Back in December, 2007, Nationals Park was still a construction site. Almost no season ticket holder had stood anywhere near the new complex. When season tickets went on-sale, we were told by the Nats where we would be sitting, and we had to accept or reject that seating assignment - sight unseen. Nonetheless, throngs of fans were buying their season ticket packages for 2008.
On December 10, the team sent out an email proclaiming that a free, collectible, porcelain replica of the new stadium would be given to those who paid in-full for their tickets by December 15. Many people did just that. By the middle of July, lots of us were wondering if we'd ever see the promised trinket.
Finally, yesterday, the team sent out an email:
"The Washington Nationals would like to thank all of our season ticket holders who have made the 2008 season a very memorable one. To recognize your payment in full and early commitment to the inaugural season in Nationals Park, the Nationals are proud to present you with a limited-edition replica of Nationals Park.
The account holder of record may pick up the Nationals Park replica at the season ticket holder table located on the main concourse outside of the Washington Suites. Season ticket holders will receive one (1) replica per account. As the account holder of record, please bring a picture ID to this table to receive your replica."
They sent out a separate email to all season ticket holders, with similar instructions for picking up a previously promised "Nationals Yearbook".
A Nats forum buddy of mine was complaining about having to be at the park to claim the promised stadium replica, as well as the yearbook. My initial reaction was that he was just whining and looking for something on which to focus his frustrations. Then I went to the game, and attempted to claim mine.
By the third inning, the line for the yearbooks was about 50 people long. One hapless staff member was checking ID's, looking up names, and awarding yearbooks. Then there was a second line for the stadium replica. Had I stood in both lines, I might have been mercifully denied the chance to witness Tim Redding's five run fifth inning.
My friend's complaint was that the replica was promised to those who ponied-up a hella lotta cash, all at once, just before Christmas. He, like many others, splits his tickets amongst family members and friends, so the requirement that the Account Holder of the tickets be present at the ballpark is a bit of a tall order.
Those fans took a giant leap of faith back in December. The least the Nats could have done, he maintains, is drop the thing in the mail. After watching fans give up bought and paid-for innings of time to stand in a slow line, I now agree with him.
Nats320 has some pix of the stadium replica (along with his usual fine wrap-up and commentary on the game) here. It's just a stupid dust collector and catalog. It shouldn't be a big deal. But to those of us afflicted with fanhood, it kind of is a big deal.
People who stood in those lines to pick up an item that was promised to them, missed a large chunk of an event that they paid well in advance to see. Meanwhile, the event itself was disintegrating into a game lost that should have been won. The whole methodology - from the dugout, where Acta stood stoically and watched Tim Redding fall apart, to the card table stacked with cheap crap being parceled-out at an agonizingly slow pace, throws off a perception that nobody within the Nationals organization is trying very hard.