Nationals Baseball: So how long can he keep covering the Nats?

Monday, February 15, 2010

So how long can he keep covering the Nats?

Thanks to the succesful telethon organized by George Lombard that aired on all the MASN stations, Mark Zuckerman not only raised $5000 to cover the Nats, he's gotten $10,000. For some stupid reason Mark, isn't pocketing that money for women and cheap liqour and is instead going to watch the Nats play even more baseball. To each his own I guess. He says he'll cover the team as long as he can - but how long is that?

Let's assume that that money is all going to the Nats coverage. No silly stuff being paid out like bills, medicine, or food for the family. How far will another 5K go? I'm not going to break down what I think the expenses would be, this is a man's livelihood and something feels a bit icky about taking a fine tooth comb to potential expenses (even though someone really should shouldn't they? I mean you wouldn't hire someone to do a job for you and then just broadly say spend this rough amount anyway you see fit, would you?), but I can't help be curious about what type of return on investment the Nats fans online could get for their extra cash. Just broad guesses follow, don't hold me, and certainly not Mark, to any of it.

Anyway my guess is at best the 5K will get Mark to mid-late May. Let's look at the schedule. The money is mostly going to go toward travel expenses (food, gas, planes), so the more games at home the better. The first month is helpfully home-centric. There is a 6-game away trip to NY and Philly, and while I guess technically he could drive there and back everyday, that's no way to work. Thanks to a fortuitous day off in the Philly series though he could probably do this series with moderate comfort in 4 nights, driving in the first day to NY, coming back home during that off-day in Philly. Then the Nats are home until the 26th. Not that no money would be spent then (there is gas and food to think of at the very least), but it would be significantly less. Then comes the first true away swing to Chicago and Florida. Those are both flights and hotels, 6 nights. That right there will eat up a chunk. Back home again until May 9th and then another away swing. Mets, Rockies, and Cards. My guess is that probably does it for the travel. Even if he drives to NY for day one and then back after the series before flying out, that's still 8 nights and two more flights. If Mark does make it past here with some cash left, he could probably get to the 23rd, before a west coast swing basically ends the experiment.

Maybe - remember I have no idea what I'm guessing at here. Could be that 5K can only get him to the end of that first long homestand (ends April 25th). There are probably a ton of things going on here I have no idea about, but I think even best case with super-frugal Mark putting all that cash back into covering the team, you still have got 3/4ths the season left out there "uncovered". If you are going to want full year coverage, it's going to take a lot more than what Nats fans have put in so far.

Also : drawing significantly less attention, another Nats site (Nationals Inquisition) is also trying to raise money to send them to year. This attempt brings up a good point that Mark Zuckerman's "experiement" is more likely a change in funding than anything else. It's still a seasoned reporter going to cover the Nats for his 6th year. Assuming the Nats treat him the same, the concept is more like a reporter leaving a paper to start his own sports magazine, than a blogger working his way into the inside. There are possible implications to this, as I mentioned before, but more for seasoned reporters and news media then the "grassroots" blogger. Sending a true blogger would be the next step and something more revolutionary. I'm not sure that they'll raise that money, I feel the fans support for Zuckerman comes out of an interest to get back the top-shelf mainstream coverage they lost from the Times and are seemingly going to be denied from the apathetic Post, as opposed to any grand revolutionary ideals, but some blogger was going to be the first to try it. We'll really see where it goes next off-season.


Hoo said...

This isn't really a viable step forward. Unless he gets enough hits to get some serious advertising dough or sells some many subscrptions.

If he can sell $1,000 at $5 a pop, he's in pretty good shape for example.

But he has no economies of scale or support structure to sell advertising. Hope things go well but I'm very skeptical of current model.

Harper said...

I assume it'll be a subscription model. As long as the Post seems to not care, he's got a chance, there have got to be several thousand internet savvy Nats fans that want a bit more then what they are getting now. Say 10 bucks a pop... 3000 fans migh be able to support year long spartan coverage.

But if the Post picks it back up, why would Joe Q Fan pay up? And is spartan coverage worthwhile to him, career-wise, family-wise, etc...