Tue Apr 07 06:36pm EDT
Like many of you, I've always been a bit hazy on the title of baseball team president, mostly because the job description seems to differ in each city.
For instance, some team presidents seem to have a big hand in player personnel decisions while some leave it to their GM.
Some seem to be actual movers and shakers in the business community; others seem bent on simply being a figurehead on the local banquet circuit.
Some love to draw the television cameras, others are content with pulling the strings from behind a curtain.
About the only constant requirement, I believed, was that each team president hold an unwavering loyalty to the organization whenever he appeared in public.
But even that belief was shattered once I heard from DC Sports Bog that Nats president Stan Kasten was shamelessly shilling on Philadelphia radio to try and sell a few more tickets to the Nats' opening series that against the Phillies next week. Color me confused.
Here's part of what Kasten said on 950 ESPN in Philadelphia :
"It will be fun, and I think Philly's our best, closest National League rival. We always have great games with them here, because there's so many Philly kids in college here. So we always have great, enthusiastic crowds, and we hope you all come back again. We have an opening day here Monday, we'd love for all our Philly fans to come down, because I know it's gonna be so hard to get tickets in Philadelphia this year. It'll be much easier if you drive down the road and come see us in Washington."
Look, one of the dirty little secrets in baseball is that sometimes fans with struggling attendance secretly reach out to neighboring teams with larger followings to help boost their turnstile count. A few years back, before the Brewers made their resurgence, I wrote about the same topic for Milwaukee Magazine after we got a tip the Brewers were reaching out to daytripping Cubs fans south of the border.
But there are quiet ways to do this and this isn't one of them. In fact, having one of the team's most visible employees publicly court a rival seems about the quickest way to depress and discourage your existing fanbase. It's hard to even begin to get my head around why Kasten would do such a thing. An epic fail on all accounts.
Luckily, though, there's a little more humor to be taken out of this. In the same interview, Kasten said the following (really, he did): "The aggravating thing for me is the last few years, the Philly games, it feels like a damn Philly home game."
Now wonder why that would be?