New look for Nationals mascot Screech

Washington Nationals mascot Screech on 70s night at Nationals ParkThe Washington Nationals will unveil a “new look” for their mascot Screech this coming Monday, March 2, at ESPN Zone in Washington, DC. In-game host Clint Kouhry and members of the Nat Pack will be on hand for the unveiling.

If Screech seems a bit young to be getting a facelift, perhaps it’s because he is so clearly at the bottom of the pecking order in terms of Nationals mascot fan-favorites, with Teddy Roosevelt, of course, at the top of the pack. For my money, it’s going to take a lot more than a facelift to boost favor for Screech, who as judge of the Presidents Race, has disqualified Teddy Roosevelt a few too many times.

The Nationals announced today that Screech will make a variety of appearances during March to show off his “fresh-feathered look” before the start of the 2009 baseball season. Monday’s 1:00pm unveiling will be open to the public.

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 “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…

Racing president Abe Lincoln muscles in on Obama’s inauguration

The name Abraham Lincoln was invoked by commentators and politicians again and again throughout president Barack Obama’s inauguration festivities this week. Abe’s imprint was everywhere — from the concert at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to the bible used to administer Obama’s oath of office.

Seeking to boost his image and muscle in on the good will of an unknowing public, Washington Nationals racing president Abe Lincoln made a number of unannounced appearances for the inauguration celebration.

Washington Nationals racing president Abe Lincoln at Barack Obama's inaugural paradeIn addition to appearances at the previously announced Children’s Inaugural Ball and the Illinois Inaugural Gala, Abe was seen aboard the Illinois float in the inaugural parade.

Flickr photographer Ginger Vibes spotted Abe mingling with the crowd along Pennsylvania Avenue.

The suspected cheater and reigning presidents race champion was later caught by Flickr photographer Melanie Phung mugging with partygoers at the Texas State Society “Black Tie and Boots Ball.”

Washington Nationals racing president Abe Lincoln at the Texas State Society Ball

Meanwhile, over at the Delaware State Society Inaugural Ball, Joe Biden was mingling with invited guest Teddy Roosevelt, seen here with Nat Pack member Stephanie Baldwin and Nationals Park mainstay Clint Kouhry, who I must say cleans up quite nicely:

Washington Nationals racing president Teddy Roosevelt with Nat Pack members Clint Kouhry and Stephanie Baldwin at the Delaware State Society Inaugural Ball

Yes, the presidents certainly got around on Tuesday. It’s great to see our that our favorite Nationals Park tradition has so quickly been embraced as a symbol of DC culture. Where else did you spot our racing presidents?

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.

Leprechaun appears for “Half way to St. Patricks Day” at Nationals Park

The Washington Nationals celebrated September 17 — half way to St. Patricks Day — tonight with free green ‘Curly W’ hats, live Irish music from 4 Ever Erin, celtic dancers and more throughout the game. It had all the makings of a festive Wednesday night for the 25,000 fans in attendance, but the Nationals 14 hits were too late and too scattered to overcome an early deficit vs. the Mets.

With Clint and the other members of the Nat Pack wearing green from head to toe, and Nationals mascot Screech sporting a green beard, it seemed as if every Irish cliche’ in the book had been trotted out, but then came the presidents race in the 4th inning.

The presidents appeared wearing green boas, and Tom and George jumped out in front, with Teddy and Abe trailing. Then, just as Abe was putting on his customary burst of speed, a leprechaun appeared in the outfield and tackled the great emancipator. It was great to see Abe — and not Teddy — get his due for a change.

Of course, rather than take advantage of Abe’s misfortune, Teddy turned and chased the leprechaun, in the opposite direction of the finish line. George Washington, sporting long green socks, beat Tom to the tape to win his first race in a month.

I can’t believe I forgot to bring my camera, but flickr member Drew Saunders caught George in the home stretch.

Fun, Games, and Victory on 70s Night at Nationals Park

Washington Nationals Park 70s NightAnother crowd of over 30,000 fans turned out last night at Nationals Park for a fun-filled theme night and a thrilling extra-innings victory over the Atlanta Braves.

It was Washington Nationals 1970s night, and the team did a great job of extending the theme throughout the fan experience. 70s-themed music, player introductions, and contests were the order of the night, and even the Nationals Park scoreboard went retro, with a low-definition monochrome look reminiscent of the first JumboTron scoreboards of the era.

Player introduction music was turned into a hit parade of unforgetable (no matter how hard you try) 1970s classics — everything from Isaac Hayes to Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.

Washington Nationals Park 70s NightNationals mascot Screech traded in his usual white uniform for a scruffier tie-dye look, and Members of the Nat Pack went all out with outrageous wigs and costumes. The players, of course, had to wear their official team uniforms, but
Washington Nationals Racing President Teddy Roosevelt on 70s Night at Nationals Parkthe scoreboard gave fans an alternate view of what each particular player might have looked like with 1970s-era hair and mustache.

When it came time for the 4th inning presidents race, Teddy Roosevelt emerged from the centerfield fence wearing a plaid bandana. Unfortunately, it didn’t provide much help as he fell back from the pack early and had to watch as Abe broke the tape to capture his 40th presidents race victory of the season.

Too many fun photos to share here. For more, check out the photoset on flickr.

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