The sun sets on the first season at Nationals Park

With the Washington Nationals on the road, and the season in it’s final month, it’s been a quiet couple of weeks at Nationals Park. The biggest news was the announcement that season ticket prices for 2009 would be lowered in several sections around the stadium. The outfield seats had been the most overpriced, but it’s good to see the team has recognized the mistake and corrected things. Next season, the TV cameras may still show empty seats behind the batter, but there will at least be a chance we’ll see butts in the outfield seats when they show a pitcher.

Nationals ParkAs the sun sets on the first season at Nationals Park, what better excuse for catching one last ball game than to check out some of these cheaper sections for next season. Good tickets are available at nationals.com (use coupon code EMETS for 30% off selected seats to the next series), and despite the ongoing negative ad campaign by Metro, parking at Nationals park remains cheap, easy, and plentiful!

The Mets, Padres, and Marlins will be in town for ten games, and the team is pulling out all the stops to fill the home stretch with promotions:

Tue 9/16: Free T-Shirt Tuesday
Wed 9/17: St. Patrick’s celebration with free green Curly W hats
Fri 9/19: Free camouflage Curly W floppy hats
Sat 9/20: Free team photo & schedules + Saturday night move “Field of Dreams”
Sun 9/21: Free kids backpack and Family Fun Day activities
Tue 9/23: Free T-Shirt Tuesday
Wed 9/24: Free Curly W fleece scarf
Thu 9/25: Fan appreciation night

Of course, with the campaign season now in full swing, we could also see the presidents race take on some election-season overtones. With the candidates all trying to position themselves as outsiders, maybe it’s time for the original original maverick — Teddy Roosevelt — to taste victory!

Photo by Flickr member Liliang

Teddy Roosevelt in a leisure suit? Can’t quite picture it.

Saturday night is “70’s Night” for the 2nd game of the series between the Washington Nationals’ and Atlanta Braves and the question on the minds of Nationals Park regulars is “What will Teddy wear?”

After this week’s Manny Ramirez do-rag, expectations may be high for Teddy to dress up for the occasion.

It should be a fun night at the park, with the Saturday night movie following the game. All ticket holders are invited to stay after the game to watch “The Natural” on the huge Nationals Park high definition scoreboard. Concessions, as always, will remain open. See you there!

Teddy’s Big Day Is Here!

No humidity? Is this really DC in August? It appears that the weather gods will be shining on Teddy Roosevelt for tonight’s big “Run Teddy Run!” T-Shirt Tuesday at Nationals Park.

With the Washington Nationals coming off a disastrous weekend series at Miller Park in Milwaukee, what our team needs is a little home cooking, and what could be better than a crowd full of crazy Teddy fans rooting against Johan Santana and the New York Mets?

For those who haven’t been paying attention, tonight is Teddy Roosevelt T-Shirt Tuesday, and the first 10,000 fans in attendance will receive a free “Run Teddy Run” t-shirt courtesy of Tickets.com. George, Tom, and Abe have all had their T-Shirt Tuesdays, and all have won the race on their big nights. Tonight, it’s Teddy’s turn. Even Mets fans are taking up Teddy’s cause.

Regular readers of the Let Teddy Win blog will be there in our Teddy Roosevelt fan gear for a pre-game rally behind Section 102, and some will also gather close to finish line for the 4th-inning presidents race.

See you there! Run Teddy Run!!!

Teddy Nearly Steals T-Shirt Tuesday Victory from Abe

It was free T-Shirt Tuesday tonight at Nationals Park, and the stands were filled with 10,000 Nationals fans wearing free Abe Lincoln t-shirts.

Based on the results from the previous T-Shirt Tuesdays, Abe had to be the prohibitive favorite to run away with tonight’s presidents race, but when the middle of the 4th inning arrived, it was #26 Teddy Roosevelt who jumped out to the big lead, which he extended as he rounded the warning track into the home stretch along the first base line.

But as Teddy approached the finish line, he lost his shoe, tripped and fell. Abe came charging from behind and hurdled over Teddy to claim his 24th presidents race victory this season.

George, Tom, and Abe have now all held serve on their free T-Shirt Tuesdays at Nationals Park. Unfortunately we have to wait another month for Teddy’s big night. Let’s hope his shoes are tied tight on August 12.

Abe’s T-Shirt Tuesday Kicks Off Nationals Homestand

Tuesday night the Washington Nationals return to town to face the Diamondbacks and Astros in a couple of series that promise great weather, light summer traffic, and some big promotions at Nationals Park.

The Nationals are in need of some home cooking after a brutal week which netted as many devastating injuries as team victories. For loyal Nats fans, it seems like an eternity since Nationals Park was packed and rocking for the team’s last home series against the Baltimore Orioles.

Washington Nationals Racing President Abe Lincoln at Nationals ParkRegular readers don’t need to be reminded that this is Abe Lincoln’s T-shirt Tuesday. The first 10,000 fans to enter Nationals Park on Tuesday will receive a free Washington Nationals Abraham Lincoln T-Shirt. Given his recent record, it’s doubtful that Abe needs any help to win the presidents race, but it should be noted that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson won on their free t-shirt nights, so the pressure is now squarely on Abe.

The homsetand will also feature Friday night fireworks, Hispanic Heritage night, and another free movie Saturday night after the game on the Nationals Park HD scoreboard. As for the presidents race, it’s hard to imagine how our racing presidents could top the excitement of the last homestand. After a week that featured kangaroos, president-on-president violence, sabotage, grudge matches, and an “unsanctioned” victory by Teddy Roosevelt, it was good to get a week off. I’m assuming that Teddy has gotten over it as well and will not be working with the grounds crew on Tuesday.

Photo by flickr member jsmjr

I’m sick about Teddy and I need your help!

Nationals Park will be rockin’ with Teddy Roosevelt supporters tonight, which is why I am beside myself that I can’t be there. I’ve been sick at home, hoping to recover, but it’s clearly not happening.

Washington Nationals Teddy vs. the Baltimore Orioles BirdTonight is the grudge match — an “unsanctioned” race between Teddy Roosevelt and Baltimore’s Bird in the middle of the 4th inning of tonight’s “Battle of the Beltways” at Nationals Park. The challenge was issued by Teddy after The Bird tripped him in the home stretch of last night’s presidents race.

I really have a feeling that Teddy’s going to win this thing, and I want to be there to witness him cross the finish line a legitimate winner. The game should be a sellout. Imagine 42,000 fans cheering Teddy across the finish line and putting the Baltimore Oriole to shame.

Washington Nationals racing president Teddy Roosevelt. There are so many questions. Will there be an actual presidents race, or will there only be this “unsanctioned” showdown? What tricks does Teddy have up his sleeve for The Bird? Will Teddy win? If he doesn’t, will the fans ever let That Bird back into Nationals Park?

Sadly, I have to watch from home. I’m counting on all of you to cheer for Teddy, and to be the eyes and ears of the presidents race blog. Wear your Teddy t-shirts and wave your Teddy signs. Bring your cameras and camcorders and share the results tonight. Most of all, have fun! Go Nats! Go Teddy!

Presidents Race Standings Now in High-Definition

Now those of you who go to the Washington Nationals games at Nationals Park don’t have to rely on our standings page to track presidents race results. On Wednesday night, for the first time since the Nationals moved to their new stadium, the presidents race standings were featured on the on the centerfield wall scoreboard. For some reason, it took the Nationals a full half of the home season to bring back this tradition which we’d come to expect at RFK Stadium.

Washington Nationals presidents race standings on the outfield wall during the presidents race at Nationals ParkBetter yet, the Nationals have begun showing the current standings during the presidents race. It looks awfully cool as the presidents race by the 14-foot high out-of-town scoreboard wall. I’m sure the team figured that if you were looking for score updates from around the league during the presidents race, then you had to be a loser anyway.

In Praise of the Ben’s Chili Bowl Half-Smoke

I must admit that I was among those uninformed who just didn’t get it.

Don’t get me wrong. When it was first announced that the new Nationals Park would feature Ben’s Chili Bowl among the restaurant concessions, I was pleased. I’d always wanted to pay a visit to the legendary Ben’s, but despite best intentions, had yet to do so.

The crowd in front of Ben’s Chili Bowl at Nationals Park on opening night.

Plus, I figured anything we could call our own and help make Nationals Park a uniquely DC experience was a good thing.

Then I got my first glimpse of the famous Ben’s half smoke chili dog on opening night, along with the horrific lines at the the Ben’s Chili Bowl stand behind the 3rd base line, and thought this doesn’t look that special, and certainly can’t be worth the wait.

Well, let the record state that I am now officially a convert. I took a group of people
from my office to Nationals Park on a chilly May evening, and from our perch that night in section 418, I indulged in my first Ben’s Chili Bowl half smoke (all the way, of course). Perhaps it was the altitude in the upper right field gallery, but I felt a little closer to heaven.

A Ben’s Chili Bowl half smoke “all the way” (with chili, cheese, onions, and mustard) has been a staple of each subsequent visit to Nationals Park.

A word to the wise: If you’re heading the the park an want to indulge yourself, don’t be intimidated by the long lines at the Ben’s Chili Bowl stand. You can get yourself an authentic Ben’s half smoke at ANY “Nats Dogs” stand or cart throughout the stadium.

Extra napkins recommended.

Photos by flickr users Scott Ableman and stvmasters

Abe Lincoln Says “This is Why I’m Hot!”

The Let Teddy Win GirlsThe temperature on the field for Garrett Mock’s major league pitching debut today at Nationals Park was over 100 degrees, and despite the repeated sound of “This is Why I’m Hot” by MIMS over the stadium P.A., the Nationals were anything but, giving up another early lead and failing to threaten a comeback.

The only people who didn’t appear slowed by the heat were the Let Teddy Win girls, who could be heard cheering all game throughout Section 407, and racing president Abraham Lincoln, who’s been on fire for more than a month and has won six of the last nine presidents races. Abe dashed passed the other presidents today and won by a comfortable margin, taunting the other presidents as he turned and stepped backward across the finish line. Teddy, meanwhile, appeared to be saving his energy for Monday night.

Meet John Feinstein at Nationals Park Saturday Night

Best-selling author and local celebrity John “Junior” Feinstein will be at Nationals Park for this Saturday’s game against the San Francisco Giants greeting fans and signing copies of his new book “Living on the Black: Two Pitchers, Two Teams, One Season to Remember,” which chronicles the 2007 seasons of pitchers Tom Glavine and Mike Mussina.

I have seen no formal announcements of the event, but in an interview on this morning’s Tony Kornheiser radio show, Feinstein said that he will be signing books and meeting fans outside the team store on Saturday night.

Teddy and the Nats Collapse at the Finish Line

Presidents Race Photos - Teddy Falls & Loses to Abe at Nationals Park, May 26, 2008On a sunny Memorial Day afternoon at Nationals Park, the Washington Nationals completed their home-
stand with a bittersweet extra-innings loss to the the Milwaukee Brewers, failing to hold the lead after another great outing by pitcher Jason Bergmann who stretched his string of scoreless innings pitched to
19 2/3.

Teddy Roosevelt kept his less auspicious 145-game streak alive as he took a big lead into the final stretch of the presidents race for the second time this holiday weekend, only to collapse — literally — before reaching the finish line.

While the result was the same, it was nothing like Saturday night’s loss. On Saturday, Teddy seemed to have the presidents race in hand and high-stepped as he approached the finish line; but he slowed up just enough to be passed by the speedy Abraham Lincoln before they crossed the tape.

There would be no such premature celebrating at today’s presidents race. A serious and determined-looking Teddy grabbed the early lead and was still ahead of the pack as they reached the first base foul territory. Then suddenly, Teddy grabbed his neck and collapsed. As has become so common this year at Nationals Park, Abraham Lincoln was there to run past Teddy to grab his 14th presidents victory of the young season.

Is Teddy OK? Fans in section 128 were crying of foul play by Abe, who has been on a suspicious tear and taken 9 out of 14 presidents races in May. Teddy did walk off the field on his own. With the Washington Nationals now heading on the road, Teddy has until the next home game on June 3rd to recover.

Consider Parking This Weekend at Nationals Park

You’ve heard the ads on the radio. The umpire calls “Strike One. Strike Two. Strike Three. You’re Out!” and the voice over intones “Now you know how it feels to try to find parking at a Nats game.”

Regular readers know that I’m a bit angry about the DC Metro’s horrible negative ad campaign, which has convinced people to stay away in droves by telling them that going anywhere near Nationals Park in a car is a recipe for disaster. You’ve also learned that it’s a complete myth.

In fact, after 6 weeks of ball games, I think it’s fair to say that parking at Nationals Park is at least as easy as taking the Metro.

On Tuesday, I took 20 people from my office in Reston, Virginia to a night at our Nationals’ new stadium. Most had never been, and the reason cited was the perceived transportation hassle. In fact, some said they had turned down tickets previously because it wasn’t worth the transportation nightmare.

We all had a great time. The close game vs. the Phillies kept everybody on the edge of their seats, but the thing that got the most comments from the first-timers was how shockingly easy it was to get in and out. Some took Metro, but most followed the easy parking directions at Nationals.com.

On a weekday evening, using the free Nats Express parking and shuttle from RFK Stadium, it took about an hour from the time we left Reston to standing inside the park at our meeting spot in the centerfield plaza. My boss, who couldn’t get out of the office until after 6:00pm, raced downtown, drove right up to National Park, paid for the cash valet parking and reported it was the easiest stadium parking he’d ever seen.

The Milwaukee Brewers are coming to town tonight for a Memorial Weekend series. The weather will be spectacular, and I can’t think of a better excuse to load the family in the car and drive to the ball park. See for yourself how easy it is, then join me in pleading with Metro to kill this horrible ad campaign.

Nationals T-Shirt Tuesday Features Racing Presidents

Washington Nationals T-Shirt TuesdayYesterday’s home game against the Philadelphia Phillies marked the continuation of the Washington Nationals’ T-Shirt Tuesdays, which will run all season at Nationals Park.

Each Tuesday home game throughout the season, the first 10,000 fans arriving at Nationals Park will be handed a free t-shirt compliments of one of the team’s sponsors. The t-shirts have a small Curly W on the front, but a different design on the back each time.

The first T-Shirt Tuesday featured a photo of Nick Johnson sliding, but last night’s shirt was the first of a series that will feature our racing presidents. As you can see, George Washington is posed on the back, with his famous (?) quote “Who’s Your Founding Father?”

George certainly seemed motivated by the occasion, as he led the presidents race from wire to wire, holding off a late comeback by Abraham Lincoln. Could this be a sign of things to come?

Next T-Shirt Tuesday is June 3 vs. the St. Louis Cardinals.

Photo by flickr user Scott Ableman.

Nationals Park Makes the Big Time

You know you’ve hit it big when The Onion makes fun of you.

Today’s recommended reading: The lead story on The Onion sports page reports that “an 8,976-foot foul ball off the bat of Washington third baseman Ryan Zimmerman crashed through the U.S. Capitol Building rotunda.”

“We are so dead,” Zimmerman is reported as saying.

Added Nick Johnson, “Aw, man, we’re never gonna get that ball back”

Abe Wins Fifth Straight to Close Nationals Homestand

Nationals Park has indeed become a friendly home for the Washington Nationals, who completed their longest homestand of the year Sunday with a third straight series win, raising their record at home to 10-8 as they leave town to play the Diamondbacks in Arizona.

The 2008 presidents race has taken on quite a bit of intrigue as well. This weekend, Nationals Park was visited by Pittsburgh Pirate mascots including the giant costumed pierogies from PNC Park’s pierogie races. On Saturday, they joined the racing presidents and were chased by Teddy Roosevelt yielding a giant fork and knife. On Sunday, they turned the presidents race into a relay, and the anchor leg was won handily by Abe.

Is this a sign of things to come?
Did you like seeing the other team’s mascots at Nationals Park (I’m trying to imagine the Philly Fanatic making it out alive)?

Perhaps lost amid the hullabaloo was Abraham Lincoln’s fifth straight victory, giving him as many wins so far this season as all the other racing presidents combined. Somebody’s got to stop the Great Emancipator before he puts the 2008 completely out of reach!

Photo by flickr user philliefan99

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