- The Washington Times - Monday, April 13, 2009

PHILADELPHIA

Washington Nationals president Stan Kasten's pitch to Phillies fans to come to Monday's home opener at Nationals Park was so hard to believe, I called one of the hosts of the radio show, Jody McDonald, to make sure it checked out.

“When you guys asked Stan to come on the show, did you think he would be trying to sell tickets to Phillies fans?” I asked him.

“We didn't ask him,” McDonald said. “The Nationals called our station and said Stan would be willing to come on our show to talk about his team and the upcoming series.”

“They called you?” I said, incredulous. “Are you sure it was Stan? You sure it wasn't Jim Bowden pretending to be Stan?”

“I know Stan's voice,” McDonald said. “It was him.”

On McDonald's show last week, Kasten extended an invite to Philadelphia fans to come to the Nationals' home opener.

“We would welcome your fans here,” Kasten said. “I have gone to enough games in three different sports in Philly to tell you that I haven't always felt welcome in your parks, OK? But you can root for whoever you want. You will be welcome when you come to Nationals Park.”

McDonald said he wasn't surprised by the sales pitch.

“We figured it was trying to get more fannies in the seats in Washington,” he said. “I pretty much saw it coming. When teams make themselves available to you… 98 percent of the time, we call the teams and ask them if they would be good enough to come on our show. … But when they call us, we know there is a motive behind their madness.

“Phillies fans do travel pretty well,” McDonald added.

Yes, providing they get permission from their probation officers.

Far be it from me not to be accommodating to visitors to the nation's capital. So when I heard that Kasten was recruiting Philadelphia fans to come to the biggest day of the baseball season here, I thought I should be a good citizen of Nats Town and make the Philly fans feel at home.

When the news came out that President Obama would not be throwing out the first pitch Monday, I called Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and invited him to Nationals Park to do the honor. I got someone in the mayor's office on the phone and made the invite.

“This is Thom Loverro from The Washington Times, and I'd like to invite Mayor Nutter to throw out the first pitch Monday at the Washington Nationals game,” I said.

“Who?” she asked.

“The Nationals. Washington's baseball team,” I said. “They are playing the Phillies, and the team wants Phillies fans to come to the ballpark. So I thought maybe Mayor Nutter would like to come and throw out the first pitch.”

“I don't know, sir,” she said. “There's no one here that can help you today.”

“I checked his schedule online, and he's got nothing going on that day,” I said. So she took my invitation down and said she would pass it along, but I thought it might be a good idea to have a backup plan.

“Are there any former mayors available?” I asked. “What about the one that dropped a bomb on the city? Or Frank Rizzo. Is he still alive?”

“No, sir,” she replied.

“Well, make sure the mayor gets that message,” I said.

That wasn't enough, though. I know there has been some tension between Philadelphia and Washington sports fans in the past - some blood spilled, some fists thrown, maybe even some shots fired. Maybe part of the problem was that Philly fans didn't feel quite welcome here. So I thought maybe I could do something to ease their concerns - sort of like a welcome wagon. I would go to Philadelphia and offer an olive branch to its fans - copies of the District's “official visitors guide.”

I went to Destination DC, the tourism office for the District, to get a stack of guides. I told one of the women working in the office, “I'm going to bring these to Philadelphia. The president of the Washington Nationals invited Phillies fans to come to Washington for the home opener, and I thought these might make them feel welcome.”

“Why did he do that?” the woman asked.

“I think because he is just a really nice guy,” I said.

So I went to Philadelphia over the weekend and dropped off copies of the guides near some of the locations (you didn't want to get too close to these places) where I figured you would find Phillies fans: motorcycle gang hangouts, restaurants that hosted mob hits, the Federal Detention Center and, of course, the Philadelphia Adult Emporium and other local porn shops.

The ones who can read will see the welcome message in the guide written by Mayor Adrian Fenty: “Use this guide to create your own power trip in D.C., whether it's your first visit or your fiftieth. We look forward to seeing you.”

Nats Town - send us your delinquents, your degenerates, your dollars.

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