Results tagged ‘ Mark Lerner ’

A National Honor

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Few professional sports teams are as involved with their communities as the Washington Nationals are with the U.S. Military. That commitment to our nation’s armed forces extends beyond the In-Game Military salute at each home game, also including the Me and a Friend Program, the Washington Nationals Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team and team visits to military hospitals.

On Thursday night, the USO of Metropolitan Washington (USO-Metro) recognized the club for its efforts with a very special award at its 30th Annual Awards Dinner. The event – which featured a black tie dress code for civilians and full formal dress for all military members – was held at The Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City in Arlington, and featured high-ranking officials from both the military and the private sector. More than 500 guests in all packed the sold-out gala, which helped raise more than $630,000 for USO-Metro.

Mark D. Lerner accepts the Legacy of Hope Award from Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Jay R. Vargas, U.S. Marine Corps.

The Nationals were well represented at this special event, which also marked the 150th anniversary of the Medal of Honor. Screech and the Racing Presidents were present, and each place setting featured a baseball with the date of the gala as well as both the USO logo and the familiar Curly W. The Lerner family was in attendance, not only to commemorate the occasion but also to accept the Bob Hope Legacy Award, named after the legendary entertainer for all he did for America’s military.

Nationals Principal Owner and Vice Chairman Mark D. Lerner accepted the award on behalf of both the Lerner family and the entire Nationals organization. He shared the following words of gratitude with those in attendance upon receiving the honor:

Thank you everyone. On behalf of the Washington Nationals organization and the entire Lerner family, I’d like to thank the USO of Metropolitan Washington for recognizing our team with this year’s Legacy of Hope Award. 

My parents Annette and Ted Lerner grew up in the D.C. area, and my sisters Marla Tanenbaum and Debra Cohen and I were raised here. It’s impossible to live here and not be aware of the sizeable contributions made by our military members and their families. Few of us can ever comprehend how much each service-member – as well as their wives, husbands, children and parents – sacrifice in order to serve our country.

As the stewards of the national pastime in the Nation’s Capital, we believe that making a difference in the lives of the men and women who fight for our country is one of the most fulfilling things we can do, and we are always looking for new ways to pay tribute and support them and their families. 

Bob Hope’s generosity and dedication was legendary. I’m pleased that the Nationals can – in whatever small way – continue his tradition and hopefully inspire future generations to support our service men and women.

I am humbled to be among so many Medal of Honor recipients and their families here tonight – and, on behalf of my family and the Washington Nationals, I want to thank you once again for your service.

From The Desk Of Mark Lerner – Capital Pride

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Nationals Principal Owner Mark D. Lerner will be blogging throughout the 2012 Grapefruit League Season from Viera, bringing his own unique perspective of the goings-on at Nats Spring Training.

Good Afternoon Nats Fans:

On Monday afternoon, I took in Chien-Ming Wang’s 2012 debut, as he participated in the first intra-squad game of the spring over at our Minor League Complex. This contest was part of our Accelerated Development Program, which consists of our best and brightest prospects.

As many of you know, we have invested a lot of time and energy the last five years in building our minor league system from the ground up. Being named the No. 1 system last month by Baseball America was really a great accomplishment and a benchmark of how far our organization has come along.

There is definitely a different energy and expectation this Spring Training. If the 2011 season was about promise, then 2012 should be about performance. This Nationals team believes it’s ready to win and expects to win.

Both GM Mike Rizzo and Manager Davey Johnson say this team should be playing meaningful games in September. This is the season our loyal fans have been waiting for.

As I glanced around the diamond yesterday, I noticed various names I had heard previously (and some I’d seen) during brief visits to Hagerstown, Potomac and Harrisburg.

Names like Jeff Kobernus, Blake Kelso and Matt Skole are familiar to me, as are their games. Same with Michael Taylor and Destin Hood, who are two of our finest outfield prospects. All were scattered around the field. But I was especially interested in two players in particular: Chien-Ming Wang and Brian Goodwin, one of our top picks in the 2011 draft. As fate would have it, they squared off to start the game.

Score one for the youngster, as Goodwin put a nice swing on Wang offering and legged out a leadoff double.

Wang did not disappoint either, as he fanned 3 in 2.0 innings. He allowed one run on three hits, throwing 31 pitches, 24 for strikes. But his fastball sat consistently at 89-90 and hit 91 on occasion. What’s more, Davey and Mike were pleased. They both liked how strong he was right out of the chute. Last year, in his first 5-6 starts with us, Wang took an inning or two to really get loose and transfer that strength into his pitches. No so yesterday. He was strong right from the start. That’s why Goodwin’s double was impressive. It came on a good pitch.

As an aside… I also  saw pitcher Alex Meyer our second pick in the  first round last year out of Kentucky on another field. He is one large man at 6’9”.

Last night’s game in Port St. Lucie resulted in our first win of the Grapefruit League season, a 3-1 victory over the Mets. Rick Ankiel, the pride of Port St. Lucie High School, went deep to provide his home crowd, including a few former teachers and administrators, a great moment. John Lannan (one earned run in 3.0 innings) also pitched very well in his Grapefruit League debut. Bryce Harper and Eury Perez also continue to look great.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank my dear friend, Ted Leonsis, for the kind words he wrote yesterday in his blog regards to our new “Natitude” marketing campaign.

I know how much Ted enjoys baseball and is excited for our season ahead. Likewise, I have an eye on our Capitals and their playoff pursuits. I am thinking that their best hockey is yet to come. I know if I were a Bruins or Rangers fan that I would not relish facing the Caps in the first round.

I am off to Disney’s Wide World of Sports for today’s game against the Braves. But the real draw is that Gio Gonzalez will be making his Spring Training and Nationals debut. It will be a thrill to see our 26-year-old southpaw finally take the mound wearing our Nationals red, white and blue.

Trust me on this one… Nats fans are going to fall in love with this young man.

Until we blog again.

Weekly Review (2/27)

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Here at Curly W Live, we will be conducting a weekly review every Tuesday morning of all the storylines from the week that was. If you’re new to the site or have just been too busy to stay current with all the day-to-day storylines, this is your way to get caught up on everything going on with the team.

Spring Training began as Nationals pitchers and catchers reported to Viera. Although the official position player report date was not until midweek, most players were in camp several days early. Senior Director of Media Relations John Dever began his (almost) daily musings on the notable events each day in Spring Training. Anthony Rendon stopped by to showcase his sweet swing and chat for a few minutes about his first big league camp.

We enjoyed a visit from ESPN on campus at Space Coast Stadium, and were even able to snag an interview with Tim Kurkjian about his outlook on the team. Also, a rocket launched from the nearby Kennedy Space Center.

The Nationals proudly hosted the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team for a couple days of practice in advance of their April 3 game at Nationals Park (following the Nationals-Red Sox exhibition).

The franchise’s first-ever draft pick and everyday third baseman since the end of the 2005 season, Ryan Zimmerman signed an extension that will keep him in a Nationals uniform through at least the 2019 season, with an option for 2020. Both Dever and Nationals Principal Owner Mark D. Lerner opined their perspectives of the signing.

From The Desk Of Mark Lerner – Extending Thanks

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Nationals Principal Owner Mark D. Lerner will be blogging throughout the 2012 Grapefruit League Season from Viera, bringing his own unique perspective of the goings-on at Nats Spring Training.

Good afternoon Nats Fans,

I’m packing my bags today to head down to Viera and Space Coast Stadium in a few days for what I think will be one of the most competitive and interesting training camps in baseball over the next few weeks. Honestly, I wish I left a week ago to get down there. I am ready for some baseball.

Zimmerman's teammates were on-hand to watch him sign his extension.

The competition to make the 25-man roster, the starting lineup, and especially the five-man rotation will be exciting. The fact that just about everyone showed up early this spring is a good indication of how eager they all are to impress Mike Rizzo and Davey Johnson. I’ll also be interested to see the smaller, more condensed and personalized camp, which includes 54 players.

I’m also looking forward to congratulating Ryan Zimmerman face-to-face on his contract extension.  He is a special person, a fan favorite, and certainly a guy for whom I have great respect. Ryan and I traded text messages early Sunday morning after Mike Rizzo told me the negotiations were completed late Saturday night. I told him how excited I was personally that he has the chance to wear his hometown Washington Nationals jersey for – what all Nats fans would love to see – the rest of his career.

I would have enjoyed being a fly on the wall when Ryan made a call to his mom and dad telling them the contract negotiations had been finalized. I know he has always hoped that he could continue to play in front of his family and friends, and I know his parents, Keith and Cheryl, are thrilled.

Zimmerman and Rizzo make it official with a handshake.

I can tell you from behind the scenes that Ryan’s first priority in extending his contract was the ability to see his job through. He has been the cornerstone of our building plan in Washington, and we believe will be an even more important one in the team’s leap to being a contender. In the next few years, we should see our planning begin to pay off, and Ryan’s leadership and performance will be critical to it.

Hats off to Ryan, his family, his agent, to Mike Rizzo and his staff, and to Nationals fans everywhere.

Ryan’s extended contract means we will all see him in the Nationals lineup, where he belongs, for a very long time.

Day 2 from the 2011 Winter Meetings

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An update from the 2011 Winter Meetings in Dallas, from the desk of Mark D. Lerner, Nationals Principal Owner:

Day 2 is in the books …

* I have sat in on most of Mike Rizzo’s internal meetings and things continue to progress. Tuesday’s various chats, both on the free agent and trade fronts, were more concrete than Monday’s. Mike is exploring every avenue possible, but remember – it takes two to tango.

* One thing I know that Mike is NOT concerned about is leaving Dallas without consummating a deal. If a trade or signing happens here, well that is fantastic. But sometimes these meetings set the stage for something to happen next week, next month or even next year.

One of Mike’s challenges is that he is being asked more and more about our young talent. Some of that talent has already reached D.C., while some if it continues to develop in our farm system. Keep in mind how much our talent has matured over the past few years. So I think it is fair to say Mike’s call volume is higher than ever.

*Tuesday night marked our annual Minor League Affiliates Reception.  It is always fun to see our extended family from Syracuse, Harrisburg, Potomac, Hagerstown, Auburn and Viera (GCL) and reaffirm to them just how much they are part of our maturation as a franchise.

Twenty-five years from now, Bryce Harper will remember Hagerstown. And he’ll remember his first post-season race as a pro, which took place this August in Harrisburg. Tommy Milone will be able to cite chapter and verse his 12-win campaign with Potomac in 2009. These smaller towns provide the backdrop for the game’s development, and the support and structure provided by the various front offices is not taken for granted, especially at Nationals Park. Thanks you Chiefs. Thank you Senators. Thank you P-Nats. Thank you Suns. Thank you Doubledays. Thank you GCL Nationals!

* One thing I have noticed is the collective glow emanating from our game. In my mind, it dates back to the last night of the regular season and carried on through one of the best World Series ever. Then it culminated in the signing of a new CBA just prior to Thanksgiving. It is a good time to be a baseball fan. More specifically, an even better time to be a Nationals fan! We cannot wait to begin making our own October memories in the years to come.

2012 Winter Meetings Q&A

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Welcome to Hot Stove season, Nationals fans!

With Winter Meetings taking place next week, baseball is back in the headlines as fans eagerly await news of who will be the latest players to don the Curly W. Here’s your chance to join in on the action and get some inside information straight from the Nationals Executive contingent in Dallas! You can submit your questions in the comments below, by email at, or via Facebook and Twitter (include #NatsQnA with your question). Check back here on Wednesday, December 7 to see what the execs have to say!

For the latest news from Dallas and throughout the offseason, be sure to like the Nationals on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Owner Mark D. Lerner on Strasburg’s 2011 Nats Debut

Hello again Nats fans. It has been a while, but I wanted to stop by and offer some of my thoughts on Tuesday night’s 2011 debut for Stephen Strasburg

Does AWESOME! cover it? I am not sure it does it justice. But it was truly exhilarating. This, I can confirm.

Tuesday  night’s start really was a year in the making.

But, I suppose most (myself included) will never know everything that went into the making. We may never know the pain, focus, trepidation, elation and isolation that Stephen endured to get to that mound last night.

Sure, I think we know the year-plus process was arduous at least and tedious at best. But something tells me even that does not tell the entire story.

So, who can relate to Stephen’s plight the last 13 months? Perhaps a marathoner breaking a foot? An artist smashing a hand? They can relate in their own worlds.

But, I have to think that those who can best relate to Stephen are those pitchers who have had arm injuries themselves.

Jordan Zimmermann and Ryan Mattheus (Tommy John Surgery) or Chien-Ming Wang (shoulder), they can relate. The Cardinals Adam Wainwright is likely beginning to understand, as has his teammate Chris Carpenter, who last fall lent Stephen a bit of knowledge as to what to expect. So can hundreds of others who have left this game prematurely, or the dozens currently rehabbing their own arm injuries.

But can we as fans empathize? I am not so sure we can with complete and true appreciation.

With Strasburg’s 2011debut still fresh in our minds, I have to remind myself that this rehab process is not yet complete. With that said, I believe it is appropriate to acknowledge the precision, expertise and wisdom of Dr. Lewis Yocum, who performed Stephen’s surgery on Sept. 3, 2010, and Nationals Medical Director, Dr. Wiemi Douoguih, who assisted on the procedure.

Let us not forget those that stood behind Stephen the entire way. For it is their hard work, scheduling, communication and (most importantly) execution of the Strasburg rehab calendar that made Tuesday’s outing possible. Job well done to our athletic training staff of Head Athletic Trainer Lee Kuntz, Assistant Athletic Trainer Michael McGowan, Medical and Rehab Coordinator Steve Gober, Strength and Conditioning Coach John Philbin and Senior Medical Consultant Dr. Bruce Thomas. And I should not forget the athletic training staffs in Syracuse, Harrisburg, Potomac, Hagerstown and Viera, too.

What a thrill it was for many of us last night to re-engage and reconnect with Stephen Strasburg the pitcher. And coupling that enjoyment with how much I personally admire Stephen for his talents, it really made me wonder what the last year was like for Stephen Strasburg the person.

Well, thank you for checking in. I will be back in touch in the next couple of weeks. I have a few more thoughts and observations I’d like to convey about the big league and minor-league levels as we put a bow on the 2011 campaign.

Have a great weekend and hope to see you at Nationals Park….as soon as the rain ends!

Washington Nationals Miracle Field opens in Montgomery County

With the help of the Washington Nationals, kids with special needs throughout the Washington Metropolitan area will now have a place to play baseball! On Monday, August 1, the ballclub celebrated the opening of the Washington Nationals Miracle Field in Montgomery County with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Nationals pitchers Sean Burnett and Jordan Zimmermann, manager Davey Johnson, third base coach Bo Porter and Principal Owners Mark D. Lerner and Judy L. Lerner were all in attendance to help open the field.

Photo Gallery >>

The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation and the Annette M. and Theodore N. Lerner Family Foundation partnered with various civic and community organizations from Montgomery County to construct the Miracle Field, which was built to provide children with disabilities a place to play baseball safely. Located in South Germantown Recreation Park, the field is made up of a cushioned synthetic turf that allows children using wheelchairs and walkers to “run” the bases without fear of injury.

Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, more than 30 children were given their first opportunity to play on the field, a sight Nationals manager Davey Johnson was particularly thrilled to see.

“I’ve raised a few children who had special needs,” Johnson explained. “This warms my heart seeing these kids running around, having this facility to play on. I’m actually more proud to be a part of this than the World Championship teams I’ve been with.”

The Washington Nationals Miracle Field is the first of its kind in the D.C. region and in the state of Maryland, and it will serve as the new home for the Miracle League of Montgomery County. Currently, there are 240 Miracle League organizations across the country that provide opportunities for more than 200,000 children and young adults with disabilities.
“We’re serving a great need: to break down a lot of the barriers that are out there that separate kids who don’t have special needs with those who do,” Montgomery County councilmember Craig Rice said. “It’s a great opportunity for kids with special needs and developmental disabilities to get outside.”

Brian, a 17-year old who suffered a brain injury as a child and is now in a wheelchair, was one of the many Miracle League athletes in attendance at Monday’s event. His mother Debbie extolled the virtues of the new Miracle Field. 

“I think it’s very important,” she said. “There are a lot of recreational activities for children who do not have severe disabilities, but it’s very limited for children who can’t walk. This is amazing. It’s going to help a lot of the children who wouldn’t otherwise be able to participate in team sports.”

Children with disabilities often struggle to participate in recreational activities because of physical barriers, but the new field will help minimize these obstacles and make playing baseball a possibility.

“This means so much to these kids because they get to be a part of something that they hadn’t been a part of before,” Councilmember Rice added. “They get to be outside, and play and enjoy a team sport. We know that builds character; that’s why we encourage sports as a part of our daily lives as kids grow. I think we need to continue to do that, especially for our children with special needs.”

The highlight of the day for all involved was seeing the pure joy that the new field provided to all of the children in attendance.

“It just touches your heart,” Johnson said. “You learn so much from these children. It’s just special; I can hardly put it in words. It’s just wonderful.”

Mark Lerner Previews the Hottest New Destination at Nats Park

Greetings Nats fans! It’s been a long road trip for your Nationals, and I think I can speak for all of us when I say we are thrilled to welcome the team back to town. Over the next 10 days, they’ll play nine games, including next weekend’s Battle of the Beltway vs. the Baltimore Orioles.

Without looking too far ahead, it’s my pleasure to share some exciting news with you before the first game this week is even played. As you may know, over the past year we have made a number of enhancements to the fan experience in and around Nationals Park. In particular, the revamped Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk features our popular Miller Lite Party Nights, drink specials, live music and entertainment – not to mention great views of the action on the field.
As they say, we’ve only just begun. On Tuesday night, we are excited to unveil four new culinary offerings at Nationals Park before the team faces the St. Louis Cardinals. From Danny Meyer’s renowned Union Square Hospitality Group, we welcome Blue Smoke, Shake Shack, El Verano Taqueria and Box Frites to the Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk. The exterior of each eatery features its own distinct design that characterizes their unique cuisines. In addition to the great food, I’m also confident that you’re going to love the new layout of this refreshed area. Large sweeping sails provide shade and there’s a stage for various musical acts (schedule of performers). An assortment of large trees and shrubbery are interspersed amongst comfortable chairs and sofas in a lounge-like setting. Put simply, these new dining options will make the Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk one of the hottest destinations in all of professional sports, and we couldn’t be happier to have it right here at Nationals Park.
I don’t know about you, but this has all of a sudden made me very hungry, and I don’t even know where to begin. Whether it’s Blue Smoke’s Chipotle Chicken Wings, a large box from Box Frites or El Verano’s “Elote” corn on the cob, there are so many great new choices. And of course you’ll need to wash it all down with a hand-spun milkshake from Shake Shack. The options are just about limitless, and I anticipate you’ll have the same dilemma of deciding which new eatery is your favorite. Luckily, starting Tuesday night, you’ve got all summer to come out and enjoy the latest enhancements to the Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk and all that it has to offer. I can’t wait to see you there. Go Nats!

Mark Lerner says goodbye to Florida

Principal Owner Mark D. Lerner will be blogging throughout the 2011 Grapefruit
League Season, giving Nats fans a unique perspective of the goings-on at the
Nats Spring Training home in Viera, Fla. Check back often for the latest

Good afternoon NatsTown!

Later tonight, after today’s 1:05 p.m. home game against the Tigers, my wife,
Judy, and I will fly back to DC, thus ending our three-week stay in Viera. We
talked last night about perhaps a longer stay next spring. Only time will tell,
but we both agreed that we struck the right balance between business and
pleasure during our visit. It sure was nice to cut almost a month off our
winter. We have enjoyed seeing Nationals fans all around Viera, not just at
Space Coast Stadium, and also on all of our road trips. Although it will be
good to get back into the DC routine, it will be hard not to let my mind wander
back to the ballclub.

Fortunately, NatsFest is only 10 days away, and of course the season opener is
the next afternoon against the Braves at Nationals Park. Here are a couple of
notes I’d like the share as it pertains to these two events:

NatsFest (Wed., March 30, 4-8 p.m. at Nationals Park)
*Batting Practice will begin at 4 p.m.
*Each of the 25 Nationals will be present and participate in NatsFest, with the
one exception being the Opening Day starting pitcher.
*We will also be bringing a few bonus Nationals for our fans to meet: Stephen
Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Derek Norris, Chien-Ming Wang and Cole Kimball. Also
look for Bob Boone and Davey Johnson to be in town that day and mingling.
*Fans will enjoy various Q and A sessions and opportunities to interact with
and take pictures of their favorite Nationals. Children will also be able to
attend and participate in their own event, a Kids Press Conference, which
begins at 6:50 p.m.

Opening Day (Thu., March 31, 1:05 p.m. vs. Atlanta Braves)
*We urge all our fans to come early. We are expecting a sellout crowd and want
all of our fans to enjoy their afternoon at Nationals Park as much as possible.
This will also allow everyone to enjoy the extended pregame festivities.
*By the way, earlier this week, the Braves named RHP Derek Lowe as their
Opening Day starter.

So, this will be my final Spring Training blog. Why don’t we start with some
impressions from the last three weeks:

*I have talked about this before, but this really was a well-run camp. Jim
Riggleman, Bobby Henley and a dozen or so coaches and advisors put together a
heck of an operation. I honestly feel the emphasis on fundamentals set the
stage for a successful Grapefruit League and 2011 season.

*I enjoyed getting to know Mike Rizzo’s key offseason additions (Jayson Werth,
Adam LaRoche, Tom Gorzelanny, Jerry Hairston, Jr. and Matt Stairs, among
others) for the first time. And I am more enthusiastic than ever about our next
wave of homegrown talent. What is not to like about Danny Espinosa, Wilson
Ramos, Bryce Harper, Chris Marrero, Derek Norris and Cole Kimball?

*Don’t the new home uniforms look fantastic? We’ve purposely worn them for all
of the games televised on MASN. They offer a clean look and, we believe, best
portray the tradition of baseball in DC. I have received
a lot of great comments down here not only from our players, but our fans as

*Mike Rizzo has a slew of big roster decisions to make in the next 10 days or
so. Who will be the 25 players to comprise your Nationals Opening Day roster?
Sure, he will seek out and process input from Jim Riggleman and his staff, but
ultimately, it is Mike’s call as to who makes that roster. Personally, I love
that he’s grinding a bit. This means there is big league talent here. These are
the type of decisions that we dreamt about back in 2007 and ’08. But at that
stage of our evolution, we were always looking to add quality big league
talent, not pare it down, at the end of spring.

*Random highlights of my Spring Training experience, in no particular order:
Michael Morse’s scalding hot start, talking to Stephen Strasburg and seeing him
throw a baseball again, Bryce Harper’s first exposure to big league pitchers,
seeing Jayson Werth on our ballclub, Kenny G’s one-minute note, the
beyond-perfect weather, the Nationals’ Par 3 Golf Tournament, a pair of wins
over the Yankees, March 11 twilight launch of Delta Rocket (spy satellite… but
don’t tell anyone).

Again, many thanks for your interest in our ballclub. We look forward to seeing
many of you at Nationals Park this summer. And down here again next spring.
I will be in touch again soon.