Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Meet 'n Greet

Yesterday, Manny Acta and a few of the Nationals paid a visit to beautiful Viera, Florida. Part community relations, part ticket spiel, part attempt to sooth the locals who've been held over a barrel by the Lerners who are demanding nearly $3 million in improvements to the stadium there, a good time was had by all.

A loyal reader was there, and passed along this account:

"Interesting meet and greet, they had about 200 people attend and it was
open bar and free food (hot dogs, pretzels, and popcorn). Manny, Shawn
Hill, Mike Shapiro, Tyler Holmes (Florida Operations), Mitchell Page,
and some of the minor league operational staff were in attendance. The
GM of the Brevard Manatees got up and made a pitch for spring training
season tickets and then Shapiro got up and made a similar pitch and
added how much the Lerners care about Brevard fans. He also made a big
deal about the Nationals refurbishing Space Coast stadium, however he
failed to mention it is being paid for by a $2.8M county bond.

"Manny was introduced and gave a pretty good speech. He spoke about his
desire to win and no one is going to tell him in Jan-Feb that his team
won't be competitive. You can tell him that in October, but not this
early. He also said that every team has the same number of players and
every player will play hard for him.

"He and the other speakers stressed the point that the franchise will be
fan friendly, he said it a couple of times.

"The Q&A was interesting, Manny opened it up by saying that he wasn't
taking questions about his pitching lineup (half-joking?). The first
question was a softball about Frank and did Manny respect his
accomplishments. Manny answered that he had a tough situation and took
on a team that no-one else would. He didn't say anything about Frank's
current position with the club.

"I was up next and asked about Church. He said Church will be competing
for the LF spot and he will give him a chance to become a contributing
player.

"At that point my son began screaming for his juice so I had to take him
and my daughter out of the room to get them so OJ from the open bar,
pretty convenient. We went back in and Manny was answering a question
about his style of managing, not sure from his answer if he was saying
he will or won't be a hard ass. He is getting pretty good at the Kasten
double speak. You may need to break out the translator soon.

"After Manny spoke they gave the kids in the audience baseballs and had
them line up for Manny and Shawn's signatures. Shawn posed for a pic
with my son.

"I thought they did a good job working to connect with the fans. It will
be interesting to see how it plays out over spring training. I plan on
being out there on 2/15 to welcome the pitchers and catchers."

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