Council Chairman Phil Mendelson is a Natural at the plate.
Council Chairman Phil Mendelson is a Natural at the plate. Credit: Twitter screenshot

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As the D.C. Council Chairman, you get a few perks: a choice parking spot in front of the Wilson Building, a dope office with a fireplace, and a staff that will create videos of you co-opting classic baseball movies in support of the Washington Nationals’ first World Series appearance.

You also apparently get access to Nationals Park to film those videos while the rest of us have to stand outside.

For the past few weeks, Council Chairman Phil Mendelson‘s social media accounts have inundated followers with short, sports-related videos celebrating the success of local teams. The value of those videos, in terms of the taxpayer resources used to create them, is subjective. The videos are either de minimis expenditures that capture the mood of the District, or examples of a public official piggybacking on the District’s collective enthusiasm for an athletic event that has nothing to do with legislating.

But that’s not for LL to say. Notably, Mendelson was one of six pols to vote, in 2004, against the deal to spend millions to build a stadium and lure an MLB team back to the District.

The mastermind behind these productions is Lindsey Walton, the Chairman’s director of communications, who says she got the idea from a social media consultant who visited the Wilson Building.

“They gave us some information about things we should tweet and post,” she says. “So I was just thinking of popular things to garner some support for the teams but get a little more attention to the Chairman’s social media.”

The strategy has been fairly successful, with the videos racking up tens of thousands of views.

Walton says she had to push her boss to participate in the early productions, in which he wagers with Connecticut Senate President Pro Tem Martin Looney over the WNBA championship, swings a baseball bat inside and hits a basketball in the office, and uses a body double to slam a basketball through a Nerf hoop. (Walton says Mendelson almost broke a light swinging a bat in his office.)

But after the success of the first few vids, Walton says, the Chairman suggested taking a trip to Nats Park for the most recent clips.

“He’s been getting a lot of good feedback,” Walton says. “He’s very proud of the videos.”

Walton says she spent about an hour Wednesday afternoon filming Mendelson in the dugout, the bullpen, and on the field at Nats Park. It typically takes her 30 minutes to an hour to splice the footage with movie clips and shots of Nationals crowds, which Walton says was taken from the team’s Twitter. 

The two most recent videos are spoofs of The Natural and Major League, in which the chairman stands in as aging slugger Roy Hobbs and bad boy relief pitcher Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn, respectively.

LL pointed out there may be copyright issues with some of the footage, but Walton says she’ll take down the videos if any issues arise.

Walton says she’s working on a few other videos: One is Angels in the Outfield-themed, and the other is a montage set to John Fogerty‘s “Centerfield.” She says she may release a separate video if the Nats win, but declined to give LL any details.

“We did a tour of Audi Field yesterday, randomly, not related to this, and they were like ‘you must be scouting locations for soccer,’” she says. “I don’t want to see him on ice. I’m afraid for that. But we’ll see what the Caps do.”