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Send Mark to spring training

Feb 8, 2010, 1:30 PM EDT

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When I launched this site one week ago, I honestly had no idea what to expect. I knew I wanted to provide another outlet for news and analysis of the Washington Nationals. But with no method of advertising other than word-of-mouth, I didn’t know how many people that content would reach.

Well, one week into this venture, I’ve been overwhelmed by your

support. From the comments I’ve received, both publicly on the site and privately by email and phone. And from the thousands of hits this site has already received, many from right here in the D.C. area but plenty more from around the world. Who knew NatsTown extended to 18 different countries spanning the entire globe? From Japan to Kenya, from the United Kingdom to India, from Australia to Belgium, you’ve found your way here.

And all of that has led me to change the way I’m thinking about this project. You’ve all made it clear you want comprehensive coverage of the Nats, the kind that’s hard to find elsewhere on the web. You don’t just want another run-of-the mill blog that riffs off other media outlets’ reports. You want a site that covers it all from the frontline, from someone who has access to every player and team official, and from someone who can provide the kind of first-hand accounts afforded only to a select few members of the media.

In other words, you want a site that covers spring training in its entirety.

So I’ve decided to make the trek down to Viera, Fla., later this month and join pitchers and catchers when they report to Space Coast Stadium for a six-week camp that’s sure to boast all kinds of significant storylines. Jim Riggleman’s first spring as manager. Stephen Strasburg’s first spring as a professional pitcher. Ivan Rodriguez, Jason Marquis, Matt Capps and Adam Kennedy’s first spring as Nationals. Adam Dunn’s first spring seeking a long-term extension with Washington.

Unfortunately, it costs money to cover a full major-league camp. When I worked at The Washington Times, the paper would spend approximately $7,500 for each reporter or photographer’s six-week stay. By cutting a few corners — driving from D.C. instead of flying and renting a car, staying at a cheaper hotel — I think I can do it for $5,000.

This site, though, isn’t a money-maker. I’m doing this on my own, receiving no income other than a few pennies each time you click on an ad.

So I need your help to make this happen. At the top of this post, you saw a link with instructions on how to make a donation. I’ve set up a system with PayPal, a safe and reliable method that allows you to pay by credit card with confidence. You are free to donate as little or as much as you’d like.

If you choose not to participate, no worries. You’ll still have access to my full coverage from Florida. But if you do participate, I’m going to return the favor by offering you extra, exclusive coverage all spring.

Here’s what you’ll get, based on your donation level:

$20 – Exclusive daily audio file of Jim Riggleman’s morning or postgame media session.

$40 — Exclusive daily audio file of Jim Riggleman’s morning or postgame media session, plus another daily audio file of an interview with a Nats player, coach or front-office member.

$60 — Exclusive daily audio file of Jim Riggleman’s morning or postgame media session; plus another daily audio file of an interview with a Nats player, coach or front-office member; plus the opportunity to submit a question to be asked of Riggleman or a prominent player during a spring training interview.

Again, you don’t have to donate strictly along those three pre-determined lines. You can enter any amount you like, or none at all. But please note we’re working under a pretty tight deadline here: Pitchers and catchers report on February 19, so we’ve got to move quickly to get this done.

Take a moment to decide what you think this coverage is worth to you. If you decide it’s worth a donation, please click on the link below and help make this trip happen.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and thanks for making this site a must-read for Nats fans from every corner of the globe.

  1. Positively Half St. - Feb 8, 2010 at 2:40 PM

    I'm in. Hopefully enough individuals will join in to make this work. You are certainly right that the additional coverage would be most welcome.

  2. MikeHarris - Feb 8, 2010 at 2:48 PM

    Great idea. I'll be in – eventually.

  3. NatsGirl - Feb 8, 2010 at 2:48 PM

    So glad you're doing this, Mark. Your coverage is exactly what we fans need. Count me in.

  4. Jenn Jenson - Feb 8, 2010 at 2:56 PM

    How much for a date with JIm Riggleman when I get to Florida? Can you swing that?

  5. ctrosecrans - Feb 8, 2010 at 3:40 PM

    good luck, man.

  6. Anonymous - Feb 8, 2010 at 3:51 PM

    On the snowstorm MASN show on Friday, Phil Wood interviewed Riggleman. Near the end of the interview, Phil actually told Riggleman that several female fans had been asking him (Phil) about what would be the best way to meet Riggleman. Basically, Phil was hitting on him by proxy, and Riggleman pretty much blew it off. So either Riggleman is happily married, or the boy ain't right.

  7. Jim - Feb 8, 2010 at 3:53 PM

    I'm in. Great idea, Mark. Looking forward to your reports.

  8. Anonymous - Feb 8, 2010 at 4:01 PM

    I'm inSec314

  9. Jenn Jenson - Feb 8, 2010 at 4:26 PM

    Anonymous #1, I heard that interview. If you were Jim, would you have answered Phil's question on the radio? Both Phil and Tom Davis were practically cracking up. Maybe there's both a little truth and a little humor all around.

  10. Paul - Feb 8, 2010 at 4:45 PM

    Mark, I signed up but just because I think its a creative way to get down and provide Nats coverage. Your passion and determination are commendable. I don't need the special perks for having contributed, your mission is good enough.

  11. Mark Zuckerman - Feb 8, 2010 at 5:30 PM

    Thanks everyone. And thanks, ctrosecrans, for the inspiration. Those who haven't seen it, check out http://www.cnati.com to see how to *really* create a local sports news site.

  12. Wally - Feb 8, 2010 at 5:36 PM

    Hi MarkI am in, I hope that you get to $5k. I don't need the special perks either, but I would LOVE some real information beyond the normal ST pablum.Good luckWally

  13. Anonymous - Feb 8, 2010 at 5:47 PM

    Chipped in, as well. Up here in Boston, it'll be all Ft Myers & the BoSox, all the time, so this site will be a godsend. I'm looking forward to a regular place with professional reporting to get my daily fix of Tony Plush.

  14. Anonymous - Feb 8, 2010 at 6:15 PM

    Mark,This is a creative, worthwhile, and "win-win" idea so I was glad to make a contribution under the "NatsnutMD" name. You deserve a paying reporters job and I'm hoping that you get one real soon!

  15. natsfan1a - Feb 8, 2010 at 6:17 PM

    I'm in, too, and will do my part to spread the word. I don't really need the special perks, either, but will enjoy reading your blogs, as always.

  16. GoDCNationals - Feb 8, 2010 at 6:55 PM

    Good luck Mark! Just put my $.02 in and am looking forward to your posts. Like you, I'm without a job so no season tickets for the first time. So, I'll be looking forward to your news and watching the Nats on tv this year.Mike – Sec 317

  17. JayB - Feb 8, 2010 at 7:11 PM

    I'm in even though Nats might not like the questions I will be submitting…….Thanks Mark

  18. Farid in Idaho - Feb 8, 2010 at 7:13 PM

    Thank you, Mark. I've been blogging about the Nationals since October 2004 and never believed that we deserve some ringside seat to the team's inner sanctum. Our job is to cover the Nationals as fans, asking the questions that fans want answered and offering a differing viewpoint. I always believed that many of us would pay a premium to get a real sportswriter to be our conduit with the team. We bring up a concern to you and you get the answer for us. Though this might take some time to solidify, I think you could make a decent income covering the Nats for us. No, this isn't Red Sox Nation, but sooner than later, the Nationals will become a contending team and fans will rush to find information about the team.And there you'll be.I'm in too. I'll send some dough as soon as my wife gives me the credit card.

  19. Anonymous - Feb 8, 2010 at 7:17 PM

    Happy to contribute, even if I can't figure out how to be anything but Anonymous!

  20. JMW4th - Feb 8, 2010 at 10:34 PM

    Wow Mark, you are almost halfway there, in less than a Day.just proof that NatsTown loves ya.I can't afford a hefty investment, but I'll be kicking in what I can(20-40) before the week is up.

  21. JMW4th - Feb 8, 2010 at 10:43 PM

    http://firejimbowden.blogspot.com/2010/02/if-you-care-about-nationals-please-read.htmlSteven at FJB makes a convincing and passionate argument in support of the Send Mark to Viera initiative. If you haven't read it, do so please.

  22. Mark Zuckerman - Feb 8, 2010 at 11:18 PM

    Thanks, everyone! Your response today has been overwhelming and humbling.

  23. Mike - Feb 8, 2010 at 11:59 PM

    Mark,I just sent in my contribution. I think that this is an original idea and I'm happy to support it. I look forward to your coverage from Viera.

  24. jcj5y - Feb 9, 2010 at 12:41 AM

    Dave Cameron at Fangraphs just posted a story about Mark's quest. That should get some reading outside the DC area. I will be contributing as soon as I'm back at my computer.

  25. natbiscuit - Feb 9, 2010 at 12:56 AM

    I paid up and I look forward to the audio etc…, but what I really think you ought to do is meet us at the Scoreboard Walk for a pre-game beer early in the season. I'll buy (for you, not the whole blogosphere). I mean it's not like your employer can prohibit you having a beer before the game. In fact, I'd like to think your current employer would approve. Also, maybe you could sell autographed ZuckerNat t-shirts to help fund your regular season coverage and you could have a Zuckerman bobblehead night …

  26. JMW4th - Feb 9, 2010 at 1:23 AM

    Anonymous said…Happy to contribute, even if I can't figure out how to be anything but Anonymous!—————–If you have a Google, Blogger, LiveJournal,AIM, Typepad or OpenID account, you should be able to log in with it under the "Post a Comment" boxotherwise, you should be able to manually specify a name to post under at least.your options are in a small box labeled "Comment As", underneat the text box for your comment.

  27. JMW4th - Feb 9, 2010 at 1:25 AM

    ZuckerNat. ha.

  28. Nats Fan - Feb 9, 2010 at 2:33 AM

    Can't imagine Spring Training without your coverage. It would be like a tree falling in the woods with nobody around to hear it.

  29. Andrew Baggarly - Feb 9, 2010 at 2:49 AM

    Thanks for keeping the beat writing flame alive, MZuck. It's great to see your terrific reporting and insight is so valued by Nats Nation.

  30. peric - Feb 9, 2010 at 3:16 AM

    I'm currently between jobs myself … working on more consulting gigs or full-time. But I will be sending you some tollars as soon as I can.

  31. Anonymous - Feb 9, 2010 at 3:29 AM

    Are you considering making the site a pay site during the regular season? This is important, as I'm willing to pay for Nats' coverage, but I can't afford to make a donation and then pay to subscribe. (I guess what I'm saying is I will be able to donate more if it will not become paid.)

  32. Anonymous - Feb 9, 2010 at 3:43 AM

    I'm in. This is rather empowering for fans to be able to send an independent reporter to spring training. I'll be bummed if we can't get this done by Wednesday.

  33. Ryan - Feb 9, 2010 at 3:45 AM

    I haven't posted on the site before (not really my kind of thing) but I've been stopping by pretty frequently and really like what I've read of yours in the past and now Mark, so I am happy to contribute. Good luck!

  34. Alden Gonzalez - Feb 9, 2010 at 3:48 AM

    It's great to see what you're doing, Mark. I wish you nothing but the best. Hope to see you down in Florida.

  35. James - Feb 9, 2010 at 5:26 AM

    Good luck with this. I am donating on the condition that you come out and play some basketball with us when you get back from spring training.

  36. Jeff Fletcher - Feb 9, 2010 at 5:27 AM

    I have made my contribution. Good luck Mark.

  37. James Bjork - Feb 9, 2010 at 5:35 AM

    I follow this sorry team too religiously not to chip in…. DONE.

  38. NattyDelite! - Feb 9, 2010 at 5:53 AM

    To all of you on the fence, I am a teacher. I've made my payment, so pony on up. Mark, you rock. Yes.

  39. Michael - Feb 9, 2010 at 8:18 AM

    Mark: Our pal, LaVelle E. Neal III, up here in the Twin(s) Cities (who is still a employed MLB beat writer for the StarTribune) has asked us all to help send you to spring training. It's a great idea and I'll try to send something your way. If you're coming up to see Target Field this summer look me up and I try to squeeze you into our new ballpark. – Sammy

  40. Dan Shanoff - Feb 9, 2010 at 12:05 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  41. estoppel.08 - Feb 9, 2010 at 1:52 PM

    Mark, I wish you good luck!!!

  42. Anonymous - Feb 9, 2010 at 2:30 PM

    FYI, MetsBlog has now posted a link to your site.

  43. cadeck13 - Feb 9, 2010 at 4:09 PM

    Count me in Mark!! You are the best at covering the Nats! Keep up the great reporting and know that we are all pulling for you to land the job of your dreams! cadeck13

  44. alm1000 - Feb 9, 2010 at 5:33 PM

    I'm in Mark and thanks for the great work.

  45. Anonymous - Feb 10, 2010 at 1:45 AM

    You got balls my boy. I'm too cheap to pay for what I can for free. But I do admire your cujones. Ever consider selling used cars?

  46. Anonymous - Feb 10, 2010 at 5:59 AM

    This is a much better way for me to spend my money than on Haiti. I'm in.

  47. JR O'Brien - Feb 10, 2010 at 12:45 PM

    happy to see the best Nats' beat guy is going to spring training. Now if you can just figure out some way to make them relevant enough for this displaced DC native to care. I've lost almost all interest due to their total ineptitude – already.

  48. The Duck - Feb 10, 2010 at 7:09 PM

    I don't have time to listen to the blogs. I have enough trouble finding time to listen to the Yankee blogs. Good luck.

  49. Anonymous - Feb 10, 2010 at 10:32 PM

    Mark:Appreciate what you're doing. I used to love the Times' sports coverage, especially you and Mike Jones (Wizards beat writer). Now, the paper is a piece of crap! I think the Nationals are on the way up. It's a very professional organization, and Mike Rizzo is on the ball. Again, I'm looking forward to your blog.

  50. Positively Half St. - Feb 10, 2010 at 10:58 PM

    Wait, here's a telegram from Sam Wainwright! "I have instructed the London office to wire you a $25,000 line of credit"!Here's to my brother Mark, the richest man in town!!!!(Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind……)

  51. Anonymous - Feb 11, 2010 at 11:53 AM

    Mark – I have enjoyed your writing for the years you had at the times. I was glad to send you what I could to get your emails; Thnks for doing this. I would think the Wash Examiner would love to get you one staff.

  52. Anonymous - Feb 11, 2010 at 12:04 PM

    Mark,As a refugee from journalism, I applaud your entrepreneurial approach. I hope you can make this work. You've got my $20 and my best wishes.Maybe you should see if the Nats management can work out some ticket deals where Zuckerman blogheads could buy seats in a group area, meet and chat with you, etc. They could pay you a commission on ticket sales, beer, etc.Just remember that you can't become a flack for the team.

  53. Anonymous - Feb 11, 2010 at 10:27 PM

    I probably owe an apology since I have read mostly the Post's coverage of the Nats. I had tried to check the Times last season too but didn't always make it. Anyway, just kicked in my $20 and love that you will be down there to give us another perspective w/ Chico.Glad to see the donations are still rolling in and you have earned some salary on top of your travel expenses. Maybe with the extra money you can add a soup bowl to your Panera order. Blogging in Spring Training…in Viera, even better.

  54. randomdude2228 - Feb 11, 2010 at 11:11 PM

    Wow Mark, congrats on making nearly $10,000. I'm not in a financial position to donate, but nevertheless I appreciate you heading down to Viera and look forward to your coverage.

  55. Anonymous - Feb 12, 2010 at 2:00 AM

    MARK- Best of luck on your new adventure! Add me to the list of Original Contributor$Larry

  56. Anonymous - Feb 12, 2010 at 3:27 AM

    Mark,Forget the Super 8. At this rate, you're staying in the Acta Suite at the Ritz Carlton!Way to go!!

  57. Anonymous - Feb 12, 2010 at 12:57 PM

    I didn't much care for the Times, but I liked your writing; I've kicked in a few bucks. Good luck.

  58. Andrew - Feb 12, 2010 at 2:19 PM

    Mark now has enough dough to make a few road trips now too!

  59. Anonymous - Feb 12, 2010 at 6:32 PM

    Mark – what are you doing with the extra money? you said you only needed $5,000 and now yu are close to $10,000. Are you going to fly? Stay at a better hotel or a closer hotel? Eat somewhere besides Panera?

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Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB MN
WASHINGTON 78 58 -- 19
ATLANTA 72 66 7.0
MIAMI 67 69 11.0
NEW YORK 64 74 15.0
PHILADELPHIA 63 74 15.5
Through Monday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
TUE: Nats at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Dodgers, 3:10 p.m.
THU: OFF
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Phillies at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Braves at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

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