Rachel Levitin: Horning in on an unsound change of plans

It’s Friday night in Washington, D.C. The Nationals are in town to start a series against the Florida Marlins. If this was 2010, there would be fireworks to look forward to. But in 2011, there are no more fireworks at Nationals Park.

In April, fans found out about the change. According to Dan Steinberg at the DC Sports Bog, there had been some complaints from neighbors about the noise and some fans said their children were scared by the noise.

Nationals Chief Operating Officer Andy Feffer told Steinberg that the team is only six years old, and should be looking for brand identifiers that differentiate it not only in the marketplace but in sports. In an attempt to be a trendsetter at their own pace, the Nationals then decided to go with a submarine horn (due to the park being at Navy Yard), per the suggestion of their advisers at the Yard.

Instead of fireworks after a home run, ballpark goers now hear a sub horn. And on Friday nights, everyone’s just sent home after the games. Where’s the fun in that?

Feffer’s determination to look for brand identifiers to differentiate the organization in the marketplace and in sports is admirable and logical. But what about the people who live in D.C. who adore being an overly American cliche? What do they do now?

For example, going to a baseball game on July 4 in the nation’s capital with fireworks - it doesn’t get more stereotypically American than that. Unless, of course, the president shows up to throw the first pitch or the home team honors our servicemen and woman. Oh, wait, that does sound familiar, doesn’t it?

Baseball is still a family game, which means the Nationals are listening to their neighbors out of courtesy and respect. They have to abide by the neighbors’ wishes. From fireworks to sub horn, it’s been quite a change.

Fans missing their beloved fireworks will have the chance to hear and see those babies go “Bang! Zoom!” into the Navy Yard sky. The date is set for the Nationals’ Independence Day celebration scheduled for July 2.

Rachel Levitin blogs about the Nationals for We Love DC, and will be sharing her observations about baseball in the nation’s capital this week as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our little corner of cyberspace. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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