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.

Honk if you love Teddy Roosevelt

I hope you enjoyed Teddy Roosevelt’s birthday as much as I did. Unlike last year’s big 150th birthday bash, this year was a little quieter for our favorite #26.

However, the family did give me a surprise birthday present this week in the form of new vanity plates.

So remember if you see me driving around the DC area: Honk if you love Teddy!

Video: Teddy’s Fans at Nationals Park

Here’s the report that ran today on ABC News Now.

Love that “Let Teddy Win!” cheering section!

Season ticket holders, see you tonight!

Washington Nationals TicketI’m not one to mention myself in this blog, but today’s going to be an exception. You see,
I’ve had September 10 circled on the calendar since the spring, when tickets were first distributed to Washington Nationals season ticket holders.

I was traveling that week, and my email lit up with messages from friends. The common sentiment was along the lines of “Dude! You’re on the ticket!” The ticket in question was the September 10th game vs. the Philadelphia Phillies.

This year’s season tickets featured 81 different scenes from the inaugural season inside Nationals Park. Tonight’s ticket features a photo of me at the stadium’s inaugural game, that memorable opening night victory vs. the Braves.

When I saw it, the first thing I did was read the back of the ticket. For those who’ve never bothered with the fine print, it’s an eye-opener. My favorite highlights:

By use of this ticket, the ticket holder agrees that… the Club issuing the ticket is the exclusive owner of all copyrights and… shall have the perpetual and unrestricted right and license to use his or her name, image, likeness, and/or voice in any broadcast, telecast, photograph, video and/or sound recording taken in connection with the game for all purposes and in all media known and unknown throughout the universe.

Yes, I think that covers all the bases. If I ever need a lawyer, I’m calling those guys.

See you tonight in Section 128. Save me your ticket stub!

Abe Lincoln taunts racing presidents

The Washington Nationals teased the home crowd of 36,000 fans who showed up at Nationals Park on Saturday night to see the Nats take on the Chicago Cubs. Much as Teddy Roosevelt has done throughout the season in the presidents race, the Nationals took a big lead and had victory in sight more than once, but repeatedly failed to deliver.

Perhaps wanting to spare the home crowd from multiple tortures, Teddy teased no one tonight. In the 4th-inning presidents race, Abe Lincoln pulled in front early and never trailed, building a margin comfortable enough to let him turn and taunt his fellow presidents before crossing the finish line.

Time for a fresh start. Let Teddy Win!

The dismissal of Manny Acta has kept Nationals bloggers busy during this All Star break, but with no presidential activity at Nationals Park all week, we’ve kept it quiet here. I try to keep LetTeddyWin about the ball park experience, saving opinions about team moves for Twitter and Facebook.

But with all the talk in NatsTown about a “fresh start” this week, it seemed appropriate to consider whether the same might be possible for Teddy Roosevelt.

At the season’s midpoint, Teddy’s streak of losses is approaching it’s 3rd anniversary. Teddy’s first loss came in a July, 2006 weekend series against the Chicago Cubs.

The Nationals’ new era starts this weekend with a new manager and the Cubs in town once again. How appropriate would it be to kick things off with a victory for Teddy?

Management is looking for a change — something to fire up the team and the fans. I say Let Teddy Win!

Homestand notes:

The Nats will be wearing red uniforms all weekend, and fans are being encouraged to “get your red on” by filling the stands with red shirts and caps.

The Washington Post is continuing the Twitter experiment it started over July 4th weekend, documenting the fan experience in real time from Nationals Park. Share your thoughts during the game, tagging your tweets with #natswp and your section #.

Finally, there are some deals to be had for the homestand. Through noon Thursday, Professionals in the City has a limited number of $10 tickets in the 200 level for Friday night’s game vs. the Cubs, and Goldstar has discounted outfield seats for Monday night’s game vs. the Mets.

Photo by Flickr user afagen

Abe Lincoln says “Make Teddy Earn It!”

A member of the Nat Pack holds up a sign reading Let Teddy Win at Nationals ParkAbe Lincoln set out to make a point on Sunday at Nationals Park.

As the presidents were being announced for the 4th-inning presidents race, “Honest Abe” jumped out of the centerfield gate like a bat out of hell, staking a huge lead over the other presidents but heading straight for the stands along the first base line, where somebody was holding up a sign that read “Let Teddy Win.”

Racing President Abe Lincoln says Make Teddy Earn ItAbe grabbed the sign and held it up, then ripped it in half, reached into the stands, and produced another sign that read “Make Teddy Earn It!”

The Great Emancipator, who has been accused of cheating before, is obviously not a fan of the Let Teddy Win movement, instead wanting us to believe that he keeps winning all these races on his own.

But we know the truth. If Teddy Roosevelt were truly allowed to let loose, he’d lift this curse and put a serious whipping on his Mt. Rushmore counterparts that they’d never forget.

Photos by Flickr members Tory Brown and _rockinfree
Video by YouTube member TheTeddyRoosevelt.

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