Nationals Promotion/Giveaway Schedule for 2013

The Washington Nationals 2013 game day promotion/giveaway schedule is out, including three bobblehead nights and four Saturday night post-game concerts, up from the three highly successful concert nights last season.

Based on past years’ choices, it’s a good bet we’ll see the team’s first bobbleheads for stars Bryce Harper and Gio Gonzalez and new centerfielder Denard Span (unless new racing president William Howard Taft gets the nod).  We’ll update the schedule below as soon as confirmed.  Additional giveaways will include a cap, t-shirt, pilsner cup, lunch tote, baseball tote, kids arm sleeve, team poster, and backpack.

UPDATE: Retiring manager Davey Johnson got the nod for Bobblehead #3 behind Harper and Gonzalez (see below), and the concert performers have been announced (Blues Traveler, Thompson Square, Gavin DeGraw, and Montgomery Gentry).

The popular Pups in the Park promotion, in which a section is reserved for canine guests, returns to Nationals Park for four dates in April, May, June, and September. The team has also added food promotions, including $1 Hot Dog, $1 Ice Cream, and $5 beer + peanuts nights.

It’s a robust promotion schedule, with only a few oddities (a cap that’s only for adults, a poster giveaway on post-game concert night).  Families should note that Kids cannot run the bases after the late Sunday start on August 11.

2013 Washington Nationals Promotional/Giveaway Schedule

Date/Time Opponent Promotion
Fri Mar 29 2:05 NYY Exhibition Game
Schedule Magnet (1st 20,000 fans)
Mon 4/1 1:05 FLA Opening Day Cap (1st 20,000 fans)
Wed 4/3 7:05 FLA $1 Hot Dog Night
Wed 4/10 7:05 CWS $5 Beer + Peanuts Night
Sat 4/13 1:05 ATL Gio Gonzalez Bobblehead (1st 15,000 fans)
Sun 4/14 1:35 ATL Pups in the Park
Screech’s Birthday
Kids Opening Day
Kids Run the Bases
Signature Sunday
Sat 4/27 1:05 CIN Patriotic Series – Military Appreciation Day
Sun 4/28 1:35 CIN Kids Run the Bases
Signature Sunday
Tue 5/7 7:05 DET MLB Network Backpack (1st 25,000 fans)
Wed 5/8 7:05 DET $1 Hot Dog Night
Fri 5/10 7:05 CHI Pilser Cup (1st 15,000 fans age 21+)
Sat 5/11 7:05 CHI Pups in the Park
Sun 5/12 1:35 CHI Signature Sundays
Kids Run the Bases
Sat 5/25 7:15 PHI Lunch Tote (1st 15,000 fans)
Sun 5/26 1:35 PHI Signature Sundays
Kids Run the Bases
Mon 5/27 1:05 PHI Patriotic Series – Memorial Day
Thu 6/6 7:05 NYM Ladies Night
Sat 6/8 4:05 MIN NatsLive Post-Game Concert: Blues Traveler
Sun 6/9 1:35 MIN Pups in the Park
Kids Run the Bases
Signature Sunday
Thu 6/20 7:05 COL $1 Ice Cream Night
Sat 6/22 12:05 COL Baseball Tote (1st 20,000 fans)
Sun 6/23 1:35 COL Bryce Harper Bobblehead (1st 15,000 fans)
Kids Run the Bases
Signature Sunday
Wed 6/26 7:05 ARI $1 Hot Dog Night
Black Heritage Night
Mon 7/1 7:05 MIL $1 Hot Dog Night
Tue 7/2 7:05 MIL $1 Ice Cream Night
Wed 7/3 6:05 MIL Post-Game Fireworks
Thu 7/4 11:05 MIL Patriotic Series – Independence Day
Sat 7/6 4:05 SDG NatsLive Post-Game Concert: Thompson Square
Sun 7/7 1:35 SDG Signature Sunday
Kids Run the Bases
Sat 7/20 7:05 LAD Davey Johnson Bobblehead (1st 15,000 fans)
Sun 7/21 1:35 LAD Kids Arm Sleeve (1st 10,000 fans 12 & under)
Signature Sunday
Kids Run the Bases
Fri 7/26 7:05 NYM T-Shirt (1st 20,000 fans)
Sun 7/28 1:35 NYM Signature Sundays
Kids Run the Bases
Mon 8/5 7:05 ATL $1 Hot Dog Night
Thu 8/15 4:05 SFG Adult Cap (1st 15,000 fans age 21+)
Patriotic Series
Wed 8/28 7:05 FLA Hispanic Heritage Night
Sat 8/31 7:05 NYM NatsLive Post-Game Concert: Gavin DeGraw
Sun 9/1 TBD NYM Kids Run the Bases
Signature Sunday
Fri 9/13 7:05 PHI Patriotic Series – Heroes Day
Sat 9/14 7:05 PHI Pups in the Park
Sun 9/15 1:35 PHI Kids Run the Show
Kids Run the Bases
Signature Sunday
Mon 9/16 7:05 ATL $1 Hot Dog Night
Wed 9/18 7:05 ATL $5 Beer + Peanuts Night
Sat 9/21 7:05 FLA Team Poster
NatsLive Post-Game Concert: Montgomery Gentry
Sun 9/22 1:35 FLA FANtastic FANale
Kids Run the Bases
Signature Sunday

UPDATE: Here is the Nationals Promotion Schedule 2014, in which the number of bobbleheads will triple

Presidents race is no longer “The Main Event”

The two longest standing criticisms of the Nationals presidents race appear to have been addressed in consecutive games.

The Nationals’ refusal to let Teddy Roosevelt win for nearly seven seasons was, of course, nationally known — a concern that reached even as far as the White House.

GEICO Presidents Race

Presidents race scoreboard introduction as it has appeared since Nationals Park opened in 2008
(Photo:Adam Fagen)

Presidents Race Nationals Park Scoreboard

Presidents race scoreboard introduction on Wednesday

(Photo:Adam Fagen)[/caption]But more grating to many Nationals fans was the introduction of the presidents race as “The Main Event” at Nationals Park.

Since opening day 2008, Nationals P.A. announcer Jerome Hruska has announced the arrival of the middle of the fourth inning with “Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s time for the main event. It’s the GEICO presidents race!”

For true baseball fans, even those who liked the antics of the Rushmore Four, this was like nails on a chalkboard.

But on Wednesday afternoon, amid the frenzy of Teddy’s second victory and the heartbreak of a second playoff loss, was a gift to serious Nats fans.

“Ladies and Gentlemen,” Hruska announced, “it’s time for the Presidents Race!”

Whether this change is permanent, is tied to limitations on playoff sponsorships, or is related to a longer-term change remains to be seen. The announcement was accompanied by a new graphic that omitted the familiar GEICO logo, the GEICO logo was omitted from the presidents’ uniforms, and the ever-present GEICO Gecko was not in his usual spot at the finish line.  

State Farm is the official insurance company of MLB.

Davey Johnson calls for the sacrifice. Chicken Man delivers.

After Monday night’s game vs. the San Diego Padres, Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson was asked whether the already injury-riddled team was snakebitten after losing two catchers in just three days.

“There’s been superstitions, to change our luck and do different kinds of things,” he said. “Sacrifice a chicken or something. I mean, you know, I’ve heard it all.”

What Johnson didn’t know was that Hugh Kaufman was listening.

If you’ve watched the Nationals on TV, chances are you’ve seen Kaufman. The self-styled “Rubber Chicken Man” sits directly behind the Nationals dugout for almost every game, waving a red Curly W flag in one hand and a bright yellow rubber chicken in the other.

And at some point during the season, the chicken loses its head.

Washington Nationals Rubber Chicken Man Hugh KaufmanWashington Nationals Rubber Chicken Man Hugh Kaufman at Nationals Park“The beginnings of the ritual Rubber Chicken Sacrifice started 7 years ago,” says Kaufman. After a hot start to their inaugural season in 2005, the Nationals found themselves losers of 11 of 15 games in July.

Kaufman felt that the good energy had been sapped from the ball park — that the fans and the team had become “flat,” “lame,” “out of sync.” So he got a rubber chicken and ritually sacrificed it at RFK Stadium.

With the bad Juju expunged, the mood seemed to improve, so Kaufman has repeated the ritual at least once a year ever since, starting each season with a new chicken, and decapitating it when it seems the Juju gods have turned on the team.

So when Davey Johnson called for the sacrifice, Hugh knew what he had to do. “I’ve probably sacrificed a dozen chickens in the last seven years,” Kaufman says.

At high noon on Wednesday, Kaufman and some of his Facebook followers met at the gates to Nationals Park, and the deed was done.

Washington Nationals Rubber Chicken Man Hugh Kaufman displays his Chicken Mode T-ShirtRubber Chicken Man Hugh Kaufman and Let Teddy Win Sacrifice a chicken at Nationals ParkIn response to Davey Johnson, Rubber Chicken Man Hugh Kaufman Sacrifices a chicken at Washington Nationals Park“I think Davey has recognized the whole history of baseball Voodoo into the whole history of the sport, and so again has shown tremendous leadership for this squad.”

Kaufman did his homework, following the orthodox Jewish tradition of Kaporos, in which chickens were ritually sacrificed before the Yom Kippur holiday. “This is an offshoot of that,” Kaufman explained before pulling out his butcher knife. “That’s where you transfer the sins to the animal, and so if there are any hidden sins in that Nats locker room, Cool Heat or something like that, that gets transferred to the chicken so when you take the head off, that gets rid of the bad Juju.”

After spinning the chicken counterclockwise above his head, Kaufman asked me to hold the bird, and brandishing a Davey Johnson autographed baseball, finished the job.

Kaufman, an engineer and longtime administrator for the EPA, has built a following since those early days at RFK Stadium. Last season, he started passing out rubber chicken pins from his perch above the Nats dugout as a means of welcoming members to the “Secret Society of the Rubber Chicken,” a group that now claims several Nationals players among its ranks (full disclosure: I am a long-time member as well).

Chicken Mode T-Shirts at Nationals ParkAt spring training this year, some members sported new Chicken Mode t-shirts as a fan counter-point to the “Beast Mode” shirt that’s most closely associated with outfielder Michael Morse.

“Michael Morse loves his “Chicken Mode” shirt,” says Kaufman, “even though he can’t stop laughing every time he looks at it.” Pitcher Gio Gonzalez is also a fan.

As for the chicken? It’s not going anywhere. “The Juju gods have been appeased,” says Kaufman. “No more injuries.” And for the rest of the season you’ll still find Hugh Kaufman right above the Nationals dugout, waving a red flag and a now-headless rubber chicken.

Update: DC Sports Bog’s Dan Steinberg was there and filed this report for the Washington Post

Video to follow. Update: Here it is.

Teddy Roosevelt gives up lead to antagonize Phillies fans

Teddy Roosevelt stops in the Washington Nationals Presidents RaceWashington Nationals racing president Teddy Roosevelt challenges the Phillies Phanatic“Take Back the Park” weekend continued on Saturday afternoon as a near-sellout crowd filled Nationals Park to see the Nats take on the Phillies.

As expected, buses from Philadelphia were lined up outside the Park, and the fans they brought made a lot more noise than they had the night before. Most notable were the taunts from the stands behind former Phillies outfielder Jayson Werth, who acknowledged the jeers with a tip of his cap before crushing a three run homer to break the game open in the fifth.

Teddy Roosevelt too had a chance to silence his critics, taking a big lead into the home stretch of the afternoon’s presidents race.

But Teddy spotted a fan with a sign along the first base line, and was inspired enough to stop cold and display it for the whole stadium to see.

The sign read “Teddy Can Beat the Phanatic!” The opportunity to antagonize the Phillies fans was too much for Roosevelt to resist.

On this day, even die hard members of the Let Teddy Win movement couldn’t find fault with Teddy’s priorities.

Video courtesy of Miss Chatter

New food & other changes for 2012 at Nationals Park

The Strasburger 8 pound burger at Nationals ParkAfter taking their first two series on the road, the Nats bring a winning record back to DC Thursday to kick off what many hope will be a new era noted for Curly Ws on South Capitol Street; but the changes in store for the home opener at Nationals Park go beyond the team’s winning ways.

New food options

Nationals Park food offerings have once again been updated in the off-season, with the most press going to the 8-pound Strasburger, a monstrous $59 offering meant for sharing and available only for select games at the Red Porch restaurant above center field. It will make it’s debut on opening day.

The Taste of the Majors stand behind section 117 has once again received a menu update with new and constantly-changing dishes that represent the visiting team. Look for 5-way Cincinnati Chili for the opening series against the Reds.

The Union Square restaurants along the Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk are adding a number of menu items, including hot dogs, pies, and Sweet Frites at Box Frites, Quesadillas and Churros and El Verano Taquería, and a fried chicken sandwich at Blue Smoke.

The former location of Florida Rock cement factory outside Nationals ParkAnacostia River Walk near Nationals ParkA turning point for the neighborhood

Many expect 2012 to be a turning point for the team on the field, and as timing would have it, it’s looking like a turning point for the neighborhood outside the stadium as well.

Outside the First Base gate, the long-envisioned river views from Nationals Park are finally beginning to take shape, as the Florida Rock cement factory that stood between the stadium and the river has finally been demolished.

For the first time, fans can walk along the river from a new bridge by Nationals Park to the new Yards Park development, including the Foundry Lofts building, which houses the first of several new restaurants.

Before and after the game

Half Street Fairgrounds at Nationals ParkHalf Street Fairgrounds outside Nationals ParkOn the opposite side of the field, the Half Street Fairgrounds makes its debut just across from the Centerfield gates, on the block formerly occupied by The Bullpen. The Half Street block is now dotted with an array of brightly-painted shipping containers stretching from M to N Streets, with each containing a different local food stand. Look for trucks from Bayou and Surfside, plus Red Hook Lobster Pound, DC Empanadas, Curbside Cupcakes, Tasty Kabob, Big Cheese, and others, with live entertainment before and after games. Fairgrounds owner Jason York told ABC 7 News they are “combining Eastern Market with food trucks.”

What hasn’t changed

Parking around Nationals Park remains a great value. Prices did not go up, and lots are as cheap as $5 if you’re willing to walk 10 minutes up South Capitol street. In previous seasons, availability has not been a problem, but lots fill fastest for sellout weekday games such as Thursday’s opener, so plan ahead.

Strasburger photo via Twitter by Tracee Wilkins

Nationals Park introduces the 8-pound StrasBurger

The Nationals will offer a new menu item at Nationals Park in 2012: an 8-pound cheeseburger dubbed the “StrasBurger.”

The Washington Nationals have introduced an 8 pound burger called the StrasBurger (8 pounds including toppings and fries)The Red Loft and the Red PorchNationals Victory Knot PretzelTaste of the MajorsAs announced by the Nationals and first reported by Dan Steinberg over at the Post this afternoon, the burger will be available at the Red Porch restaurant in the centerfield plaza.

The Nationals said the burger weighs eight pounds total including toppings, and is made from a combination of ground brisket, chuck and short ribs:

“The burger is served on a large burger bun with our secret sauce, American cheese, shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, sliced red onions, pickle chips and served with a cone basket of fresh cut fries and a pitcher of your choice of soft drink. This signature dish is the perfect entrée to share at this affordably-priced family restaurant.”

This is the first time we’ve seen the Nats pitch the Red Loft as an “affordable family restaurant.” The price hasn’t been disclosed, but if you’re willing to share, it will likely be a value. An eight pound burger should be able to feed multiple families.

The new item builds on the appeal of the “Victory Knot,” the two-pound pretzel built for sharing that has been available at the Red Loft for the past two seasons. All we need now is a 200-ounce beer and Nats fans will have a value meal for the ages.

The Nationals also announced that the “Taste of the Majors” concession stand behind section 117 will once again get a revamped menu — a seemingly annual tradition. And once again, the team is attempting to do a better job of delivering on the original concept. That is, the stand will have a constantly-changing menu with a dish from visiting team’s city, available during that series only.

It’s a fun concept that’s hard to execute, but like they say, maybe the fourth time’s the charm. Let’s check out what they have in store for the Nationals’ 2012 season:

Atlanta: Smothered Fried Chicken Platter
Baltimore: Baltimore Pit Beef Sandwich Platter
Arizona: Arizona Dog Platter
Chicago: Chicago Dog Platter
Cincinnati: 5-Way Cincinnati Chili
Colorado: Colorado ‘Mile High’ Burger
Houston: Houston Nacho
Los Angeles: L.A. Dog Platter
Miami: Miami Cuban Dog
Milwaukee: Milwaukee Beer Brat Platter
New York (Mets and Yankees): Coney Dog Platter
Philadelphia: Philly Chicken Cheese Steak Platter
Pittsburgh: Pitts Burger Platter
St. Louis: BBQ Rib Platter
San Diego: San Diego Fish Taco Platter
San Francisco: San Fran Garlic Fries and Shrimp Platter
Tampa Bay: Tampa Salty Dog Platter

Hmm… Kudos to the Nationals and Levy Restaurant Group for continuing to try to make this concept work, but with more than half of the “regional specialties” listed as burgers or dogs, they might still have some work to do.

Ballpark Bus to Nationals Park gains momentum with first five area locations

Ballpark Bus to Nationals Park appears to be here to stay.

Ballpark Bus to Nationals Park - LogoSince we first wrote about the venture, which aims to give suburban Nats fans a new transportation alternative, the fledgling company has established pricing, lined up its first five official Ballpark Bus Stations, and begun taking reservations at www.BallparkBus.com with ticket prices as low as $15/game.

“The response we’ve received from Nats fans has been excellent,” said co-founder Brian Bowman. “As baseball season creeps closer and closer, we expect our reach to expand exponentially.”

BallPark Bus to Nationals Park - Official Station

Participating restaurants are pitching in to market the service in the hopes of becoming suburban hubs for Nationals fans

Initial demand was strongest in suburban Virginia, where all five of the first Ballpark Bus Stations are located. They include Clyde’s restaurant in Ashburn, The Greene Turtle in Ballston, Velocity Five in Centreville, Glory Days Grill in Reston/Herndon, and The Greene Turtle in Sterling.

“A lot of folks in Maryland are asking when they’re getting a station, particularly along I-270,” added Bowman. “They can rest assured that we are looking at several potential locations.”

How it works

The Ballpark Bus system is modeled after regional bus models, where discounts are provided for booking early and routes are added based on meeting a minimum level of demand.

Reservations for each series will open three weeks prior to the first game, and those booking in the first three days of availability get a discounted price. Riders can sign up for email alerts to get notified when discount tickets go on sale for future series.

What if they don’t hit the minimum number of riders? Bowman says if they are unable to reach the minimum, they will notify all reservations via e-mail “several days before your game.” No payments are processed until the bus is confirmed. When a bus is confirmed, tickets are sent via email and remaining seats are sold up until game day.

Bowman says participating restaurants are playing a big part in getting the word out, as they try to establish themselves as suburban hubs for Nationals fans. At least one, the Greene Turtle in Sterling, is offering 20% off food purchases when you show your Ballpark Bus ticket.

Expect the Ballpark Bus team to try to inject a little fun for riders as well, such as a free Ryan Zimmerman autographed baseball for one lucky rider to the Nats home opener. “We’ll be doing fun stuff like that all year,” says Bowman, “Guess how many strikeouts Strasburg will have on the way to the game, and we’ll reward gift cards and other prizes to the winners on the way back home.”

Full Nationals Promotion/Giveaway Schedule for 2012

Here it is — the full Washington Nationals promotion/giveaway schedule for the 2012 season at Nationals Park.

There are a several additions to the preliminary schedule we previously shared. Notably, the very popular Pups in the Park promotion, in which a section is reserved for canine guests, returns to Nationals Park for four dates in April, June, July, and September. Only the previously announced luggage tag giveaway has disappeared.

The 2012 promotion schedule includes three Saturday post-game concerts (bands all to be announced), and bobblehead nights for Michael Morse, Stephen Strasburg, and Ryan Zimmerman. Fan Appreciation Day has been redubbed “Fantastic FANale.” The only announced Fireworks for the season are on Tuesday, July 3rd.

The Nationals clearly don’t anticipate the need to promote their three series vs. the Phillies, or their interleague series vs. the Yankees and Rays. Those fifteen games are notable for their absence of giveaways.

2012 Washington Nationals Promotional/Giveaway Schedule

Tue 4/3 3:05 BOS Exhibition Game
Schedule Magnet (1st 20,000 fans)
Thu 4/12 1:05 CIN Opening Day Cap (1st 20,000 fans)
Fri 4/13 7:05 CIN T-Shirt (1st 15,000 fans)
Sat 4/14 4:05 CIN Stephen Strasburg Bobblehead (1st 15,000 fans)
Sun 4/15 1:35 CIN Jackie Robinson Day
Signature Sunday
Kids Run the Bases
Sat 4/21 1:05 FLA Pups in the Park
Sun 4/22 1:35 FLA Ryan Zimmerman Kids Jersey (1st 100,000 fans 12 & under)
Screech’s Birthday
Signature Sunday
Kids Run the Bases
Thu 5/3 7:05 ARI Drawstring Backpack (1st 20,000 fans)
Wed 5/16 7:05 PIT Military Appreciation Night
Thu 5/17 7:05 PIT Ladies Night
Sat 5/19 7:15 BAL Nationals Script Cap (1st 30,000 fans)
Sun 5/20 1:35 BAL Kids T-Shirt (1st 10,000 fans 12 & under)
Signature Sundays
Kids Run the Bases
Sat 6/2 4:05 ATL Pups in the Park
Post-game Concert: Dierks Bentley
Sun 6/3 1:35 ATL Signature Sundays
Kids Run the Bases
Sun 6/17 1:35 NYY Signature Sundays
Kids Run the Bases
Thu 6/21 7:05 TPA Black Heritage Night
Tue 7/3 6:35 SFO Post-game Fireworks
Thu 7/5 7:05 SFO Replica Truck (1st 15,000 fans)
Sat 7/7 4:05 COL Pups in the Park
Sun 7/8 1:35 COL Signature Sundays
Kids Run the Bases
Fri 7/20 7:05 ATL Beer Stein (1st 10,000 fans 21 & older)
Sat 7/21 7:05 ATL Post-game Concert: The Wallflowers
Sun 7/22 1:35 ATL Kids T-Shirt (1st 10,000 fans 12 & under)
Signature Sundays
Kids Run the Bases
Sat 8/4 7:05 FLA T-Shirt (1st 20,000 fans)
Sun 8/5 1:35 FLA Michael Morse Bobblehead (1st 15,000 fans)
Signature Sundays
Kids Run the Bases
Fri 8/17 7:05 NYM Retro Cap (first 10,000 fans)
Sat 8/18 7:05 NYM Post-Game Concert: Third Eye Blind
Sun 8/19 1:35 NYM Signature Sundays
Kids Run the Bases
Sat 9/1 7:05 STL On-Field Team Photo Day
Sun 9/2 1:35 STL Kids Run the Show
Signature Sundays
Kids Run the Bases
Sat 9/8 1:05 FLA Ryan Zimmerman Bobblehead (1st 15,000 fans)
Sun 9/9 1:35 FLA Signature Sundays
Kids Run the Bases
Thu 9/20 7:05 LAD Hispanic Heritage Night
Sat 9/22 1:05 MIL Team Poster (1st 20,000 fans)
Pups in the Park
Sun 9/23 1:35 MIL Signature Sundays
Kids Run the Bases
Wed 10/3 1:05 PHI Fantastic FANale

Open auditions to sing the national anthem at Nationals Park

DSC_5017The Washington Nationals have announced that they will hold their 5th annual national anthem auditions at Nationals Park on Saturday, March 10th.

The first 90 people to submit an application will be invited to the auditions, which are closed to the public. To be selected, send an email with your resume and a head shot (recent photo) to anthem@nationals.com.

Note that the team is not looking for originality. Auditions must be “in the traditional style,” and no more than 90 seconds in length. Groups and instrumentalists are invited to audition, but singers must perform a capella.

The Nationals will also hold tryouts for prospective ballgirls this month. If you are at least 18, athletic, energetic, and able to track foul balls without interfering with the play, you can submit a resume, cover letter and recent headshot to entertainment@nationals.com by February 21. Tryouts will be at Nationals Park on Saturday, Feb. 25.

Photo by Flickr user Adam Fagen

Nationals Promotion/Giveaway Schedule for 2012

The Washington Nationals have released details of the 2012 game day promotion/giveaway schedule, including three bobblehead nights and three Saturday night post-game concerts, which were clearly added based on the success of last September’s post-game concert by Lifehouse.

Highlights this season include bobblehead nights for Michael Morse, Stephen Strasburg, and Ryan Zimmerman. The “fan’s choice” bobblehead has apparently been retired. Additional giveaways will include an opening day cap, a replica truck, a beer stein, and several additional shirts and caps.

The promo items were revealed as part of the team’s merchandising for the new 5 Game Flex Plans. The full promotional schedule, including events and celebrations such as Friday Night Fireworks, Pups in the Park, and Ladies Night will be released later this month. We’ll share those as soon as they are available

2012 Washington Nationals Promotional/Giveaway Schedule

Preliminary – Additional dates to be added soon

Tue 4/3 Schedule Magnet
Thu 4/12 Opening Day Cap
Fri 4/13 T-Shirt
Sat 4/14 Stephen Strasburg Bobblehead
Sun 4/22 Kids Jersey
Thu 5/3 Drawstring Backpack
Sat 5/19 Nationals Script Cap
Sun 5/20 Kids T-Shirt
Sat 6/2 Post-game Concert
Thu 7/5 Replica Truck
Fri 7/6 Luggage Tag
Fri 7/20 Stein
Sat 7/21 Post-game Concert
Sun 7/22 Kids T-Shirt
Sat 8/4 T-Shirt
Sun 8/5 Michael Morse Bobblehead
Fri 8/17 Retro Cap
Sat 8/18 Post-Game Concert
Sat 9/8 Ryan Zimmerman Bobblehead
Sat 9/22 Team Poster


Thanks CurlyDubs

Nat Pack and Racing President Auditions

Nat Pack AuditionsThe Washington Nationals are looking for outgoing and energetic athletes, gymnasts, dancers, cheerleaders, promotional models and “overall outstanding personalities” to join the on-field entertainment team this season at Nationals Park.

Tryouts to join the Nat Pack, the team’s “fan ambassadors” who lead cheers and take part in fan promotions throughout the season, will be held
Nat Pack AuditionsJanuary 28-29 at Nationals Park, and applications are due by next Monday, January 23. Candidates are asked to send their photo, resume, and cover letter to entertainment@nationals.com. Details here.

In keeping with tradition, we expect the all-important 2012 presidents race auditions to occur at Nationals Park on February 18, but according to the team, this year’s dates have not been finalized. Presidents race tryouts traditionally occur on Presidents Day weekend, with applications due a week prior.

Stay tuned. The Nats have promised details on this as well as the national anthem tryouts soon.

Ballpark Bus to Nationals Park gives suburban Nats fans a new transportation alternative

Ballpark Bus to Nationals Park - LogoBrian Bowman was a Nationals fan with a problem.

A Nats fan “since the beginning,” Bowman, 33, never bought season tickets because his family lives in Ashburn, Virginia, and could only take so many taxing rush hour drives through suburban traffic to reach Nationals Park. “I’m not near the Metro,” Bowman says, “and the drive can be hard.”

This season, he’s teaming with two friends to do something about it.

The three Virginia natives have joined to launch Ballpark Bus to Nationals Park, a service that shuttles fans en mass from restaurant parking lots in suburban Maryland and Virginia to Nationals Park and back.

“We want to turn something mundane like getting to the game into something relaxing and fun,” said Bowman. “The Ballpark Bus adds to the total fan experience.”

Ballpark Bus to Nationals Park Website ballparkbus.comThe service will start taking reservations at BallparkBus.com in March, well in advance of the Nationals April 12 home opener. Until then, the website points to their new Facebook page, where they are asking for feedback to determine which locations have the most demand.

The service will rely on the web and social networks to schedule fan buses based on need. “It’s a new concept of mass transit on demand,” says Bowman.

Fans can request a free reservation to any game from the participating restaurant that’s closest to them. Once a request has been made, “social tools” help fans recruit additional passengers from their own social networks and on the website. When enough reservations are made, the location is officially added to the ticketing schedule, with those early reservations receiving a discounted seat price.

Ballpark Bus will drop fans off just outside the first base entrance to Nationals Park at Potomac Avenue on the Anacostia River, which should add to the appeal compared to remote parking or Metro.

In addition to the Facebook page, Ballpark bus has posted a video showing how it works:

Bowman, who is an Art Director at a local agency, plans to add some “fun promotions” for bus passengers, but isn’t pitching Ballpark Bus as a party bus. The team is still working out whether alcohol will be allowed.

Pricing has not been published, but “will be competitive with other forms of transport to the park such as Metro and parking,” said Bowman. “A top priority for us is to keep the price down so its family friendly.”

Bowman is hoping the service can help grow the ranks of Nationals fans from locations as disparate as Loudon, Fairfax, Montgomery, Prince Georges, Prince William and Anne Arundel counties, adding “We want to get information from the riders and build it around what they want.”

As of this morning, the site’s Facebook survey showed an early preference for locations along I-66 (Tysons, Fairfax, Centerville, Manassas), followed by the Dulles Toll Road (Reston, Herndon, Sterling, Ashburn), I-270 (Rockville, Gaithersburg, Germantown), and I-95 South (Springfield, Lorton, Woodbridge).

Photos courtesy Ballpark Bus to Nationals Park

Race vs. Teddy Roosevelt wins DC man his bride

Matt Jennie and Teddy Roosevelt - Photo by Emma Patti Photography

Photo: Emma Patti Photography


Jennifer Kushlis loves Teddy Roosevelt. In fact, her love for the Washington Nationals’ racing president runs so deep that her boyfriend of six years, Matt Hendrickson, decided he would have to literally win her affections from Teddy before asking for her hand in marriage.

“I absolutely love the Presidents’ Race,” Kushlis said. “It’s the highlight of my summer, several times over.”

Nationals Park Presidents Race Marriage Proposal Jennie Kushner Matt Hendrickson" title="Nationals Park Presidents Race Marriage Proposal Jennie Kushner Matt Hendrickson

Nationals Park Marriage Proposal - Matt challenges Teddy Roosevelt

Video: Emma Patti Photography

Washington Nationals Park Marriage Proposal Presidents RaceBut Matt was up for the challenge. After nine months of planning, it all came together Sunday at Nationals Park.

Kushlis, 27, an Account Director at a local PR firm, arrived at their Kalorama home to find a note announcing that a Town Car would be arriving shortly to pick her up.

The driver whisked her directly to Nationals Park, where a Nats employee met her and led her onto an empty field with a table set behind home plate.

That was the cue for the HD scoreboard to light up with a video in which Hendrickson explained his dilemma, and challenged Teddy to a race for her affections.

“I realize that you have strong feelings for another man,” he explained. “Teddy and I both know that it would be impossible to ask you to choose between us, so we’ve talked and decided that the only way to settle this once and for all is with a race.”

With that, Teddy appeared from the centerfield gate, followed closely by Hendrickson.

“[The video] was absolutely hilarious,” said Kushlis, “and the only thing that kept me from sobbing through the whole event.”

Nationals Park Marriage Proposal Presidents RaceNationals Park Marriage Proposal - Teddy Roosevelt hands over the bride-to-beNationals Park Marriage Proposal Jennie Kushlis Matt Hendrickson

Matt and Jennie Engaged at Nationals Park - Photo by Emma Patti Photography

Photo: Emma Patti Photography

Teddy put up a good fight, but Matt won the day, and when Jennie met him at the finish line, he got down on one knee and proposed.

The families of both DC natives had been hiding on the Nationals Park concourse, and when Kushlis accepted, the celebration began.

“It was, by far, the best day of my life,” said Kushlis. “Matt’s incredible. The proposal was truly the best ever.”

Hendrickson, who works for Washingtonian Magazine, began scheming up the proposal during last year’s baseball season. “As my jealousy over Jennie’s love for Teddy grew, the idea to race him for her heart emerged,” he said. “Having survived an earthquake and a hurricane the week of my big plan, I felt like it was meant to be.”

Hendrickson has nothing but praise for the Nationals and Director of Ballpark enterprises Maggie Gessner, who coordinated everything.

And what of the jilted Teddy? “He’s a great sport,” said Hendrickson. “Teddy was first class.”

No wedding date has been set, but as the planning begins, says Kushlis, “I wouldn’t put it past Matt to involve Teddy somehow.”

Meanwhile, she hasn’t lost her love for the hero of San Juan Hill, saying his huge smile is what separates him from the other presidents. “George and Tom are hard to tell apart at times, and Abe looks so stern. Teddy’s the one in the bunch you’d want to have a beer with.”

Now that she’s engaged, that’s the best Teddy can hope for.

Matt’s video is above. We’ll have the full video of Sunday’s events in a few days.

UPDATE: The full video, including Jennie’s amazing reactions, is now up here

Photos courtesy of Michelle Kushlis except where noted.

Suddenly it’s Dog Days at Nationals Park

Teddy in the lead on Pups in the Park DayOver five hundred canines were among the nearly 30,000 in attendance Saturday night at Nationals Park, as the Nationals hosted their second “Pups in the Park” day for 2011.

Sadly, the game was a dog as well — a third consecutive one-run loss filled with missed opportunities for the Nationals.

Lacking a real dog to accompany him, Teddy Roosevelt made up his own for the 4th-inning presidents race. Teddy competed while carrying a balloon-animal dog, which appeared to weigh him down in the home stretch as Thomas Jefferson took the win.

The popular Pups in the Park promotion allows a limited number of fans to buy $5 tickets for their canine pets, and sets aside a special section with relief areas and other dog-specific amenities.

To meet the demand, the Nationals added a third Pups in the Park day on Saturday, September 24. Tickets are available at Nationals.com/pups.

Pup photo courtesy JudyMayka.
Video courtesy of YouTube member lfahome
.

Shake Shack burgers, Box Frites fries highlight revamped Scoreboard Walk at Nationals Park

26,759 fans came to Nationals Park Tuesday to welcome the home team back to DC, and the evening didn’t disappoint as the Nationals followed their winningest road trip in years with a thrilling come-from-behind victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.

Miller Lite Scoreboard WalkMiller Lite Scoreboard WalkShake ShackShake Shack at Nationals ParkShake Shack at Nationals ParkShake Shack's 'Shroom BurgerShake Shack Concrete Take Me Out to the Ballgame with chocolate truffle cookie dough, peanuts and caramelBox FritesGarlic-Parmesan FritesEl Verano Taqueria at Nationals ParkEl Verano Taqueria at Nationals ParkElote Corn on the CobBlue Smoke at Nationals ParkBlue Smoke Pulled Pork at Nationals ParkBlue Smoke Kansas City Spare Ribs at Nationals ParkBlue Smoke's Salty Peanut-Jalapeno Chocolate BarNationals Park Scoreboard WalkFans had been drawn in by the return of Ryan Zimmerman, a $2 ticket promotion, great weather, a big draw opponent, and the long-awaited debut of the revamped Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk behind the right field bleachers.

The myriad updates to the popular Scoreboard Walk include a 4,000 square foot lounge area with artificial turf, chairs, sofas, trees, plants, and a large number of stylish new “shade sails.”

The sails stretch over the lounge area as well as the queue lines for each of several new dining options, providing sun protection when waiting in line on hot summer days. These new lounge and queue areas are all within view of the big new TV screen that premiered this season behind the outfield scoreboard.

As nice as the improved amenities are, the buzz on Twitter and in the Park tonight focused on the four new restaurant options that line the Scoreboard Walk. After tonight’s debut and a sampling of all the menus, it’s safe to say that Nationals Park food options rank among the best in the majors, albeit at some fairly steep prices.

No stand was more anticipated than Shake Shack. The most famous of the four new options from Union Square Restaurant Group, Shake Shack features hot dogs, fries, shakes, and natural Black Angus burgers. The burgers live up to their reputation, with a nice coarse grind that highlights the flavor of the meat more than the predecessor at the same location — DC’s Five Guys Burgers and Fries. A single is $5.75 and a double runs $8.75.

Shake Shack also features the Shack-cago Dog, a mostly authentic Chicago-style split grilled Vienna Beef hot dog smothered in relish, onion, cucumber, pickle, tomato, pepper, mustard and celery salt. If you’ve never had a Chicago dog, this is pretty close to the real deal, though Shake Shack opts for a potato bun over the traditional poppy seed variety. It’s a bargain at $5.75.

The sleeper and my personal favorite of all the new food options may be the ‘Shroom Burger, a portobello mushroom split and filled with muenster cheese, deep fried, and served on a burger bun. Truly decadent and delicious for $7.75.

For the first time since Giffords Ice Cream left Nationals Park this spring, fans can get once again get a milkshake in the stands at Nationals Park. Shake Shack’s namesake treats are made from frozen custard and come in four flavors.

At $5.75, the shakes are indeed quite good, but the buzz was around the Concrete, a dense cup of custard blended with chocolate truffle cookie dough, peanuts, and caramel. A straw will do you no good with this concoction. Price: $6.75 plus a week at the gym.

Shake Shack has fries on the menu, but spud connoisseurs will likely shuffle down a few feet to Box Frites, where fresh cut fries can be ordered by the box with your choice of toppings or dipping sauces.

The movie theater-inspired pricing gets you a reasonable-sized portion for $7.25, or a family-sized box for $8.00. You only get to choose one of the five dipping sauces (additional sauces are a whopping $2.00 each). Blue Cheese was the surprise runaway pick among our group of tasters. Chipotle ketchup is a fine second choice. Rosemary Ranch, which sounded promising, tasted like liquid pine tree.

But for the ultimate in decadent fries, the consensus pick is the Garlic-Parmesan Frites, which are light on the garlic but heavy on the parmesan, and more than suitable for sharing at $9.75.

If cholesterol just isn’t your thing, then the new El Verano Taquería offers some fresh options and more welcome variety to South Capitol Street.

The simple menu features three types of tacos served in soft corn tortillas with lime, cilantro and fresh salsa.

Options include medium rare skirt steak, carnitas, or chicken “mole pipian,” a braised green concoction. The combo platter has all three and is a lot of fresh variety for $10.25.

El Verano Taquería also offers “Elote,” or Mexican grilled corn. This classic street food is a steamed ear of corn dipped in a lime-spiked mayonnaise sauce, rolled in crumbly cotija cheese, and dusted with cayenne pepper for $4.75. If you like your food spicy, the Elote is your best bet at the ball park. Consider yourself warned.

The new restaurants facing the Miller Light Scoreboard Walk feature distinctively designed facades, and none stands out more than the new Blue Smoke Barbeque, with an attractive weathered wood veneer that’s visible over the right field stands from about half of the ball park. Nice touch.

Nationals Park needed a good pulled pork sandwich to replace the departed Teddy’s Barbeque, and Blue Smoke delivers with a flavorful if slightly dry version for $8.75. Make sure to get extra sauce. There is no pulled chicken option, but you can get wings — one of the few dishes I did not manage to try.

It will be interesting to see if the Barbecued Beef Bologna sandwich takes off in DC. This southern staple features pickles and raw onions atop a single thick slice of bologna that’s been grilled and topped with barbeque sauce for $7.75.

It tasted like… well.. bologna.

Blue Smoke’s signature item is Kansas City Spare Ribs, which were meaty and nicely carmelized. They are a fine choice, but with three modest ribs running $10.25, and relatively light on smoke flavor, it left me longing for the Rough Rider at the dear, departed Teddy’s Barbeque.

The surprise treat of the night? Blue Smoke’s Salty Peanut-Jalapeño Chocolate Bar. It isn’t very spicy, but the complex dark chocolate and salted peanut flavors are more than satisfying, and it’s certainly the only $4.75 desert
at Nationals Park that’s suitable for sharing.

Nationals’ COO Andy Feffer took a lot of heat today for appearing to imply that the new Scoreboard Walk was more important than the game.

I find it hard to believe that any journalist actually believes that. Others have more legitimately complained that the new restaurants are not DC-centric. While I agree with the latter criticism, I can’t deny that the fan experience has been improved.

What do you think?

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