Nats Caravan Day 2: Blogging from the Bus

Notes from NatsTown is blogging from the bus throughout the Nationals’ 2010 Winter Caravan.

It is day two of the Nats Caravan and for a complete rundown of day one you can scroll down or click here.

Day two will be just as busy as yesterday. We will begin with a lunchtime appearance at the famous Ben’s Chili Bowl. The bus will then travel to Fort Belvoir, Va., site of the USO of Metropolitan Washington. The group will spend two hours assembling care packages for troops overseas, and meeting with wounded warriors and those stationed at the base. The final stop of the day will be an autograph and photograph session at Pfitzner Stadium, home of the Potomac Nationals–the Nat’s Single-A affiliate.

11:24 a.m.–We have officially got the wheels turning on the bus.

We have the same crew on the bus today: Manager Jim Riggleman, reliever Ryan Speier, 2009 first round draft pick Drew Storen, shortstop Danny Espinosa and broadcaster Rob Dibble

Nationals President Stan Kasten and GM Mike Rizzo aren’t on the bus but they will be a Ben’s.

11:35 a.m.–In preparation for Ben’s Chili Bowl, the guys are signing player cards to hand out.  Dibble is trying to master the science of signing on a bus–the slightest bump feels like the biggest pothole–he has decided just to sign when the bus is stopped.  

11:49 a.m–We just passed One Fitness on the corner of S St. NW and 14 St. NW. Their motto is “Change your body… Change your world.” We couldn’t help but think about Globo Gym from the movie Dodgeball… “We are better than you and we know it.”

11:52 a.m.–There is a long line of people waiting outside BCB. Someone suggests that the players go through the back door. “We will go through the front door,” Dibble said. “I will lead the way.”

11:57 a.m.–It turns out that the line of people were students waiting for a school bus.


BCB 1 walking.jpg12:15–The players ordered their food and then handed out player cards. Let’s just say Ben’s makes the batter’s box look big.


BCB 2 picture taking.jpg12:18–Everyone was trying to get a photo with the players.

12:19–A minute after the photo was taken, the lady dropped her phone. It sounded like it shattered into a million pieces… maybe the case just broke but it looked rough. “It’s fine,” she said. “I drop my phone all the time. The photo is safe.”

12:25–The players were asked to take their jerseys off while they eat. They are professional baseball players… not professional eaters.


BCB photo on the wall.jpg12:47–The Nats will soon have a photo on the wall to join the likes of Bill Crosby, Dr. Dre, Chris Rock, President Obama and Dave Chappelle just to name a few. Don’t mind Jamie from Myth Busters in the back of the photo.

12:53–Party in the kitchen.


BCB 5 Kitchen.jpg12:56–It was the guys first stop at Ben’s Chili Bowl. There is a good chance they will be back. “Food was pretty good. It was good Chili,” Espinosa said. “I wasn’t going to eat a lot of it because we are going on the bus.” Thank you.

12:59–We are off to Fort Belvoir.

1:53–We are here.


USO meet the troops 2.jpg
USO Mark Lerner.jpg1:59–The players are getting a tour of the warehouse and then they are going to help put together care packages. Owners Mark Lerner and Judy Lenkin Lerner are here too.


USO life saves.jpg2:06–The care package process has begun. The packages have everything: pens, shaving cream, razors, trail mix, beef jerky, books, magazines and much more. You name it and it’s probably in there. The assembly line they have going on right now would have impressed the late Henry Ford.


USO Assmbly line shot 3.jpgThe USO warehouse has four parties like this a month at Fort Belvoir and they travel all around the States to make care packages too.

“It is such a morale boost for the troops to have the Nationals players come here,” Director of Operation USO Care Package Ron Wise said. “I really hope they get to see and understand the impact they are making. They are so important. The troops will talk about this for months and it really speaks volume for the Nationals organization.”

2:20–The stuffing party is in full force. The first bell rang. They ring the bell every time 500 care packages have been made. When the bell rings everyone starts screaming and dancing so the troops know we care.


USO Drew Storen 1.jpg2:44–Second bell rings.

3:09–Third bell rings.

3:15–Fourth bell rings. I told you Henry Ford would be proud of this assembly line. Ok… so it might have been premature.


USO Assmbly line shot 4.jpg3:33–The crew just finished packing the bags. Total count: 2,025 packages. Not a bad day at all but we didn’t quite set the record. They most packages they have made in one day… 15,000 with the help of 300 people. “It was pure insanity,” Wise said. “I don’t think we will ever match that.”

4:00–We are off to Woodbridge.

4:45–We are here at the P-Nats stadium. I don’t think Storen or Espinosa could be happier to return.


P-Nats signing 1.jpg
P-Nats Signing.jpg5:30–The pens and hands are ready for 2 hours and 30 minutes of autographs. Screech has been stretching his fingers and practicing his signature all day.

6:11–Screech is putting on a mascot clinic–making fans laugh, posing for pictures and signing autographs.


P-Nats screech.jpgIt may have been a loaded question when I asked the crowd if they have ever seen a mascot as funny…but they answered it correctly and that’s all that mattered. “I haven’t,” one person said. “Not even close,” said another person, “he is hilarious.”

30 seconds later… A season ticket holder for just about every sports team in Washington asked Screech if he was going to be skating at the Caps game tomorrow night. He whistled yes and then she reminded him that SlapShot (the Caps Mascot) took him down last season.

“The Caps mascot has bulked up my friend, bulked up,” she said. “You better watch out tomorrow night. We are going to have to see how many times you end up on the ice Screech.”        

Game on SlapShot.

7:25–I just met Robert Probst from Dover, Del. He drove 122 miles to attend tonight’s event. I told him he unofficially drove the most miles to come here.

“What do I get for that,” he asked.

I told him I could probably hook him up with a pocket schedule.

“I can’t contain my excitement,” he responded with a bright smile.

8:00–Day two is in the books and the USO event was the most memorable.

“The USO stuff was great,” Dibble said. “I have a new appreciation for the care packages they send out.”

“It was a great time,” Storen said. “It is always good to give back to the Military since they do so much for us.”

 

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