Results tagged ‘ NatsFest ’
So far, so good in 2013. Washington is off to a 3-0 start for the first time in five seasons and stands alone atop the NL East. And before you go belittling the fact that the only team they’ve beaten so far is the Marlins, think back for a moment to the beginning of last year.
The Nationals also got off to a good start in 2012, but they were unable to fully put away any of their early season opponents, setting themselves up to sweep a series 10 times before finally sealing the deal. Of course, considering the litany of injuries the team weathered, particularly through the season’s first half, it was impressive that the Nationals were ever in a position to be able to sweep anyone in the first place.
Just look back at the roster in the beginning of the 2012 season. Mark DeRosa was the Opening Day left fielder. Brad Lidge was the closer. Bryce Harper was still in Syracuse. Michael Morse and Drew Storen did not come back to Washington until mid-season, while watching Ian Desmond, Wilson Ramos, Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman all hit the disabled list before their return.
The story has been much different so far this year (knock on wood). The Opening Day lineup most fans envisioned when they saw the club for the first time this year at NatsFest was the actual Opening Day lineup on the field in D.C. on April 1. With the young and untested Marlins first up on the schedule, a sweep was almost expected, as unfair as that may be.
And yet, the Nats lived up to that expectation. At the end of four days of play, they are the lone remaining undefeated team in Major League Baseball.
Of course, the season is long, and will no doubt take its twists and turns, with players missing time here and there for the various bumps and bruises that come with the territory of a 162-game slate. The jokes about 162-0 will soon be forgotten, whenever the team drops its first contest of the year.
Washington encounters its first true test tonight, facing off with the defending National League Central Champion Reds in Cincinnati. With a lineup of mashers, especially from the left side, it seems unlikely that the Nationals will be able to count on allowing only a single earned run over three games in this series. It will be a tough first assignment for Dan Haren, but one that he no doubt welcomes as he – and the Nats – hit the road healthy here at the outset of the season.
As we launch into the 2013 season, here are 13 more great photos from an unbelievable NatsFest back on January 26 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Beginning this year, we will provide links, text shortcodes and QR codes to digital features like this throughout Nationals Magazine and Inside Pitch.
Those fans that made it out to NatsFest were treated to the offseason facial hair stylings of a number of their favorite players. While Jayson Werth arrived with his now-familiar grizzle, it was another member of the team who stole much of the spotlight: Danny Espinosa.
Espinosa’s propensity for quick facial hair growth had been pointed out numerous times since his arrival in The District, but he had never let it go beyond a week or two. Then, suddenly, the infielder showed up in Washington in late January, having not shaved since the end of the 2012 season. His mountain man image quickly spread across the internet, as fans wondered aloud if he had overtaken the title of best facial hair on the team.
EVP of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo joked at NatsFest that the team had “some facial hair problems we need to attack.” And so, sure enough, off came the beard, one uncomfortably hilarious strip at a time. Enjoy the process as Espi returns from nearly unrecognizable to his usual self, with a couple of ridiculous stops along the way.
Beginning this season, we will provide links, text shortcodes and QR codes to digital features like this throughout Nationals Magazine and Inside Pitch.
As some of you know, we held a contest in the run-up to NatsFest encouraging fans to nominate the Jr. Nationals MVP in their life for a shot at a free membership for the 2013 season. Well, after pouring over well more than 100 entries, we finally picked our winners. And while the winning entries were excellent, we were most inspired to see just how much energy each of you out there put into nominating the Jr. Nationals fans with whom you enjoy the great game of baseball here in The District.
For those who didn’t win, registration is now open for the 2013 Jr. Nationals Kids Club. Get over $400 in benefits for the youngest Nats fans in your family for just $15 per child. Read more about all the great benefits and sign your child up to be a Jr. Nationals MVP today!
And now, with no further ado, here were the winning entries:
Paige, nominated by Jessie
Particularly over the past year, Paige has grown to become a huge Nats fan. She’s quickly picked up on the intricacies of the game: strike zones, switch hitting, ground rule doubles. She keeps score at games. She follows injured players’ progress as they rehab and prep for a return to the big leagues. Over the winter, every day or two she asks if there have been any roster moves. Like so many of us, she shed a tear reading about Michael Morse being traded. I was so excited to break a rule and let her stay out late on a school night to go to an NLCS game with me. Then, well, you know what came next… What pleased me most is what I cannot confess to her or to my wife. Shortly after bedtime, Paige will often creep into our bedroom and complain that she doesn’t feel well. Don’t worry about her health; she’s faking. It only happens when I’m in there watching the Nats. She’s just looking for an excuse to check the score. If that’s not worthy of MVP status, I’m not sure what is.
Benjamin, nominated by Eric
I wasn’t sure how my 8-year-old son Benjamin would react after watching the Nats lose Game 5 to the Cardinals in heartbreaking fashion. We were at the stadium that night, and he refused to miss even a second of the game. Instead, to the delight of everyone around us, he announced each National to the plate, as if he had the mic. Every time a Nationals pitcher had a two-strike count, he stood on his chair and waved his towel. Not surprisingly, there were a few tears after the game. The question was, after watching his heroes come up short, how long would the hurt last? The answer came just a few days later. We were in the car when he spoke up from the backseat. “You know what, Dad?” he said. “We had one inning of saditude, but we had a whole season of Natitude!” That’s why Benjamin deserves to be a Jr. Nationals Kids Club MVP.
And as if you didn’t already know, pitchers and catchers report to Viera on Tuesday…
Happy new baseball season everyone.
As usual, I find myself again counting the days until Spring Training: just 14 more days! Yes, on February 12, our pitchers and catchers will report to Viera to get everything started once more.
I have said it before, perhaps in this blog, but there is nothing quite like Spring Training.
Optimism abounds. And, as the cliché goes, everyone is in first place. Well, at least until the Grapefruit League slate begins on February 23 in Port St. Lucie against the Mets. Incidentally, we begin our home schedule one day later, on Sunday, February 24, hosting the Marlins at Space Coast Stadium.
But before I get ahead of myself, I would like to thank all of our fans, players and staff for what was a first class NatsFest last Saturday at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
As most of you know, this was our first offseason foray outside of Nationals Park, and honestly, I could not be more pleased. Judging by the crowd of almost 8,000 fans and their enthusiasm, the venue and expanded program were well received. How about our new Racing President William Howard Taft – “Bill” – that we introduced at NatsFest? I see the rivalry between Teddy and Bill picking up where it left off after the election of 1912.
I was delighted to meet and/or reconnect with so many of our wonderful fans. Many of you were longstanding friends. Others were new, having hitched up your wagons during the special 2012 campaign. It was great to rub elbows with such a fantastic group and talk some baseball as we collectively waited out the cold winter.
Incidentally, the players were tremendously excited by the size of the NatsFest turnout. There were too many positive comments to count. I do remember, however, that Denard Span and Dan Haren were both quite impressed. NatsFest gave both gentlemen a perfect opportunity to jump-start their relationships with their new town, fan base and teammates. Rest assured, Denard and Dan are not only terrific ballplayers, but class acts off the field. Our fans will be proud to support both.
Before we can begin our journey in the Sunshine State, we have one more football game to enjoy.
Congratulations to Baltimore Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti, General Manager Ozzie Newsome, Head Coach John Harbaugh and the entire Ravens organization on their run to the AFC Championship. Sunday’s Ravens-49ers Super Bowl should, as usual, provide great pageantry and theatre. Go Ravens!
I’d be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to congratulate our Washington Redskins on their 2012 NFC East Championship. And best wishes to QB Robert Griffin III on a quick and complete recovery. He is truly an amazing talent and a fine young man.
Please enjoy the Super Bowl everyone and I hope to see many of you down in Viera in the coming weeks.
I am already packed.
As first reported by The Washington Post’s Dan Steinberg, the Nationals will announce William Howard Taft – aka “Bill” – as the fifth Racing President Saturday afternoon at NatsFest.
The 2012 season was one of many breakthroughs for the Nationals, including for the most beloved of the Racing Presidents, Teddy. On the heels of the team’s first playoff berth, Teddy finally won a race (legally) after more than 500 defeats. And while the payoff was glorious, it was time to add a major wrinkle to the Presidents Race this year.
Taft, our country’s 27th President, was always the opportunist, rising to the highest post in the land by always having his “plate the right side up when offices were falling,” as he once jokingly put it. He was also the first U.S. President to throw out a ceremonial first pitch, which he did on Opening Day, 1910, right here in The District. Legend also has it that Taft “invented” the seventh-inning stretch, when he stood up to stretch at a game and the crowd around him followed suit.
Once great allies, he and Roosevelt tussled over policy matters following Taft’s ascension to the Presidency in 1912. That led Roosevelt to run as a third-party candidate against the man that had succeeded him as Commander in Chief, ultimately costing both men the chance to return to the Oval Office. Later in life, the two reconciled, leaving the question open as to whether they will work in concert to try to win in 2013, or if their feuding will cost each a chance at victory.
The only American ever to serve as both President and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Bill (@NatsBigChief27) joins Teddy (@Teddy26Nats) as the only other Racing President to speak his mind on Twitter.
Come see the newest Racing President as he makes his first public appearance at NatsFest on Saturday, January 26 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Visit nationals.com/natsfest for tickets and more information about the event.
Last Friday, we surprised our fans as part of our 13 Days of NatsFest countdown, by launching a live, in-person scavenger hunt around Washington D.C. While the vast majority of our other contests leading up to our prime offseason event this Saturday have taken place in cyberspace, the scavenger hunt provided our local fans a unique opportunity to win a pair of VIP tickets to NatsFest, as well as prizes all along the way. At 11:30 a.m., the first hint dropped on Twitter and the chase was on.
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) January 18, 2013
Participants arrived one-by-one at the Washington monument to find a NATITUDE window sticker and their next clue awaiting them.
“Across the pool your next hint awaits. Be careful, he looks like Daniel Day-Lewis.”
That’s right, we made a Lincoln joke. And our educated fan base needed no further explanation, as they trekked westward across the National Mall. At the feet of Honest Abe, they collected a rally towel and their third hint.
“Now onward, and find The Sage of Monticello. You don’t need a Tom Tom – just head down Ohio.”
At this point, you’ve probably noticed the trend. As our contestants raced to their third Presidential memorial, the race tightened. And for the third straight time, we had a different leader emerge from the pack, with a 2012 Postseason issue of Nationals Magazine and the final, very straightforward clue.
“Teddy awaits! But not at a memorial, live, in person at the Nationals Park Team Store. Hurry!”
And just one hour and four minutes after the first hint hit the Twitterverse, our winner came flying through the Center Field Team Store doors at Nationals Park. As impressive as his time was, not two minutes later our second-place competitor raced in behind him…what a finish!
Thanks again to all who participated, and for everyone else, keep your eyes on the Nationals official Twitter account, where we’ll post the first clue for Saturday’s scavenger hunt, taking place at NatsFest!
First of all, wow. We expected a solid response to our post, but suffice it to say that the depth of knowledge and passion for the game and our team in your nearly 100 submissions was overwhelming, and proves that the future of this fan base is strong with fans like yourselves leading the way. That being said, it made our task that much more difficult to narrow down to one single winner. Before we do that, a couple notes for the rest of you.
We will, as we have in the past, host a Blogger Day at some point this season (date TBD, as of now) at which we will be more than happy to host those of you who blog regularly about the Nationals. We’re happy to talk about taking guest contributions from each of you as we continue to expand what we do here on the electronic/social media side of the organization. However, for this particular opportunity, someone else stood out.
Next, we were thrilled by the diverse demographics of our applicants. We had students, teachers, twenty-somethings, fifty-somethings, moms, dads and fans of old and recent converts all apply. Particularly notable was the fact that, by our count, roughly a third of all the applicants for this particular opportunity were women, a great showing from our female fan base.
Before we get to the actual winner, here are a few of our favorite lines from your comments:
My alarm clock is Charlie Slowes’ call of Jayson Werth’s walk-off homer in Game 4 (it was a little shocking at first to wake up to “SWINGANNNALONGDRIVE!” but I got used to it) – Dan McKeever
I love baseball, and so does my family. My kids have been going to games since they were 3 weeks old. – CDR Jeff Bennett, US Navy
Our 2-year-old is the biggest Nationals fan. He recognizes the word “Nationals” in the paper. He considers his “Inside Pitches” his “Nationals Books” … He even knows to do the shark when Roger Bernadina’s at bat music plays. – Allison Marcus
I rooted for Preston Wilson (he beat the Phillies!), Jamey Carroll, Nook Logan, and Lastings Milledge (he was misunderstood!). – Robert Hay, Jr.
By my estimation, I am the second biggest Nats fan in the world, only behind my younger sister Katie, who still does not believe that Ryan Zimmerman is married and off the market. – Matt Gilman
Ability to incorporate spot-on sports movie references. Angels in the Outfield? Check. Field of Dreams? Please. The Sandlot? You’re killing me, Smalls! We’re even willing to start the Mighty Ducks chant. – Kate and Lauren
I still believe Dippin’ Dots can become the ice cream of the future. – Jack ‘O Beam
Your posts were full of compelling reasons to be chosen and engrossing, entertaining writing all around. But after careful, exhaustive consideration, our panel chose the winner:
Growing up in a sports obsessed family, but being completely unathletic (not to mention female) journalism was my ticket to being in the middle of all of the action. It didn’t matter that every team I rooted for was struggling to remain relevant – I still threw myself into learning as much about the players and game as I could. Internships, classes, you name it, I’ve been there. However, I finished college at probably the worst possible time. The economy was in the tank, and media was in a holding pattern. Would the jobs still be there? Being scared, I grabbed the first job offer I had – which was in a completely unrelated field. It was the right choice at the time, but I’m stuck in my mid 20s now wondering what if I had gone after my dream? The Nats have given my family a new way to bond. I would love if they gave me a second chance on a dream I gave up on, even if just for a day. – Michelle
Well Michelle, we’re all about making dreams come true, so here’s your chance. Hopefully we’ll see the rest of you at NatsFest next weekend and at the ballpark throughout the season!
Greetings from the Opryland Hotel in Nashville.
Baseball’s Winter Meetings are well underway and almost at its halfway point.
But remember, Mike Rizzo made his primary strike last week with the addition of Denard Span.
In the weeks approaching the actual trade, Mike sold us on Denard and his place within our culture in D.C. His intangibles fit. As does his offensive game. As does his left-handed swing. As does his defense in center field, which frees up Bryce Harper from the rigors of that position and nudges Jayson Werth into a lineup spot befitting his talents (although he really was a heck of a leadoff hitter last year).
And when was the last time a Davey Johnson team had a true leadoff hitter of this caliber? I’ll have to ask him later today. Perhaps Eric Young in 1999 with the Dodgers?
As attractive as Denard is, to trade a young pitcher with Alex Meyer’s obvious talents is always difficult. We truly enjoyed having him in our organization and wish him nothing but the best in his future with the Twins.
I again have enjoyed the dialogue and debate that Mike cultivates in our War Room here in Nashville. The expertise and recall that all of our scouts possess on so many players is really remarkable. The stories told can only be described as priceless. It really is a fantastic group that Mike has brought together. Trust me when I say, these guys have it all covered.
I am also very much looking forward to NatsFest (Saturday, January 26 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center), which was officially announced yesterday. We think the timing and venue for NatsFest are the ideal way to celebrate last season and pivot toward what is setting up to be an exciting 2013 campaign. Cannot wait.
Until we blog again …
Frank Howard told Bryce Harper he had a record that Harper would never touch and he wasn’t talking about his 48 home runs in a single season either. Howard can tell stories as detailed and captivating as a World War II veteran—you start to wish the story never ended. He talked about the doubleheader on Sept. 19, 1970 when he recorded six straight strikeouts and hit into a double play in his seventh at-bat to be the first person to strikeout six straight times and record eight outs in seven at-bats in one day. On the bright side, it was the first standing ovation he received as a visiting player.