Sunday's FanFest allowed thousands of Nats Fans -- perhaps the entire MASN viewing audience -- a chance to mingle with their favorite players from their favorite 102-loss team.
During the event, Stan Kasten and Jim Bowden (sans Segway or leather pants) addressed the crowd on a variety of topics, primarily revolving around an offseason which has produced more hot air than signed contracts. Well, that and poop (as DC Sports Bog helpfully details.)
Kasten's comments -- as they so often do -- centered on how his way of building the team is the only way. His comments indicated that he does not think the Nats' off-field progress should be judged by results or by outsider rankings. Fans, he seems to believe, should just take his word that things are great.
Kasten discussed the team payroll, which he believes is a poor proxy for team quality. He cited last year's low-budget Tampa Bay Rays and the free-spending Detroit Tigers as examples for why payroll doesn't matter.
He did not, however, acknowledge the near-universal acclaim the Tampa farm system had, nor the number of high-profile draft picks the team relied on for success last year.
The only acknowledgment he made of the Nats' plummeting farm-system rankings is that they were done by outside groups who don't fully understand the improvements in the Nats' system.
This is a far cry from last year, when the bible of the industry, Baseball America, said that the Nats had the No. 9 ranked farm system. Then, the Nats all but printed up T-shirts and gave out No. 9 bobbleheads as evidence that they knew what they were doing.
There's reason to be optimistic if you're a Nats fan. The core of the team is relatively young, and they had to have a lot of things go wrong last season to be as bad as they were.
But the team's fans are reeling after a difficult offseason with little improvement. No amount of Kasten's spoon-fed sugar is going to help that bitter medicine go down.