Who will play left field?

By Tim Grieve

Published January 21, 2005 10:58PM (EST)

A marketing tip to Major League Baseball and its new franchise in Washington, DC: When you're designing a logo for your brand, it's generally best not to choose a symbol that infuriates nearly 50 percent of the American public.

All around the capital this week, souvenir shops hawked caps for the new Washington Nationals. The good news: The caps are available in both red and blue. The bad news: No matter which color you choose, your cap will feature a nice big "W" on the front.

The hats were a hit with Republicans who visited Washington for the inauguration this week, but we don't know many Democrats who would be anxious to sport the president's moniker on their heads. Did this thought not occur to anyone associated with the team? Could the team's logo not have been an overlapping "W" and "N," like the Yankees' "NY" or the Giants' "SF"? How about a nonpartisan graphic of the Capitol or the Washington Monument?

No, "W" it is. This isn't the first time District of Columbia residents have seen Republican imagery commandeer the symbols of their city -- Congress took it upon itself to rename their airport in honor of a president who wasn't exactly popular among the Democratic denizens of the District. And that's a reminder that this baseball situation could be worse: If the GOP had its way, the Washington Nationals might be known today as the Ronald Reagan Washington Nationals.

In the meantime, District Democrats will get the last laugh, at least temporarily. Until a new baseball park can be built, the Washington Nationals will play at RFK.

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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