What’s the Strangest Thing You Saw on Opening Day at Nationals Park?

Nationals Park Opening Day photo by Scott AblemanMy son and I had a lot of fun meeting people on opening day at Nationals Park. Even without Ryan Zimmerman’s fairytale-like heroics, it would have been a remarkable night to remember.

It was also a night for spotting local celebrities and a variety of oddities you don’t usually find at a ball game.

For example, it’s not every day you head to the concession stands at a major league ball park and pass by a man with a high-definition broadcast digital camera on a heavy-duty tripod taking photographs of a chili dog. Yet there he was. Obviously one of the big stories for locals was the presence of Ben’s Chili Bowl on the concourse behind the 3rd base line.

On Tony Kornheiser’s local radio show
this morning, Mr. Tony fixated for some time
Don Sutton in a Tuxedo?on the site of Don Sutton wearing a tuxedo. Sutton came down from the broadcast booth to act as “master of ceremonies” for the player introductions. I have nothing but respect for Sutton, the hall-of-fame Dodger pitcher and current Nationals broadcaster; but I have to agree with Mr. Tony. Sutton looked like a waiter from Morton’s in that getup.

What’s the strangest thing you saw on opening day at Nationals Park?

The Season Begins with a Bang at Nationals Park

Nationals Park Grand OpeningI will post more later today, but suffice to say the grand opening of our new Nationals Park was nothing short of a smashing success for every Washington Nationals fan in attendence.

Every Washington Nationals fan, that is, except Teddy.

Though Ryan Zimmerman’s walk-off home run thrilled and delighted the crowd, our great and much misunderstood 26th president disappointed his loyal fans once again. Whether he was trying to cheat or was just confused about the rules is uncertain; but while George, Abe, and Tom began their sprint along the warning track, Teddy simply shot across center field.

Had he not stopped to chat with a couple of members of the Atlanta Braves outfield, Teddy might have beaten George across the finish line, though whether he would have been disqualified remains an open question.

George’s achievement as the first racing president to win the presidents race at Nationals Park has been reflected in the newest section of letteddywin.com — the Presidents Race Standings page, which will continue to be updated throughout the season.

Video by YouTube user jrgwx

Flickr photo of opening day at Nationals Park by Scott Ableman

Changes to the Presidents Race at Nationals Park

Tonight is the big opener at our new Nationals Park, and presidents race fans are eager to see what Teddy Roosevelt has in store for the 2008 debut. Reports are that he’s been working out for the 2008 campaign, and that his last-place finish in last night’s preseason warm-up was just designed to lull the other presidents into complacency. In addition to being in great shape, we hear he may have a few new tricks up his sleeve.

Among the changes we’ll see this year is that the presidents race has been moved from the path that was traditionally used at RFK Stadium. As fans at the Nationals only preseason game at Nationals Park saw, the racing presidents no longer enter from the right field and run along the foul line towards home plate.

In Nationals Park, the racing presidents are being introduced one at a time from the center field fence, and then race around the warning track toward first base.

Those of us seated in the sections along the first base line should have nothing to complain about. Our shouts of “Let Teddy Win!” should be just the thing Teddy needs to help motivate him to his first victory.

See you all at the park tonight!

Flickr photo by excellent Nats fan MissChatter

Music at Nationals Park – Song Results Are In!

Chuck Brown will be played after any Nationals player hits a home runThe Nationals asked and you voted. Here are the songs that will be played at Nationals Park home games starting with tomorrow’s exhibition game against the Baltimore Orioles.

At the 7th Inning Stretch
(after Take Me Out to the Ball Game)
Shout by Otis Day and the Knights

After a Nationals Home Run
Bustin’ Loose by DC native Chuck Brown (pictured)

After a Nationals Win
Beautiful Day by U2

As you’ve probably figured out by now, I’m particularly disappointed by the first choice, but not surprised. If you put this to an internet vote, the winner is going to be a song that everybody knows, not a song that’s more appropriate. Let’s hope the team finds a role for You Gotta Have Heart elsewhere in the new stadium traditions.

Photo of Chuck Brown by flickr user svetlana80

Outside food policies at Nationals Park

Food Policies - Can you bring outside food to Nationals Park?Many of us have had questions this spring about whether there will be new policies at Nationals Park regarding outside food, cameras, or other restrictions. To date, nothing has appeared on the team’s web site.

Miss Chatter to the rescue! She has dug up the policies, and here they are:

All food items must be contained in single serving bags within a soft-sided container or cooler that does not exceed 16″ x 16″ x 8″. Metal, plastic or glass containers of any kind (except for factory-sealed, clear plastic water bottles, no larger than 1 liter, baby food, empty water bottles and juice boxes) are prohibited at Nationals Park. Only one bottle of water per person will be permitted.

Regarding food, “single serving bag” sounds quite broad and lenient. You think this mean we can bring in a wrapped hoagie as long as it’s not 16″ long?

Even for those of us eager to sample the new food vendors this year, it’s awfully nice to know that you can bring in a big bottle of water.

UPDATE: The written policies have not changed, but in practice, the enforcement has been quite friendly.

For example, multiple sealed water bottles are permitted, as long as the total doesn’t exceed 1 liter per person for all the people in your party, and even that is relaxed on hot summer days. In other words, if you have a family of four, and have a backpack with 8 half-liter bottles of water, they aren’t going to turn you away.

Outside food is similarly lenient. Yes, you can bring in a 12″ sub if you like, or a bag of burgers from Five Guys. As long as you’re not bringing in a big igloo cooler full of food, you’re probably fine.

Flickr photo by Scott Ableman

The KidsPost Presidents Race Survey

If there was ever any doubt that hope springs eternal among young presidents race fans, look no further than today’s KidsPost at the Washington Post.

Today’s edition poses the following question to young Post readers: “In 2008, Teddy Roosevelt will win how many presidents races?”

Early results in this unscientific poll show over 70% of all voters predicting Teddy Roosevelt’s first presidents race victory to come in 2008. That’s the good news. Unfortunately, only 20% of young voters think it will come on opening day.

As a great unicorn once said on YouTube, “Shun the nonbelievers!”

Racing Presidents Make It Back to the White House

Today our Washington Nationals racing presidents claimed their place as part of a grand Washington DC institution, the annual White House Easter Egg Roll.

Accompanied by Nationals mascot Screech, our four “Rushmore” presidents George, Tom, Abe, and Teddy made it back to the White House to entertain and pose for photos with children who had come to participate in this age-old Washington, DC tradition.

More impressive still is the observation that the Let Teddy Win movement has reached the highest halls of power. As reported over at Nats 320, the racing presidents appeared early Monday morning and were greeting on the White House lawn by cheers of “Let Teddy Win! Let Teddy Win!” How cool is that?

President Bush is scheduled to be in attendance on Sunday night for the opening of Nationals Park. Now that he’s had a preview, let’s hope he’s caught on and joins the cheers for Teddy Roosevelt when the 4th inning comes around.

Flickr photo by Archie Cubarrubia

Leading Votes for Nationals Park Music – Last Chance!

As reported 2 weeks ago, the Nationals are giving fans a chance to choose the songs that will be played in Nationals Park in certain game situations.

I have to say after seeing the current leader board that I’m a little concerned. Remember, we may be living with these traditions for the rest of your life, so if you haven’t voted, now is the time to act!

Song to be played at the 7th inning stretch

The current leaders are a close race between “Shout” by Otis Day and the Knights and “Twist and Shout” by the Beatles.

The Nat Pack during the 7th Inning Stretch People, what are you thinking? These are fine dance songs, but they are tired and already over-used at every other stadium venue in the country. This song will be the focal point of the whole stadium during a break in action. Dancing is not required during the 7th inning stretch. Singing is. More importantly, this is a chance to create a unique Washington tradition. “You Gotta Have Heart” is uniquely Washington. Like “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” (which turns 100 this year, by the way), it’s sappy and old-fashioned, but it’s about baseball and it’s ours alone. It would become a unique fixture of Washington baseball that could never be co-opted by another team in another city. If you don’t know the song, you will learn it quickly enough, and before long, everybody will be singing along (no, they won’t play the verse about how we ain’t got hitters and pitchers). It’s not too late! Place your votes here. Vote now and vote often!

Song to be played after a home run

Current leaders are “Bustin Loose” by Chuck Brown, “Song 2 (Woo Hoo)” by Blur, and “”Off We Go” (the Air Force theme). Here again, my choice, “Because We Can” by Fatboy Slim is way behind in the voting, but the 2 leaders aren’t awful. Just please don’t pick the Air Force theme. Again, it’s not about which is the best song. It’s about which is most appropriate for the situation. Home runs don’t call for a sing-a-long. They call for a fast-paced, momentum-building rhythm that can whip the crowd into a frenzy. (Off We Go? Puh-lease!)

Song to be played after a victory
Current leaders are “Beautiful Day” by U2 and “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang. I’m not surprised at all. The choices in this category were all bad, and people are stuck between choosing a good song that’s inappropriate and an appropriate song that’s hackneyed and over-used. I can’t help you here.

You can listen to samples here, and then Place your votes at Nationals.com

Join the Nationals Ceremonial Ball Walk and Get Tickets to the First Game at Nationals Park

Washington Nationals flagship radio station WWWT (Washington Post Radio 1500 AM / 107.7 FM) is hosting a promotional event next Friday morning March 28 in which WWWT personality Nigel will be joined by a group of Nationals fans to walk the ceremonial first game baseball three miles from RFK Stadium to the new Nationals Park.

The station has announced that the first 100 people to register and complete the walk will get two tickets to the next day’s exhibition game against the Baltimore Orioles. Saturday’s game will be the first ever played by the team at Nationals Park, but tickets are not open to the general public.

This has made these somewhat of a hot commodity, though not impossible to get, having been selling on ebay in the range of $50 to $125 each.

The game against the Orioles was planned as both a “dry run” for the stadium crew and vendors, as well as a reward for the thousands of people who had a hand in building the new Nationals Park. Tickets were distributed to a limited number of guests, with the intention of only partially filling the stands.

The walk is scheduled to begin at (gulp) 7:00am on Friday. Tickets will be awarded to “the first 100 people to show up and register,” though completing the walk is a prerequisite for getting the tickets. It’s hard to say whether you’ll have to show up extra early to qualify. A lot depends on how much they plan to promote this on the radio in the next week (my guess is a lot). Details at 3WTRadio.com.

Goodbye John Patterson

John PattersonThe Washington Nationals surprised nobody but their own fans by releasing pitcher John Patterson today. I was surely not alone in being taken by surprise. A lot of us had hopes that he could still play the role of staff ace, having been mesmerized by his flashes of brilliance in 2005 and at the very beginning of the 2006 season, before arm trouble got the best of him.

But after failing to hit 90 mph in Spring Training, and stinking it up this week in his final spring training game in front of Nats owner Mark Lerner, the team clearly had seen enough.

The remarkable thing is that he wasn’t traded or waived. Patterson’s release means that general manager Jim Bowden couldn’t get a single bite on Patterson via trade. If no major league team was willing to take on Patterson’s $850,000 contract, then you know we’ve all been drinking the Kool Aid. Good luck John (just not against the Nats).

Presidents Race “Best On-Field Promotion of 2007″

GameOps.com, a web site focused on sports entertainment and promotions, recognized the Washington Nationals presidents race with its Golden Steagle award for best contest or on-field promotion of 2007.

Of course I couldn’t agree more, but this is a nice feather in the cap for Stan Kasten and the young Nationals marketing team, especially considering that Gameops.com covers teams across a spectrum of sports (including frequently more creative minor league teams).

Lastings Milledge in the Presidents Race?

Could Lastings Milledge don the Teddy Roosevelt costume?Presidents race watchers should take note to watch manager Manny Acta’s lineup card this season to see whether he’s given center fielder Lastings Milledge the day off.

In a video interview on Friday, Lastings Milledge tells the Washington Post that he plans to take the first opportunity to help Teddy win the presidents race.

“I’m gonna dress up as Roosevelt. I’m gonna win for him,” Milledge said. “If I get an off day I’m gonna ask Manny if I can dress up and win one.”

Milledge likens Teddy’s quest to win the presidents race to the Nationals’ pursuit of the NL East title. His advice to Teddy?

“Hang in there, man… You know, he’s just gettin’ a rap like how we get, everybody expecting him to lose, so he’s going to come out on top.”

Nationals Park Music – Place Your Votes Now!

Fans of letteddywin.com know that I promote Teddy’s quest to win the presidents race because it is inarguably the first fan tradition that Washington Nationals fans can truly call their own.

With the opening of our new Nationals Park this month, many of us have been screaming that the team needs to create more DC traditions, and stop borrowing from other clubs as the team so brazenly did at RFK stadium with chants of Jose, Jose, Jose, Jose and singing of Sweet Caroline.

Well, the Nationals have been listening! Today you can visit the Washington Nationals web site and vote for new songs to be played at Nationals Park.

The choices are varied, which is good. The problem is that the team doesn’t provide music samples for people who aren’t familiar with the choices. So without further adieu, I present your choices for songs, complete with links to sample audio. Sample below, then vote here.

When a Nationals Player Hits a Home Run
Because We Can by Fatboy Slim
Bustin’ Loose by Chuck Brown (go 30 seconds in)
Kernkraft 400 by Zombie Nation (not the best sample)
Off We Go (the Air Force Theme)
Song 2 by Blur (go 15 seconds in)
My vote goes to Because We Can, because I’m a firm believer in the capacity of stadium music to help energize a crowd and swing the momentum in a game. The home run song should be high-energy stuff.

During the 7th Inning Stretch
Build Me Up Buttercup by The Foundations
The Gambler by Kenny Rogers
Rock Me Gently by Andy Kim
September by Earth, Wind & Fire
Shout by Otis Day and the Knights
Twist and Shout by The Beatles
YMCA by The Village People
You Gotta Have Heart Damn Yankees, The Musical
This one is a no-brainer. It has to be You Gotta Have Heart. The song is sappy and sentimental, but it is about baseball and more importantly it uniquely belongs to Washington, DC. In time, when the fans have learned all the lyrics and are selling the place out for a winning team, this song will shake Nationals Park to its core at every 7th inning stretch.

When the Nationals Win The Game
Beautiful Day by U2
Celebration by Kool And The Gang
Dancing in the Streets by Martha Reeves and the Vandelas
How Do You Like Me Now by Toby Keith
Rock and Roll Part 2 by Gary Glitter
I don’t really like any of these choices. Three of them are too slow, and the other two (Celebration and Rock and Roll Part 2) are huge sports cliches at this point. Unfortunately I have to say I think I’d take a cliche over a bad song. Happy voting!

New Nationals Park Clubhouse Tour

Sorry it took me so long to share, but my tour of the new Nationals Park included some video as well. A lot of progress has of course been made in the short time since this was filmed.

As you can see, the views of the field from the main concourse are one of the best features of the new Nationals Park. It’s a great stadium for walking around.

The Roosevelt Section at Nationals Park

Longtime Washington sports columnist Rick Snider makes a strong case once again in today’s Examiner for the Washington Nationals to let Teddy Roosevelt win the presidents race.

Snider is concerned that a president “whose accomplishments have him ranked among the top five” will be branded a loser by thousands of young Nationals fans.

The latest insult, says Snider, is that Teddy Roosevelt’s name is conspicuously absent from the new Nationals Park. There are Lincoln, Washington, and Jefferson suites, but “not even a Roosevelt snack bar.”

I agree with Rick. Since our Teddy was a friend of the common man, let’s rename the outfield bleachers the Roosevelt section. Bully, Bully!


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