Zimmerman of the Nationals. They were born a year apart. Both are third baseman. Both made their big-league debuts in 2005. Both have between three and four years of service time. Both signed multi-year contracts within the past two months. Both have a career OPS within .002 of 800. Want more similarities? Check out their career numbers:
G HR RBI AVG OBP SLG OPS
Zimmerman 456 60 268 .282 .340 .462 .802
Encarnacion 482 67 251 .264 .346 .452 .798

Now check out their new contracts:

Zimmerman: Five years, $45 million.

Encarnacion: Two years, $7.6 million.

The Nats, of course, still are trying to gain some traction in Washington/Northern Virginia. They are a franchise without an identity, no brand power as the marketers would say. They need someone to project stability. And so they are betting that Zimmerman is the "face of the franchise," as well as that he will become an All-Star caliber player, though his OPS+ has declined three straight years since his 20-game cameo in 2005.

Posted by: dovelevine | April 21, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

I'd been mulling over this idea of a curse for the last couple of days, even before the news about Beimel. Even with a new team of medicos and trainers, the injuries just keep on coming. And the reverse somehow seems to be true also. I'm now quite convinced that Shawn Hill will stay healthy the whole year and rack up 15 wins and 200 innings for SAn Diego.

My first instinct would look to the year 1945--the last decent Senators' team and maybe the year Clark Griffith was being urged to break the color line in MLB. Maybe his refusal to do so triggered the curse?

Posted by: CapPeterson | April 21, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

I was going to say that the curse would have to be the racist tendencies of Cal Griffith who took over the ball club in 1955. He ranted like a Klansman at a Minnesota Lions club dinner stating "I'll tell you why we came to Minnesota. It was when we found out you only had 15,000 blacks here. Black people don't go to ballgames, but they'll fill up a rassling ring and put up such a chant it'll scare you to death. We came here because you've got good, hardworking white people here." You want a cause for a curse? Well, this works for me. Actually, if you go back to the 30's, Clark Griffith was trying to figure out how to sign the Great Josh Gibson. He just didn't have the courage.

Posted by: 6thandD | April 21, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Wilbon hit it right on the head tonight on PTI when he called the Nats the biggest laughingstock in pro sports right now.

Not only is the on field product an underperforming embarrassment, but they have absolutely no clue how to connect with this community. Kasten knows better and Acta isn't experienced enough to know better so the only explanation is that the Lerners are clueless. They make Dan Snyder seem like a PR genius.

Posted by: denva | April 21, 2009 8:42 PM | Report abuse

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