The first thing people attending tonight’s Phillies-Nationals game will notice when they grab their seat is that the stadium - for the weekend, at least - is no longer called Nationals Park.
A giant banner above the scoreboard in right-center has been unfurled which reads: “Natitude Park”.
The Nationals have made this series against the Phillies a center of their “Natitude” marketing campaign this season, combined with the much-publicized “Take Back the Park” crusade.
For the most part, the vibe I’ve gotten from Nationals players on the whole Natitude topic is that they’d prefer the focus of this season to be on the action on the field. Manager Davey Johnson reinforced that message during his pregame session with reporters today.
“Marketing is marketing,” Johnson said. “I don’t get caught up in that. What’s going to sell tickets is if we win ballgames. That’s the way we’re going to take this stadium back.
“We’ve got an attitude, I don’t know about Natitude,” he added.
Johnson requested that a new Natitude-themed sign behind home plate be taken down earlier this afternoon, claiming that it was affecting his pitchers’ view of home plate.
The Nats’ skipper then had reporters cracking up when he recounted a story from somewhat recently, when he was asked to do a promotional advertisement for All-Star balloting.
Johnson was asked to say, “Join in the Natitude”. Because he has trouble pronouncing the word “Natitude” cleanly, however, Johnson made a slight adjustment to his line in the ad.
“I just said, ‘We’ve got a damn good team here. Vote for the Nats,’ ” Johnson said.
That works, too.