Nationals Promotion / Giveaway Schedule for 2009

The Washington Nationals today announced that almost all 2009 individual game tickets will go on sale Tuesday, March 3, and revealed the Nationals Park game day promotion/giveaway schedule for 2009.

In addition to the known dates and giveaways listed below, the “popular post-game events” such as Friday Night Fireworks and Sunday Kids Run the Bases will be back, but Saturday night movies were not mentioned.

2009 Washington Nationals Promotional/Giveaway Schedule

Mon 4/13 Opening Day Hat (first 20,000 fans)
Wed 4/15 Jackie Robinson Day
Sat 4/18 Magnetic Schedule/Frame/Car Magnet (first 20,000 fans)
Tue 4/21 T-Shirt Tuesday (first 10,000 fans)
Sat 5/2 Latino Heritage Day / Los Nacionales T-Shirt (first 20,000 fans)
Tue 5/5 T-Shirt Tuesday (first 10,000 fans)
Sun 5/17 Kids Drawstring Backpack (first 10,000 kids 12 & under)
Tue 5/19 T-Shirt Tuesday (first 10,000 fans)
Sat 5/23 Nationals Cap (first 20,000 fans)
Sun 5/24 Kids Jersey (first 10,000 kids 12 & under)
Tues 6/2 T-Shirt Tuesday (first 10,000 fans)
Fri 6/5 Black Heritage Night
Tue 6/9 T-Shirt Tuesday (first 10,000 fans)
Fri 6/19 Beach Bash / Beach Towel (first 10,000 21 & older)
Sun 6/21 Fathers Day / Gym Bag (first 10,000 18 & older)
Tue 6/23 T-Shirt Tuesday (first 10,000 fans)
Sat 7/4 Mini U.S. Flags (first 20,000 fans)
Sun 7/19 Kids Insulated Lunch Bag (first 10,000 kids 12 & under)
Tue 7/21 T-Shirt Tuesday (first 10,000 fans)
Sat 7/25 Eco-Friendly Tote Bag (first 20,000 fans)
Tue 8/4 T-Shirt Tuesday (first 10,000 fans)
Sat 8/8 Bobblehead TBD (first 15,000 fans)
Tue 8/18 T-Shirt Tuesday (first 10,000 fans)
Sat 8/22 Bobblehead TBD (first 15,000 fans)
Sun 9/6 Kids Run the Show
Tue 9/8 T-Shirt Tuesday (first 10,000 fans)
Tue 9/22 T-Shirt Tuesday (first 10,000 fans)
Sat 9/26 Gospel Music Fest Post-Game Concert
Mon 9/28 Team Photo (first 20,000 fans)
Tue 9/29 T-Shirt Tuesday (first 10,000 fans)
Wed 9/30 Fan Appreciation Day (giveaways TBD to 1st 20,000 fans)

Tickets to the highly-anticipated interleague series vs. the Boston Red Sox on June 23, 24 and 25 will not be made available on March 3 along with other series. The Nationals will be holding back those tickets until on or about the 1st of April in an attempt to sell more season ticket packages. When those individual tickets to go on sale, they will be available online only.

New Nationals Uniforms

New Nationals uniforms were unveiled in a ceremony this afternoon at ESPN Zone in downtown DC. Nationals radio broadcaster Charlie Slowes was on hand along with manager Manny Acta, outfielder Lastings Milledge, and members of the Nat Pack to show off changes which included new home white uniforms and new home red uniforms with minor changes, plus entirely new alternate blue uniforms, and new road gray uniforms with a script “Washington” across the chest.

New Nationals road uniforms feature a curly W and script Washington to replace the old uniform's block letters.

New Nationals uniforms include this "alternate blue" uniform with red, white, and blue DC logo to be worn for a select few home games in 2009.

New Nationals uniforms include this sure-to-be-controversial new alternate blue uniform with red, white, and blue DC logo to be worn for a select few home games in 2009.

I’m not sure how the Nationals players will look in the new alternate blue uniform, but I’ll bet it would look good on Teddy. It looks sort of slimming…

I was not able to make the event, but intrepid Nationals fan SBF over at Nats320 has a comprehensive review of the day’s festivities.

Since When Was Cheering Unprofessional?

New York Mets losing pitcher Nelson Figueroa, after last night’s 10-4 defeat at the hands of the Washington Nationals, called the Nationals players — led by Elijah Dukes — “truly unprofessional” for cheering loudly from the visitor’s dugout at Shea Stadium.

“They were cheerleading in the dugout like a bunch of softball girls,” Figueroa, said. “I take huge offense to that. If that’s what a last-place team needs to do to fire themselves up, so be it. I think you need to show a little bit more class, a little bit more professionalism. They won tonight, but again, in the long run, they are who they are.”

Yes Nelson, and the Mets have reminded us who they are as well. Last off-season, Lastings Milledge was run out of town by his Mets teammates for such unprofessional behavior as high-fiving after making a big play. I think I’ll take a team full of young, enthusiastic players who never quit when they’re down over a bunch of overpaid underachievers who choke in the stretch and point fingers afterwards.

Am I wrong? Since when was cheering for your team unprofessional?

Photo by flickr user tagvestibule

Goodbye to the Best Nationals Blog

Blogger Chris Needham has has hung up his keyboard after almost 4 years at the helm of Capitol Punishment. Chris’s blog was required daily reading by every Nationals blogger, beat writer, and team executive (not necessarily in that order).

Hard Times Chili NachosThis is going to really sink in the next time Jimbo pulls the trigger on a trade, when the rest of us will be flailing around looking for thoughtful, well-researched analysis.

Chris, I raise a Hard Times chili nacho in your honor. You were great reading — a valuable and informed alternate perspective that will sorely be missed.

No Divine Intervention at Nationals Park

Nationals fans had high hopes that the Pope Benedict XVI might leave behind some holy mojo for the home team after presiding over mass at Nationals Park just a few days ago.

Unfortunately, Mets pitcher Johan Santana had other ideas, scattering 7 hits and ruining another good outing by Nationals pitcher Tim Redding to kick off the Nationals’ longest homestand of the season.

Sadly, Teddy Roosevelt wasn’t feeling it either, as Abraham Lincoln kicked off the homestand by moving into a tie with Thomas Jefferson for the season lead in the presidents race.

Worst of all was the presence of a vocal minority of Mets fans at Nationals Park — the first time we’ve heard such a heavy rooting contingent for the visiting team since our new stadium opened.

I suppose I shouldn’t complain too loudly since I’ll be at Verizon Center for the Wizards playoff game on Thursday night, but it sure would be nice if tomorrow’s crowd at Nationals Park was a little more vocal in support of Shawn Hill. Cheer for Teddy(!), and I’ll see you in section 128 for Friday night’s game against the Cubs.

Photo by Flickr user cyurasko

Losing Streaks Continue at Nationals Park

With George, Tom, and Abe having each won one of the first three presidents races at Nationals Park, and the snakebitten Washington Nationals coming into the evening on a 6-game skid, the question on the mind of Nats fans was whether they would see the end of somebody’s losing streak tonight against the Florida Marlins.

Unfortunately, the luck of neither Teddy nor the team changed tonight, as Thomas Jefferson took the 4th inning contest to take the season lead, and our Nats suffered their fourth heartbreaking one-run loss just ten games into the season. After consecutive sweeps by the Cardinals and Marlins, the Nationals 3-game winning streak to start the season is a distance memory.

Friday night the Atlanta Braves come to Nationals Park for the final series of this homestand. Let’s hope for a big turnout and an end to some losing streaks this weekend!

Photo by flickr user afagen.

Nationals Park Opening Night Sets ESPN Record

According to a press release from ESPN today, the March 30 opening day game at Nationals Park set an all-time record for ESPN network opening day telecasts.

Atlanta at Washington on March 30 in the debut of Nationals Park – averaged 2,700,000 households and 3,656,000 viewers to become the most-viewed Opening Night ever on ESPN networks.

For those of us who spent so many years lobbying for baseball’s return to Washington, this may not come as a surprise, but it sure is a nice feather in our cap and sends a big message to the brass at ESPN and FOX Sports.

Washington is one of the nation’s biggest markets, and the Nationals are quickly developing a large, loyal fan base, both in the parks and at home on TV.

We had the fan base, the ownership, and the best on-field promotion in sports. Now we can add a world class stadium to the mix. The Washington Nationals have arrived!

Photo from “The Celebration” by Flickr user ctankcycles

Fred Malek, Presidents Race Fan …who knew?

Fred Malik, Presidents Race FanFollowers of the Washington Nationals know that local businessman Fred Malek played a big role in bringing baseball back to Washington, DC. He is well connected in the worlds of business, politics, and baseball, having once been, among other things, part-owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team.

I had the priviledge of sitting by Malek at a Washington Nationals game at RFK Stadium in 2005, when major league baseball was still deciding who the new owners of the team would be and Malek was considered one of the 3 front-runners (this was back when I had VIP seats behind the 1st base dugout… alas, those connections are long gone and I while I’m still behind the dugout I will be back in row MM at Nationals Park.)

I’d never met Malek — only read about this high-rolling politico who managed billions of dollars in private equity funds. I was struck by his youthful enthusiasm for this losing team, and by his sheer popularity. Throughout the game, one fan after another approached his seat on the aisle, shook his hand, and told him they were pulling for him to win the bid to own the team.

Despite losing the bid, Malek remains a passionate fan of both the Nationals and their new ownership team. What I didn’t know was that Fred is also a fan of both Teddy Roosevelt and of the presidents race at Nationals Park.

In his blog at fredmalekblog.com, Malek describes the 4th inning presidents race as “the great Nationals tradition,” and goes on to voice his support for our favorite president, Teddy Roosevelt. He even puts in a generous plug for letteddywin.com.

Mr. Malek, I am proud to know that you are a reader, and thrilled that you are still such a strong supporter of the team. I have no complaints about what the Lerners have done with our beloved Nationals (after all, they brought the presidents race from the scoreboard down to the field), but I have no doubt that you would have been a great owner as well.

Photo from fredmalekblog.com.

The Washington Nationals Got Younger. Will They Be Better?

It’s been rumored that Stan Kasten is considering adding more presidents to the presidents race at Nationals Park in 2008. Could this be part of The Plan to make the team younger as they seek to build a champion? Teddy Roosevelt is currently the youngest of the racing presidents, but he was born 149 years ago, so none of them are exactly spring chickens.

But seriously, the team did get younger this week. The question on fans’ minds is did they also get better?

At the recently-concluded winter meetings, Washington Nationals GM Jim Bowden made several big moves. When the dust cleared, the Nationals had said goodbye to Brian Schneider, Ryan Church, Jonathan Albaledejo, Billy Traber, Justin Jones, and Glen Gibson.

The new faces on the Nationals include Lastings Milledge, Elijah Dukes, Tyler Clippard, Aaron Boone, Matt Whitney, Garrett Guzman, and as has been reported by Barry Svrugla., catcher Paul LoDuca.

Followers of the Washington Nationals such as Mark Zuckerman and Chris Needham seem to agree that the team made a lot of progress this week. But while I applaud Bowden for executing against The Plan, I’m not ready to greet the moves with anything other than a little cautious optimism.

Did the Nationals address needs? Yes.
Did they get younger? Absolutely.
Did they acquire some upside potential on the cheap? Without question.

On the flip side, they also created some holes that have yet to be filled. There are no left-handed bats to speak of, and more importantly, they left themselves with only Jesus Flores at the catcher position. The signing of LoDuca doesn’t fill that hole. It only puts an exclamation point on the fact that they couldn’t fill it. LoDuca’s 1-year contract is a stopgap until a long-term solution is found.

At some point, when the Nationals acquire their catcher of the future, let’s take a look at what they had to give up to get him, and then we can do the math. If it turns out that another year of seasoning is all Jesus Flores needs to become an all star behind the plate, then Bowden looks like a genius.

Washington Nationals Trade All Their Left-Handed Starters

When I first saw the cozy right field dimensions of the new Nationals Park, my first thought was “if their averages don’t improve at least we’ll see more home runs from Ryan Church and Brian Schneider.”

Well, today the Washington Nationals announced that they had traded Brian Schneider and Ryan Church to the New York Mets for outfielder Lastings Milledge. Milledge is only 22 years old and filled with raw talent, but the Mets are in “win now” mode, and are willing to trade potential in change for consistency and experience, particularly behind the plate.

I have to commend Jim Bowden for continuing to advance The Plan. Schneider in particular was a fan favorite — an original National whose experience is credited with holding together last year’s rag-tag pitching staff. Still, it’s hard to criticize the team for getting younger and cheaper while filling a hole. It could be an absolute steal if Milledge fulfills his potential in a Nationals uniform.

Here’s what concerns me. Am I the only one who noticed that the Nationals just traded their only 2 left-handed starting pull hitters in exchange for another righty?

With Church and Schneider gone, switch-hitting Dmitri Young is the only potential regular starter with even a slightly better career batting average vs. left-handed pitchers. Here are the career splits for the 11 Nationals position players who stand to get the most starts. The right column shows the difference in batting average when facing right-handed pitching (for Nook Logan, I only included his right-handed at-bats, since he is no longer a switch-hitter).

Player vs Right vs Left Difference
Dmitri Young .286 .295 +.09
Cristian Guzman .263 .263
Felipe Lopez .257 .260 -.03
Ronnie Belliard .270 .284 -.14
Nick Johnson .264 .295 -.31
Austin Kearns .257 .289 -.32
Lastings Milledge .246 .281 -.35
Wily Mo Pena .247 .283 -.36
Jesus Flores .220 .270 -.50
Ryan Zimmerman .267 .330 -.63
Nook Logan .237 .314 -.77

As you can see, things are fairly stable with the switch hitters at the top of the list, but it falls off the charts pretty quickly after that.

I hope the Nats have found the centerfielder of the future, but I just can’t get too comfortable with this young lineup. Last year, as a team the Nationals batted only .250 vs. right-handers while hitting .272 vs. lefties. You won’t find a differential like that on a playoff team, yet after today’s trade, how can it possibly improve?

Mike Bacsik for Sportsman of the Year

If you thought Teddy was the Washington Nationals’ ultimate lovable loser, think again. The team’s own Mike Bacsik has been nominated for Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated writer Lee Jenkins.

Bacsik, the journeyman lefthander with a 5.46 career ERA, was one of several improbable starters for the 2007 Nationals, whose already-thin rotation was decimated by injuries before last spring’s cherry blossoms had finished blooming. His 20 starts were largely unmemorable, except of course for August 7, when his named was penciled into the lineup and he promptly served up home run #756 to a certain slugger named Barry Bonds.

He was soon back in the minors, but thus did Michael Joseph Bacsik pitch himself into the history books alongside Al Downing, who for the past 32 years as profited from his fame as the man who gave up the previous record-breaking home run to Hank Aaron. Had Bacsik pitched a no-hitter that day, he could not have achieved such significant and sustained recognition.

For those who love to hate the new home run king, Jenkins argues that Bascik provided the perfect antidote to Bonds’ self-congratulating ego. As Bonds thumped his chest and pointed to the sky, Bacsik stood on the mound and laughed at himself. The self-deprication continued after the game. “I always dreamed about this as a kid,” Bacsik said. “But when I dreamed of it, I thought I would be the one hitting the home run.”

Jenkins says that the lovable, self-depricating loser Bacsik single-handedly made the moment tolerable. I don’t know if that makes him Sportsman of the Year, but given how long it’s going to be before any other Washington National stands a chance at that honor, I say “why not?”

Presidents Race rally signs are here.

Presidents Race sign at Nationals Park.The presidents race rally signs have arrived and they look great!

I promised a photo as soon as the finished product arrived, and here it is. This is not cheap cardboard sign. It’s made of flexible weatherproof vinyl, is printed on both sides, and will easily last through the entire presidents race season. In fact, when you bring it home you can post it in your yard with the enclosed posts.

If you’re wondering how I got this photo, I just had to envision how it will look at Nationals Park, so I took a photo holding up the sign and combined it with this crowd shot from a 2007 Nationals game. Imagine an army of fans holding these up during the presidents race!

Presidents Race Videos

Presidents Race VideosAnnouncing the Presidents Race Videos page.

Nats fans know that the presidents race is superior to all those other racing characters from around Major League Baseball. The theme is uniquely DC, the costumes are outrageous, and I doubt any sausage could ever captivate a city the way loveable Teddy has captured the hearts of Washington Nationals Fans.

Still, it’s hard to appreciate the presidents race if you haven’t seen it.

That’s why I am happy to announce a new section of the site for Presidents Race Videos. Lots of you have taken great videos of the presidents race since it started in 2006. Now I have compiled some of the best of those videos in a new section that has a permanent tab at the top of blog.letteddywin.com.

Today, the presidents race video page features vintage races from the team’s first season, and great moments from last year like Teddy’s zip line entrance on opening day, his various attempts to cheat, and his botched coronation on Teddy Roosevelt bobblehead night.

It’s a living video history of the presidents race. The 2008 section is ready and waiting. If you have any great videos you’d like to add, let me know at teddyroosevelt@letteddywin.com.

Let Teddy Win kids long sleeve jersey

presidents race Let Teddy Win kids long sleeve jerseyHere’s a photo of the new Let Teddy Win jersey that just arrived. My son wore it to school this week and to a fall festival today. He got tons of “great shirt” comments!

This is the one that has the Teddy Roosevelt quote on the back:

Teddy Roosevelt Quote T-Shirt

The quote reads:

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, then to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.

How perfect is that?

The jersey is available in sizes for adults or kids.

New Item: Let Teddy Win Signs

Presidents Race Rally Sign

I have to say I’m very excited about this new product. Today is the first day it could be ordered and I’ve put it up on letteddywin.com immediately because I know it’s going to be a big hit at Washington Nationals games.  Just imagine waving these during the presidents race!

The sign is 22 inches wide. It is printed on 2 sides and made of flexible weather-resistant vinyl. It includes a metal frame so that you can bring it home from the game and post it in your yard.

I hope you like the design. Of course I ordered the first one myself immediately and will post more photos when it arrives.

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