Results tagged ‘ Natitude ’
Most of the time, fans see the intense, serious, NATITUDE-driven photo work we do with our players during Spring Training. So with the pomp and circumstance of Opening Day in the books, relax and enjoy the latest in our digital features, the lighter side behind the scenes with many of your favorite Nationals players.
Years from now, when we look back at the turning point in the history of the Nationals franchise on the field, we may well pinpoint a three-day stretch in early May of 2012. After a hot start to the season, Washington hosted its bitter rival, the five-time defending division champion Philadelphia Phillies, in a much-anticipated weekend set in the Nation’s Capital. With the Take Back the Park campaign in full swing in the stands, the series became known as NATITUDE Weekend. The hometown nine responded on the field, winning in walk-off fashion in the opener, then riding Jayson Werth’s mammoth, three-run home run to a blowout victory on Saturday afternoon.
But while NATITUDE Weekend was the larger turning point in this budding NL East rivalry, the first inning of the series finale provided its signature moment. With the game airing on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball – the first such primetime national telecast since the first game ever played at Nationals Park in 2008 – the eyes of the baseball nation were fixed on Phillies ace Cole Hamels as he tackled his first run through the Washington lineup. After two quick outs, he faced 19 year-old Bryce Harper, batting third for the first-place Nats in just his eighth Major League contest. Hamels promptly plunked Harper in the back on the first pitch of the at-bat – an act he would later admit was intentional – sending the rookie to first base. It was a seemingly harmless price to pay for his “message.”
But when Werth singled to left field, Harper motored around second and tore for third, right in the face of left fielder Juan Pierre, who could do nothing to stop him. After the next batter, Chad Tracy, fell behind 1-2 in the count, Hamels lobbed a pick-off throw to first base and Harper measured out a long secondary lead from third, behind the left-handed hurler’s back. When Hamels repeated his check on Werth, once more casually easing the ball over towards first, Harper took off for home. First baseman Laynce Nix had no recourse to prevent the inevitable, his futile throw to the plate arriving behind the phenom’s slide. With his first career steal, Harper became the first teenager to swipe home since Ed Kirkpatrick in 1964. In so doing, he brazenly defined NATITUDE and set the visceral tone for a season that would end with Washington’s unseating of Philadelphia as champions of the National League East.
The Washington Nationals enjoyed unprecedented success in 2012, recording the best record in Major League Baseball. The team relied on the contributions of many different players, whom we will catalogue throughout the offseason as we look ahead to the 2013 campaign. Today we take a closer look at another of Washington’s impressive rookies, Steve Lombardozzi.
While Bryce Harper captured the lion’s share of attention among Nationals rookies in 2012, there were a number of other first-year players who left an indelible mark on the campaign. One such player was Steve Lombardozzi, who as a 23 year-old broke camp with the big league club for the first time, following a September call-up the year prior.
Primarily a middle infielder, the Nationals called upon the Fulton, Maryland native to fill a number of roles early in the season when injuries had left the club short-handed. He played both left field and third base on multiple occasions in April and May, sparking the team when he got his opportunities. In his first home start of the year on April 16, he notched a career-high four hits and drove home the game-winning RBI in a 6-3 win over Houston. Lombardozzi also had three hits in each of the two wins over the Phillies during NATITUDE Weekend.
The former 19th round draft pick proved to be a huge part of the Nationals success. He batted .348/.392/.435 over 23 games in the month of May, when Washington leaned on him the most. But Lombardozzi really made his mark and secured his spot on the squad by posting a .308/.379/.385 line as a pinch-hitter as part of the Goon Squad. Factor in his defensive versatility, and he afforded Davey Johnson a myriad of options in late-game situations.
Lombardozzi’s impact in 2012 did not end in October, though. He teamed up with his dad – a former big leaguer himself – to spearhead Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. Through their hard work, the affectionately nicknamed “Lombo Combo” collected and donated 27,784 pounds of food and supplies to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey.
A local boy made good, Lombardozzi quickly grew into a fan favorite this year. He will not become arbitration eligible until 2015 and remains under team control through the 2017 season.
With all the awards flying in for the Nationals from different corners of the baseball world, one recent accolade may have gone overlooked. Unlike all the other awards, this one is not restricted simply to the world of Major League Baseball. The award in question is the Best On-Field Promotion, with the winner picked from all of professional sports by the independent operation GameOps.com. In 2012, the Racing Presidents rated by far and away the best in sports.
The website has been doling out its coveted Golden Steagle Eagle Bobbleheads to the best acts and promotions in sports for 11 years now. The Presidents Race went home a winner in its second year in 2007, then split the honors in 2009 with Milwaukee’s Racing Sausages. In 2012, a breakthrough year for not just the team on the field, but also Teddy – who won his first (then second, third and fourth) race upon the Nationals clinching their first-ever NL East title – the Racing Presidents have ascended to the top once again.
Why the return to glory this year? We went straight to the source for a more detailed explanation.
“The Presidents Race stands out not only for being a thoughtful connection to the market, but for being an entertainment element that is always well produced,” said Vice President of GameOps.com Jon Cudo. “Live races, especially during a long baseball season, can become overlooked and the creativity can wane…but I never hear that about the Presidents.”
In fact, fans seemed to grow more impassioned as the season went on and the Nationals continued winning, that perhaps Teddy – by far the most popular and only winless Racing President – was ready to finally break through for his first victory. His fortunes had seemed to mirror those of the team on the field, and with the first contender brewing in the Nation’s Capitol since the 1930s, a Teddy win no longer seemed impossible.
“My favorite aspect is the four presidents each have their own story and personality, then those personalities are used to tell the race story,” said Kudo. “I appreciate what has gone into cultivating these costumes in characters, and how those characters add so much value to the Nationals well beyond the fourth inning race.”
When the Nationals clinched the division in the season’s final week, all that was left was for Teddy to hold up his end of the bargain and win his own race. With the final series dubbed “The Teddy Series,” replete with Teddy-themed giveaways each day, the win was there for the taking. But would it actually happen? The Twitter world was abuzz with speculation leading into the event, and exploded into a tizzy when – on the season’s final day – the Rough Rider finally broke the tape (legally) for the first time.
“Having Teddy lose year after year has been an amazing journey and, like many fans, I eagerly awaited the payoff victory,” Cudo continued. “The storybook finish for the Nationals, the birth of NATITUDE and the first-ever playoff berth made the perfect storm for Teddy’s eventual victory.”
What’s next for Teddy and the rest of the Racing Presidents? Time will tell. One thing’s for sure – these local celebrities are keeping themselves busy in the offseason, partaking in events like the The Washington Ballet’s rendition of the holiday classic, “The Nutcracker.”
But regardless of what happens in the future, for the 2012 season, they reign as kings of the on-field promotion world.
“Anytime excited fans are chanting the name of a character you use in a sponsored live entertainment race, you’ve won,” said Cudo in conclusion, referencing the crowd following Teddy’s victory. “In the world of game operations and entertainment, the Presidents Race, particularly in 2012, was an unqualified success and a landslide winner for Best On-Field Promotion.”
With months’ worth of build up and anticipation leading into NATITUDE Weekend, Nationals fans were ready to explode with enthusiasm. And despite the Nats hot start and the Phillies slumping out of the gates, the two teams were separated by just 4.5 games entering their first matchup of the 2012 season on May 4. The opening game of the series saw Washington fall behind twice by two runs, but the hometown nine battled back with single tallies in the sixth and eighth innings to tie the game at three runs apiece, eventually forcing extra innings.
The game remained tied into the bottom of the 11th when, with two out, Steve Lombardozzi singled. Bryce Harper then worked the count full, eventually drawing a walk, and Jayson Werth took a free pass as well to load the bases for the pitcher’s spot in the lineup. Down to his final reserve player on the bench, Davey Johnson took the gamble and pinch-hit Wilson Ramos, who fell into a 1-2 hole against Phillies reliever Michael Schwimmer. The right-handed pitcher tried to throw a slider off the plate away, but the Washington backstop reached out and served it into center field, Lombadozzi racing home with the winning run. As Ramos cruised up the first base line, he turned his outstretched arms into wings, carrying the Nationals to an epic, walk-off win.
As you know by now, we’re all about showing gratitude for your NATITUDE. That’s why, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, we are teaming up with Steve Lombardozzi Jr. and Sr. to help collect supplies for the victims of Superstorm Sandy. Plus, we’re giving you some extra incentive to join us. Share photos of your Thanksgiving NATITUDE with us on Instagram from now through Tuesday night (6 p.m. ET) for a chance to win a Steve Lombardozzi autographed bat or ball! Just tag your photos with #NATITUDE for your chance to win.
Looking for great photo ideas? Why not join the Lombardozzis at the Nationals Clubhouse Team Store at Tysons Corner Center on Saturday from 1–2 p.m. with your donations? The father-son duo will be available for photos with fans who donate items to the drive, a joint effort between the Lombardozzis, the Nationals, JK Moving Services – the team’s Official Mover – and Our Lady of Good Counsel High School. In addition, all those who contribute donations will receive 15% off their purchase on full price merchandise at any of the Nationals Clubhouse Team Store locations.
The Lombardozzis will head out to Our Lady of Good Counsel in Olney, MD from 3–4 p.m. They will then join JK Moving Services in delivering the items using a donated 35-foot long JK truck to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey in Hillside, N.J., on Tuesday, November 20.
Click here for a list of items to bring, and see below for all drop-off times this weekend. Now get out there and Ignite Your Thanksgiving NATITUDE!
Nationals Clubhouse Team Store
1961 Chain Bridge Rd., Suite E-5U, VA
Fri.-Sat. (Nov. 16 & 17): 10 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
Sun. (Nov. 18): 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
Dulles Town Center
Nationals Clubhouse Team Store
21100 Dulles Town Circle, Suite 156, Dulles, VA
Fri.-Sat. (Nov. 16 & 17): 10 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
Sun. (Nov. 18): 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
Our Lady of Good Counsel High School
17301 Old Vic Blvd., Olney, MD
Fri. (Nov. 16): 8 a.m.–3 p.m. in the front office, 3 p.m.–6 p.m. in the Kane Center Gym
Sat.-Sun. (Nov. 17 & 18): 10 a.m.-4 p.m. in the Kane Center Gym
First off, we hope everyone has recovered from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and that you all were able to enjoy Halloween. Second of all, we had an overwhelming number of fantastic, NATITUDE-chocked submissions on Twitter for this contest, and had some tough decisions to make for our winners. Without any further ado, here are our three runners-up, each winners of a Nationals Postseason Prize Pack, including a postseason issue of Nationals Magazine, hat and t-shirt.
Making excellent use of our stencils, @MinnTandy brought Teddy to life for Halloween.
tandy chaphiv (@MinnTandy) October 30, 2012
Taking his pumpkin-carving skills into his own hands, @Joebsball submitted his own Werth-y entry.
Joey Hayes (@Joebsball) October 19, 2012
While learning the alphabet, @SingleSuburbian’s class put an extra emphasis on the Curly W.
Miss Shapers (@SingleSuburbian) October 31, 2012
And now (drum roll, please), our Grand Prize Winner of the Highland Mint National League East Champions Photo Plaque, including a commemorative coin and authenticated infield dirt from Nationals Park…
Ryan Smith (@31RyanSmith) October 29, 2012
With a superb display of ingenuity and NATITUDE, congratulations to @31RyanSmith (and your little one) on your very cute, very inspired victory.
Thanks to all who participated, and stay tuned to @Nationals for future opportunities to Ignite Your NATITUDE all offseason long and win great prizes!
As promised, we’re back with another contest and another chance for you to win great prizes for Halloween! Just tweet at us (using the hashtag #NATITUDE) with pictures of Nationals pumpkins, costumes or decorations and you could win the grand prize, a commemorative NL East Champions plaque, or one of three Postseason Prize Packs, including a 2012 Playoff Hat, a Postseason #NATITUDE T-shirt, and a Postseason Magazine!
Feel free to use our Halloween stencils to design your own pumpkin creations, or come up with your own expressions of Halloween NATITUDE. The contest is open through Halloween night, and we’ll announce our winners the following day.
Amidst the madness of the postseason, you may have missed our October #NATITUDE Twitter contest that ran throughout the NLDS. If you did, have no fear, we will have plenty more opportunities to win great prizes throughout the offseason and into next year through our various social media platforms. However, we’re here today to crown our winners, who will each receive a Nationals 2012 Postseason Prize Pack as well as tickets and on-field recognition prior to a 2013 Nationals home game.
First up is the Local Business category. While many DMV-area businesses ignited their NATITUDE with food and drink specials or decorations, this particular confection – inspired by Jayson Werth’s Game Four walk-off homer – caught many an eye around the District for its creativity and originality. Well done!
FluffyThoughts (@ThinkFluffy) October 12, 2012
On the topic of Werth’s heroics, Nats fans may have saved the best meme of the year for last, as they began to interpret their own ideas of the iconic photo of Werth jumping into a sea of teammates at home plate. With a hat tip to @b_hartland for creating the Tumblr account that housed many of the finished products, this submission from @ampetersen99 was just one of his many creations the morning after Game Four and takes home our winner from the Fan category.
Allan Petersen (@ampetersen99) October 12, 2012
Finally, we have our School category winner. Despite their mascot being the Cardinals, the National Presbyterian School ignited their NATITUDE for Washington’s playoff run in a school-wide display of support (click on the “Showing our NATITUDE” gallery).
NPS Cardinals (@NPS_Cardinals) October 12, 2012
Thanks to all who participated, and keep your eyes open for our Halloween NATITUDE contest, coming soon!
“It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.”
These are the words of A. Bartlett Giamatti, from his classic essay “The Green Fields of the Mind,” which warrants a full read, whenever you are ready to digest the entirety of the end of the baseball season.
Even if you are not ready, though, not ready for baseball to come to such a sudden, screeching halt after riding an express train into October, do not run from it, do not abandon your feelings. Own this moment, as it is now an inescapable part of your team’s history, one that will, over time, earn you respect from fellow Nationals fans and opposing fans who have been through the same. It will make you stronger next year, and in the years after that. When the champagne comes again, it will taste sweeter.
More so, remember the many other aspects of this season that will define it more than the final inning. In a season that began with modestly hopeful predictions, the 2012 Nationals won the most games in baseball. In the fever of the pennant race, that fact was reflected in home-field advantage, but some of its impact was no doubt overlooked in the moment.
As a young, hungry team and fan base, our time began on Opening Day and continued all summer long, as the Nationals held down first place longer than any other division winner, exceeding even the most optimistic of expectations. When the year began, Mike Rizzo explicitly stated that his goal this year was “to play meaningful games in September.” Instead, he and Davey Johnson guided the team into October.
The Nationals played, by far and away, the three most meaningful games in the history of the young franchise in Washington this week, and went toe-to-toe with the defending World Series champions in front of over 135,000 rabid, red-clothed fans. The city and the fan base showed a National audience that they have arrived, that baseball in Washington is a force to be reckoned with.
Fans ignited their NATITUDE well before this week, though, as crowds averaged over 30,000 per game for the first time since baseball returned to the Nation’s Capital in 2005. Nationals fans proudly took back the park in May during a pivotal series vs. the Phillies. And though the division rival fans to the north chirped mightily all season long, the Nationals came through on the field, wresting the division crown away from the five-time division champs.
In a season full of signature moments (which we will relive in more thorough detail throughout the coming weeks), the division clinch during the season’s final series may not have been the most dramatic, but it was certainly the most meaningful, representing a shift in the NL East balance of power.
Any opposing fan who believes this was a one-year fluke is, at best, blissfully oblivious to what has been built in Washington. With a roster overflowing with young talent just beginning to grow into itself, this is merely the end of chapter one, with many volumes remaining to be written in the coming years. So wear your Curly W’s proudly today and hold your heads up high throughout the winter. Baseball will spring anew again next year, and we will all be a year wiser, a year stronger, and ready to – in the words of Teddy Roosevelt – strive valiantly once again.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”