Phillies fans up in arms over Ken Rosenthal’s new avatar

MLB on FOX reporter, baseball writer, and MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal has used a photo of himself with the Phillie Phanatic as his Twitter avatar for more than a year, and it just rubbed some Nats fans the wrong way.

So self-styled “Nationals Overtweeter” @JackoBeam challenged Rosenthal to consider a Nationals-themed avatar instead for 2013.  Rosenthall’s response: “Try me.”

Ken Rosenthal Racing Presidents Twitter Avatar

JackoBeam called on fellow Nats fan Allan Petersen (Twitter @ambp77) to come up with an alternative. Petersen, who maintains a Tumbler feed devoted to Photoshopped images of the Washington Nationals, went to work, inserting both Rosenthal and new racing president William Howard Taft into a finish line photo, embellished with Rosenthal’s trademark bow ties.

Rosenthal approved.

“#Nationals fans were tired of my old Avatar showing me and the #Phillies Phanatic,” Rosenthal Tweeted. “I challenged them to come up with a new one. They did!”

All in good fun, right?

What followed was almost instant assault by Phillies fans (most of whom apparently did not watch the NL Playoffs). Here’s just a sampling of responses in the first hour, and they just keep coming…

@MannicM @Ken_Rosenthal congratulations on losing the respect of millions of phillies fans and gaining that of the 10 nats fans :-P

@MikeCorson @Ken_Rosenthal as a Phillies fan, I am now annoyed

@joejaws75 @Ken_Rosenthal perfect. When they finish behind the Phillies don’t switch back we don’t want you. #natsfansarefrontrunners

‏@beef5669 @Ken_Rosenthal Wait the #Nationals have fans?????

@Rodeojones000 @Ken_Rosenthal Additional proof that Nats fans are whining babies. It’s like giving in to 5-yr-old who cries for candy at the supermarket.

@Eric_Devlin @Ken_Rosenthal go back to the phanatic! Those chumps in Dc aren’t real fans

@Rodeojones000 @Ken_Rosenthal A better avatar would have been you injecting PEDs into their cheating, 21-game-winning pitcher.

@Woody2219 @Ken_Rosenthal Wash can’t sell out that stadium w/out the Phillies coming to town. Let’s not forget their over paid/rated rf. werthless!

@JFusfield @Ken_Rosenthal Phanatic > racing presidents. We all know this

‏@formtackling @Ken_Rosenthal nationals have fans?

‏@Woody2219 @Ken_Rosenthal u can change ur avatar, but everybody knows who the best mascot is. DC will always b 2nd best to philly!

‏@mager_ryan @Ken_Rosenthal lets make this clear the nats have one great season and think there #1 us phillies fans ran this division for the past 7 year

‏@RiOTMaK3Rx09 @Ken_Rosenthal typical to jump on the #Nats bandwagon now like the rest of their “fans”. You’ll be back Kenny!!! #Phillies4Life

@beef5669 @Ken_Rosenthal Ken did you see last years playoffs? All the #National fans still had tags on their hats and jerseys so the can be returned.

@seedanwrite @Ken_Rosenthal Nats fans just started watching baseball like five months ago- why care about them?

@LiamJ55 @Ken_Rosenthal all five #Nationals fans?

@BallBagSteve @Ken_Rosenthal if nats fans asked you to jump off a bridge would you? Come on ken, ur better than that. Nats are fake fans anyway

‏@ScotLarrimore @Ken_Rosenthal “Nationals Fans?” There’s more than one?

‏@neenerburns @Ken_Rosenthal Nats fans will always find something to whine about. 95% of the time, it has to do with the Phillies. #newrivalry

‏@kcwacko @Ken_Rosenthal I don’t know Ken we have 50,000+ every nite at the bank . We have another 8,000 at wash. They only have 10,000 fans max

@mattyjoneill @Ken_Rosenthal thats bogus! They win one year and u change it, BOGUS! #philsaresleeperthisyear

@11thFloorZack @Ken_Rosenthal couldn’t you have at least let a real fanbase choose the picture? Like fans that actually attend their playoff games?

@phillyaws @Ken_Rosenthal no way they could come up with a photo of a full stadium

‏@BigDaddy_NOLT @Ken_Rosenthal as the phillie phanatic zooms past them all on his quad to steal the victory! #phillies

@3Sculli @Ken_Rosenthal the “Phillie Phanatic” u mean and I guess the 18,000 Nats fans are proud now!

and one voice of reason:

@EthianD @Ken_Rosenthal I must admit, the new avatar is pretty awesome…even if u are a bandwagon jumper! #traitor #longlivethephanatic

Video: Chicken sacrifice precedes Nats Game 4 victory

After suffering blowout losses in games 2 and 3 of the National League Division Series playoffs, Nats fan and “Rubber Chicken Man” Hugh Kaufman announced his plans to sacrifice a chicken at Nationals Park before Thursday’s Game 4.

Chicken Sacrifice at Nationals Park - Chicken ModeChicken Sacrifice at Nationals Park dugout - Chicken ModeApparently, it worked.

The videos below show Kaufman leading a crowd including two stilt walkers (!) in the sacrifice before the game, and completing the ritual above the Nationals home dugout.

“What you want to do (first) is see: Is there evil eye on the dugout?” Kaufman explains.  “In Italian it’s called the malocchio.”

Kaufman then brings out the beheaded rubber chicken to complete the ritual. “In the latin culture, there’s a religion called santeria, similar to the Jewish culture of Kaporos,” Kaufman says. “You put the animal over the area that needs help.  You take the sins, and you put it into an animal, and you sacrifice the animal.”

Kaufman, has sacrificed dozens of rubber chickens since 2005 on behalf of his beloved Nationals, attracting the attention of fans and of pitcher Gio Gonzalez, and inspiring Chicken Mode t-shirts.  With Gio on the mound Friday to start game 5, expect to see some Chicken Mode on display.

Is tonight the night? Let the Speculation Begin

For years now, many Nationals fans have been advancing a common theory about the presidents race: Teddy will win when the Nationals win.

Teddy Roosevelt Washington Nationals presidents raceFrom the Nationals Park stands to the Red Loft bar to Twitter and online discussion forums, the only thing up for debate among many fans is the exact timing.  When they make the playoffs. When they win the division. When they finish their first winning season. When they host their first playoff game. When they win a pennant. When they make the Worlds Series. When they win the World Series.  Everybody has a theory.

On Thursday night, the first of those milestones passed.  The Nationals clinched their first playoff berth, and if the chatter on Twitter is any indication, quite a few people are expecting a Roosevelt victory Friday night at Nationals Park.

In today’s Washington Post, columnist Tracee Hamilton argues that the Nats can’t let Teddy win now.

“If, say, Teddy wins during the Nationals’ first home playoff game, and the Nats subsequently lose that game,” Hamilton writes, “the ‘When will Teddy win?’ discussion will devolve into ‘The Curse of Teddy.’

Hamilton’s solution? “Avoid the decision. Announce he’s reached his (between) innings limit for the season, and shut him down. It worked with Strasburg.”

Cute.

Personally, I don’t know when Teddy’s going to win. I just know I have to be there when it happens.

Nats were almost renamed the Washington Teddies

Ghosts of DC revealed a terrific bit of history Thursday in the form of a Washington Times article from 1905.

After the 1904 Senators produced one of the worst seasons in professional baseball history, there was a call to rename the team, and the Times published many of the more than 400 suggestions.

“There were some unique ideas,” the article said,”such as that of the man who, out of compliment to the strenuous character of the President, wants the club called “Teddies.” “

If that contributor were alive today, what would he think of the mockery the Nationals have made of our 26th president?

MASN pulls a racing president bobblehead switcheroo

The MASN Broadcast truckBob and F.P. in the MASN Broadcast BoothRacing President Bobblehead SurgeryMASN's Byron Kerr and Ray KnightAstute watchers of Nationals broadcasts on MASN know that since the opening of Nationals Park in 2008, play-by-play man Bob Carpenter has displayed bobbleheads of the Nationals’ four racing presidents on a shelf behind him in the booth. What they may not have noticed is that just yesterday, the bodies changed.

MASN hosted a small group of Nationals bloggers at Nationals Park on Monday night, providing a behind-the-scenes tour and a chance to meet both players on the field and the team’s on-air personalities in the booth.

For this uniquely obsessed blogger, one thing immediately stood out on entering the MASN booth: The presidents had new bodies.

After this weekend’s Jason Werth bobblehead giveaway, MASN stage manager Joe Delpo decided to perform a little bobblehead surgery, taking the heads of the presidents and placing them on the more active bodies of Jayson Werth, Chad Cordero, Jose Guillen, and Nyjer Morgan.

In a bit of irony, Roosevelt’s head now sits on the body of Teddy-critic Jayson Werth.

Honestly, it’s a good look. Next season will have been 5 years since the Nationals gave away presidents bobbleheads (which now command a hefty premium on ebay). Perhaps it’s time to issue updated versions of the presidents in uniform, inspired by MASN.

Thanks to Jim Buckle of MASN, Chad Kurz of the Nationals, and the entire MASN crew for embracing the Nationals blogging community.

From around the web: Jeers, tributes, proposals for Teddy

Racing president Teddy Roosevelt’s Memorial Day red herring apparently generated enough interest to inspire even more national outrage over Wednesday’s disqualification.

Nationals racing president Teddy Roosevelt is disqualified by mascot Screech for riding a SegwayFollowing reports from prominent sites including Sports Illustrated, Yahoo! Sports, CBS Sports, and NBC Washington, a number of prominent and not-so-prominent bloggers weighed in Thursday with jeers, tributes, and at least one proposal for Teddy Roosevelt.

Dayn Perry of FanGraphs.com offered a warning
to Nationals mascot Screech
, reminding the presidents race judge what the great Teddy Roosevelt does to “lower-evolved varmints who
get between him and what’s his.”

DC public relations and marketing professional Mike Holden yesterday offered a novel proposal
for the Nationals, suggesting in his blog that the team hold out a Teddy victory in exchange for season ticket sales. Of all the theories and suggestions I’ve heard for letting Teddy win, this one may be both the most creative and most lucrative for promoting the team.

Poet and Nationals fan Dan Creeden of Scaggsville, Maryland was inspired this week to publish a poem and a song about Teddy’s quest. Creeden blames Abe Lincoln for the bias against Teddy, citing jealousy (“Teddy has a cute bear named after him and Lincoln only has Logs.”). He followed a riff on the classic “Casey at the Bat” with a rewrite of Elton John’s “Benny and the Jets” called T-T-Teddy and the Nats.

Anthony Schneck of Sportsology offered his own spin on Teddy’s disqualification, noting that “contestants may not use Segways during the race because Segways are the universal symbol for douchebaggery.”

Brandon Stroud of the With Leather Blog asks “Why would they do this to a GEICO President? Is it because he was in the Progressive party?”

Finally, David Brown of Big League Stew points out what we failed to note here Wednesday — that Teddy has tried cheating with a Segway before, but failed to come in first.

What happened to baseball?

The Redskins opened their season last night, and you know what that means. Just as baseball’s playoff races get interesting, and the future of the Nationals goes on display every night with the team’s September call-ups, the nation’s pastime is no longer anywhere near the front page of the sports section in DC, and gets barely a mention on the weekend newscasts.

Washington Nationals Danny Espinosa

Nats September call-up Danny Espinosa goes 4-for-5 with 2 HRs and a grand slam in his Nationals Park debut, and gets almost no coverage because it's Dallas Week in Redskins country.
AP Photo - Nick Wass

Nationals fans can dream of the day when a Nats dynasty is a nationwide media darling and season ticket wait-lists make Nationals Park seats a hot commodity; but until that day comes, the Nationals PR team faces an uphill battle each fall.

Thankfully, the Nationals have one of the most vibrant blog communities in major league baseball to fill the gap. Collectively, the “Natosphere” misses nothing in its reporting on the team, and wisely, the Nats have been progressive in their embrace of blogs, issuing full season press credentials to select bloggers for the first time this year.

Saturday marked the team’s fourth “blogger day,” during which many more of us were again invited to the park to interview players and team representatives, and report on the game from the press box. The team has also brought on a Senior Manager of Social Media to provide us a point of contact and support when needed.

Kudos to the Washington Nationals for recognizing that this new media form is an outstanding way to break through and embrace their community of passionate fans — even those crazy enough to obsess over giant foam-headed dead presidents.

Speaking of which, the Nats honored my request to give you a behind-the-scenes look at the calling of a presidents race this past weekend. Video report to follow.

Nationals blogs forced to fill the print gap

With the Washington Nationals preparing for their most highly-anticipated spring training since the team moved to DC, the oft-snakebitten franchise finds itself without a voice at DC’s major newspapers.

The Washington Times today announced restructuring and layoffs that include drastic cut-backs in local news and sports reporting. The staff reductions of over 40% mean the Times is throwing in the towel on local print news to focus on national politics.

The announcement comes after Washington Post Nationals reporter Chico Harlan reported that he is leaving the Nationals beat as soon as the Post can find a replacement.

Of course, anybody paying attention saw it coming. Two seasons ago, when Harlan took over the Nats beat, he made it clear he wouldn’t stay in the job more than a couple of years. As for the Times, even their most tenured sports reporters have been interviewing for jobs this year as they watched readership drop and were continually asked to do more for less.

Nats followers will surely miss Mark Zuckerman and Ben Goessling’s Chatter, and the commentary of Thom Loverro, who last season so eloquently argued that the Nats must Let Teddy Win in order to escape the curse of Teddy Roosevelt.

But I’m going to miss Chico the most. Harlan won me over in his first weeks on the job, but the humor and eloquence with which he chronicled last year’s train wreck of a season merits a plaque in the sportswriter’s hall of fame.

As for the Nats, the sad reality is that come opening day, the Nationals Park press box will be home to just one full-time print journalist who has never covered the team.

Nationals president Stan Kasten has always had a love/hate relationship with bloggers, but his decision last season to embrace the Natosphere is looking mighty prescient. As print coverage continues to wither, a small army of loyal and dedicated Nationals bloggers continues to cover the team’s every move. The team has followed up this off-season with conference calls and invitations to press conferences as the Nats announced their skipper and GM.

The Natosphere is remarkably strong for such a young franchise. For better or worse, it represents the most consistent local coverage of our favorite team. Kudos to the Nats for recognizing the growing role of blogs in local coverage.

Si.com’s Inside Baseball calls presidents race a conspiracy

Today over at SI.com, Inside Baseball’s Joe Lemire throws a nod to LetTeddyWin.com, calling the Washington Nationals presidents race an “apparent conspiracy,” and quotes Nationals pitcher Joel Hanrahan, who predicts that Teddy Roosevelt will never win: “No, never. Absolutely not. I gave up watching that race. I can’t take it any more. At least give me an effort, will you?”

The “Spring Postcard” column is a worthy read for Nationals fans, most notably for Lemire’s account of Assistant General Manager Mike Rizzo’s week in the Dominican Republic.

Kudos to Chris Needham and the Natosphere

Today Marc Fisher at the Washington Post offers a very nice nod to the Nationals blog community, and recognizes Chris Needham of Capitol Punishment as Blogger of the Month.

That and $3.99 might get Chris a grande iced caramel macchiatto at the Alexandria Starbucks, but the point is that I am proud to be among the newest members of one of the best blogging community in baseball, and Chris deserves being recognized as the king of the pack.

Capitol Punishment is among the first things I read every day, and my conversations with other prominent Nationals bloggers confirms that it’s the same for them as well. As Fisher points out…

Capitol Punishment is what works on the web: A strong, attractive personality backed up by a clear devotion to accuracy and good storytelling, with a good dose of humor and a real interest in creating and maintaining a community.

Being so new it was nice to have LetTeddyWin.com singled out as well, despite being labeled as “remarkably obsessive,” but hey… that’s what the internet is about. In fact, for the ultimate in remarkable obsessions, check out StrikeTwo.net, which has built an automated algorithm to rank baseball blogs based on things such as frequency of posts and the number of times they are linked to from the home pages of other blogs!

As you can see, Chris takes the prize among Nationals bloggers, but just as impressive is the overall showing of the Natosphere. The Washington Nationals fan blogs rank only behind the Yankees, Mets, and Red Sox, and are pretty close to the Cubs in terms of the proliferation and following by blogs and their readers.

For a losing team with only a 3 year history, that’s pretty impressive. Now if we could just win a few games and fill up that ball park on South Capitol street, we’d really have something to write about.

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