Sunday, April 04, 2010

In Which I Read an Interview and React

SBF at Nats 320 got Cousin Mark Lerner to answer a few questions. I've seen a few reactions on the ol' Twitter machine, so here we go. I'm reading it now, and what follows is my immediate reaction, stream-of-consciousness style.

Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming... sorry... wrong stream of conscience.

"We never forget that it was the promise of area stakeholders, after all, that convinced Major League Baseball to return to D.C."

I thought it was the $600 million in taxes and fees DC gave up.

"I think that the 2010 Nationals team is going to be one of the most intriguing in all of baseball."

I'm not sure that intriguing means what he thinks it does.

"we are eagerly waiting for two of the most exciting rookie pitching prospects in recent years to make their big league debuts."

Ok, I'll give you Strasburg. But silly Mark! Brian Matusz debuted last year.

"there is no doubt in my mind that we should be close to realizing the returns for having spent the last several seasons building our minor league system, improving our scouting and player development, and putting the pieces together for a team that can begin competing in the National League East."

The returns of building a minor league system? Is that why they had to pump all that money into the system this past offseason so they could be fully staffed, instead of running a skeleton crew of morons? Once Strassy and Storen debut, that minor league system looks awfully damn thin again.

Also, while I'm not much on the value of mission statements, it's telling that his goal is 'competing' not 'winning' the NL East.

"I can’t begin to tell you how painful the last couple of seasons have been as we continue to go through the building process."

We know how painful it's been, Mark. We love baseball, and your team has managed to suck some of the joy out of it. And there's that "continue" word. You basically admitted you just started building an organizational infrastructure this offseason. How could you be continuing then?

"I kept wishing there was some magic formula for skipping over the foundation-building phase"

Well, firing your incompetent play-toy GM who licked your ass before last season might've helped. Having a full compliment of scouts and front office personnel might've helped too.

"but history and the experience of folks like team president Stan Kasten, told me otherwise."

If the Kasten/Bowden rift rumors were true, then you should've listened to Stan the Shark earlier.

"First, I think we have a better club position-by-position than we’ve ever had at the start of a season here under the current ownership"

If that hurdle were any lower, it'd pop back out of the ground in China.

"I think we have more talent throughout the organization than we’ve ever had"

Great. My net worth is higher than its ever been, but I'm still not rich.

"We inherited an organization with a shallow, poorly-rated farm system and now have talent that goes deep into the minor league system and is the envy of the major leagues."

Middle-of-the-road, at best. If they're ranked higher, it's because of Strasburg. And he was hardly a product of their devotion to scouting. They get credit for having him, but it's like the ol' story about being born on third base...

"I was reminded how different the second half of a season can be from the first. I learned from Nyjer Morgan just how fast a team can turn around and how exciting it is to have a smart and fast leadoff hitter."

This is dangerous. While it was great to see the team improve -- and the upgrade from Milledge to Morgan was impressive -- I don't want this guy thinking that a hot streak (even one that lasts a few months) is progress. Sometimes it's just a fluke. Morgan's a solid player, but he's not a .330 hitter, or whatever the hell he batted last year.

"I was reminded how enjoyable it is having three, four and five hitters capable of knocking the ball out of the park."

... in a 10-7 loss.

"More importantly, I learned not to take topical criticism to heart; that criticism fired at you one day may be absolutely reversed the next without changing a thing."

I'm assuming this is re: the 'cheap' thing and the progress of the minor leagues? in both cases, if so, it's another case of this guy believing his own press clippings.

"I learned that the media often feeds off itself without ever having verified information. That was hard for me to grasp. I still thought there had to be a source, or truth, to an issue before it was printed or repeated. I learned otherwise, but I figured out how to avoid getting bothered by it, that tomorrow is another day."

Here is is with his paranoid rant against the media. What a maroon. They're out to get you, Mark! Seriously... this guy doesn't know how lucky he has it. The only ones who lob shots at him are the idiots like me who have no voice/influence. The media in this market, while terrific guys, are rubber-toothed, especially compared to other markets. These guys would get the shit ripped out of them in any real major-league city, instead of having roses and bouquets thrown at them by Tom Boswell. The only columnist who ever took a few slaps at 'em had his paper ripped out from underneath him.

The cluelessness in this statement just infuriates me. Yeah, the team gets ripped in the national media, but what do they expect? They had a buffoon of a GM. They couldn't spell the team's name right on their own jerseys. They had front office people resign/fired in disgrace. And they've had two years of being the worst team in the majors, including a long stretch last year where they were challenging the worst team in modern baseball history. What did he want? Nobody in this market really ripped the owners. Nobody nationally really ripped the owners. Yet this guys feelings are heart? Get over yourself, and get a goddamn clue.

"I know the Nationals are moving in the right direction, and I know the pieces are falling into place, but I have to remind myself that not everyone can see what I see, and that good things often take longer to become evident than you’d like."

I wonder how the emperor is enjoying his new clothes.

"Trust me, no one wants to win more than we do. No one is more impatient than we are"

Here he goes playing this card. I don't know if the team's PR staff reads this any more, but if they do, and they're going to take anything from this rant, please tell your boss to NEVER EVER EVER EVER SAY THIS AGAIN. I WANT TO WIN. EVERYONE READING THIS WANTS TO WIN. It's insulting when he says this.

"Building a professional sports franchise is very much like the development business in that doing things right demands a good foundation, a sound design plan, a disciplined group of builders, an eye for detail and an absolute commitment to excellence. If you follow that model in sports or in building development, then you will be successful."

... and succesfful financing/capitalization. Hey, that's missing for some reason.

"Obviously, the biggest difference in the two businesses is that in development you don’t get so much public attention until the work is completed. In professional sports there is always going to be public scrutiny of the work in progress"

Awwww. Maybe he can take some of his billions and buy the bitchin'est set of noise-canceling earphones then.

"We are still young enough as a franchise that we have to focus on getting more fans in the habit of coming to a game at Nationals Park. I honestly believe that anyone who comes to a game will want to come more often."

He doesn't get it. He really doesn't.

FANS COME TO SEE WINS. WINS MEAN MORE FANS. It's simple. Even if someone has a good time at the ballpark eating all the food and drinking all the beverages, they're not going to come back as often if they see a 14-5 loss.

"There is no other sports franchise in America that can claim to represent the National Pastime in the Nation’s Capital."

Yay Monopolies!

"We want everyone who visits Washington, D.C. to see the White House, the Capitol, and all the monuments, to join us when they spend their summer evenings in our city."

... as they watch their team beat the Nats.

"We are one Metro stop from the U.S. Capitol"

Hmm... Capitol South or Union Station are closest to the Capitol right? I could be off on my knowledge of the Metro, but I'm in better shape than Mark. I wonder when he last stepped on to Metro on his own, without a team of handlers to escort him.

" absolutely the finest sports venue to see the Capitol lights at night. "

OK, the hurdle is now 15 feet above Beijing.

"until the very last day of our season, whenever that may be"

Oh, I think we're pretty safe in booking the nonrefundable airfares now, buddy.

"We’ve also hired a new group of marketing executives in our front office since last season and I think you will soon be most pleased with their handiwork."

YES! More people to tell me that this bag of manure tastes terrific.

"That being said, I don’t think anyone who has knowledge of our bid for Mark Teixeira, followed by our signing of Adam Dunn, the extension to Ryan Zimmerman, or the draft signings of MLB top draft choices Stephen Strasburg and Drew Storen, can argue that we haven’t opened our pocketbooks to smartly spend to get better."

Chapman, Crow, any other FA pitcher out there this season, etc. Nobody ever argued that they wouldn't spend period. At least I didn't. I just argued that they didn't appear willing to spend commensurate with their revenues. And so far that's held up.

" I also think our off-season addition of pitcher Jason Marquis, Pudge Rodriguez and others, shows a commitment to spending when we need to."

It shows something.

"I think we are on course, and I think our record during the last 15 months probably is the best answer to your question. "

Would you care to revise and extend your remarks?

"You may not know this, but the Nationals were actually the second highest bidder for Chapman."

Yes, we did know it because it became one of the team's talking points. That fact about about $7.50 will buy you a shitty Bud Lite at the ballpark.

"I think every team in baseball now has an eye toward talent everywhere. We are no different."

And this is precisely the problem with The Plan! It's not that the team shouldn't be doing this, but if they do it, they can't half-ass it like they have (apparently) since the Lerners took over. EVERY team is trying to do The PLAN! It's not enough to do it. You have to BE BETTER than the other teams -- with a little dose of luck.

It's not enough to say that you're going to invest in the minors and player development, which they apparently hadn't been doing in the way they had told us they were doing. They need to be THE BEST. And so far, they haven't. Take away Strasburg, and the PD machine has been middling, at best.

"The short answer to your question is that, yes, we are interested in talent from anywhere in the world."

So where are you actually doing it? Where's the results? Where are the actions? Do you have anything to show for this besides sending Bill "Ping Pong" Singer overseas for a fortnight?

Alright... real baseball's on. Enough for now.


  • The first couple of months of this season are gonna suck. (and probably the rest of them, also)
    I can't see any reason to be excited about this team other than Strasburg's impending call-up.

    By Blogger Rob B, at 4/04/2010 8:34 PM  

  • Mid-season form on the eve of Opening Day. Bravo.

    By Blogger Nate, at 4/04/2010 9:19 PM  

  • Fantastic. And: No matter what you say, Mark, you'll always be a cheapskate. Happy Opening Day!11!! Were in first place!1!!

    By Anonymous The Nationals Enquirer, at 4/04/2010 10:49 PM  

  • The bell is ringing and you're batting 1.000, Chris. Especially the part about spending commensurate with revenue. And I loved Markie Mark's revisionism when it comes to the Metro map. One stop from the U.S. Capitol ... ah, well, my limousine doesn't make that many stops. The guy is obbviously just a rich tool who inherited his arrogance naturally. Having said that, I've bitten the StubHub bullet and will be out there cheering Obama and, yes, the Willies in right. Let's go, Nats, can we stay in first place for a day?

    By Anonymous Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_for_Me, at 4/04/2010 11:13 PM  

  • Why, then, was Chapman the only international player other than Martin that the Nats have been known to scout? MLBTR is constantly describing big-deal Cuban and Dominican players that even the Pirates are sniffing around, but the Nats are nowhere to be seen. I can maybe understand that the team's current shameful reputation in the DR hurts some, but why would that matter with Cuban players?

    By Blogger Positively Half St., at 4/05/2010 5:07 AM  

  • This guy here...

    I love the fact that Lerner (and every owner I imagine) treats their rebuilding like some sort of secret formula. We're putting together great minor league teams which can only lead to success because everyone else is ignoring young prospects.

    And man - thanks for calling out the "nobody" comments. I hate those things.

    By Blogger Harper, at 4/05/2010 10:32 AM  

  • "We are still young enough as a franchise that we have to focus on getting more fans in the habit of coming to a game at Nationals Park. I honestly believe that anyone who comes to a game will want to come more often."

    Really? I got a section (406) in RFK of friends I made as a season ticket holder in '05 and '06 that beg to differ. I don't like the new park, I don't like watching this team get its ass kicked every day. I don't EVER want to a game that prints ON ITS TICKETS pictures of kids playing video games. Stay home, you Asberger's-addled twit.

    This team is treating its fans like they're Redskins fans, but they don't realize there's not as many suckers for the Nats as there are for the Redskins.

    Well, maybe they'll move to Charlotte and we'll get a better team in 40 years or so. Me, I'm gonig to Bowie. The beer's better there.

    By Blogger Kevin Rusch, at 4/07/2010 11:07 PM  

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