Thursday, April 09, 2009

We Are Amused

Thomas Boswell raises the roof today in the Washington Post. The Washington Nationals team president did a very public kowtow to the fans of Philadelphia- and Boswell characterized it as such:
Here's what you can't say if you're the president of a Washington pro sports franchise: Please, pretty please, Philadelphia fans, come to D.C. on Opening Day because we can't sell out our almost new ballpark in Year Two. We've got Phillies hats in our gift shop. We promise to be nice (even if you boo the Nats).
Boswell is a bit hard on the Nats. If the local fans don't support the team, someone has to. And I know I love going to games in Washington. There is a home field vibe, you can get a decent ticket cheap, and most evenings move down briskly into the acres of open seats in the lower deck. And the Nationals stink- so there is a good chance the Phillies are going to wallop them no matter what the match-up on the hill.

Baseball in DC was a mistake- it simply isn’t a baseball town. The few fans generated from the crib gravitates toward the Orioles. The way pro-sports works now- expensive tickets, night games- makes it hard to grow a fan base from scratch with young people. And there was little baseball culture to begin with- the local minor league teams never did great guns.

That twenty year process by which- say the Mets- grew a fan base isn’t available to DC: an existing baseball culture, cheap tickets, day games. And the parts that are replicable- an early quality product- are already gone forever in DC. In the end, you need help to fill the building- and as any Tulane fan will tell you, it is a depressing way to go about things.