Results tagged ‘ NatsFest ’

Your Jr. Nats MVPs

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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…

From the Desk of Mark Lerner: Celebrating NatsFest

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.

Nearly 8,000 Nats fans young and old turend out for NatsFest last Saturday.

Nearly 8,000 Nats fans young and old turned out for NatsFest last Saturday.

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.

Taft Makes Five

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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.

TaftGraphicEnter “The Big Chief.”

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.

The Hunt For NatsFest

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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.

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.

Our scavenger hunt winner took home 2 VIP tickets to NatsFest.

Our scavenger hunt winner took home 2 VIP tickets to NatsFest.

“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!

The Guest Writer

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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.

Our lucky winner will join us in the press box for a 2013 Nationals game.

Our lucky winner will join us in the press box for a 2013 Nationals game.

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!

From The Desk Of Mark Lerner: Welcome To Opryland

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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).

Davey Johnson got his center fielder and leadoff man in Denard Span.

Davey Johnson got his center fielder and leadoff man in Denard Span.

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 …

The third annual NatsFest photo journal

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.

Frank Howard didn’t just tell the story—he acted it out for his fans and his peers (Davey Johnson and Bob Boone.)

Future journalists? They showcased their interviewing skills and peppered (far left) Pitching Coach Steve McCatty, Manager Jim Riggleman, Stephen Strasburg and Drew Storen with questions.

It might not be long before Bryce Harper is calling Nationals Park home.

“I am pretty cool. I just got a high-five from Stephen Strasburg.”

Nats Caravan Day 4: Blogging from the Bus

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

Today is the fourth and final day of the 2010 Winter Caravan.

10:16 a.m.–As we were walking to the elevator, Adam Dunn appeared out of nowhere and jumped like Michael Jordan onto Josh Willingham’s back. Needless to say, they both fell to the ground like a bag of bricks.

“That definitely felt like 260 pounds,” Willingham said. It might have been the first time Dunn has sneaked up on anyone.

10:29 a.m.–Let it snow. Let it snow. Let it snow. We just left Nats Park. It is only fitting that the Caravan experiences some weather related problems after the Nats had a billion (22) rain delays during the season. This Caravan operates on the same motto as the United States Postal Service. Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow will stop this Nats Caravan.

Our first stop is the Children’s Hospital and then we are heading to the PG Sports Complex to sign a few autographs. We are concluding the 2010 Caravan at White Flint Mall.


CH Riggleman.jpg
CH Ryan Zimmerman.jpg11:11 a.m.–As Brian Bruney colored, “You would be the best kindergarten teacher if you didn’t play baseball,” Dibble said. That is tough to debate.

11:32 a.m.–“I can’t lose weight,” Dunn said. Piece of advice: “If you lose weight, you lose bombs.”

11:33 a.m.–“Dunn can you smile for me so I can take a picture of you,” a lady asked. “I can smile with best of them,” he said. “That is a beautiful smile Mr. Dunn,” she replied.

11:39 a.m.–Tuneesha Watson has a granddaughter in the ICU that wasn’t able to attend. She filled in perfectly. She collected an autograph from each player for her granddaughter. “It is so cool to have the players here today,” she said. “The kids will remember this forever.”


CH Nyjer Morgan.jpg12:01–We have left the Children’s Hospital.

1:13–The snow continues to fall but the wheels keep on turning.  It definitely made the trip longer… we are right by Fed Ex Field and the traffic is as congested as if it there is a Redskins game today.

1:36–Dunn threw his phone to Zimmerman as if it was a football.  It landed well short and hit the ground. “My phone is unbreakable,” Dunn said. Zimmerman threw it back. It hit the wall…a chair… and finally stopped moving when it hit the ground. It was safe… and it’s definitely unbreakable.


PG Check Giving.jpg2:17–The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation granted the Forestville Boys & Girls Club with $5,000 to assist with programming and equipment needs. The Forestville Boys & Girls Club is an organization with a 49-year history of teaching boys and girls the fundamentals of baseball.  Their work has enabled thousands of children and teens to engage in tournament competition and to learn the values of teamwork and embrace the game of baseball.


 
PG Standing By the kids.jpg“We are honored to partner with the Nationals organization on this extremely important project, and extend our heartfelt appreciation for their support of our County’s youth,” said Samuel J. Parker Jr., Chairman of the Prince George’s County Planning Board.  “We look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship as we work together to teach our young people the fundamentals of leadership and responsibility through the fundamentals of the game of baseball.”


PG Signing Line.jpg3:02–Our boy Robert Probst from Dover, Del., wasn’t deterred by the snow and made the trip to the autograph session. If you remember from Day Two, he drove to Woodbridge on Thursday night. “I told you I would be here today,” he said. “There is nothing that could have stopped me.” He is also like the USPS. He left his house at 11 a.m. and it took him three and half hours to drive the 80 miles. See ya at NatsFest Robert.

3:34–We are now departing the PG County Sports Complex… and it continues to snow.

3:46–The electronic sign on 495 reads: “EXPECT MAJOR DELAYS… CHOOSE ALTERNATE ROUTE.”  Right at this moment the traffic is flowing freely (sounds more like a description of a river)… if only we knew what was ahead of us.


Road Traffic.jpg4:08–The Beltway just became a parking lot. We are seven miles away from our destination.


Road Crash.jpg4:40–We have gone two miles in 32 minutes… one of the few crashes.


Road Deer.jpg4:49–This picture doesn’t do justice but there were at least 20 deer prancing and dancing in the snow as if Santa was coming.

4:58–Riggleman made a trip to the front of the bus to talk to Harold the bus driver and possibly call in a reliever to speed things up. He returned to reveal the problem. “I think I found out what the problem is,” Riggleman said. “Traffic jam.”


Road Mustang.jpg5:03–Yeah, that car is stuck. It might have been the highlight on the journey. To its credit the car was more determined than The Little Engine that Could. There was just one problem–this car couldn’t. The Mustang tried to get out about every 30 seconds. We kept cheering for it… it didn’t exactly help.

5:25–3.6 miles away. I would be surprised if we arrive by 6 p.m.

5:45–“We are still 2.2 miles away,” Willingham said. “Does anyone have a DVD we can watch.”

6:04–We are sooooo close yet so far away. We just drove in a circle around the mall.

6:13–We made it. It only took 2 hours and 39 minutes to travel 22.2 miles.


Mall Signing Line.jpg
Mall Ol Roy.jpg7:17–The Caravan is over. It was a fantastic four days. Be sure to make it to NatsFest tomorrow.

Nats continue to bolster the bullpen

It was another busy day for the Nationals. They signed right-handed reliever Tyler Walker to a one-year deal, and Chris Duncan and starting pitcher Chuck James to Minor League contracts.

Walker becomes yet another addition to the revamped relief corps which includes Brian Bruney, Matt Capps, Eddie Guardado, Ryan Speier and Doug Slaten. Walker throws a 91-93 mph fastball mixed with a slider and an occasional change-up. Walker, 33, appeared in 32 games last season for the Phillies going 2-1 with a 3.06 ERA (12 ER/ 35.1 IP).

The 28-year-old Duncan was a supplemental first round pick by the Cardinals in 1999 and made his Major League debut in 2005. As a rookie in 2006, he batted .293 (82-for-280) with 22 home runs and 43 RBI in 90 games. He comes from a family with baseball ingrained in their DNA. His dad Dave was a Major League catcher for 11 seasons and is currently the Cardinals pitching coach. His brother Shelley is a first baseman for the Cleveland Indians and played his last three seasons in the Yankees organization.

Chris enters the 2010 season hoping to return to his 2006 form and that could land him a spot on the Major League roster.  It was a forgettable 2009 after he had a productive April, batting .304 (21-for-69) with two home runs and 14 RBI. His number precipitously fell after that. From May 1 to July 20, he batted .199 (38-for-191) with three home runs and 18 RBI in 65 games with the Cardinals before he was traded to the Red Sox on July 22.

James started seven games for the Braves in 2008 and is a career 24-19 in 64 games (55 starts) with a 4.48 ERA.

*Be sure to follow us as Notes from NatsTown blogs from the bus throughout the Nationals’ 2010 Winter Caravan. The fun starts tomorrow when the Caravan gets the show on the road. The first stop is at Unity Health Care’s Southwest Health Center, a health clinic that serves all District residents regardless of ability to pay.

*Dave Matthews Band will host a concert on Friday, July 23 at Nationals Park. The Zac Brown Band will open for them. This will be the ballpark’s second-ever show, following Elton John and Billy Joel’s sold-out show in July 2009.  Tickets and parking will go on sale to the general public on Friday, February 26 at 10:00 a.m. online at www.tickets.com and by phone at 888-632-6287.

Willingham and Flores agree to 2010 contracts


josh willingham.JPG–The Nationals had six players that filed for salary arbitration and today was the day when eligible players exchanged figures or agreed to a contract with the club: Jason Bergmann, Brian Bruney, Sean Burnett, Jesus Flores (Super Two), Wil Nieves and Josh Willingham. The Nationals agreed to 2010 contracts with Bergmann, Flores, Nieves and Willingham, thus avoiding salary arbitration. That leaves Bruney and Burnett left for salary arbitration and the hearings begin February 1 and end the on 21. There is a good chance the two will never reach the arbitrators. Last year 111 players filed for salary arbitration, of those, 46 exchanged figures with their respective club and only three had their case heard by arbitrators: Dan Uggla (Marlins), Shawn Hill (Nationals) and Dioner Navarro (Rays). Uggla and Hill both won.

 

Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum who qualified for arbitration as a super two will likely walk away the biggest winner much like in 2008 when Ryan Howard qualified as a Super Two and won his arbitration hearing… his salary jumped from $900,000 to $10,000,000… just a 1,011 percent raise. (To qualify as a Super Two a player must have at least two years of service, but less than three, have accumulated at least 86 days of service in the previous year, and rank in the top 17% of all 2-year players in service time. The cutoff point generally falls between 2 years, 128 days of service and 2 years, 140 days.)

 

–The Caravan will get the wheels turning next Wednesday, Jan. 27th with the first stop at the Unity Health Care’s Southwest Health Center in Washington, DC. Notes from NatsTown will be on board providing you with behind the scene shots, player comments and fan reactions. Be sure to follow us.

 

–If you are a Nationals Insider you can purchase Nationals 2010 Spring Training single game tickets before they go on sale to the general public with a special online presale Wednesday, January 20, at 10:00 a.m.

 

–In the News:

Bill Ladson reports that the Nats may have some interest in former Brewers pitcher Ben Sheets.

Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer breaks down the 2009 Nats and looks ahead to 2010 with the projected starters and rotation.

MASN’s Ben Goessling talked with Manager Jim Riggleman.

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