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.
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?
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.
Chipper Jones, life long Brave, and future Hall of Fame player parked in the visitors parking lot at Turner Field and worked with the Nationals struggling 1st baseman. It was overheard that they were talking about driving the ball to the opposite field. LaRoche’s first at bat he hit a single to left field.
Remember, LaRoche was a 29th round draft pick of the Braves in 2000 and came up through their minor league system. Adam and Chipper were teammates 04-06 and then again on 09. Thanks Chipper. Which reminds me of Jerry Seinfeld quote about fan loyalty.
Loyalty to any one sports team is pretty hard to justify. Because the players are always changing, the team can move to another city, you’re actually rooting for the clothes when you get right down to it. You know what I mean, you are standing and cheering and yelling for your clothes to beat the clothes from another city. Fans will be so in love with a player but if he goes to another team, they boo him. This is the same human being in a different shirt, they *hate* him now. Boo! Different shirt!! Boo.
The Braves fans are whining about their scheduling by MLB and trying to blame it for the teams recent woes. For the record of the Braves first 31 games, 15 are home, 16 are away. They are coming off a 3 city road trip, Boo Hoo. Oh, I still hate Turner Field. I encourage all Braves fans to throw their trash on the field to show their displeasure with the schedule. That is what they do right?
The story of Thursday’s game was not the Nats’ win, though that was needed. It was not the balanced effort, although that was nice. It was not the offensive production, home runs are cool.
The story was the eight inning one hitter by Gio Gonzalez Let me say that again, a one hitter. Why couldn’t we have had a one hitter in that 2-0 loss. The only hit was a 353 foot home run by Votto. This is a ball that is caught in 3/4th the outfield. If it is hit to center it is well before the warning track. The team also needed a stopper like performance against a very good hitting team, and he delivered.
Last year, 35,489 people bought a ticket to the first Nationals Saturday home game of the season, against the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday, April 14. Today’s game brought in 41,992 people–the young season’s second sell-out.
Why did 6,503 additional people decide to attend today’s game? There are several likely explanations.
Last year’s starting pitcher was Edwin Jackson, a pitcher so unnoteworthy I forgot he was on the team until I just looked up the game’s box score. This year’s starting pitcher was a gentlemen named Stephen Strasburg, otherwise known as The Biggest Pitching Phenom in a Generation. Last year, the Nats were coming off their sixth straight losing season. This year, they are the defending National League East National Champions. Last year, the opponent was the Cincinnati Reds, the smallest of small market teams. This year, the Nats faced the much-hyped, first-place, mega-market Atlanta Braves, on FOX no less, a small distinction that matters to people for some reason.
Perhaps one, or all, of these reasons explain the attendance bump at Nats Park this afternoon. But the most likely explanation is the Gio Gonzalez bobblehead given to the first 15,000 fans in attendance. People love bobbleheads. The Nats may have lost today, but at least 15,000 people walked away happy. Thanks for coming the stadium today, folks. May your bobblehead bobble on your desk, in your den, or–most likely–in the closet, where it will stay until you throw it away several years from now when Gio Gonzalez is pitching for another team.