When Buster Posey retired, I wondered if it would be trend. He was a beloved player for a old-line team and won three World Series. Following over $100 million in earnings, just what we be the incentive to several years of declining play after all that glory?
It had not occurred to me today, that they could apply to ownership groups as well.
Barry Svrluga, the original Washington Nationals beat writer for The Post broke the news that the Lerner Family was considering selling the Nats. They don’t have quite the resume as Mr. Posey, so it’s not a direct analogy.
The Lerner Era
Still though, since taking ownership of the Nats in 2006, the Lerners:
- Presided over the opening of a publicly-funded ballpark
- Endured quite a few early embarrassments
- Tanked for several seasons and built a stockpile of #1 or #1 caliber draft picks.
- Found success in the regular season, four early post-season exits and then…
- Went through managers every two years or so. Who’d have thunk the guy who worked out (that one season) would be Davey Martinez?
- Endured over 15 years of litigation to regain television rights and/fair market compensation from the cowardly Baltimore Orioles and the Angelos family. It’s still not settled.
- Shagged flies, mostly successfully (SB Nation)
- Watched the team go on an inexplicable tear and win Washington’s first World Series in 95 years
- Lost the post-title bounce to a pandemic which cut their net worth by billions
- Traded away what was left of the contenders
What’s left to do?
Not a whole lot! They could try again, but winning a second title isn’t easy and the economics of the sport are changing. Just ask the Philadelphia Phillies, who despite playing in the largest one-team market have exactly two World Series titles ever and went ten years between winnings season. The New York Mets, have also only won two titles in 60 years despite playing in the larger market. It’s hard! Cashing out rather than spending your final years trying to recapture glory has its appeal.
What does the Nats future look like?
The Lerners are among the richest families who live in the D.C. region. Local ownership is theoretically better, but not always.
My great fear is that Dan Snyder exits the NFL and buys the Nats https://t.co/nUy75PDzS6— Ouij (@ouij) April 11, 2022
Same @ouij, same.
Two big names come to mind:
Ted Leonsis, owner of Monumental Sports (Capitals, Wizards Mystics, Capital Centre), comes to mind. I don’t know that he’s got the money. Or the interest – he called baseball boring several times over the years. Mark Lerner has ownership stakes in the Caps as well.
Jeff Bezos, owns The Post (among other holdings) and will seemingly be considered a candidate as well.
Of course, any owner could wind up being cheap, so who knows?
Nationals Park is halfway through its lease
The Nats lease at the ballpark is already approaching the halfway point. That situation could be awkward because the Nats are landlocked in this region. Nobody is going to want to build another ballpark with public funds for a long time, if ever.
We’ll always have 2019
and we always will