My review of Turner Stadium is remarkably biased. I am incapable of separating the stadium from the team I despise. I despise the Braves for their shady scouting practices (ever wonder how Jayson Hayward slipped all the way to 14th in the draft), how poorly they represented the NL East in the playoffs, and how they are then biggest obstacle to a decade of Nationals domination.
Turner Field is a direct mirror to the city of Atlanta. That is to say, very generic, little charm, and a terrible location. Coca Cola and Chick-fil-A billboards are everywhere and mediocre bar-b-q seems plentiful. Unlike virtually all successfully designed stadiums that integrate or define a new neighborhood, Turner Field is located in the middle of a parking lot near, not in downtown Atlanta. So far, attempts to develop the area around the stadium are mired in bureaucratic city planning nonsense (let’s build a ferris wheel or another convention hotel)
It appears there is some kind of informal dress code which goes as follows: Women: Cut off jeans and cowboy boots, lots of makeup and an Upton Shirsy. (I couldn’t find anyone who was positive if they were wearing B.J. or Justin) Men: Wear a shirt, unstuck it, and never actually watch the game. Only watch the roughly 1000 TV positioned around the stadium and talk on your cell phone.
Adam LaRoche is having a down year for him. In fact, this is his worst full year as a MLB player. Note, this year is the aberration, not last year.I have heard this completely wrong analysis is the Nationals more than once:
“It was unrealistic for the Nats to expect a repeat of last year, where many players had career years”
By that they could not be talking about Zimmerman, Werth, Harper, or Desmond. All four have actually been around the same or a little bit better this year than last. “Career Year” is code word for Adam LaRoche. So lets look at the career of Adam LaRoche. He has been a remarkably consistent hitter. For comparison purposes I removed this year and last year and 2011 (when he was clearly hurt) for career comparisons.
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?
Bow your head and say a small prayer for Justin Upton’s MVP season, because it died a long time ago.
Justin Upton’s monster April is history. Ancient history. He hit 2 home runs and one in June. His pathetic .211 batting average in May skyrocketed to .226 last month. Overall, he’s put an average 1.0 WAR on the season. In fact, according to Baseball Reference, he has a -0.1 Wins Below Average.
Upton and the Braves got a ton of press in April when Upton hit 12 home runs en route to a 12-1 start. I know it’s not exactly news that both have cooled off since then, but it’s totally worth repeating.
For years, the American League played the American League and the National played the National and the world seemed to function just fine. Then, interleague play was introduced and baseball got better. It got better because teams like the A’s and Giants, the Yankee’s and Mets played and the Blue Jays Orioles and Nats play. There are a few teams without geographic rivals (Red Sox and Braves,) but that misses the point; baseball is better with more interesting games.
That brings us to the Tigers / Nats match up this week. These two team, which are picked by many to meet in the World Series, are on the every six year rotation. Every six years the Tigers come to Washington. To put that into perspective, the Tigers roster has almost entirely flipped over in six years. Justin Verlander, is the only significant players still on the team that last visited DC at RFK. Ivan Rodriguez was there, then here and retired since then.
It is with great pains that I introduce the Redskins into this blog, but I am starting to see some parallels develop between the two brightest stars on the Washington landscape.
The most over documented and talked about story of the last year was RG3s knee injury and subsequent surgery after the Seahawks Playoffs. RG3 re-injured his knee midway through the game, but continued to play. In hindsight, playing through the injury hurt the team.
Harper was injured in game two of the Braves series. Since that point he is 1-10 and does not look 100% on the field. According to reports of his batting practice swings, he looks normal, but his game results are not not. On Friday, he came up with two out and two on in the 8th and struck out. I think it is fair to ask if his being is hurting the team as he recovers from his contusion.