Ian Desmond lost the final vote to Freddie Freeman of the Braves. That in itself is not hard to understand, even though I personally think Desmond was the most qualified to make the team. But the vote was a popularity contest. The Braves have a huge fan base that stretches throughout the Southeast.
The more disturbing thing for the Nationals is that they have such a very small footprint of fans. The vote map can actually be used as a proxy for a map of the Nationals and Braves fan bases. Atlanta had a AAA team in Richmond for 30 years until recently.
The map is below:
As you can see, the Braves are a hugely popular team in an area the Nationals should own due to proximity. There is no reason that the Nationals can not have a fan base that stretched into the Carolinas considering there are no MLB teams between Half Street and Peachtree. This brings up some interesting questions to ponder about the Nationals franchise and the measurement of growth of the team popularity.
Do the Nationals have any plans to grow the team’s fan base to become a regional team, or are they happy with the Washington Metro Area?
Due to the Nationals not owning their own TV rights, does the team care about cultivating a fan base that can not attend games?
What kind of financial advantage do the Braves gain by having a huge regional fan base, and how might that impact their ability to grow team revenue and afford high payrolls?
Is having the Nationals AA team in Harrisburg and AAA team in Syracuse benefit the regional popularity of the team?
Would Minor league teams in Fredericksburg, Richmond, Tidewater or Charlotte better improve the regional popularity of the team?
Does the team’s popularity outside the DC metro area matter financially?
- Freeman, Delabar in front; Puig, Robertson in pursuit (mlb.mlb.com)
- The Case For Ian Desmond (curlyw.mlblogs.com)
- Braves fans rally for Freeman (espn.go.com)
- The Desi And D-Rob Alliance (curlyw.mlblogs.com)
- Mitch Evans: Yay for Freddie, Boo for Baseball (atlanta.cbslocal.com)
- Sarasota loves Ian Desmond (halfstreetheartattack.com)