Anyone who was at the Phillies-Nationals game or watched it on TV yesterday was well-aware that the joint was overrun by Philly fans, but I hadn’t realized how overrun until I read some of the commentary about it all this morning: “tens of thousands” of Philly fans came to Washington yesterday, many as the part of a concerted, group-ticket-purchasing effort.
I lived in D.C. for three years and it’s obvious that most people there come from someplace else, thereby explaining the lack of deep, city-wide loyalties to any sports teams not named “Redskins.” And heck, even the Redskins are more of a social networking event these days than a true rooting interest. But to get shown up so terribly on Opening Day in your own ballpark is just poor.
There have to be 40,000 die-hards in a region of five million. The team can’t choose who they sell their tickets to, but they can structure their promotions to do more to develop a local interest, can’t they?
Last Thursday, we learned that the MLBPA was challenging the Nippon Professional Baseball posting system, delaying Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani’s move to Major League Baseball. The latest collective bargaining agreement removed a lot of the incentive for players to come to the U.S. by capping pay. Ohtani, for example, can only receive a signing bonus between $300,000 and $3.53 million while his team — the Nippon Ham Fighters — would receive $20 million for posting him.
Jon Morosi reports that the deadline for this issue to be resolved is 8 PM ET on Monday evening. He notes that key NPB officials have worked through the night in Japan to try to reach a resolution. It is possible that even if no agreement is reached, the deadline could be pushed further back.
Ohtani, 23, has become a heralded hitter and pitcher in Japan. At the plate over his five-year career, he has compiled a .286/.358/.500 triple-slash line with 48 home runs and 166 RBI in 1,170 plate appearances. On the mound, he has a 2.52 ERA with a 624/200 K/BB ratio across 543 innings.