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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