In the Atlanta Braves 2012 link I posted the message below about why there weren't more Nats fans from central NC:
General question: In the central North Carolina/Durham area, what is the favorite MLB team?
It seems to me that the Nationals, who almost put their stadium in the state of Virginia after all, are the closest - at about 250mi/4hrs - vs Braves at closer to 400 mi/6hrs. Especially with Atlanta having pulled their AAA franchise out of Richmond, it would seem that more fans would gravitate to the closest team. Also, the Nats are pretty clearly "up and coming" with a locked-in core of young studs like Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Jordan Zimmermann, Ryan Zimmerman, Morse, Werth, and now Gio Gonzalez. Regardless of whether they sign Fielder, this is a squad whose future is looking extremely bright over the coming 5 years.
I realize that a decade ago the Braves were the only "southern" team to root for. But do y'all see the fan-following pendulum swinging in NC these days? This discussion could be colored by what the Braves do in the next few years. Neither team made the playoffs last year. And predictions seem mixed for 2012 in the very tough NL East, after Philly at number 1 in all likelihood.
I have received enough private messages to think it might be worth a string on the Nats, which, after all, is the closest MLB franchise to Durham and is clearly up-and-coming... even w/o getting their Prince. But one extra reason to think Duke fans might want to follow the Nats - per the attached link, their up-and-coming superstar, 19-year-old #1 overall draft pick from last year, BRYCE HARPER is a Duke Blue Devils fan.
The Nats have a very strong bullpen, today bolstered with the addition of Brad Lidge. They also have a stud young closer in former first-rounder and Stanford (almost-) grad, Drew Storen. All-Star set-up man, Tyler-Clippard, and some other strong, young BP guys (Burnett, Gorzelanny, Detwiler, Henry Rodriguez).
Their starting rotation, has a top-three that can arguably go toe-to-toe with any in the game - Strassburg (R), Gio Gonzalez (L), and Jordan Zimmermann (R). All three are signed for 4+ years. The starting rotation has solid 4-5 candidates in (any two of the following): righty Chein Ming Wang (former Yankee, finally healthy), John Lannan (L), and Detwiler (L), plus Gorzelanny or Maya). The SP's will be helped by this being a good defensive team too (with possible exception of Morse in LF).
The offense is still developing, and PF certainly would have helped. But it was good enough, despite an awful lot of things going wrong last year, to finish one game below .500 , and having improved record-wise three years running (and expecting to do so again in 2012). The biggest obvious need is at CF/lead-off hitter. Expect the nats to go all-in for a top-flight Free-Agent CF/lead-off guy a year from now, as GM Rizzo has said that he thinks next year's FA class is going to be vastly superior to this one. And they have all of that non-Fielder money to spend... Sorry Brave fans, but your CF is one who gets a lot of play on Nats blogs as repeatedly mentioned among those strong 2012/13 CF FA's (along with Upton and others).
I'm expecting a April 1 starting line-up along these lines:
SS Ian Desmond (I'm looking for a real breakout year in 2012)
CF Mike Cameron/Roger Bernadina (platooning, until Harper comes up in June and takes over RF, moving Werth to CF)
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF/1B Mike Morse
1B LaRoche (strong defender, average hitter, healthy now after a injury-plagued 2011)
2B Espinosa (could flip up to the #2 spot depending)
Utility - DeRosa
The future's bright in DC for baseball fans....finally! Even the farm system is rated by BA as top-10.
I keep hoping the Nats will establish their AAA locally in Richmond some day to help with building their fanbase southward. What I read is that Richmond's stadium/facillities are a bit antiquated, which contributed to the departure of the AAA Braves franchise. For now, however, Nats are apparently happy with their AAA in a newish Syracuse stadium.
Any other Nats, or potential future Nats fans among the Devil faithful???
Last edited by -bdbd; 01-26-2012 at 07:03 PM.
Well, I think it's going to take some time, probably a long time (if ever), before there's as much support for Washington as the Braves in central NC. There's a lot of reasons for this. I think there's still a 'southern' connection with NC and the Braves. Of course, the history of the Durham Bulls/Braves also contributes to this connection. Throw in the fact that they are division rivals, and it'll be tough for anyone to switch teams. I remember not caring at all about the Rays, but when they moved to Durham, I became an immediate fan. Oh the Carl Crawford days at the DBAP!
Living here in DC, I get to about 5 Nats games a year. It's great to root for the Nats because I can root for them to win every time out without them affecting my team (I'm a diehard Tigers fan for those that don't already know). Nats have always received secondary following in this town...keep in mind that most of the people here are Orioles fans because once the Senators left, they were the only show in the area. You are starting to see more Nats fans though, mostly from people who have moved to DC and picked them up as a secondary team like I have. I'm looking forward to seeing Harper in the bigs. Werth needs a huge year and it's great to finally see what Strasburg can do with a full season. The boy has some nasty stuff. I went to his first game in 2010 and it was nothing short of awesome. I also saw his first rehab start last season with the Hagerstown Suns...Tommy John surgery hasn't messed with his stuff, though he may not throw 100 every single pitch now. It will force him to become an even smarter pitcher, which he already was.
So, more Nats fans in DC will help the franchise as well. They got a very nice ballpark and the ticket prices are very reasonable. And, they got some of the best food a stadium can offer (c'mon, they got Ben's Chili Bowl!). 2012 will be a pivotal year for the Nats...can they make a push for the top of the division and maybe the wildcard? I think those breakout players mentioned by the OP will be key for that happening.
Duke | Mirecourt | Detroit| The U | USA
I'll chime in as another Nats fan. Grew up in Virginia and was a Cincinnati fan, of all things, until the Nats moved to town. The thing I've loved about them from day 1 is that the team is just so easy to root for. Rarely do they field a team with an obvious talent superiority over their opponents, but you could always count on the Nats to give it their best shot. As a contrast, I distinctly remember an inter-league contest with the O's from a couple of years ago. In the late innings, the game was still in doubt, and all of the Nats were on the rail rooting hard for their teammates. All of the O's were sitting back on the bench, as if they didn't care whether they won or lost.
The OP is exactly right in that the Nats have a core of young, talented players both on the field and in the bullpen. They were a .500 team last year, and with a few more wins this year, should have a shot at making the playoffs via the new wildcard format. Having a healthy Zimmerman at 3rd all year should help, and should a Werth that has a season more in line with his norms, and hopefully a healthy LaRoche at first, too. And the pitching could be really, really good.
I think the Nats made the right move in not giving Fielder the long-term contract he was seeking. I would have been comfortable with 5-7 years at $20-25M per, but he wasn't to be had at that price. With the need to sign Zimm to a long-term, expensive contract extension this year, and with sufficient answers at first base and what should be adequate power hitting, going all out for Prince would have been a mistake. Better to save some of that new TV revenue for a good free agent CF/leadoff guy next summer (or perhaps in a trade this season) and for securing the top-notch young guys that they have already in the fold.
Pitchers and catchers report in less than 3 weeks! I wish I could be in Florida to watch Stras, Gio, and Jordan throwing...
Andre Dawkins: “People ask me if I can still shoot, and I ask them if they can still breathe. That’s kind of the same thing.”
Pretty big Nats fan here. Go to 20-25 games a year. Be fun to get some Duke fans together and go to some Nats games.
There's a good bit of excitement about the coming year and tremendous excitement about succeeding years when we know Harper will be up and a whole crop of minor league pitchers will be more ready.
Still, Nats have to do something this year or next about center and short and first. Once Harper does make it up, the plan to move Werth to center from right is questionable. I'd rather see them shift Morse from left to first, move Werth from right to left, and pick up a standout centerfielder. There is continuing talk about Tampa Bay's Upton, a free agent after this season, but he's not necessarily a good leadoff hitter which the Nats do need. Also some possible attitude problems.
Looks like they're going to give Desmond more time to show what he can do at short but I think they'd be better off shifting Espinosa from second to short, his natural position, and acquiring a second baseman. Their top draft pick this past year played third in college but some hope he can contribute strongly at 2b.
Also the lineup tilts a bit toward right-handed hitting though that will be helped when Harper comes up.
Like many Nats fans, I was glad to see they didn't break the bank for Fielder. I'd love to have had Fielder at a reasonable price and for a reasonable length of contract, particularly the latter as I see a great chance of his declining after about 3 years.
Ideally, the Nats need to pick up a leadoff-type centerfielder who bats left (or hits lefties exceptionallly well) and has speed on offense and defense. The possible problem at one of the middle infield spots can be addressed more simply.
Nats have built what should be a stud bullpen. And the starters are impressive. Wouldn't mind seeing them pick up Oswalt for a year (or two if he's game) to give a true veteran presence, providing leadership on the pitching staff, and taking a bit of pressure off their young star starters.
Last edited by SmartDevil; 01-27-2012 at 11:19 AM.
Let me take this opportunity to comment. Sometimes I daydream that when I win the lottery I will go out and buy, or rescue, some existing franchise, move it to Durham, and change the name to the Durham Bulls. Of course I am not actively pursuing that idea. I haven't purchased a lottery ticket in five or more years. Until then, I am sticking with the Braves. Maybe I'd think about it, though, if the Nats were named the Senators, and they named their stadium Griffith Park. That and Ebbets Field are where I developed my baseball fandom.
We've toured the new stadium on their Fan Day events the last couple of years, and it is really nice - the clubhouse, VIP lounges, underground batting cages (well, under the seats), media area, and they brag about the large number of food options on the (extra-wide) concourses. It really is a first-rate stadium. I personally love the huge scoreboard in RF-CF, with the incredible video screen (for Braves fans, it is very similar to yours - in fact, in a nod to the Braves, they made it just a couple feet smaller than Atlanta's, on purpose).
As for '12-'13 CF Free Agents they'll possibly target, we hear names like Upton, Byrd, Sizemore, Victorino, Granderson, Pagan, Bourn, McLouth, maybe Bourjos?
I think the Nationals will be on the verge of the playoffs this year, especially if MLB adds another wild card. But 2013 is the year they are focusing towards.
A couple other important names for this team, drafted in the first round of 2011 (Nats rated by BA as the #1 overall draft team in 2011 again):
3B/2B Rendon (Out of Rice, was the college player of the year 2 years ago but was injured and so he fell to us at #6 overall. He's a great hitter.)
SP Myers (Jr out of U of KY, a big fireballer at 6'8", taken about #21 overall)
CF Goodwin (unfortunately out of UNC, by way of Miami CC, a speedy CF with good Batting Average, taken about #31 overall)
SP Matt Purke (fireball pitcher, tho he wasn't technically taken in 1st round, he's definitely 1st-round talent, but was thought to be unsignable by most teams)
The guy I can't want to see in the majors, tho, is Bryce Harper. He's hot! They're saying he could even start the season in the Majors... Woohoo!
I think the first thing the Washington Expos need going for them is for people not to refer to them as the "Nats." Seriously?
The Braves are probably losing their footprint in North Carolina and Virginia after the death of the TBS empire. It's amazing to me that the club didn't understand what that was worth, or wasn't able to negotiate to keep it. Look at me. I'm an ancestral Braves fan. But these days I'm keeping up with my local club more because the Braves gave up the national telecast. Dumb Dumb Dumb.
But something hardly anyone seems to talk about is that even the Orioles had a TV footprint in North Carolina at least in the 90s. Some channel that preceded Fox Sports South carried all the Orioles games in Durham, and even Winston-Salem. I taped Ripken 2130 and 2131 on that channel. Forget the name of it.
All that said, it takes more the four-five seasons for things to change. Take Mississippi. You talk to older baseball fans, they're Cardinals fans because of old KMOX. Younger ones are Braves fans, but I think "younger" is my age or younger, that is, 35. There are even Texas Rangers fans there for reasons I don't understand.
Maybe in 20 years North Carolina will be overrun with "Nats" fans, in the same way there were so many Redskins fans before the Panthers came to Charlotte. Or maybe not.
A movie is not about what it's about; it's about how it's about it.
Some questions cannot be answered
Who’s gonna bury who
We need a love like Johnny, Johnny and June
---Over the Rhine
The Nationals will become popular outside the DC area if they win some division championships or make the playoffs several times as a wild card team.
The first positive sign is that the Nationals are trying to win. This is new. The Lerners were more or less looking at the books rather than the team on the field and ignored the advice to spend heavily on players when the new stadium opened -- to give the fans coming to see the stadium a reason to come back and see the baseball team.
We know that Ryan Zimmerman is the real deal; now we'll get to see how steven Strasburg and Bryce Harper turn out.
Maybe you should try that again. I know I am confused. There have been three MLB franchises in Washington -- the first that ran through about 1960 and then became the Twins, when Calvin Griffith saw greener pastures in Minnesota. That was the team that won three pennants and a World Series. I had three daughters attend Walter Johnson High School, named after their most famous player. The second began immediately thereafter, and in its ten or so years didn't make much of an impact on the American League. Its owner, the truly disgusting Robert Short, decamped to Arlington Texas. (Short used his friendship with Hubert Humphrey to lobby for a chance to buy a franchise and then turned around in "short order" and left town.) These were not failed franchises, per se. The Senators' attendance according to the local sports press was better than that of comparable teams in MLB and about the same as the O's, who were a championship team.
From 1953 (St. Louis Browns) on there was a wholesale relocation of franchises, and Washington was unlucky to get caught twice in that game of roulette.
There was a period in the 1950s when the Senators were known as the Nationals IIRC (and there is always a first time). And, of course, Senators could become 'Nats in the hands of an evil headline writer. I don't mind the term, Nats -- in fact, it's safer. The club actually turned up with two uniforms where Nationals was spelled "Natinals."
For those fans of other teams who would dump on the Washington franchise, please understand the view from here - that MLB's ownership (that's YOU GUYS collectively from the Braves, Yankees, Indians, Red Sox, Dodgers, CHI, etc - essentially ran the franchise into the ground for a number of years, systematically stripping every valuable piece of useful resource/respectability for your own teams' benefits. What DC inherited in 2005 was, in effect, a AAAA franchise with no more than a couple of decent players, and a farm system that was probably THE WORST in MLB, and a bare-bones front-office and scouting staff. And don't even get me started about the lopsided TV "albatross" deal they put around our necks, with Peter Angelos in Baltimore (the same nice gentleman who had a lot to do with preventing DC from even getting a franchise for many, many years), receiving 90% ownership of MASN (the joint Nats and Orioles regional TV franchise)... All of that takes years to unbury oneself from!
[But if you ever want to be amazed, just do a little research on the long list of MLB superstars who are now (or were recently) starring on other franchises' rosters that once played for this franchise. I swear, you could fill up an All-Star roster. Thanks MLB... ]
There is, rightfully I would argue, a great deal of pride that within 4 years (would have been quicker but for that clown GM Bowden) of private ownership they have managed to build from those ashes a quality franchise, built the "right way," with a top-10 farm system solidly in place now, a manageable payroll, and a a state-of-the-art stadium along the Anacostia river with a to-die-for view of the capitol building a few blocks away (stadium eventually to be surrounded by blocks of new development - nice restaurants, cobblestone streets, high-end apartment complexes, brand new office buildings, water taxis, etc.). The foreseeable future for the NATS really does look solidly "bright." And its about damn time!!
SI has its new MLB team “Power Ratings” out now, for the upcoming season.
It is nice to see the Nats, finally, in the upper-half (and still climbing). They come in at #12 for 2012. The NL East has taken a major step up, with all but one of its team’s in the upper-half of the league (#3 Philly, 10 ATL, 12 NATS, 14 FLA). And don’t forget there’s likely to be another NL wildcard team this year (same for AL). http://cnnsi.com/2012/writers/joe_le...&sct=hp_t13_a2
The top teams are:
From my (NL-fan) perspective it is sad to see the AL so dominant – 4 of the top 5, and 6 of the top 8. Interestingly, the Cards only dropped to 6th, though I don’t entirely believe that about my 2nd favorite team (though Throaty will undoubtedly be happy to hear this). BTW, those of us in the NoVA/DC area take note that the Orioles are 28th – two from the bottom, and last in their Division by a lot (15 slots behind their nearest divisional foe!). Ouch. It looks to me like the two Eastern Divisions are probably the best two in baseball.
And obviously the two big spenders, LAA and Det, see their rankings go up considerably as a result of these investments.
Kinda fun for baseball fans. But expect more movement as the off-season winds down, with guys like Oswalt and Cespedes still deciding their teams, and maybe a few Spring Training trades or pick-ups still ahead.
I'm an O's fan, but thought I'd ask a question pertinent to both teams.
Anyone know a way to get Nats/O's games in the North Carolina area? I have Time Warner at home and it doesn't carry MASN (who knows if/when it ever will) and those darn MLB.TV blackout restrictions don't let you watch any because apparently NC is in the Baltimore/DC region.
So I guess you could interpret my original question as, anyone know where to stream O's/Nats games (or MASN)?
2011 Tent #1
2012 Tent #1
2013 Tent #1
Given their ridiculous blackout policy and their enforcement of it, I refuse to support the Nats. Hot young phenom pitcher hurling on ESPN tonight? Not if you live in the Triangle...it's blacked out. Way to build a customer base - make sure they never get to see you play.
The Triangle is the blackest of black holes for MLB coverage, which has turned me into a hockey fan. We're in Nats territory, so minimal Braves coverage. And the Nats black everything out, so we get minimal Nats coverage, too. Infuriating.