Sitting the game tonight, I was finally able to pinpoint something that has bothered me for a long time.
The Washington Nationals, in an effort to build a fan base, have tried overwhelmingly hard to create a tradition out of nothing. It was a marketing scheme from the beginning. The Nats knew that baseball was a game of tradition and they were very open about creating ‘landmarks’ and of their attempts to build traditions before, during, and after games.
The problem is all these bells and whistles don’t come off as genuine, as they are not. Too often the Nationals attempt at tradition building just turns into a phony, annoying, and possibly even fan-deterring nuisance.
You see, the thing about tradition is that it’s true. It’s true because its built through time on something that is lasting that people enjoy. Simply put, you can’t manufacture tradition.
The best traditions come out of nowhere. They are things that catch on over time that eventually we come to embrace. Anything else is fake; it’s Disney. It’s unappreciated by the true baseball fans, and unappealing to the rent-a-fans.
Between male model Clint’s annoying Nat Pack and the random fan at the start of the game proclaiming ‘Washington Nationals Play Ball,’ I’ve had enough. No matter how hard the front office try’s it will not be the same as guest celebrity’s singing ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game at Wrigley,’ or blasting Frank Sinatra’s ‘New York New York,’ over the loudspeakers at Yankee stadium.
So please Nationals, stop trying so hard to create ‘Nats Town’ and just play baseball. After all, the best way to build a tradition, is to build a winning one.
Here are some of the traditions at Nats park which we DO love:
The Washington Nationals Center Field Entrance
Coming out the Metro and walking through that alleyway, surrounded by Nationals fans might be a better experience than even the game. There’s something about emerging from underground, taking a left out of the station, and seeing nothing but red white and blue, and that glowing Nationals Park sign above everyone’s head. There’s always something entertaining on the way to the stadium, whether it is a street performer or a random guy with an Owl. Now The Bullpen is installed and soon more restaurants and bars will join it to only build the atmosphere.
The Presidents Race
You may be saying, isn’t this the very fake thing you were just speaking out against? Well it started that way, but the Presidents Race has taken a form of its own. Maybe it’s because of the lovable loser Teddy, or the various mischievous antics our former Presidents take part in, but there is something genuine and lovable about this race. Maybe as Nationals fans we identify with Teddy, but for whatever reason this race has gone from a carbon copy of the race in Milwaukee to something genuine and unique.
The Veteran Salute
Every Nationals home game the PA Announcer draws attention to several military veterans who have recently been released from Walter Reed Memorial War Hospital. These service men and women have been given seats in the Presidents Club and are hopefully enjoying a much deserved reward for their service. It’s truly moving to see as these men and women get a legitimate standing ovation from the fans time after time who truly appreciate their service. It’s only a shame that every man and woman who serves does not get the standing ovation of an entire stadium, because they deserve it. The reasons this tradition works is because while it is initiated by the ball club, the reaction can not be falsified. The appreciation for the veterans is true, and so is the tradition.