Nats want park filled -- by Phillies fans

As a public service, heres the cap the Nats are giving away on Opening Day.

As a public service, here's the cap the Nats are giving away on Opening Day.

I thought it was a bit odd when, while logged onto my Facebook page a few minutes ago, I noticed an ad that said something like "Phils-Nats in DC, deals on tickets and parking for April 13, 15, 16." Now I see why: earlier in the day, Washington Nationals president Stan Kasten appeared on the ESPN radio station here, and was pretty much begging Phillies fans to buy tickets for the games next week:

The first question was about the Nats' roster, and after Kasten wound his way through that question, he ended with this. Unprompted. "It will be fun, and I think Philly's our best, closest National League rival..."

Wait ... what? Why? I don't think Nationals and Phillies fans give a damn about each other's teams. It's not like the Yankees-Red Sox or even the more recently heated Mets-Phillies rivalries. Anyhoo, let's continue the sports radio chat with Stan from DC:

"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."

It gets better...

"You can come here early, we open two and three hours early, have a good time," he said later, when asked specifically about visiting Nats Park. "The neighborhood, which had so many plans for an exciting nightlife waterfront area, frankly has been pushed back a year or two because of the economy, so there's not a lot in the neighborhood. But let's face it, any trip in Washington, which is among the world's most visited cities, among the world's best tourist cities, there's plenty else to do if you want to make a day of it or a night of it. But I promise you, just coming to a ballgame will be more than worth the trip."

Guh. Please. Stop.

"No, we want to play you, we want to see you here, and we would WELCOME your fans here," he said later, when the hosts joked about avoiding this improving Nats ballclub. "And I've got to tell you, I have gone to enough games in three different sports in Philly to tell you that I haven't always felt welcome in your parks, ok? But you can root for whoever you want, you will be welcome when you come to Nationals Park."

At one point Kasten had a complaint, though, and it seems to contradict his little sales pitch: "Well, first of all, the aggravating thing for me is the last few years, the Philly games, it feels like a damn Philly home game," he said. Gee, Stan, you think? I can't really blame him, though. As I talked about here, the franchise is at a low ebb. The move from Montreal hasn't helped much, and the fans aren't turning out, even to the brand new Nationals Park. I assume he'll call into the New York stations to invite Mets fans to DC as well.

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