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Current Weather & Forecast (plan your gameday!)

Thursday, March 29, 2007

"Tranquility Base here - my tickets have landed!"

Just moments ago, the nice FedEx lady arrived with my tickets.

I am one smilin' Nats fan 8)

They are gorgeous (I believe that Nats320 already posted pretty photos of the tickets) and the Opening Day one is a monster. I like how there's a lot of info contained within the ticket packets, including a chart so you can write-in names of people you allocate them to. Very cool.

Nice job on the tickets, Stan. Wish we had the pin to go with them, though, they would be nice to collect. Maybe marketing could poll the season-ticket-holders before next season? Heck, add $5 to my "handling charge" to cover the cost of a pin, I won't complain.

Three more days. It's agonizing. I can't even get off of work this Saturday for the last pre-season game at R.F.K. vs. the O's, which would be nice (and the weather looks good for it, too.)

A happy Thursday to all.

Tom Keirein forecasting good weather for Opening Day

I like the News4 weather team. Bob Ryan is an unabashed Red Sox fan, and I've noticed over the past year or so that Tom Kierein tends to mention what the weather is likely to be like for Nationals games. To my mind, that is a vital part of stirring up fan interest, getting the local media involved and getting them to encourage folks to support the team.

Let's face it. Even the most die-hard among us fans are capable of being weather-fickle. It's tough to get friends to accompany you to the ballpark if the weather is going to be ugly, and few of us really want to sit in the stands (especially in seats like mine which have no cover whatsoever) in the rain getting water in our beer and soaking our hot dogs. So it's nice when the meteorologists can continually associate good weather with a trip to the ballpark. "No plans for this lovely Friday afternoon? Good seats still available and the weather will be fine".

I like to invite different friends to games, depending upon their schedules and, of course, the weather. All plans are tentative until we know the forecast. I once heard Tom Kierein state on the air that "anything over three days is a guess", meaning that any prediction more than three days ahead of time is almost pure guesswork because the computer models can't really get any more accurate right now, as there are too many variables in play. This is why I have the Accuweather gadget right above ^here^.

I feel that part of the "zen" of baseball is simply the enjoyment of being outdoors and relaxing while taking in the game. It isn't just seeing the players live, although that's a prime motivator, it is getting out of our homes and workplaces and smelling the hot dogs and beer and listening to the crack of the bats and smack of the gloves.

One lesson I learned last year is that the teams will move Heaven and Earth to get the games underway and complete them. I thought for certain that one game last April that John Patterson was pitching would be canceled because of rain. It may have been rain-delayed initially, so I skipped the game and went right home from work, and at first I thought that I'd made the right decision, as the Nats weren't doing very well against the Braves (I THINK it was the Braves...) but the game turned out to be MUCH more exciting, the Nats came back and won in the rain. I think that Patterson didn't get the win, but he pitched very well and deserved much credit for the win. I kicked myself for not braving the elements myself and just sucking it up and going to the game, I'd have enjoyed it.

I DID go out to that Phillies game the last week of the season, because I had friends out there that I wanted to hang out with. I didn't go right away because of the rain delay, but by the time I did get there, the parking folks were gone and I drove right in for free to an almost-empty Lot #7, and I went in to see the field under rain-delay conditions and I found my buddy who Metro'd in, and we just split. We couldn't get any food or beer, everything was closed. How surprised I was when the game eventually began (what was it, after 11:35?) and the only fans you could hear on the MASN broadcast were the die-hard Phillies fans who'd come down by train just to see this game. It was surreal and kind-of ugly, but wild to see.

Lessons learned.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

"Help me, Mercury Graphics! You're my only hope!"

So here I was, all set to get my tickets by FedEx yesterday, and.....they didn't show.

I went to and plugged in my tracking number and it indicated that they have the WRONG ADDRESS for me! (!!!!!)

I emailed the Nats last night, as the Nats website told me to do, and as of this moment, I've heard....nothing.

I called FedEx, and they are holding my tickets at their local facility, but I can't get over there to get them, so I have to rely upon the shipper, Mercury Graphics, to request the address change (by the way - they have me down as a STREET, not an AVENUE. With the proper zip code, can't the local FedEx facility figure this out themselves?) I Google'd them, found them on the 'Net, called them, and had to leave a message with the woman who deals with this. (I'm betting that she's getting inundated with calls).

Now I'm holding my breath.

I post this info on Mercury Graphics in case anyone else can use it. Keep your fingers crossed for me!
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*UPDATE Mercury Graphics comes through! I just got a nice call back from the poor lady who is getting inundated with calls about their tickets, and FedEx should deliver my tickets to me tomorrow. Whoo, hoo! Thanks, Mercury Graphics!

Monday, March 26, 2007

My tickets are in Memphis

So I checked my FedEx tracking number just now and, as of 10:25 yesterday morning (Sunday) my tickets were in Memphis (FedEx's headquarter city and main terminal). So that means I should have them either tomorrow (Tuesday) or Wednesday - whoo, hoo!

The song of the day still says it all.

Not brand new, but still amusing

I don't believe that I'm the first Nats blogger to display this, but I don't care, it still makes me laugh:
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I found this at and not only are they working on bumper stickers, but they are having a limited t-shirt run with this image, and it runs until April 6th.

Note: That phone number actually belongs to a company and appears to be for sale.

The T.V. commercials

I've been enjoying the Nats T.V. commercials, featuring the statues of president's Lincoln and Jefferson bemoaning the fact that they can't see the Nats play. I hope they make more of these.

The commercials themselves are fairly ordinary, but I'm just flat-out tickled to even SEE commercials for the Nationals. At last, they are being marketed like a major-league team. Step by step, inch by inch, they gain more respect.

In the "I spoke too soon" department...

*Sigh* Some weekend THIS was. Just when things were looking up, Nook Logan suffers a groin pull, throwing the lineup off, but allowing us a chance to take a better look at Kory Casto, who deserves a better chance to be seen. Looks like Matt Chico needs a little more time alone with Randy St. Claire, though, and possible an exorcism conducted by Don Sutton.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Five in a row? Nice!

Another pre-season win! And over the defending ALCS champion Tigers, no less!

I know, I know...spring training wins mean nothing. I keep telling myself that.

Still, wins are wins, and wouldn't we feel worse if they were LOSING?

So they are 10-11 with over a week to go. No, there are no prizes for Best Spring Training Record, but it certainly is encouraging. With the exception of a few minor injuries, there's mostly good news coming out of Viera these days (knocks wood several times...)

Keep those fingers crossed, Nats fans!

Oh, and the Song of the Day might be up for a few days :-)
(readers of a certain age might listen and develop a sudden craving for Heinz ketchup)

My tickets have shipped!

I got an email on Thursday with my FedEx tracking number, and I should have my tickets either today or Monday (Whoo, hoo!) I've noticed some concern in comments on other blogs that the tickets were shipping too late and might not get to their respective owners in time for Opening Day, but the team's goal of getting all of the tickets out by Monday, March 26th seems reasonable.

If you haven't received an email with a tracking number by Monday the 26th, then yes, I'd call the team first thing Tuesday the 27th.

Last year, my own ticket agent had to meet me outside R.F.K. on Opening Day to give me my season tickets. They are very accommodating. I understand how folks who like to divvy-up their tickets right away can be put out, though. I haven't checked yet to see if the My Nationals Tickets feature on is functioning yet, I'll wait a week.

Don't give up hope, season-ticket holders! They're coming!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Sutton prepared to advise the pitching staff?

The Washington Times answered a question that has been with me since that first spring training game that Bob Carpenter and Don Sutton did for MASN this month, namely, would having Hall-of-Fame pitcher Don Sutton around be a possible boon for the Nats pitching staff?

Here the Times addressed my question almost directly:

"And if those building blocks of pitchers ever asked Sutton, with 324 major league victories for the Dodgers, Astros, Brewers, Athletics and Angels on his resume, for help, would he offer it?
"I would probably say how much time do you have, and is it OK with Randy [St. Claire]," Sutton said. "Randy is the pitching coach, and I honor and respect titles. It's his job. If Randy said to me, 'Chad Cordero wants to work on a curve ball, you busy?' I would say, 'What time?' There were people who gave me time in my career, from Carl Erskine to Sandy Koufax to Don Drysdale. I have plenty of time, and I lost over 250 ballgames, so I should have learned something, too."

I think that is really cool.

I've always wondered how much influence that Hall-of-Fame broadcasters have on the players that they see regularly. For example, I've long suspected that Redskins quarterback and living legend Sonny Jurguensen gives tips and advice to the young Redskin quarterbacks, and I figured that if these youngsters had any brains in their head, that they paid attention whenever Sonny held forth on how he saw them developing.

I can't imagine that any of the Nationals pitchers are too proud to ask Don Sutton for his counsel and advice. If nothing else, record the games and pay close attention when Sutton discusses your play. Could Sutton have had such influence on the great Braves pitchers of the 1990's? That's a question that I'd love to ask him in person.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

In praise of the spirit of "The Bad News Bears"

The Bad News Bears came out in 1976, and has been a favorite of mine ever since. I remember my dad taking me to see it. I was ten years old at the time, and I thought the movie was very funny, and I'm certain that I was just as shocked as my father was watching these kids talk like adults (especially the swearing) and drink beer, but we both loved Walter Matthau's performance and the players certainly became endearing characters.

It may be something of a stretch to compare a beloved, if fictional, Little League team to our 2007 Washington Nationals, but bear with me, I think that there are some arguments to be made here. Maybe not a lot, but a few.

For example, there seem to be several players in the Nationals training camp who are not wanted by other teams, so it is fair to call them cast-offs and misfits, just as the Bears had players that couldn't make the other teams in the North Valley League

For another, no one seems to give our 2007 Nats much of a chance, including such people as's Mike Bauman who said,
"In the National League, 15 of 16 teams have legitimate reasons to believe that they will be nothing less than highly competitive. The lone exception would be the Washington Nationals." (courtesy of District of Baseball). If that doesn't cement their status as the National League underdogs of 2007, then I don't know what does.

So, are these the "Bad News Nats"? Does Jim Bowman need to trade for a "booger-eatin' moron", or do they currently have one under minor-league contract? Where is our Kelly Leak, who at last count, was hitting .847, I believe? Is Matt Chico our Amanda Whurlitzer in waiting, or our Rudy Stein?
Fortunately, our manager isn't a washed-up alcoholic, the Lerners have much deeper pockets than Chico's Bail Bonds ("Let freedom ring"), and there is more to the Nats than Tanner Boyle's immortal (and completely un-P.C.) description of his own teammates ("All we got on this team are a buncha Jews, spics, niggers, pansies, and a booger-eatin' moron!")

I think that we just need to remember the tagline of the movie - "together, they make it happen!" I relish their underdog status. The Nats will not lose 100 games, they WILL be entertaining and fun to watch all summer long, and we are getting to witness the birth of what I believe will be a championship club someday. Let's enjoy Nationals baseball for what it is this year, and hope that they embody the spirit of the North Valley League Bears.
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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Cool T-shirts

If you attended any games at R.F.K. last season, you may have seen t-shirts from the folks at Well, I thought that they were a complete hoot, but I wasn't able to buy any in my size, so I didn't get one.

Well, I just got word from Jeff at and here's what he had to say about t-shirts for the 2007 season:

Good questions about this year. I'd love for you to help spread the word. We are currently in the process of revamping our website for the current season, and we are working on hiring some college kids to help us create a buzz at pre-game tailgates and at bars this season.

We are also going to have a few new shirts this year... I'll give you a quick sneak peak (think: "DeezNats is for lovers"). And we'll also continue selling our most popular shirts which are already on the website. I'd also love to hear what other fans think about shirt ideas... happy to hear their thoughts if you want to post that on your blog (have them email us at with suggestions)."

This is my idea of fun. If any other bloggers want to help spread the word, I'm sure that Jeff would appreciate it. If you're a college student or someone who just wants to get involved with helping them out, please contact him.

Note: Just to be clear, I have no financial or other interest in other than wanting to help out a fellow fan and to help allow other Nats fans to find fun Nats-related things to enjoy. I'm all about the love.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Friday fun - March 9th

At last, Friday is here. For most of you, it's the end of the work week. Alas, I work every Saturday, but such is the lot of the retail service industry. Still, I enjoy the vibe of a Friday as much as any clockwatcher praying for beer-o'clock.

How about a little word association exercise, today? The arrival of meteorological spring is still 11 days away, but we can still play this game:

Finish this sentence: "If it's spring,....."

I'm looking for such replies as, "..then (fill in player's name) is injured again." Or, "..then the Nats must be in last place already."

Points awarded for originality, and no copying off of your neighbor, please.

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Don't forget that our friends in Congress did us all a swell favor by moving up Daylight Savings Time by a few weeks (as an energy-saving move), so it will kick in this Sunday, March 11th. Move your clocks FORWARD one hour.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Fan character, OR When are you entitled to "boo"?

Thanks to District of Baseball (via the Washington Post) I read this nice item: "(Austin)Kearns' father, Dan, on the difference between Cincinnati and DC: "They talk about Cincinnati being a great baseball town, but they look for you to strike out so they can boo. Here they were, Washington, in last place, and they cheered everything."
I hope that speaks volumes about Nats fan character. That's certainly the way I see myself, at any rate.

You read a lot about fans in particular towns, usually negative if your source is someone from a rival town. For example, the New York Yankees and their fans have always been a big target because of their history of success and with New York being such a huge "stage", a gargantuan media market where nothing escapes scrutiny. If you ask a Boston Red Sox fan about Yankee fans, you won't hear anything good. Yankee fans are often derisively labled as "spoiled" because they expect nothing less than a pennant every season. Well, with that payroll, who wouldn't? If the Nationals had that payroll, I'd expect them to have a lock on the Series!

I don't know enough about fans in most other cities, but I hear good things about Cubs fans and Red Sox fans and their legendary loyalty. Philadelphia fans, Eagles and Phillies, have always struck me as particularly rude (I once had coffee thrown at me by an Eagles fan outside Veteran's Stadium before the game we were attending even started) and their behavior at Nats games hasn't been the most courteous, but perhaps that's just par for the course (I love mixing sports metaphors). Still, for a city whose very name means, "City of brotherly love", Philadelphia fans seem to me to be living ironies.

After two seasons, I don't know if we Nationals fans have truly established a fan character of our own, but I would hope that Mr. Kearns' observation is right on target. Redskins Head Coach Joe Gibbs has always maintained that Redskins fans were the best in the N.F.L. (of course, what would you expect him to say?)and I'm hoping that we fans never give Manager Manny Acta or anyone else in the club reason to believe that Nationals fans are anything less than 100% supportive and grateful. If a player gets traded and is asked to comment on their time in Washington, I would hope that, whatever problems they may have had with a teammate or with management, that they will say, "but the fans were always great. D.C. is a great baseball town if you play there."

I have heard our fans described as "savvy", as knowledgeable. Look at our demographics. I won't trot out fancy charts and figures here to support my contentions (but I'll bet that there is someone out there who could) but one undeniable fact is that our fan base is highly educated. We have a lot of institutions of higher learning around here, from Georgetown and George Washington and Howard and Gaulladet here in the District to the University of Maryland at College Park, to George Mason in Fairfax, just to name a few. We have their law schools, too. Washington, D.C. has more lawyers than any other city in the world. New York City has more law firms, but D.C. has more lawyers. High education is in and of itself no indicator of civilized behavior at public events, but this is also the city of diplomacy. We are an incredibly diverse market, with people of all nationalities, colors, languages, religions and political persuasions, and diplomacy is a going concern in Shangri-La-on-the-Potomac. We know how to break bread in this town with anybody and do it peacefully and with decorum.

So, do we fans bring our manners to the ballpark, or do we leave them in the parking lot (or on the Metro)? I think that we've been so appreciative for all of the efforts of others to bring us baseball that we've had no real reason to "boo" anything, certainly not for more than a moment. Frank Robinson made certain that players didn't get out of line, and no one was going to cross him (I'm still not convinced that Toma Ohka was shipped out simply because he forgot himself on the mound and "showed up" Frank.) I think that the past two seasons have been a love-fest between the players and the fans. There haven't been any angry outbursts or bad behavior to get fans upset, no run-ins with the law, no steroid-use, so fans haven't had anything to boo about. I get the impression that most of our players are so happy to be here and play at the major league level that they don't want to screw things up. No one wants to be sent down or released. And what player doesn't want to be cheered? Any National who played here last season would probably be thrilled if every game was like that Yankee series (at least the Saturday and Sunday games of that series), with a packed stadium of deliriously cheering fans. How electrifying was that Ryan Zimmerman walk-off home run? That was one of the biggest thrills of my life, seeing that in person. That Sunday game had the largest crowd to ever see a baseball game in Washington, D.C. and I hope that it was a taste of the days and nights to come.

The punitive actions of our military in Iraq and Afghanistan have polarized many of our citizens, but no matter where one stands on these issues, we as a people have learned at least one important lesson from Viet Nam: Hate the war, but love the warrior. In that spirit, I think that we fans may need to be a little more patient and forgiving this season. Boo mistakes on the field, sure, but cheer individual effort. Give 'em a hand as they take the field and as they exit the field. Cheering pumps up the players, gets that adrenaline flowing. If a player is doing his best, yet not achieving 100%, let's not ,for Heaven's sake, break their spirit. Set a positive example for the kids in the stands.

I hope that us Nationals fans establish a reputation around the league for being smart, supportive and well-behaved. But woe be to the player who gives us reason to rain boos down upon them without mercy (Barry Bonds, anyone?) If you've earned 'em, you'll get 'em from us and wish that you hadn't.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Nationals Power is going mobile!

(*Edit) Okay, so I've just set up my account to do mobile blogging. This could be fun! I can try to blog between innings sometimes, maybe send some photos, too. I'll give it a try.

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Of Nats and jokes

Humor is an important, sometimes crucial, salve for our daily emotional wounds. It helps take the sting out of life's little pains, and sometimes allows us to make better sense of them. With current indicators pointing to the Nats giving us a season of growing pains, perhaps we should get some preemptive jokes ready to dress those blows to our collective psyches. In that spirit, I hereby launch the Nationals Power "Great Nats Jokes" search. Submit your jokes to Image Hosted by and I'll publish them here. If you include your name, and any other pertinent info (i.e. your blog name) I'll mention that here, too. I'll even give serious consideration to awarding prizes for the best ones, such as use of my tickets for a game, or something fun from the team store, or anything else Nats-related that I think is cool and am willing to pay for :-)

I'll start things off with this variation on an old football joke:

Q: What do the Nationals and Billy Graham have in common?

A: They can both bring 30,000 people to their knees, screaming "Jesus Christ!"

Of course, the classic Washington baseball joke used to be, "Washington: first in war, first in peace, last in the American League." Just switch "American" to "National" and you are right up to date. Kind of has a bittersweet little ring to it.

If any players are reading this, I'd just like to say, "For crying out loud, what are you doing reading this blog? Why aren't you PRACTICING? Opening Day is 26 days away! Get out there and practice bunting or something!"

Remember, we kid because we love.

The Season of lowered-expectations,OR, Nats channel Senators and keep D.C. baseball tradition alive

Well, Thomas Boswell has sounded the alarm again, and not without good reason. A season of 100 losses doesn't seem so implausible based upon the recent Grapefruit performances. Boswell worries about the Nats being the butt of jokes, and that has already started (a tip of the cap to Chris Needham for that item).

I was but a wee tyke when the Senators left town for good, my father only having taken me to one single game back in '71 (presumably my father left it at that so as not to run afoul of any child cruelty laws, or he just didn't want me scarred for life). From all that I've heard and read, though, the Senators were usually pretty bad, but of course they were in that abattoir division, the American League East, and were treated often to drubbings by the then-mighty Orioles, the usually-mighty Yankees and the often-mighty Red Sox. Perhaps it is fair to say that they were the Tampa Bay Devil Rays of their day, for you youngsters out there.

Ever since the Nats arrived in town, I've tried mightily to keep my own expectations in check. I was told that the Expos weren't very good, that their farm system was akin to Chernobyl, that MLB wasn't going to spend any money on them, so until they got an owner with deep pockets, they weren't going to improve one iota. All this time, I've simply been happy to have them here. My personal zen koan has been "sit back, relax and just enjoy" and so far that has served me well. 2005 was that dratted teaser, though, wasn't it? That miraculous June, those 50-odd days on top of the NL East, that flirtation with a wild-card in August and September even as the team collapsed. It was enough that season, a beautiful anomaly that fueled continued belief.

Last season was the great unknown, waiting, waiting, waiting to get ownership, the stadium deal, and no one expected much of anything at all. Thanks to Jim Bowden for happily distracting us with Alphonso Soriano's amazing All-Star season. It kept us all tantalized, especially in those dog days of August and into September, with those "Can he do it?" questions.

This season, perhaps I'll add another little zen koan to my repertoire: "Patience, grasshopper." It's important. The promise of, "good things come to those who wait" and all that. But I remain grateful that, once again, I have an Opening Day to look forward to and a whole summer of intriguing possibilities on the field. Hey, the pressure on us fans is off, there are all sorts of things that we don't have to worry about, so we can't be too disappointed, right? Wins will be gifts. If the pitching improves, we might even see the occasional flash of the "one-run wonders" of 2005. Personally, I think a reasonable goal for the team would be to finish better than last in the NL East, but who would they finish ahead of, the Marlins? So many variables. It's like trying to predict the impact of a snowstorm (he says, as snow falls outside his window). I just hope that the Nats aren't consistently killed out there. If they can remain competitive and at least give us some close games, that might be enough for now.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

2007 Nationals Contract obligations

This isn't exactly my specialty (assuming, of course, that I actually HAVE a "specialty") but I ran across this and thought that I would share. I'd be surprised if no other Nats bloggers have touched upon this subject (though, in fact, did exactly that recently, so a tip of the cap to Tim).

Jim Bowden's contract obligations for 2007

Monday, March 5, 2007


Attention all fans who drive to R.F.K. stadium: the single game parking fee is going up again this year.

The current information on the Nats website is incorrect (or, to be fair, it is correct for the 2006 season) It still reads that the parking fee is $12.00 per game. I've brought this information to the club's attention, and they should be correcting that at any time now.

It will now be $15.00/game to park at R.F.K. for standard passenger vehicles.

The GOOD news is, season ticket holders may buy parking passes for $984, which breaks down to $12.15/game, and they are pro-rated, so if you decide in April to buy one, it is simply reduced by the number of games already played. The pass allows you to park in any lot except #4 and #5.

(My goodness, this could very well be the first "scoop" for my little blog. I'm so proud)
*EDIT - Per a well-informed comment, this would appear to be old news. Gotta love the sharp eyes and strong memories of the blog readers, though. Thanks for keeping me honest!

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Autograph sessions every single night?

Since I had to work yesterday during the Nats/O's spring training game, I recorded it to watch last night or today. Since I went out last night, I started to watch it when I came home, but I'm watching the rest of it right now.

Did anyone else catch the interview that Debbi Taylor did with team president Stan Kasten? I was VERY excited to hear Kasten announce that, "..we're going to have autograph sessions every single night this year.." This is GREAT news! I've always wondered how on earth I could get a player autograph on a baseball, and an R.F.K. usher friend of mine told me last season that the best strategy was to show up early, and to go wait along the baseline rails and hope for the best. Since I am neither A) a little kid, or B) an attractive female, I figured that my chances of snagging an autograph under such conditions was virtually impossible.

I've always thought that it would be really cool to have a baseball with the autographs of every starting position player and pitcher for a single season. I would have loved to have gotten Alphonso Soriano's autograph last year, as well as Frank Robinson's, and any number of departed players who made the games I saw so much fun. Maybe this is my year, eh?

On another important note, Kasten announced that "Teddy Roosevelt" was in spring training camp this year (he threw out the first pitch yesterday) and he had high hopes that Teddy would have a better year this year. Unfortunately, Kasten added that, if Teddy ran a foot race against Nick Johnson right now, that Teddy would win. I don't think that any of us wanted to hear that. Nick won't be at 1B on Opening Day, but we can certainly hope that he's back by Memorial Day at least, if not sooner.

A warm Nationals Power welcome to the world's newest Nats fan

Congratulations to Brian and Jordan Schneider on the birth of their daughter, Tatum Elizabeth. Happy Birthday, Tatum!

I had the pleasure of meeting Jordan Schneider for a few brief moments last summer during the Nationals and Marine Corps Toy Drive, outside R.F.K. She was kind enough to speak to us fans and help some people to donate money if they hadn't brought any toys. I remember saying a few kind words about her husband, and I was grateful to see her and other players wives and girlfriends doing their part to help make the Toy Drive such a success. Since I don't believe any of the players themselves have actually established homes here in the D.C. area yet, I have to assume that these ladies came into town specifically to help out, as well as to see their men in action on the field. That took extra effort, and we should be grateful to all concerned for their generosity of spirit.

I also got to meet Brian Schneider for a few seconds on the final day of last season, when several players came to the gates before the game to hand out t-shirts to fans. There were several team officials trying desperately to keep the fans from soliciting autographs, but I got lucky and Brian saw me waiting patiently (I was smart enough to wait patiently and let the kids get autographs first. I'm sure the players don't appreciate rude, pushy fans who knock over seven year-olds to get to players first), and he kindly took the time to autograph my new t-shirt. I thanked him and passed along my thanks to Jordan for taking the time to chat with us fans during the Toy Drive, and he was pleased to hear this. He seems like a very nice guy indeed.

Brian reports that baby Tatum resembles him. Let's all hope for her sake that she resembles Jordan instead ;-)

Friday, March 2, 2007

My efforts on behalf of stadium beer offerings

By day, I am in the alcohol beverage business here in the District, so this brings me into contact with many of the movers-and-shakers whose jobs are to slake this city's thirst. As a devoted Nats fan with a voice in the local alcohol industry, I feel duty-bound to try and improve upon the already-decent offerings at R.F.K.

Fans who attended games during the Inaugural Season (hereafter referred to as either "Nats Year 1", or "'05" or whatever abbreviation strikes me) were treated to the Foggy Bottom Pub, which was run by Premium Distributors (the Miller distributor) and it had Foggy Bottom Lager, Ale and a special brew made just for the stadium, Foggy Bottom Pils. All the beers were local and very good, and Foggy Bottom (née, Olde Heurich) was a Washington, D.C. institution from a bygone era. The "pub" also had a delicious steak sandwich platter with really good potato chips. I enjoyed them and considered that to be a crucial stop when visiting R.F.K.

Unfortunately, in March of 2006, Foggy Bottom's owner, Gary Heurich, declared bankruptcy, stating at the time, "23 years of losing money is enough", I believe. (oddly enough, as indicated above if you clicked the link, the website is still up and doesn't seem to make any indication that they are out of business) So for the 2006 season, the pub was taken over by Premium Distributors and just served a couple of Miller products, and "Home Run Ale" (which is Leinenkugel). Gone was the great sandwich platter, too.

R.F.K. has had several good beer offerings, including Guinness, Harp, Sam Adams "Summer", Blue Moon and Redhook on draught, and lots of bottled beers, including Budweiser, Bud Light, Michelob "Ultra", Miller, Miller Light, Heineken, and Amstel Light. (Fun Beer Fact: Those 20 oz. beers in the plastic bottles with the twist-off caps are ONLY available for stadium use. I couldn't order those for sale if I begged for them. Oh, and the mark-up on those things is staggering, of Haliburton-proportions, really.)

For 2007 (and beyond) I've taken it upon myself to speak with my friend Jim Lutz, who is both the owner of Wild Goose Brewery (formerly, Frederick Brewing Company) and also the mid-Atlantic rep for Denver's Flying Dog Brewery, now being brewed here at Wild Goose, so I think that it now counts as "local". Jim is a good guy, having regained ownership of his Wild Goose label after spending time with the Ram's Head Tavern Group, spearheading Fordham Beer. Since the Lerners/Stan Kasten are all about bringing in local groups as vendor partners, I strongly urged Jim Lutz to contact the Nationals about taking over the stadium pub and doing something good with it. At the very least, we want more good beer options, right? I wrote to a contact that I have with the team in the hopes that I could advocate Jim's position. We shall see if my persistence has paid off or not very soon and, if it has, I invite every Nats fan and blogger to buy me Wild Goose and Flying Dog throughout the season, in gratitude :-)

Wanting to hedge my bets, I also spoke with the local rep today for Dogfish Head Brewery, out of Delaware. Those are some wonderful and often esoteric beers, but if you've been to any D.C. bars or restaurants with a good tap lineup, you've probably seen Dogfish Head 60-Minute I.P.A. or Shelter Pale Ale, or another beer or two. They've got quite the following now.

Sadly, my friend and neighbor Jerry Bailey, the founder of Old Dominion Brewing Company in Virginia, sold his brewery last year to his employees, so I no longer have that contact, else I'd be pestering him as well. It's a nice move for Jerry and his former employees, and I'm all in favor of supporting independent craft breweries, especially if they are local, but I have no idea if the Dominion folks are interested or pursuing placement at R.F.K., but they ARE distributed by Premium, so there is a chance that Dominion Lager or Ale, or their summer beer (if they have one this year) could be available on draught. I'd like to see them represented there.

I encourage all Nats fans and beer fans to contact the team, or Premium Distributors of D.C. (ask for Jimmy Reyes, he's the Head Honcho, and a very nice and reasonable guy, too.) and urge them to feature our local favorites. After all, our local beers are what help to make us unique. You can get a Bud or a Miller at all Major League ballparks, but only at R.F.K. (and the stadium-to-be-named-later) can you get our local brews. (Okay, okay, you might be able to get Wild Goose and Flying Dog at Camden Yards, for all I know, but why wouldn't you have a Natty-Bo instead? ;-) )

Thursday, March 1, 2007

On "Nationals Power"

I'm philosophical by nature, and words are important to me, so when I decided upon a name for this blog, it was an interesting challenge. Most importantly, I wanted to honor the Nationals, and I also wanted to come up with as unique a name as I could without it sounding dumb. It didn't help me that a lot of really good names were already taken either. I thought about using a name which played off of "Nat-o-sphere" or "Natmosphere", but the former kept looking as though in an address line that it would have something to do with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and the latter just sounded a little too all-encompassing and, let's face it, this little blog isn't going to be the definitive, exhaustive blog of record for all things Nationals, so I didn't want it to sound too grand.

I played around with a lot of names, Googling them extensively so that I wouldn't step on anyone else's toes. I thought about just "Joe Nats Fan", but I didn't want to obscure the nice work done by Miss Chatter ("Just a Nats Fan")
. I even toyed with the idea of calling this blog "The Nat-izen", but there again, there's that annoying hyphen which can confuse people trying to type that in as a URL. Without the hyphen, however, it bears just a little too much of a resemblance to a word considered racist for my comfort level, so I thought I'd just leave it alone.

We all want our teams to have "power", right? And power is a very broad term, not too specific, yet what powers the team? The owner's money? The fans? The employees of the team? I'd bet that the team owners want to "empower" their fans to have fun, to enjoy their pastime to its fullest. Okay, okay, I'm overthinking this, but there are a LOT of Nationals blogs out there, and I wanted something that people might be able to remember if they cared to. I think I succeeded. Time will tell.

Song of the moment - Celebrating the longest homestand of the season

Survey of the Moment