The end of Natitude?

(Via MASN)
(Via MASN)

Here lies Natitude. It was questioned at birth, celebrated in adulthood and mocked in old age. It was loved by its devotees, and ridiculed by its detractors. It unquestionably served its purpose, better than any one-word local slogan in recent memory. (And no, ‘RGIII’ isn’t a slogan.) It lived through two baseball seasons, exactly twice as long as anybody could have imagined.

But its greatest champion, Andy Feffer, is leaving the Nats organization. Its greatest embodiment, Davey Johnson, will no longer be the manager. Its connotations were of confidence and brashness, of limitless expectations and a decade of domination. It was of a particular time and a particular mood, of a season full of found money and busted odds, of a belief that the future was ours, and would contain nothing but Gatorade baths, shaving cream pies and champagne showers, nothing but thrilling October lights and regional envy.

There were Natitude Park signs. Natitude steak sandwiches. Playoff Natitude T-shirts. An officially proclaimed Natitude Weekend. Licensed Natitude jerseys. Natitude-inspired license plates.

“The difference is that confidence and assertiveness,” Feffer said, upon the launch of the slogan. “We’re probably more excited than ever, more confident, more assertive and more ready than we’ve ever been to make things happen.”

And so while other slogans lasted but a single season — Get Your Red On and Welcome Home and Expect It and NatsTownNatitude hung on way past 2012 and stayed affixed to the foundation in 2013.

But this season wasn’t like the last. The aromas no longer smelled quite as fresh, and Natitude felt like a relic, a cudgel used to mock rather than a shared amulet of prosperity.

“The term sounds silly, but it means attitude, swagger, pride in following your own ideas and an inclination to firmly ignore the views of those who differ with your approach,” Boz wrote during this season’s struggles. “The Nats won 98 games that way last season. It wasn’t an illusion. But like all team personas, this one has flaws and limits, too. The problem with this public personality is that you set up yourself as a target. When things go badly, your enemies enjoy it. Having set your aim so high, you can feel pressure even more.”

Indeed, despite the late run of brilliance, national media members crafted untold Natitude jokes this season, and the Braves even dropped it into their recent Blurred Lines spoof — “I don’t want to hear you mention that Natitude,” the lyrics go.

Look, the future is still bright. But there will be scars from 2013. It won’t be all innocence and fun and World Series predictions next March. Everyone — from fans to players to broadcasters — is likely to carry a bit of caution into Opening Day.

And so, to me at least, Natitude is gone. We await its successor.

(And no, I don’t really care about any of that. I just wanted an excuse to show this poster from the Nats season-ending series in Arizona, in which someone spelled Natitude all kinds of wrong.)

Dan Steinberg writes about all things D.C. sports at the D.C. Sports Bog.



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Dan Steinberg · September 30, 2013

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