Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Washington Nationals released their DVD of the 2005 season Thursday — “Baseball Returns: Washington Nationals Inaugural Season” — at the ESPN Zone luncheon in downtown Washington.

It’s a fine piece of work, taking fans from preseason preparations to Opening Day in Philadelphia to the home opener at RFK (great footage of the fans bouncing up and down on the portable stands) and other highlights. As you might expect, it concentrates on the first half of the season and tries to gloss over much of the second-half collapse.

Hey, it ain’t “Frontline.” It’s supposed to make you feel good, not miserable.

But there is a key component missing from it — the Nationals owners. As we all know, the Nationals operated the entire 2005 season as they have since the former Expos franchise was purchased by Major League Baseball from Jeffrey Loria in 2002 — as a lesson plan for conflict of interest ethics.

It seemed like such a void in the DVD, and since we were in the ESPN Zone, I offered to carry the banner of new journalism by ESPN and simulate a press conference with myself, Thom Loverro, as the owner of the Washington Nationals. Perhaps it could be added to later copies, I suggested.

There didn’t seem to be much interest, but the way this ownership selection process is going, they may produce the 2006 DVD without an owner. So I am offering this as a script for next season’s DVD to fill the void:

Public relations lackey: “Ladies and gentleman, the new owner of the Washington Nationals, Thom Loverro.”

Much applause. Reporters jumping up and down, waving their hands like idiots.

“OK, OK, calm down. Isn’t it embarrassing enough you are taking part in a simulated press conference without jumping up and down like some bad Hollywood movie?”

Reporter: “OK, then how are we supposed to believe that you could be a baseball owner?”

“That’s a stupid question. Hey, me being a baseball owner is more believable than Steve Phillips ever being a general manager again.”

Reporter: “How does a sportswriter get $450million to buy a baseball team?”

“That’s a stupid question. I got a grant from FEMA. I filled out a disaster relief application, attached a copy of Cristian Guzman’s batting statistics and contract, then a $450million check came in the mail.

“It’s made me very popular among the other owners. Not only did I get the government to build the ballpark with public funds, I got government money to pay for the team as well. They’ve already made me chairman of the greed and avarice committee.”

Reporter: “Are you planning on making any changes?”

“That’s a stupid question. We have recruited one of the brightest young minds we could find to be the next Nationals general manager. Last year he was tops in his eighth grade Montessori school and has won his fantasy baseball league two years running now. His name is Billy.”

Reporter: “What about retaining manager Frank Robinson?”

“That’s a stupid question. We’ve tried to stay in touch with what our fans want, and have closely monitored the various Web sites devoted to the Nationals —, — and have concluded that they don’t like the way Frank handles pitchers in the eighth inning with runners on first and second and two outs. So we’re going to chose to ignore Frank’s 52 years in baseball — 2,808 games as a Hall of Fame player and 15 seasons as major league manager, including just one losing season during the last four years managing a team made up of players from the Land of Misfit Toys — and fire him.”

Reporter: “Any candidates to replace him?”

“That’s a stupid question. We’re leaning toward Qrio, the humanoid robot developed by Sony Corp., who threw out the first pitch before the July6 game at RFK Stadium against the New York Mets. Billy likes to play with him.”

Reporter: “There was a lot of controversy over selecting a local owner for the Nationals. What’s your connection locally?”

“That’s a stupid question. I’ve opened an office in the District, at Shelly’s Back Room, 1331 F St., NW”

Reporter: “Isn’t that a bar?”

“Now that is a stupid question.”

Public relations lackey: “OK, folks, just one more question.”

Reporter: “Why would baseball commissioner Bud Selig name you as the owner of the Washington Nationals? Aren’t you the one who ridiculed him by nicknaming him ‘Cadillac Bud’ to make fun of his past history as a car dealer?”

“That’s a stupid question. I was never making fun of the commissioner by calling him Cadillac Bud. I just meant that he was the Cadillac of baseball commissioners … by the way, don’t any of you ever speak to me again.”

Now that is journalism worthy of ESPN.

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