Nats should leverage demand for a Teddy win to get something they need

Posted on June 2, 2011

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Washington Nationals racing president Teddy Ro...

Photo by Scott Ableman via Wikipedia

It’s been almost exactly a year since I suggested the Washington Nationals should let Teddy win their Presidents Race on June 4, 2010, as a consolation prize to all the fans who’d bought tickets  to that game thinking it might be Stephen Strasburg’s major league debut. But Teddy came up short in that race, leaving me to assume the Nats front office had simply not yet discovered mikeholden.com as a source for brilliant sports marketing ideas—it’s the only logical conclusion.

There was some speculation this past weekend that Teddy might win the Presidents Race on Memorial Day. Alas, Teddy did not win that one either. He remains defeated, the only one of the four racing presidents to have not won the race since it began back in 2006.

I’ve heard more than one Nats fans say that a Teddy win is being saved until the team does something like makes the playoffs or wins the World Series. But I have to agree with Dan Steinberg of the DC Sports Bog that having Teddy win around one of those events might not be ideal.

Here’s what Steinberg wrote this past weekend:

It’s customarily been assumed by Nats fans that Teddy would win on the day of some sort of milestone: the day after the first clinched playoff berth, the day of the first home playoff game, the day of the first All-Star game at Nats Park, and so on. But if you think about it, from a marketing standpoint, that doesn’t make much sense. If Teddy wins on the day of a playoff game, it’s a note on page D7. If Teddy wins on some random day in May, it might be A1 in The Post.

Steinberg is right. Events such as a playoff berth are marketing wins all by themselves. So why not save the Teddy win for its own special random date and have it be a marketing win all by itself?

Better yet, why not use that Teddy win to get something the team really needs…more season ticket holders.

It’s no secret that the Nats could do better at the box office. And the just-completed series with Philadelphia drew attention to the fact that Phillies fans still enjoy invading Nats Park, making things miserable for the home fans…and Thomas Boswell. Even Steinberg is ready to throw journalistic standards out the window and start rooting for the Nats.

So, why not bring all of this together and create a situation in which everyone (except Philadelphia!) wins, including Teddy? Set a goal, Nats. Tell the fans that if the team reaches a season ticket holder base of xx,000, Teddy will win a race during the very next home game. This approach still leaves some element of surprise. Fans might know the team is close to its goal, but it won’t be until Teddy wins that they’ll know it’s been reached.

The Nats can break out the confetti cannons, maybe launch a few fireworks and have the xx,000 season ticket holder waiting to maul Teddy when he crosses that finish line. And immediately following that, people can go back to wondering when Teddy will win again.

So who’s with me on this? Set the goal, Nats. Make it season ticket related or use it to get something else you need (if he continues to underperform, building a package around Teddy for a proven #1 starter or a center fielder who can bat lead-off might not be a bad idea, even if that thought is tough to swallow. Or send him to Syracuse until he’s truly ready—Rizzo took his time with Strasburg and is doing the same with Bryce Harper, but Teddy got thrown right into the show). Just tell the fans what they must to do to get a Teddy win, Nats. It’s been five years. Let’s move this thing to Phase 2.

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