You cannot miss the “Natitude Park” banner stripped across the top of the scoreboard at Nationals Park, which the Nationals have “renamed” for their weekend “Take Back the Park” series against the Phillies and their marauding fans. You will not see the banner behind home plate, because Nationals coaches had it taken down.
Pitching coach Steve McCatty and Manager Davey Johnson asked team employees to remove a Natitude banner from behind home plate because it interfered with the pitcher’s sightline.
Aside from the offending banner, Nationals players were largely ambivalent to the marketing push. It’s not their job, and they are more worried about the Phillies than the composition of the crowd or the “name” of the park. After players decided against commenting (on the record), Johnson summed up the general clubhouse consensus.
“What’s going to sell tickets is if we win ballgames,” Johnson said. “That’s the way we’re going to take this stadium back.”
In my view, the Nationals have reached the point where they don’t need to lean on slogans and campaigns. They are in first place, they have the most compelling young player in baseball in Bryce Harper, and their rotation, headed by Stephen Strasburg, is the hardest-throwing on record. Promoting that, the game itself and the players, may get people to the park more than “Natitude.”
“I can hardly pronounce the dang word,” Johnson said. “I was supposed to read that in the all-star balloting joining with Natitude. I said, ‘Man, I may have four or five takes on that.’ I said, ‘We got a damn good team here. Vote for the Nats.’ ”