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Notes from NatsTown is blogging from the bus throughout the Nationals’ 2010 Winter Caravan.
It is day two of the Nats Caravan and for a complete rundown of day one you can scroll down or click here.
Day two will be just as busy as yesterday. We will begin with a lunchtime appearance at the famous Ben’s Chili Bowl. The bus will then travel to Fort Belvoir, Va., site of the USO of Metropolitan Washington. The group will spend two hours assembling care packages for troops overseas, and meeting with wounded warriors and those stationed at the base. The final stop of the day will be an autograph and photograph session at Pfitzner Stadium, home of the Potomac Nationals–the Nat’s Single-A affiliate.
11:24 a.m.–We have officially got the wheels turning on the bus.
We have the same crew on the bus today: Manager Jim Riggleman, reliever Ryan Speier, 2009 first round draft pick Drew Storen, shortstop Danny Espinosa and broadcaster Rob Dibble.
Nationals President Stan Kasten and GM Mike Rizzo aren’t on the bus but they will be a Ben’s.
11:35 a.m.–In preparation for Ben’s Chili Bowl, the guys are signing player cards to hand out. Dibble is trying to master the science of signing on a bus–the slightest bump feels like the biggest pothole–he has decided just to sign when the bus is stopped.
11:49 a.m–We just passed One Fitness on the corner of S St. NW and 14 St. NW. Their motto is “Change your body… Change your world.” We couldn’t help but think about Globo Gym from the movie Dodgeball… “We are better than you and we know it.”
11:52 a.m.–There is a long line of people waiting outside BCB. Someone suggests that the players go through the back door. “We will go through the front door,” Dibble said. “I will lead the way.”
11:57 a.m.–It turns out that the line of people were students waiting for a school bus.
12:15–The players ordered their food and then handed out player cards. Let’s just say Ben’s makes the batter’s box look big.
12:18–Everyone was trying to get a photo with the players.
12:19–A minute after the photo was taken, the lady dropped her phone. It sounded like it shattered into a million pieces… maybe the case just broke but it looked rough. “It’s fine,” she said. “I drop my phone all the time. The photo is safe.”
12:25–The players were asked to take their jerseys off while they eat. They are professional baseball players… not professional eaters.
12:47–The Nats will soon have a photo on the wall to join the likes of Bill Crosby, Dr. Dre, Chris Rock, President Obama and Dave Chappelle just to name a few. Don’t mind Jamie from Myth Busters in the back of the photo.
12:53–Party in the kitchen.
12:56–It was the guys first stop at Ben’s Chili Bowl. There is a good chance they will be back. “Food was pretty good. It was good Chili,” Espinosa said. “I wasn’t going to eat a lot of it because we are going on the bus.” Thank you.
12:59–We are off to Fort Belvoir.
1:53–We are here.
1:59–The players are getting a tour of the warehouse and then they are going to help put together care packages. Owners Mark Lerner and Judy Lenkin Lerner are here too.
2:06–The care package process has begun. The packages have everything: pens, shaving cream, razors, trail mix, beef jerky, books, magazines and much more. You name it and it’s probably in there. The assembly line they have going on right now would have impressed the late Henry Ford.
The USO warehouse has four parties like this a month at Fort Belvoir and they travel all around the States to make care packages too.
“It is such a morale boost for the troops to have the Nationals players come here,” Director of Operation USO Care Package Ron Wise said. “I really hope they get to see and understand the impact they are making. They are so important. The troops will talk about this for months and it really speaks volume for the Nationals organization.”
2:20–The stuffing party is in full force. The first bell rang. They ring the bell every time 500 care packages have been made. When the bell rings everyone starts screaming and dancing so the troops know we care.
2:44–Second bell rings.
3:09–Third bell rings.
3:15–Fourth bell rings. I told you Henry Ford would be proud of this assembly line. Ok… so it might have been premature.
3:33–The crew just finished packing the bags. Total count: 2,025 packages. Not a bad day at all but we didn’t quite set the record. They most packages they have made in one day… 15,000 with the help of 300 people. “It was pure insanity,” Wise said. “I don’t think we will ever match that.”
4:00–We are off to Woodbridge.
4:45–We are here at the P-Nats stadium. I don’t think Storen or Espinosa could be happier to return.
5:30–The pens and hands are ready for 2 hours and 30 minutes of autographs. Screech has been stretching his fingers and practicing his signature all day.
6:11–Screech is putting on a mascot clinic–making fans laugh, posing for pictures and signing autographs.
It may have been a loaded question when I asked the crowd if they have ever seen a mascot as funny…but they answered it correctly and that’s all that mattered. “I haven’t,” one person said. “Not even close,” said another person, “he is hilarious.”
30 seconds later… A season ticket holder for just about every sports team in Washington asked Screech if he was going to be skating at the Caps game tomorrow night. He whistled yes and then she reminded him that SlapShot (the Caps Mascot) took him down last season.
“The Caps mascot has bulked up my friend, bulked up,” she said. “You better watch out tomorrow night. We are going to have to see how many times you end up on the ice Screech.”
Game on SlapShot.
7:25–I just met Robert Probst from Dover, Del. He drove 122 miles to attend tonight’s event. I told him he unofficially drove the most miles to come here.
“What do I get for that,” he asked.
I told him I could probably hook him up with a pocket schedule.
“I can’t contain my excitement,” he responded with a bright smile.
8:00–Day two is in the books and the USO event was the most memorable.
“The USO stuff was great,” Dibble said. “I have a new appreciation for the care packages they send out.”
“It was a great time,” Storen said. “It is always good to give back to the Military since they do so much for us.”
Notes from NatsTown is blogging from the bus throughout the Nationals’ 2010 Winter Caravan. Be sure to follow us.
10:20 a.m.–The Caravan is off. We just left Nationals Park.
On the bus today: Manager Jim Riggleman, reliever Ryan Speier, 2009 first round draft pick Drew Storen, shortstop Danny Espinosa and Rob Dibble.
10:30 a.m.–We just picked up Storen, Espinosa and Dibble at the Hyatt Hotel and we are off to our first stop…
Our first stop is at Unity Health Care’s Southwest Health Center, a health clinic that serves all District residents regardless of ability to pay. In December, Nationals front office employees helped refurbish and repaint the center in late December. The players will greet staff and patients at the clinic and deliver new books for the waiting room.
10:39 a.m.–We just arrived at the Health Center.
10:59 a.m.–Chair of the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation Marla Lerner Tanenbaum kicked off the official start of the Caravan at the Health Center.
11:01 a.m.–Marla just mentioned how when the Nationals refurbished the Health Center in December, they were divided into two groups: a group that knew what they were doing (The Ballpark Ops) and a group that didn’t know what they were doing (Other Front Office staff… the painters).
For not knowing what they were doing, they did a great job painting.
11:15 a.m.–The players delivered books and helped stack them on the shelves.
11:20 a.m.–They handed out some Nats gear, signed some autographs and Screech made an appearance.
“It was a great first stop for the Caravan,” Storen said. “It is always good to help people out and hopefully make their day.”
11:45 a.m.–We just departed the Health Center and we are heading to Hard Times CafÃ©.
12:03–The bus just arrived at Hard Times. The Fab-Five will start signing at 1. That’s 57 minutes from now if you are counting… so they are now going to enjoy a scrumptious Hard Times meal.
12:51–The food at Hard Times was delicious. The plate of nachos could have fed a city. A few tidbits from lunch…
*Speier’s favorite player growing up was Rob Dibble.
*Storen thinks the Colts will win the Super Bowl.
12:54–Players start signing in six minutes and there is already a nice size crowd waiting to get autographs.
1:04–State of the Nats-Jim Riggleman and Rob Dibble thanked the crowd for coming and talked about the upcoming 2010 season.
1:25–The Donkey made an appearance and got a few autographs. You maybe have seen him before… he went to over half the games dressed as a donkey last season. “We went to one of the first games last year and my friend and I noticed they needed some crazy fans,” he said. “So my friend and I sewed together the donkey costume.” They sat in Section 236 so they could take advantage of the student discount. He spent the whole season trying to get Adam Dunn to acknowledge him. As you can imagine, he was unsuccessful… maybe in 2010 Dunn-key.
2:23–We were talking about nicknames and how Adam Dunn doesn’t like being called “Big Donkey”… Danny Espinosa said he doesn’t really have a nickname. Storen interrupted and said everyone calls him Espy. Storen said he has never had a nickname but if he opened up a storage company he would call it Storen Stuff. “Or you could call it Storen Space,” Dibble added.
2:41–The bus arrived at the mall for the 5 p.m. appearance at Build-A-Bear. A camera crew will be following Storen and Espinosa around as they shop. Storen said if anyone asks why they are being taped he will tell them…”We are from Jersey Shore.” Good thing there is a Jersey Shore nickname generator… Drew Storen… “D-Train.”
2:42–Storen jokingly suggests that each player wears their jersey while walking around the mall. “Do you guys have a Strasburg jersey I can wear?,” Storen said laughing.
4:47–The crew is ready to meet-and-greet fans at Build-A-Bear. There is a line forming of Nats fans waiting for autographs from the players. T-minus 13 minutes till they get to build a bear.
5:01–Let the autographs begin.
5:03–Screech has a thing for high fives to the face. He wouldn’t tell me why.
5:33–You can’t go to Build-A-Bear and not build a bear. It is like going to a baseball game and not eating a hot dog.
5:39–This might have been the highlight of the night. Apparently, each bear needs a heart with a heartbeat to live… so to create that heartbeat each bear owner must do the following with a heart squeezed in their hands…
5 seconds later… spin around three times.
10 seconds later… jump three times or just stand on your tip toes.
20 seconds later… do three push-ups… with Screech pressing down on your back.
5:41–The “beating” hearts were placed inside the bears and they were all stitched up.
7:06–Day one is done.
7:25–On the drive back to the ballpark, we started talking about Dibble’s career. Who was the hardest out? “Every batter was always the toughest out,” Dibble said. So we checked the numbers… How about Pedro Guerrero (batted .455 (5-for-11) with 7 RBI) and Juan Samuel (batted .415 (5-for-12) with one home run and 7 RBI)? “Yeah, I never could get them out,” he said with a cringe.