3687860914_0d27049cb6_z

Nats: The Curly W used to be on road signs, why it isn’t anymore

Photo used with permission of Flickr user SteelYankee
A few weeks ago, DC Sports Bog (The Post) answered a reader question about why the Washington Nationals “curly W” logo was removed from signs along Interstate 395 (Southwest Freeway) for Nationals Park: What happened to the Curly W on D.C. freeway signs?. Presumably, the curly W’s will are have already been removed from other roads like I-695 (Southeast Freeway) and I-295 (Anacostia Freeway).

Something similar happened in 2010 when the Maryland State Highway Administration removed curly W logos from big green signs too. Frankly, I was surprised they were there in the first place. I inquired with the SHA back then and was told they violated the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) standards. A follow-up email was never answered by SHA and I never got back to writing about those signs, though I did note that both the Washington Redskins & FedEx Field (located at EXIT 16 of I-95/495 Capital Beltway) and the Baltimore Orioles, Baltimore Ravens and M&T Bank Stadium logos were still posted. One wonders why just one team was removed, but I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

In the DCRoads.net Facebook group, Mike Tantillo, a member of the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Device gave some me more background the rationale:

In no other city are the sports team logos placed on the signs. And a symbol is technically defined as a pictogram, which the official definition states is a symbol that represents a government agency or other public sector institution. The public sector bit was inserted into the MUTCD for the specific purpose of preventing entities like sports teams and shopping malls from putting their symbols up on primary guide signs (they would be allowed on the “attractions” category of Specific Service/logo signs…along with gas, food, lodging, etc.).

So naturally after arguing the point about public sector vs. private sector in front of the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, FHWA was none-too-amused when these logos showed up on the signs right next to their headquarters. So FHWA challenged DDOT and Maryland SHA on the use of the logos, saying that these did not represent pictograms and would therefore have to become “experimental” and go through human factors testing, just like any other experimental traffic control device.

So they did the human factors testing, and they had to prove that the curly W’s actually enhanced drivers’ ability to find Nats Park, without being a distraction…which is the same standard given to an experiment of any other traffic control device. As part of the experiment, DDOT and Maryland SHA had to agree that they would hold funds in reserve to abort the experiment if there were safety concerns or the results were not positive. In this case, the results were inconclusive and showed a distraction, therefore the experimental signs were removed according to the agreement that DDOT and SHA had with Federal Highway Administration.

In order for a symbol to be effective, it has to be simple, easily recognizable, and its meaning needs to be easily understood by all drivers, even those who have not been “taught” in advance what it means. I think DDOT would have had more successful experiment if they had placed a sign saying “Nationals Park, follow ‘W’ “, and then just used the W like a trailblazer. In this circumstance, you’ve taught the unfamiliar non-local driver (remember, that is who we design signs for) what the ‘W’ means in terms of the traffic/road sign context. However part of me thinks that DDOT didn’t originally intend for the W’s to be part of a navigational exercise and thought they could just slap them on as taxpayer-funded advertising for a private enterprise. And lots of it, seeing as these were on primary guide signs, so they were repeated multiple times in a sequence.

I don’t find fault with the decision to remove the curly W, though I would have thought it was a much more useful than their tests showed. That’s why I’m the road geek highway enthusiast and the transportation professionals make the decisions. Note, this line of thinking is not at all applicable to things like analysis of sports or other things of great import.

Having commercial logos on official signs is certainly problematic so that’s reason enough for me, even as a Nats fan. The publicly financed stadium is more than enough. I certainly hope that Maryland has removed those other team logos as they did, so swiftly, with the curly W.

I wonder if the DC United logos have been removed as well.

By the way, it isn’t unheard of for mass transit systems to use team logos in their stations — I remember seeing an Expos sign in the Pie-IX Metro when I visited Montreal in September 2004. I think the Addison stop on Chicago’s L has Cubs logos too. The Nats wanted WMATA to add the curly W to the Metro map and signage (JDLand), but the transit agency declined. By the way, if you are wanting a transit system to add your logo, you may want to think about putting down a deposit to keep the system running.

Lastly, the conversation that came with posting the DC Sports Bog story made me realize that one of my favorite posts, comparing the Nats cap to other post-expansion caps, was lost in a migration. I’ve put it up again. Yay.

Opening Day is 43 days away

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Alexandria and other DC area schools delayed two hours on account of prettiness

School may not close on account of prettiness, but apparently a two-hour delay is fair game. Alexandria City Public Schools and many other systems are delayed this morning:

Last update: Tuesday, February 18, 2014 5:24 AM EST
Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014: All Schools will open with a 2-hour delay.

ch871229

There was about an inch of beautiful white powder on my wife’s car at 5:45 a.m. The sidewalks were white and untreated for the second snowfall in a row by my condo association.

Closings and delaysWTOP

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
anti-masn

Could MASN be a Pyrrhic victory for Peter Angelos? Let’s hope so.

Earlier this month, Grantland published a story by chronicler of Les Expos de Montréal, Jonah Keri on the Baltimore Orioles and their reluctance to spend. That’s nothing new or of even relevant to D.C. sports fans. What is relevant are details of Mid Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) which is primarily owned by Angelos/Orioles.

In 2005, MLB and Angelos worked out a deal allowing the Nationals to operate in D.C. in exchange for a new local TV deal that overwhelmingly favored the Orioles. In July 2006, the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network launched a full-time sports programming slate headlined by O’s and Nats games. The terms dictated that each franchise would receive the same amount in rights fees, but that Baltimore would control a 90 percent share of MASN and any MASN-owned spinoff networks at the start; the Nationals would pick up an additional 1 percent stake each year after an initial two-year wait, until eventually reaching a 33 percent cap. Angelos got his lopsided deal, while the Nationals, who play in the nation’s seventh-biggest market, got screwed.

While the Orioles are bringing in quite a bit more than the Nationals, neither team is profiting from MASN as much as it could be. According to SNL Kagan, a group that analyzes cable and broadcast network deals as well as regional sports networks (RSNs), MASN properties generated $167.8 million in total revenue in 2012. The bulk of that money came from advertising and subscriber fees, with 5.4 million consumers paying $2.14 a month. That’s well below the $2.47 industry average for 2012 and $2.69 projection for 2013, and several of the media experts and sports deal makers interviewed for this story said MASN should be getting much more. Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, which primarily airs Washington Capitals and Wizards regular-season games, got $4.02 per month in 2012, indicating the market would likely support a higher rate for MASN. It’s hard to know whether to blame the network’s low subscriber fee on inept management, the timing of the deal, or other factors, but whatever the reason, it’s clear MASN will be leaving tens of millions on the table until it renegotiates with local cable providers.

First off, I have to acknowledge that while the “low” subscriber fee is bad for the revenue of the franchises, it’s not a negative for cable subscribers whether they watch those channels or not. It won’t go as far to say that Angelos is “saving” cable subscribers by having the “low” rate because if not for him, CSN would probably have the Nats and we were already paying for that channel. Angelos was successful in keeping MASN off of most DC area cable systems well into 2006, the Nats second season.

There are more interesting details:

For now, the MASN status quo remains. The Nationals aren’t completely helpless, though: According to a source close to the Washington franchise, MLB has sent the team an undisclosed sum every year to help bridge the gap, and to prevent the Lerners from taking matters to court, until the deal becomes more balanced…

…when the Lerner family bought the Nationals in 2006, it was saddled with this lemon of a deal, in which neither it nor the team’s first president, Stan Kasten, had any say. The terms stipulated that the deal could be renegotiated after five full seasons, and the Nats took their first opportunity to challenge the terms after the 2011 season. When that challenge dragged into 2012, those terms looked even more unfair. After spending years rebuilding a franchise that had been decimated by penny-pinching and mismanagement in Montreal, the Nats finally made the playoffs for the first time, winning 98 games and the NL East title. That same year, the Orioles made the postseason for the first time in 15 seasons. MASN viewership skyrocketed, enhancing the network’s already rising economic profile, but the Nats saw just a fraction of the returns.

The suggestion that the team or possibly, the Lerner family themselves, are getting payola under the table additional compensation is new to me. Whether that statement is accurate or not will certainly not be mentioned by the Lerners (see, publicly financed Nationals Park roof for reference) so we’ll have to take this cocktail party supposition with a grain of salt. An aside – several years ago I heard a rumor from a one-time employee that in addition to the $450 million purchase price, the Lerner ownership also assumed over $100 million in debt from when MLB operated the franchise. Of course, I’ve had mixed results from that source.

Given that the Lerner family is the richest in MLB, they may have the patience to wait this out a while and if they get a little good behavior money on the side, well, why not. There is risk in that as well, but TV deals have gone up so much across the league, they seem unlikely to regress all the way back.

The motivations of Angelos on the other hand, are not completely clear. As the rest of the article notes, he hasn’t not been a big spender for most of his tenure as Orioles owner (BREAKING: Since I finished writing this post, Baltimore signed Ubaldo Jimenez for four years to which Cleveland fan Vince Guerreri invoked Bill Veeck’s maxim about “the high cost of mediocrity“), this offseason being another example of that and doesn’t seem motivated by his team winning on the field. Seemingly, his motivation for being loved, liked or even respected by his fan base is not significant either — he has had a dozen years to bring Maryland’s favorite son Cal Ripken, Jr. into a meaningful role with the franchise and choose not to go that way. Hiring Ripken would be at minimum on par with bringing in Dan Duquette to take credit for Andy McPhail’s improvements. It seems as though Angelos, in addition to being duplicitous (2004: “There are no baseball fans in Washington, D.C., that’s a fiction.” 2010: What’s good for the Nationals is good for MASN) lacks business sense. Perhaps he is self-aware of that, but it isn’t a stretch to say he’s more motivated to be vindictive. What’s really weird is that he and the Orioles still enjoy relatively uncritical coverage in either his home market of Baltimore or the market he is envious of, Washington, even though he isn’t good at his job.

Another possibility is that the three main participants are quite old. Selig will be 80 in July and has pushed back his retirement date for years. Officially, he plans to step down at the beginning of 2015. Angelos will be 85 in July while Lerner is 88. The three of them could be punting or should I say, pitching around the hitter, to the next generation. That’s not necessarily bad for the Nats, the next commissioner may not have a friendship with Angelos. Of course, what the descendents of the principal owners want and are willing to do is an unknown, though Mark Lerner and his brothers-in-law seem to be in for the long haul. Whehther Angelos’ family is the same I cannot say.

Left unsaid in Keri’s piece is a wild card in all of this – Ted Leonsis. The owner of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, holding company of the Washington Capitals, Wizards, Mystics and Verizon Center, has won’t shut up been very vocal about his plans to create a new cable channel as soon as his broadcast deals with CSN expire, going as far to start an online channel. Obviously, CSN and unless Angelos is really oblivious, MASN, have to be quite interested in this development. For CSN, they are looking at extinction unless they reach a deal with Leonsis. Angelos and MASN probably realize that too and should they team up with Leonsis, that channel would be the dominant sports channel in multiple regional markets without any meaningful competition — i.e. what Angelos wanted from MLB and lost, yet on terms very favorable to him, even if he lacks the business-sense to make it work. Of course the question is whether split profits would be a deterrent to some or all sides. CSN is but one small part of the Comcast empire that includes, many other RSNs, cable/broadband systems and something called the National Broadcasting Company. Fighting over the DC & Baltimore markets might not be a big deal to the diagonally integrated corporate conglomerate.

These are but a few possible scenarios presented and I’ve looked at it more at a mostly local & regional level; FOX Sports or some other corporation may want to be a player too. Ultimately, I expect the endgame to be not terribly palatable to Washingtonians or the Nats franchise. The likeliest situation has Angelos and not necessarily the Baltimore American League ball club coming out far ahead of anybody else. The Lerners may ultimately buy him out, holding their noses as they do it. Regardless, it is worth pointing out that the demise of the Baltimore Orioles is an acceptable, albeit unlikely outcome, for the Washington National League ball club and their fans should it result in the restoration of television rights. Since in the Angelos and Orioles point of view, Washingtonians were acceptable as collateral damage, the same can be applied to Baltimoreans. Perhaps Mr. Keri’s city would be a suitable relocation site for Orioles, whose lease ends in 2021.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
wall-dunk-over-g-man-screengrab

Wizards: John Wall becomes latest DC #1 overall to win an All-Star competition

In keeping with D.C. sports tradition, one-time #1 overall pick John Wall (2010) of the Washington Wizards won an All-Star skills competition (The Post). Wall’s dunk over Wiz mascot G-Man sealed the deal for the East and the Wizards guard.

If there is one thing DC’s #1 overall picks know how to do, it’s perform well in All-Star skills competitions. Five (!) years ago, Alex Ovechkin (#1 overall, 2005) won the Breakaway Competition at the All-Star Game.

Last summer, Bryce Harper (#1 overall, 2010) came in second in the Home Run Derby: Bryce Harper hits 24 in Home Run Derby for 2nd place.


Best viewed on mute

You move, Stephen Strasburg (#1 overall, 2009)

This is fun, but what I’d really like to see is one all of these All-Stars get past the second round of the playoffs.

RELATED

Hope for DC sports from…Secaucus?June 7, 2010

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
washington-nationals-snowman

Happy 10th Nats Pitchers & Catchers Day!

It always seems appropriate when the beginning of spring training is concurrent with a snowstorm.

The 10th Washington Nationals spring training of the 21st century begins today with pitchers and catchers reporting after the long offseason. Surely, they will all be in the best shape of their lives as they return to Viera, Fla. while those of us in and around the District endure the Pitchers & Catchers Day Storm.

The symbolism of Pitchers & Catchers is greater than the actual event. It’s a reminder that spring and baseball are closer than they are far and that warms the heart and the mind. It also means lots of stories of how player X is trying to build on a successful/bounce back/recover from an injury filled past season. The stories are practically boilerplate, but they’ll be good to read and get reacquainted with them before they start playing 6 or 7 days a week.

MattsTown - Washington Nationals - Matt WilliamsThe biggest change in 2014 is the debut of manager Matt Williams. He promises a regimented camp and should be an upgrade over post-2012 regular season Davey Johnson. A great profile of Williams ran in The Post last weekend: Matt Williams: Before the Washington Nationals, two jarring blows altered his path. There was more in Nationals Journal as well: Outtakes from our profile on Matt Williams.

THE PENNANT IS OURS

Time to go out and measure the snow.

Opening Day is 46 days away

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
The-Beatles-in-Washington-D-C-the-beatles-16976631-717-486

50 years ago tonight, The Beatles played their first U.S. concert in D.C.

Fifty years ago tonight, the Beatles played their first public concert in the United States in the District, the day after an eight inch snowstorm no less. The lads had a snowball fight that afternoon before the show at Washington Colosseum — if you’ve ever taken a train north out of Union Station, you’ve passed it. I think it’s a parking garage now and under disrepair in general.

There is quite a bit of coverage about the anniversary, so I won’t spend much time writing about a concert that happened before I was born. I will say that I need to get the photo above (or one like it) and put it up some day.

DOCUMENTARY ON THE CONCERT

HOW THE CONCERT SOUNDED
lots of screaming girls, some music

1983 DC101 INTERVIEW
WWDC DJ Carroll James interviewed by WWDC/DC101′s Young Dave Brown and Ernie Kaye on December 17, 1983. YDB!

MORE COVERAGE

Beatles Fans Celebrate 50th Anniversary of Historic D.C. ConcertWAMU 88.5 – American University Radio

Photos of The Beatles in Washington, D.C.Ghosts of DC

The Beatles' First Concert in the U.S. (1964)Ghosts of DC

50th anniversary concert reenacts Beatles’ first U.S. show at the Washington ColiseumThe Post

The Beatles would play D.C. again in November of that year (more video or at least still photos with the music over them) and D.C. Stadium in 1966 on their last tour (Ghosts of DC).

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
nyjermorganbobblehead

175,000 Nats bobbleheads, but no Pipkins

The Washington Nationals will be giving away 175,000 bobbleheads in 2014. DC Sports Bog covered this last week in a Q&A with John Guagliano, the team’s VP of marketing and broadcasting.

That’s nice and all, but what’s the point if they aren’t going to have television commercials like the one with a Chad Cordero bobblehead rocking back in forth to “Gimme Dat Ding” by The Pipkins? Sadly, video of that ad seem lost forever, along with Brad Wilkerson’s bank ad and the Red Roof Inn “chances of working here…remote” spot. Thankfully, with a little bit of imagination and the song linked below, you can pretend you are watching Jordan Zimmermann, Wilson Ramos, Bryce Harper, William Howard Taft and Ian Desmond bobbleheads swaying back and forth.

If anybody out there has a Cordero bobblehead, let’s break out the video camera and remake that ad.

Speaking of the early Nats, reliever Luis Ayala is back on a minor league deal (Nationals Journal, The Post). Luis Ayala! You may remember the time he pitched for Ted Williams on the Senators that his right arm fell off in the World Baseball Classic after overuse by Frank Robinson the previous season. Between him and Jamey Carroll and ¡LIVAN! at spring training they really are putting the band back together. WHY?

I eagerly await Hector Carrasco, Tomo Ohka and Rick Short‘s return. Oh and this guy too. That has to be it, right?

The one Nats bobblehead I own is pictured above — Phillies fan Kevin McGuire sent it to me after he attended a game here. Acquiring a Nyjer Morgan bobblehead that way seems like a microcosm of 2009-2010 of the Nats. I may ask for help in acquiring one of those 175,000 bobbleheads so I can stop using this as my stock photo.

Opening Day is 50 days away

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

William F. Yurasko's blog v.15 – Nats, Redskins, Capitals, D.C. life, transportation, not so much Penn State anymore,