Nats Caravan Day 1: Blogging from the Bus

Notes from NatsTown is blogging from the bus throughout the Nationals’ 2010 Winter Caravan. Be sure to follow us.


10:20 a.m.–The Caravan is off. We just left Nationals Park.


On the bus today: Manager Jim Riggleman, reliever Ryan Speier, 2009 first round draft pick Drew Storen, shortstop Danny Espinosa and Rob Dibble. 


10:30 a.m.–We just picked up Storen, Espinosa and Dibble at the Hyatt Hotel and we are off to our first stop…


Our first stop is at Unity Health Care’s Southwest Health Center, a health clinic that serves all District residents regardless of ability to pay. In December, Nationals front office employees helped refurbish and repaint the center in late December. The players will greet staff and patients at the clinic and deliver new books for the waiting room.


10:39 a.m.–We just arrived at the Health Center.


Riggleman 1.jpg 10:59 a.m.–Chair of the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation Marla Lerner Tanenbaum kicked off the official start of the Caravan at the Health Center.


11:01 a.m.–Marla just mentioned how when the Nationals refurbished the Health Center in December, they were divided into two groups: a group that knew what they were doing (The Ballpark Ops) and a group that didn’t know what they were doing (Other Front Office staff… the painters).


For not knowing what they were doing, they did a great job painting.


11:15 a.m.–The players delivered books and helped stack them on the shelves.


books 1.jpg 

11:20 a.m.–They handed out some Nats gear, signed some autographs and Screech made an appearance.


storen 1.jpg
screech 1.jpg“It was a great first stop for the Caravan,” Storen said. “It is always good to help people out and hopefully make their day.”


11:45 a.m.–We just departed the Health Center and we are heading to Hard Times Café.


12:03–The bus just arrived at Hard Times. The Fab-Five will start signing at 1. That’s 57 minutes from now if you are counting… so they are now going to enjoy a scrumptious Hard Times meal.


12:51–The food at Hard Times was delicious. The plate of nachos could have fed a city. A few tidbits from lunch…


                        *Speier’s favorite player growing up was Rob Dibble.

                        *Storen thinks the Colts will win the Super Bowl.

*Heisman Trophy runner-up Toby Gerhart and Storen were teammates on the Stanford baseball team last season. Gerhart might have a few pounds on Storen but they do look alike…. a little bit.


12:54–Players start signing in six minutes and there is already a nice size crowd waiting to get autographs.


signing 2.jpg
signing 1.jpg1:04–State of the Nats-Jim Riggleman and Rob Dibble thanked the crowd for coming and talked about the upcoming 2010 season.


Donkey 1.jpg
Donkey 2.jpg1:25–The Donkey made an appearance and got a few autographs. You maybe have seen him before… he went to over half the games dressed as a donkey last season. “We went to one of the first games last year and my friend and I noticed they needed some crazy fans,” he said. “So my friend and I sewed together the donkey costume.” They sat in Section 236 so they could take advantage of the student discount. He spent the whole season trying to get Adam Dunn to acknowledge him. As you can imagine, he was unsuccessful… maybe in 2010 Dunn-key.


2:23–We were talking about nicknames and how Adam Dunn doesn’t like being called “Big Donkey”… Danny Espinosa said he doesn’t really have a nickname. Storen interrupted and said everyone calls him Espy. Storen said he has never had a nickname but if he opened up a storage company he would call it Storen Stuff. “Or you could call it Storen Space,” Dibble added.


2:41–The bus arrived at the mall for the 5 p.m. appearance at Build-A-Bear. A camera crew will be following Storen and Espinosa around as they shop. Storen said if anyone asks why they are being taped he will tell them…”We are from Jersey Shore.” Good thing there is a Jersey Shore nickname generator… Drew Storen… “D-Train.”


2:42–Storen jokingly suggests that each player wears their jersey while walking around the mall. “Do you guys have a Strasburg jersey I can wear?,” Storen said laughing.


4:47–The crew is ready to meet-and-greet fans at Build-A-Bear. There is a line forming of Nats fans waiting for autographs from the players. T-minus 13 minutes till they get to build a bear.


bb line 2.jpg5:01–Let the autographs begin.


bb screech 3.jpg5:03–Screech has a thing for high fives to the face. He wouldn’t tell me why.


5:33–You can’t go to Build-A-Bear and not build a bear. It is like going to a baseball game and not eating a hot dog.


5:39–This might have been the highlight of the night. Apparently, each bear needs a heart with a heartbeat to live… so to create that heartbeat each bear owner must do the following with a heart squeezed in their hands…


bb spin 5.jpg5 seconds later… spin around three times.


bb jump 6.jpg10 seconds later… jump three times or just stand on your tip toes.


bb push ups 7.jpg20 seconds later… do three push-ups… with Screech pressing down on your back.


5:41–The “beating” hearts were placed inside the bears and they were all stitched up.


7:06–Day one is done.

7:25–On the drive back to the ballpark, we started talking about Dibble’s career. Who was the hardest out? “Every batter was always the toughest out,” Dibble said. So we checked the numbers… How about Pedro Guerrero (batted .455 (5-for-11) with 7 RBI) and Juan Samuel (batted .415 (5-for-12) with one home run and 7 RBI)? “Yeah, I never could get them out,” he said with a cringe. 


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