We’ve gotten a good amount of feedback in recent days about the article that Tim Lemke and Mark Zuckerman wrote about the dismal state of the Washington Nationals franchise and the column that I wrote to accompany the story. Here is a sampling — not one has been in support of the team:
“Great article on the sorry ‘Baseball’ team! Stay on Lerner, and Bowden needs to get his share of Blame also! Thanks for saying what is being said around the stadium!”
“Today’s critiques of the Nats, the Lerners, and “the Plan” is the kind of impartial coverage that a major-league city deserves…..Ted Lerner is sounding like Peter Angelos, only cheaper…..I feel no connection to these mediocre journeymen and revolving minor-league washouts posing as major-league ballplayers. When we get some credible stars, listenership and viewership will follow.”
“Thanks you so much for your To The Point article about the Nationals this morning and also throughout the current baseball season. I live in Pennsylvania and visit the D.C. area on the weekends. I watch the Nats about three times a week on TV. As a mature adult who has followed baseball for nearly 60 years, I feel my intelligence is being insulted by Bob Carpenter on TV, and the Nats front office of Stan Kasten and Jim Bowden. These gentlemen continue to sugar-coat everything as if we dont see what is going on…..thanks again for your papers many articles through the season, articles that always Hit the Right Nail on the Head. Hopefully next year will be better; but somehow, I dont think so. A very disgruntled NATS fan.”
Then there is this letter that was forwarded to me: “Friends of mine urged me to share my letter with the media. I believe at least 20 like it will be sent from friends and neighbors in my Capital Hill neighborhood, maybe more. I know the sentiment is widely shared. Here is the text of the letter I mailed yesterday. Dear Mr. Lerner and Mr. Kasten, Please pay the rent you owe the City of Washington, drop the lawsuit and re-direct your energies to instead partnering with the City to force contractors to complete the work with which you are dissatisfied. Pursuing the avenue you’ve chosen sours the mood of your nascent fan base, wastes resources for everyone and will not yield appreciable results. There is a better way forward. From what I read last spring in the Washington Post, I understand your position; you had no direct control for the oversight of contractors and the only leverage you have is contained in your contract with the City. That may be enough justification from your previous experience, but here, you must build support to realize long-term returns on your investment. The cost-benefit analysis must include a strong denominator for public relations. Your position in a sound byte is indefensible; the park was open and your team played a complete schedule to rave reviews. You are getting this one wrong. Your current track sets you on course to exhaust the groundswell of good will this city generated when it hailed your entrance and handed you the keys to a $680 million dollar stadium in time for Opening Day 2008. That achievement was unprecedented nationally and as a resident of this City for the past 15 years, I can say it was nothing short of miraculous for this governmental body. You are crushing enthusiasm after also delivering a very poor product on the field this year. I have been a full and vocal supporter of bringing baseball to Washington and have been a season ticket holder for the entire period. I love baseball, I love the Nationals and I want the team to succeed. My support is not without limits, however, and watching this story unfold has been extremely disappointing.I’ve been beaten down. There are many aspects of management I am watching closely as I weigh my decision about future investments, but I won’t let my message today stray. Simply put, if you pay your rent, I will sign up for next year’s installment of the plan. I can’t be alone in my thinking on this issue. Please give full consideration to my request. With very best wishes, I am Sincerely, Greg Herrick”
There is a lot of anger and frustration out there.