Time for a fresh start. Let Teddy Win!

The dismissal of Manny Acta has kept Nationals bloggers busy during this All Star break, but with no presidential activity at Nationals Park all week, we’ve kept it quiet here. I try to keep LetTeddyWin about the ball park experience, saving opinions about team moves for Twitter and Facebook.

But with all the talk in NatsTown about a “fresh start” this week, it seemed appropriate to consider whether the same might be possible for Teddy Roosevelt.

At the season’s midpoint, Teddy’s streak of losses is approaching it’s 3rd anniversary. Teddy’s first loss came in a July, 2006 weekend series against the Chicago Cubs.

The Nationals’ new era starts this weekend with a new manager and the Cubs in town once again. How appropriate would it be to kick things off with a victory for Teddy?

Management is looking for a change — something to fire up the team and the fans. I say Let Teddy Win!

Homestand notes:

The Nats will be wearing red uniforms all weekend, and fans are being encouraged to “get your red on” by filling the stands with red shirts and caps.

The Washington Post is continuing the Twitter experiment it started over July 4th weekend, documenting the fan experience in real time from Nationals Park. Share your thoughts during the game, tagging your tweets with #natswp and your section #.

Finally, there are some deals to be had for the homestand. Through noon Thursday, Professionals in the City has a limited number of $10 tickets in the 200 level for Friday night’s game vs. the Cubs, and Goldstar has discounted outfield seats for Monday night’s game vs. the Mets.

Photo by Flickr user afagen

Toe-to-Toe with Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and Stan Kasten at first-ever NatsFest

Natsfest crowd at Nationals ParkNationals Park was abuzz with life on this cold winter day as thousands of Washington Nationals fans were drawn to the first annual NatsFest fan fest. For the ticket price of just $10.00, Nats fans were able to wander through the usually-restricted field level concourse, lounge in the home team clubhouse, sit in a $300+ Presidents Club seat, take a swing from live pitching in the Nats’ indoor batting cage, and mingle with the likes of manager Manny Acta, General Manager Jim Bowden, team President Stan Kasten, broadcasters, players, and more.

Jim Bowden answers questions from fans at NatsFestAs Steinberg documents well in this evening’s Sports Bog, the Q&A sessions with Acta, Bowden, Kasten, and Assistant GM Mike Rizzo were packed and lively, with numerous questions about the team’s off-season spending (or lack thereof); but Kasten also drew a number of terrific questions about the fan experience, and in what Steinberg called “perhaps the best moment of the day,” addressed the Teddy question.

Kasten told the crowd that he has been a visitor to LetTeddyWin.com. “I’m asked all the time about this Let Teddy Win stuff,” Kasten said, “and ‘Stan, when is Teddy gonna win?’ as if I’m Nostradamus or something like that. How could I know…? But I do know this: Law of averages says he’s gonna win some day, and the only way to be sure you’re here for when that happens is to come every night!”

Stan Kasten answers questions from fans at NatsFestKasten promised a number of changes to the fan experience for 2009, including expansion of the Red Porch to bring tables into the stadium seating area, centerfield plaza improvements to include a “fire pit,” and more food options including value meals at concession stands and “experiments with all-you-can-eat sections” on select game nights.

Kasten also shed some light on why the giant baseball that had been depicted above the Red Loft in pre-construction renderings of Nationals Park never appeared for the inaugural season, explaining that “something” would be installed above the red loft, but that it was pending negotiations with sponsors. Considering that Kasten oversaw the installation of the giant Coke bottle above Turner Field in Atlanta, it’s all making sense now.

The Washington Nationals Racing Presidents at NatsFestThe Nationals racing presidents were noticeably absent from the concourses and activities throughout the park, but could be found behind a door being guarded by Nationals mascot Screech in the “Kids Zone,” a large room in the stadium’s conference center.

Who knew ball parks had conference rooms?

Washington Nationals Racing President Abe Lincoln at NatsfestThe Kids Zone looked remarkably well-staffed and organized, with young Nats fans being entertained by Clint Khoury and the Nat Pack, plus racing presidents Teddy, Abe, George, and Tom, and activities including a moon bounce, wiffle ball, face painting, balloon animals, caricatures, and even a Guitar Hero arcade.

Most remarkable was that the kids zone crowd paled in comparison with the lines that formed for all the “adult” activities. Even the wait for a hand-painted caricature was minimal compared to the time people were spending upstairs waiting for a photo with Ryan Zimmerman. The kids looked like they were having a blast, though it made me nervous to see Abe Lincoln helping kids in and out of the moon bounce. I just don’t trust that guy…

Teddy Heads to Syracuse for Friday’s Hot Stove Dinner

syracuse-chiefs-logoTeddy Roosevelt is kicking off the new year with a trip to Syracuse, New York, to help welcome the Washington Nationals’ new AAA affiliate Syracuse Chiefs to the Nationals family.

This Friday, January 16, marks the Chiefs’ 48th annual “Hot Stove Dinner” — a $50-a-plate event in which fans shmooz with team brass and get a preview of the upcoming season. Washington Nationals president Stan Kasten and manager Manny Acta will be in attendance Friday night, along with Chiefs manager Tim Foli, but I’m betting the line will be longest for photos with our favorite racing president, #26 himself.

The forecast calls for snow showers and a high temperature of 12 degrees, so Teddy had better bundle up. If you’re heading to Syracuse, tickets are available at the Chiefs’ ticket office or by calling 315-474-7833.

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.

I Think I’m Going to Like Chico Harlan

Those of you who get your Nationals news from blogs and feed readers may have not have noticed a big change in Nationals coverage over at the Washington Post.

Barry Svrugla, who had covered the Nationals beat since the team first moved to DC, recently moved on
to cover the Redskins.

Barry is great at what he does, and helped bring the
Post into the 21st century with his frequent and candid posts on the Nationals Journal blog. I was sad to see him move on from the Nats beat.

However, in just a few short weeks, Svrugla’s replacement Chico Harlan has proven to be razor sharp with the pen. In today’s Post Harlan paints a painful picture of pitcher Odalis Perez’s day, battling through 6+ innings just hours after undergoing an emergency root canal. Great stuff.

Some of the other memorable gems Harlan has given us in this short season:

On a 12-2 drubbing at the hands of the Phillies:

Certainly science has a name for this, the kind of implosion too vast for common math to quantify.

On the trials of starting young players:

Milledge and Dukes are both 23. Peña is 25. Whether they flourish or flounder, they will play. Sometimes, they will play games like this one.

On the anemic Nationals offense:

With the season 47 games old, they’re still waiting for the offense to break from its sleepwalk. They’re still waiting for a lineup to produce with runners in scoring position. They’re still waiting for results to catch up with logic, because an entire roster of hitters can only flounder below their career averages for so long, right?

On Manager Manny Acta’s shaved head:

With a razor, using the same technique that Carlos Delgado once taught him, Acta shaved the stubble from his head. He was ready for a clean start. Head fully Mr. Cleaned, Acta then turned to his next cleanup job — the team outside his office door.

On Shea Stadium:

Shea Stadium, decrepit and months from demolition, deserved a game like this one — filled with both trash and trash talk.

Yes, I think I’m going to like Chico Harlan.

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