Monday, January 5, 2009

Does the Post Know that the Nationals Still Exist?

It's been a while since I've griped about the Washington Post's 'coverage' of the Nationals, so it's time...

Since the November 11 Willingham-Olsen trade, the Post has written 10,776 words about the Nationals. Exactly 8,419 of them were about Mark Teixeira. That's 1,757 about everything else Nationals. And since Tex signed with New York they've written exactly nothing about the hometown nine.

(It wasn't all that easy to figure this out, since when you click on "more news" from the main Nationals page on you get this archive of stories starting most recently and bizarrely with the August 3 gamer. Don't get me started on their RSS feed.)

Boz in particular has distinguished himself with his singular focus on all things Teixeira. Since September 26, he's written exactly one Nationals column that wasn't about Teixeira (and four about the former Angels first-baseman).

So there hasn't a ton of Nationals news this off season. And from glancing through the sports page every morning for non-Teixeira Nationals news I've noticed that there's a team that plays a game on ice with sticks with a lot of fighting that people seem interested in. But really? Is this much Teixeira coverage necessary? And can it really be that they can't think of anything worth covering now that Teixeira is a Yankee?

Hell, I find something to say almost every day. Bill Ladson reports something inaccurate every day or two. OMG, Federal Baseball, and Nats 320 weigh in regularly. And Nationals Farm Authority just interviewed Stan Kasten, and MASN checked in with Shawn Hill... How about something from the Arizona Fall League, or a little about the Ryan Zimmerman re-signing negotiation that was supposed to get going after the winter meetings. Or Jack McGeary's GPA at Stanford this fall. Something? Anything?

Here's my prediction: the next story on the Nationals will be a feature on how Clinton Portis and Jim Zorn feel about Mark Teixeira not signing with the Nationals.


JayB said...

How about just some basic reporting on what is going on with Dunn and Hudson offers? Sadly, my guess is nothing is going on and that is why we are left without news.

An Briosca Mor said...

Actually, NFA interviewed Kasten in September and just now got around to transcribing and publishing it. That makes NFA a slacker compared to the likes of Nats320, but still miles ahead of anyone on the WaPo Nationals beat.

Nate said...

We can argue cause and effect, but WaPo has made it pretty clear (sometimes explicit) that Nats news doesn't draw readership. Add in the fact that baseball news at this time of year mostly consists of rumors, speculation and innuendo about which mid-tier free agent is signing where for what and it's almost possible to understand the Post's implicit decision that the casual fan doesn't give a rat's butt about who is in the running to maybe potentially be a National next season.

Now if you're the type of fan who reads, or writes, a Nationals blog, obviously you're predisposed to think that the local media isn't giving the club its due. This is especially true when most blog authors have a symbiotic/dependent relationship with the main stream press. And it's true, if you compare DC to NYC, Boston or LA, Nats fans are getting shorted. But how much is there to say about a team that made a major push for Teixeira, fell short and followed that up with the landmark Corey Patterson signing? The Post should be in the business of reporting news about the Nats, but if there's no news to report I don't expect them to pull a Ladson just to have something to say.

Hendo said...

I dunno... sure, I'm dependent on the MSM, but I still (try to) find something interesting to write about a few times a week. It's not that tough, especially when talking about a team with (a) so many needs and (b) an up-and-coming farm system.

Look at what Farid just posted to Bleacher Report. If he can do it from Idaho, someone can jolly well do it from 15th and L.

Steven said...

Newspapers aren't just about making money--they have an obligation to provide quality journalism to serve the public interest. And not just all this stuff about the economy and corruption in government and Hamas and blah blah blah bo-ring!

El Rey said...

Unfortunately, the lack of print media coverage supports my contention that D.C. is not a baseball town. The coverage the Nats receive on 980AM is downright hostile. The Nats are scorned by many of the on-air personalities. What concerns me the most is the age of the Nats fan base. There are a lot of old timers at the games God bless them. This is not good for long term fan base growth since most of the younger fans seem more concerned with scoring in the Red Loft than the actual score on the field. I will not be surprised when major league baseball leaves D.C. for a third time. Of course having clowns like Bowden and the Lerners running the show will only mean the circus leaves town that much sooner. So sad.

Hendo said...

@El Rey: DC wasn't a hockey town either for a lot of years. (After a bounce in the late 90s, you could've said that again for the next few years, and a lot of folks did.)

It is now. It'll be a baseball town too when a winner hits the field.

Trying to make that happen is why we all pipe up with our advice here and elsewhere -- however much the Post does or doesn't help us out. Which they should once the Nats become enough of a contender to make people want to follow the team as a welcome alternative to the grimness of real-world news.

Wil Nieves said...

I was a little upset that this quote was featured in ESPN's Absurd Quotes of 2008.,

"Then why are you covering the [Washington] Nationals?"

Speaker: Presidential candidate Ralph Nader
Context: Nader to The Washington Post, after the paper decided not to cover his presidential bid because he had no chance of winning.
Absurd because: Come to think of it, this quote makes perfect sense.
Numerical score: 0

El Rey said...

I hope you are right, Hendo. The Caps always had a loyal fan base even during the bad years. The Caps are attracting young people to the games. You are also beginning to see more minorities in attendance at Caps games which is a good thing. In fact, I sat next to a half dozen Muslim women at the last Caps game I attended. I don't see many Hispanics at Nats games despite the large number of Hispanics in the D.C. area. Yes, a better baseball team would help fill the stands, but you need a good front office to make that happen. Contrast the Capitals front office with the Nationals front office and you will see why Caps attendance is up 30%. I fear we will see a precipitous drop in Nats attendance this year unless a better quality product is fielded. Go Capitals!!

James Bjork said...

Apples and oranges. The guy in Idaho is not getting paid for his efforts.

Newspapers exist to make a profit-- or at least have to have a slight one to survive. The rest is ancillary. If you put down the rose-colored glasses, you'll see that print newspapers are struggling to survive, where even the Gray Lady (NY Times) is planning to mortgage its HQ building to scare up $225 mil in cash.

That the WaPo would be expected to allocate what little sports coverage reporter-hours to write about innuendo and non-news about a team few (to date) care about strikes me as absurd in these times.

It's incumbent on the Nats' management to create buzz, with savvy marketing, and better yet, a QUALITY team. Then readership interest in the Nats would follow. To say that the WaPo has an obligation to fill column inches to ingratiate itself with the 17 people who care about the Nats is not reasonable.

Instead of throwing bombs at the Post, have you ever offered to HELP them, by submitting your well-researched content under their rubric? The Houston Chronicle has a couple "professional" fan bloggers with regular offerings/columns about the Astros in their sports page. Your comprehensive analyses would be a benefit to the Post.

If you have indeed offered to blog for the Post, and were met with crickets, I can understand your sniping. Really, though, while I check the sports section every day in vain, I think we need to be reasonable in the offseason.

Jim said...

I'm sure you noticed that your prediction was actually pretty close. The morning after this blog Teixeira was on the front of the sports page and Manny Acta was buried in the back.

Steven said...

It brings me no joy to be right.