While the Nationals never formally said Stephen Strasburg would debut on June 4, there were a lot of fans that believed that would be the date. How many fans? As Dan Steinberg noted yesterday, there are almost no tickets available for June 4, which never happens with Nationals games.
So does this mean we can blame the Nationals for pulling a bait and switch on their fans? Not so fast, say many Nats bloggers. Yes, many fans bought tickets, but it wasn't because the Nationals put the June 4 date out there themselves, it was because of the speculation out there. It's hard to blame the Nationals when they never said anything about when Strasburg would actually debut.
As Nationals Enquirer writes:
Now, as much as we enjoy taking jabs at the Lerners, Kasten, Rizzo, et al. whenever possible, we're having a hard time getting upset about anything the Nationals may or may not have done to help sell tickets for that June 4-6 series against the Reds. Heck, about the only thing the Nationals are guilty of is not stepping in sooner to squash the speculation around June 4th. And really: why should they have? It was only last night that anyone from the Nationals even mentioned June 4 as a possibility; and it was Rizzo denying that this date was written in stone.
Capitol Punishment's Chris Needham agrees:
Apparently some are kvetching about the bait and switch the Nats did with the 6/4 date, getting a sellout on a game that otherwise would've seen 18,000 miserable souls. Really... what the hell are these people thinking? They've got no reason to complain. The team (almost to the point of absurdity) didn't say a damn thing about when he'd start, and they went out of their way to say that they WEREN'T going to announce it.
So some people speculated and now they're complaining?
I don't understand what was so magical about 6/4 anyway. Really, if you're the team, wouldn't a Saturday or Sunday start -- and all the attendant press and attention -- have made more sense than a Friday game? I dunno. I would've bet the Sunday game had I decided to buy a ticket.
But to fault the team? That's horseshit. And that's coming from someone who isn't inclined to ever give these morons the benefit of the doubt.
Both make good points. It's not appropriate to kill the Nationals over this. At the same time, I do think they could have done more to quench the speculation sooner, so while they don't deserve to be killed, it is appropriate to question why it took so long for them to be more proactive.