Monday, April 5, 2010

Selig: D.C. will be "great" market

Commissioner Bud Selig, in attendance at Nationals Park for today's season opener, insisted Washington will become a "great" baseball town once the Nats begin winning on the field.

"I have no doubts, and I mean this very sincerely," Selig said outside the press box during the sixth inning of what was already turning into a Phillies rout of the home team. "With a good, competitive club, this will be a great major-league market. It won't be a good one. It will be a great one. I have no doubt about that."

Selig, who oversaw the relocation of the Montreal Expos to the District prior to the 2005 season, has regularly praised the Lerner family and team president Stan Kasten for their approach to build the franchise from the bottom up, despite the fact the club has posted the majors' worst record each of the last two seasons.

The commissioner had no issue with the large number of Philadelphia fans who converged on Nationals Park for today's opener, likening the split allegiances among fans to traditional geographic rivals like the Cardinals and Cubs. It appeared about one-third of the 41,290 in attendance were cheering for the Phillies.

"I think it's great," Selig said. "I think it's great for the sport."

The commissioner also praised the two-year-old ballpark, built after prolonged and often nasty negotiations between MLB and the District of Columbia, but suggested it could be a little while before an All-Star Game comes to Washington. This year's midsummer classic will be played in Anaheim, with next year's game in Arizona. Kansas City is expected to host the 2012 game, with the New York Mets favored to get the 2013 game.

"The problem is, we have 22 new ballparks. I've got everybody after me for every year," Selig said, adding that "Washington deserves an All-Star Game."

If nothing else, the commissioner does appreciate the Nationals' unique ability to host the country's most famous fan on a regular basis.

"No matter how many Opening Days you've seen or how many times you've been with the President, there's just something electric about it," Selig said. "It's a great thing for baseball."


Anonymous said...

1/3 phillies fans? It was at least half. Walking around the stadium I rarely saw Nats fans.

Anonymous said...

Why wouldn't Stan's friends come over and watch a rout????

VP81955 said...

I'd feel a bit more confident in Selig's belief about D.C.'s future if the Nationals had even an inkling of how to market and promote their product. According to broadcast network lists on the MLB team sites, the Baltimore Orioles have more affiliates in Virginia than the Nats have in their entire network (nine). And the Baltimore affiliates in Virginia include markets such as Lynchburg, Staunton and Waynesboro where the Nats have no affiliates (the latter two were not in the Orioles' network in 2005). You would think that Stan Kasten would know how to build a radio network, given that he came from an Atlanta franchise whose radio network blanketed the Southeast. Just an ineptly marketed franchise.

peric said...


You forgot to mention his scathing comments for Snyder and the Redskins for upstaging opening day with the McNabb deal.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for screwing over the Expos, Bud.

JayB said...


It was WAY WAY more than half Phil Fans. NONE of my section 135 season ticket holders from last year were there. Many said they would not re up and they did not it seems. Honestly it was more like 80% Phil fans Mark....The Season Ticket Base must be sub 5000.....not that Stan cares...he can always go on the radio in other cities and invite them all to come see a good old fashion butt whipping....Thanks Rizzo for all the great off season pick ups....9 Walks ....just great work Mike.

Suz said...

The commissioner may have had no issue with one team's fans taking over the other's ballpark on Opening Freakin' Day, but some of us do.

Well over half the crowd were Phillies fans. They were far more in evidence than even last year's Opening Day. Cripes, not only did they arrive by the parking-lot busload, they brought along an actual band. I know we're used to being overrun by other teams' fans throughout the season, but really, must Opening Day be part of it too?

Of course, if the team actually had a starting rotation present & accounted for here *in April*, a real bullpen, and a right fielder, people in Washington might actually come to see the "other" team playing the Phillies. Until then, then yes, it's a fun experience for Phillies fans and the owners.

One bright spot: Jesse English, getting Ryan Howard out on weak infield grounder with the bases loaded. Way to make your ML debut, dude!

Anonymous said...

Phillies fans made up half of the crowd. A chunk of that is because they have a large fan base, another chunk because we're still growing and the other is because our officials/ticket sales team is trying to pack the place with Philly fans so they can make money.

Ted Lerner is an absolute loser who doesn't care about anything, except how much is in his wallet. This "plan" isn't working out.

Anonymous said...

I think the Commissioner is looking to establish a completely androgenous fan base in baseball. Obama set the pace today wearing a Nats jacket and a White Sox cap. See, you can root for both teams! Take two caps to the park.
When the Nats are winning wear the Nats cap. When the Phillies are winning wear the Phillies cap. Everybody is a winner that way and nobody is a loser. Award everybody a trophy. Everybody pays up and up and up and goes home a winner. Great strategy Bud!

Anonymous said...

Bud is a boner. The stands were an absolute embarrasment

Anonymous said...

I'm a big Obama fan, but it was HORRIBLY weak for him to wear that Sox hat while throwing out the first pitch. They weren't even playing the sox? Obama can't even give a decent nod to baseball in Washington. Thanks for nothing, Mr. President.

DCLance said...

The Sox hat was tough, BUT, it was authentic and loyal, unlike any of the Nats season ticket holders who put their tickets up to be bought by Phillies fans. It was brutal in there today. At LEAST half Phillies fans. Blame Kasten for marketing up there, and blame MLB for setting that up.

JayB said...

Sad to say but there is likely less than 5000 of us Season Ticket Holders left.....Thanks Stan...Great Plan!

Anonymous said...

I don't think that there's anything authentic about Obama being a Sox fan. He was interviewed by Dibble and Carpenter during the game and when asked who some of his favorite Sox players have been over the years he stuttered the way he does when he has no teleprompter in front of him and doesn't know what to say. He didn't name one player. The guy's a complete phony in every conceivable way.

Anonymous said...

It's a shame Bill Collins group didn't get the franchise.

JayB said...

Man what a difference a better ownership group would have made. The Collins group understood baseball and wanted to bring it here to win not make money like it was another mall project. Bud really screwed everything Bud touches. Some day he will get his due.

peric said...

Bud Selig on the McNabb hullabaloo:

Asked by Tom Boswell about McNabb, here's what Selig told reporters, according to the Post's Mark Viera:

"I don't know; it's baseball. Goodness gracious, I'm a football fan -- this is Opening Day. If you really want to know I'm going to give you a brutally honest answer. I got up at 5:30 this morning and did my daily workout. And I was watching an unnamed channel and that's all they were talking about. I turned it off, that was my reaction. My goodness gracious."

Anonymous said...

A sad and pathetic start.

The president stabs his own host team in the back, just as he stabbed America on his world apology tour. Today was his low point since he bowed low to the Saudi king.

The Nationals renew their only true tradition, walking leadoff batters to start big innings.

All the off-season hype and lies about the retooled Nationals evaporated when they made contact with an opposing team. The Phils were superior to the Nats at 8 of the 9 positions on the field.

In right field, we have a composite platoon which, taken together, represents the weakest range, poorest throwing arm, and lowest offensive production in Major League Baseball. But Willie is really likeable so we keep him there.

Nats fans are getting quieter every year. In 2005 we would boo the Phils fans down when they got rowdy. Now we just remain silent. The combination of the pathetic teams we've put on the field, and the Nats Park audio system crowding out any spontaneous cheering, have rendered us mute. I haven't heard an unprompted "Let's Go Nats" since the last game at RFK.

Can't wait till next January, when the Nats will be the best team in baseball again.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Bud for giving the team to the Lerners, the worst owners in sports. Losers.

Anonymous said...

Selig is a fantastic commissioner (angry sarcasm). He handled perfectly the steroids crisis--the greatest threat to the sport's integrity since the Black Sox--by choosing to feign ignorance as his and every other owner's pockets got lined with the Sosa-McGwire-Bonds cash. And even better was how he choose to bring the Nats to DC (by ransoming from the District a sweet stadium deal to inflate the price of the franchise whose talent MLB had put through a fire sale). Thanks, Commish!

More seriously: I encourage everyone to voice his/her complaint about the marketing of tickets to Philadelphia fans directly to Nationals ownership and management through the team's website, letters to offices, or calls to ticketing office. My lame angry letter is below:

I strongly suggest to ownership and management that you have a frank discussion about the long term costs and benefits of your current "out-of-towner" ticket sales policy. Yesterday was a severe embarrassment for your business, one that, despite the money in your pocket from yesterday's sales, will seriously hinder your ability to build a fan base in Washington. It should strike you as a significant threat to your business to have such prominent disgust from your regular customers as is being expressed in local papers and blogs. The advertisements in Philadelphia for Nationals games last fall coupled with the domination yesterday by Philadelphia fans of the stadium DC built for you are not smart business. The out-of-town fans who attended in droves yesterday will not be back again and again as their team's fortunes wane. DC fans, however, will not forget the experience of being heckled in their own stadium. I grew up an Orioles fan and have experienced Yankee takeovers of Camden Yards, but the unique indignity of yesterday's opening day was the knowledge that the National's ownership has publicly embraced the renting-out of the stadium built for them by DC to out-of-town fans. I love baseball; I love my nation's capital; I love my hometown. I won't be attending another National's game until I feel ownership is respecting the people who built you a home. I strongly encourage you to publicly describe your ticketing policies if the commonly-held belief that the Nationals offer deals and advertise to out-of-town fans is mistaken. For the long term health of your business, I suggest that you do the work of building a strong base in the DMV instead of disrespecting it.

Anonymous said...

About 10 years ago or so, this exact same situation occurred to my favorite team--our stadium was constantly overrun with obnoxious out-of-town fans of a winning organization, and our owners actually ADVERTISED in the enemy's local papers to encourage them to come down. With success, we (generally) keep those losers out of our home.

That team was the Phils--the Met fans used to constantly invade the Vet when we were losing 90+ a season, with no hope on the horizon. Nats fans, there's some hope.


One of the 20,000+ Phils fans at the Nats Home Opener Yesterday.

BaseballinDC said...

Selig himself is a big problem. When baseball chose the Lerners over the Malek group, they chose a group that would run the team in the most efficient, business like way over a business saavy group of baseball lovers. This decision has shaped the Nationals slow start from day one. It's what Bud wanted and got. It doesn't matter to him where the club gets their money so long as its profitable

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