Presidents Race Auditions Video

Yesterday’s presidents race auditions brought 55 finalists to the Washington Nationals former home, RFK stadium, to see if they had what it takes to don a giant president head and race from the outfield to home plate.

Ian Koski at Nationals Pride put together a terrific little video highlighting the presidents race audition experience, and featuring Steve Roche, Nationals Mascot Coordinator:

Teddy Roosevelt was noticeably absent. Could it be that the privilege of donning the esteemed Teddy costume is being reserved for the 20 winners? Not so, says Washington Nationals spokesman Tom Davis. “He needs to rest up,” Davis told WTOP News. “He’s had a rough couple of years. He’s looking to get back in shape.”

Congratulations to the new squad. See you at Nationals Park next month!

Presidents Race Auditions – When Else? Presidents Day!

Geico Racing PresidentsThe Washington Nationals have selected 50 finalists from the 120 applicants they received to become one of the 12-foot-tall racing presidents for the 2008 season.

The presidents race finalists have been invited to the new Nationals Park for auditions on Monday, February 18. Presidents Day, of course.

The finalists will be asked to demonstrate their ability to run the presidents race, dance, and celebrate while wearing a 45 pound costume.

Hoping to get some photos to share.

Parking at Nationals Park – The Real Tragedy

Parking at Nationals Park – The Real Tragedy

As the inaugural presidents race at Nationals Park approaches, get ready to hear Stan Kasten shouting “Take Metro!” on every media outlet in town. Parking availability will be slim to none around the new Nationals Park.

Nationals Park South Capitol StreetAs somebody who used to leave his office at 6:30 by car, and be in his seat at RFK in time for the star spangled banner, this won’t be an easy transition. But it’s a fair enough compromise. RFK Stadium was unusually accessible by car for an inner city ball park, with major highways funneling right into a parking lot. We couldn’t expect the same to be true of any other location. The Navy Yard metro stop is close enough to the new Nationals Park, and there are tens of thousands of parking spots at metro stations. In the end, I could cry about parking availability all I want, but I doubt I’d want to be exiting Nationals Park by car, since (unlike RFK) I’ll be hitting surface roads with traffic cops and post-game crowds crossing streets. The thought sends shivers of FedEx Field flashbacks up my spine.

Nationals Park Parking GaragesNo, the scarcity of parking spaces is not the real tragedy here. The real tragedy is taking shape over the left and center field walls, where construction is almost complete on the two above-ground garages that were part of the deal with major league baseball to approve the stadium site. Everybody knew that above-ground garages would be unappealing, but in a classic case of bureaucratic decision making, that’s what got approved. Major League Baseball held fast to its deadline, the city and the team held fast to their budget, and the rest of us get stuck with these two ugly behemoths for generations to come.

View from the Owner's Suite at Nationals ParkAs unforgivable acts of civic shortsitedness go, this one tops my list as a Washington Nationals fan. When I learned of the plan to build these garages above ground, I was extremely disappointed, but when I saw them for myself on a recent tour of the new stadium, I was positively stunned. If they had to be above ground, did they still have to be right over the outfield walls by the stadium’s main entrance? The photo to the right is from the location of the owner’s suite behind home plate. Yes, that’s the U.S. Capitol dome being blocked by the new garage. Sure, they’re going cover the garage with advertising posters and plant cherry trees in front of it, but is this the DC skyline view we were promised?

Nationals Park Parking Garages over the left and center field wallsFor everybody’s sake, I hope that the team, the city, and major league baseball can start thinking beyond the outfield walls. The new Nationals Park should be a source of civic and fan pride, but that can’t come 100% from the amenities within the park. New ballparks should integrate and represent the neighborhood and the city, becoming attractions unto themselves, drawing tourists when they come to town, and driving ticket sales even when the team falls short of expectations. This isn’t rocket science. You don’t have to have the Rocky Mountains of Denver or the San Francisco Bay to pull it off. New ballparks have taken advantage of the comparatively nondescript skylines of Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Milwaukee. You’d think we could have done better.

With luck, the new Nationals Park will pour in buckets of money for both the city and the Washington Nationals team, and additional parking options will built in the adjacent neighborhood in the next couple of years. Then perhaps we can have some serious discussions about ripping these things down and starting over.

Flickr photos by Scott Ableman

You can be in the presidents race

Presidents RaceHave you ever wanted to don the Teddy Roosevelt costume and race in the Washington Nationals presidents race? The Washington Nationals Mascot Coordinator is now soliciting applications via the team’s web site.

Applicants must be between 5’7″ and 6’6″ in height, able to run 100 yards wearing a 45 pound costume, and available for “at least” half the Washington Nationals home games. That’s 41 games plus playoffs (Ha! We can dream, right?).

Teddy wannabes should note that you don’t always get to be Teddy. The roles rotate between the staff, so all you lovable losers must also be able to demonstrate the brains of Tom and the honesty of George and Abe, from time to time.

Flickr photo by Scott Ableman.

Finally, somebody noticed.

Two days after I tweaked Barry Svrluga’s photoblogging, he has taken notice of our little Let Teddy Win fan gear site. I don’t know whether I’d qualify today’s post at the Nationals Journal as an endorsement, but the Washington Post certainly gets a ton of exposure that lit up my in box this morning.

Nationals Park Photos

New Nationals Park

Nationals ParkIn today’s Nationals Journal, Washington Post beat writer Barry Svrluga finally got to show off some photos from his recent tour of Nationals Park under construction. Unfortunately, the Washington Post’s blogging function doesn’t give Barry flexibility to let you see much detail. I also wish Barry had gone into some more of the things that are designed to make Nationals Park unique.

I realized I needed to get off my butt and finally post some of the photos from my recent tour of the new Nationals Park. Yes, I had a private tour recently but have been too busy to add to the blog. Shame on me.

Some Highlights:

Nationals Park Scoreboard

Nationals Park ScoreboardOf course what everybody keeps asking about is the new Nationals Park scoreboard. Yes, it’s high-definition, and yes, it’s huge. At almost five stories high, it will be the biggest scoreboard in major league baseball.

Some have mistakenly suggested that it’s the biggest in all sports, but that honor goes to some of the newer football stadiums such as Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. Still, on a square-inches-per-viewer basis I think the new Nationals Park scoreboard wins easily.

Nationals Clubhouse and Locker Room


Nationals Park Clubhouse
The update that the players are most excited about in the new Nationals Park is their home clubhouse. The locker room is spacious, and is surrounded by state of the art facilities including oversized whirlpools and underwater treadmills.

Nationals Clubhouse Svrluga noted that the new locker room was football shaped. The shape is said to promote team chemistry, with everybody facing in and no corners. What Barry did not mention is that the visitors locker room is less spacious, with a traditional rectangle shape. Anything to get a competitive edge in a series!




Nationals Park Bullpen

New Nationals Park Scoreboard from the Nationals Bullpen A highlight for me was a visit to the new Nationals bullpen. The team chose to put it’s bullpen in right field, just far enough over to still see the new scoreboard.

Most importantly, Nationals Park has a tunnel that connects the bullpen to the home dugout, which is on the first base side. This will enable players and trainers to move between the dugout, the clubhouse, and the bullpen during games if needed. The visitors dugout in left field has no such access. As with older ball parks, the visitors bullpen pitchers will walk across the field to the bullpen before the game, where, except for a bullpen telephone, they will be isolated for the duration of the game.

Nationals Park BullpenIt almost made me wish I’d requested seats in that outfield section along the bullpen wall. Is that Section 140? Some lucky fans on the ends of those aisles will be catching a few homers while chatting up the pitchers warming up in the bullpen. It’s a far cry from RFK Stadium, where the fans were so separated from the players out there.




Presidents Race Starting Gate?

Nationals Park from the Washington Nationals BullpenMy visit to the bullpen made me wonder where the racing presidents would enter for the presidents race at the new ball park. Assuming they will continue to race from right field towards home plate, the logic entrance would be from the Nationals bullpen. As you can see, it’s a long way to home plate from out there!

Enough for this morning. More photos to come soon.

Flickr photos by Scott Ableman

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