Nationals fans ask “Where’s Terrance?”

Throughout the Nats’ first home series vs. the Atlanta Braves, a question was posed repeatedly on social media by fans at Nationals Park: Where’s Terrance?

Terrance Briscoe Nationals Park Cheerleader Nat Pack Terrance Briscoe Nationals Park Cheerleader Nat PackTerrance Briscoe Nat Pack Cheerleader Nationals Park Oklahoma City ThunderTerrance Briscoe Nat Pack Oklahoma City Thunder NationalsLove him or hate him, the ubiquitous Terrance Briscoe has been a fixture at Nationals Park since joining the Nat Pack cheerleading squad in 2009. Briscoe holds a special role within the Nat Pack, roaming the stadium with a great degree of autonomy and using his booming voice to lead the crowd in cheers.

“He makes Nats Park feel like home!,” said Nats fan Lynne Reynolds, who was one of several fans that started tweeting with the hashtag #WhereIsTerrance over the weekend. “His energy is boundless! He knows how to inspire and rally the crowd.”

“Terrance’s exuberance for the game is amazing,” said season ticketholder Lisa Milisa. “How can you not smile and cheer whenever he’s around?“

So where’s Terrance?

“I have been visiting my parents in Oklahoma City,” Briscoe said Sunday via email. That, and also leading the crowd in cheers for the NBA’s Northwest Division leading Oklahoma City Thunder.

“The difference between working a NBA crowd as oppose to a MLB crowd is the constant game flow,” Briscoe said. “There is not a lot of down time such as space in between at bats, pitches, and innings. It’s an effort to keep guests in the arena optimistic, loud, and smiling.”

Briscoe sent his love to Nationals Park fans, along with a promise. “When the playoffs are over,” he said, “I will be back in Washington, D.C. to help fire up the fans. I would like to work for the Nationals as long as they will have me.”

That may take some time. The Thunder has the second best record in the NBA, led by league-leading scorer Kevin Durant. If the Thunder makes it to the NBA Finals, Briscoe could be in Oklahoma until mid-June.

In the meantime, Briscoe’s message for Nats fans is one of patience: “Continue to be optimistic, along with diligently displaying your Natitude for each and every game.”

Oklahoma City Thunder Photos courtesy of Wendall Curry

Details/Photos from new food stands at Nationals Park

Nationals Park Sushi - Washington Nationals Stadium Food

Sushi made to order at South Capitol Sushi

Nationals Park Sushi Menu - South Capitol Sushi - Washington Nationals Stadium Food

The Washington Nationals unveiled more than a half dozen diverse new food options to Nationals Park fans on Friday, and the early buzz was almost universally positive, despite several stands selling out of signature items.

In previous years, many of the stadium’s ethnic and “upscale” offerings had been isolated to the Scoreboard Walk and restricted Club level, but the newest concessions have brought more variety to the main concourses where most of the park’s foot traffic occurs.

Directly behind the Nationals’ dugout boxes at Section 129 is a new stand called South Capitol Sushi, where maki sushi is rolled to order.

Selections include vegetarian and cooked options, but bright, fresh raw tuna and salmon were on hand to be sliced to order for the spicy tuna and salmon avocado rolls. As a bonus, at $8.00 each, they looked to be a relative value considering the quality of the ingredients on display.

Nationals Park Sushi - Washington Nationals Stadium Food

South Capitol Sushi – Section 129

Lines were forming as early as 11:00am at the new Nationals Park outpost of “Top Chef” celebrity Mike Isabella’s G Gourmet Sandwiches behind section 136 along the first base line. The trimmed-down menu features five items from the 14th Street restaurant, including a chicken parmesan sub that was drawing raves in the stands, and the eponymous “Drewno,” a house-made kielbasa with shaved beef on top, named not for the Nat’s reliever, but for Chef Scott Drewno from DC’s The Source. The made-to-order sandwiches were so popular that Isabella, who was on hand for opening day, ran out of food and had to shut down the stand by the fourth inning.

G Sandwiches by Mike Isabella at Nationals Park - Washington Nationals Stadium Food

G Gourmet Sandwiches by Mike Isabella – Section 136

G Sandwiches by Mike Isabella at Nationals Park - Washington Nationals Stadium Food

G Gourmet Sandwiches by Mike Isabella Menu

Nationals Park Food - G Sandwiches - Mike Isabella - Drewno - Washington Nationals Stadium

The Drewno features kielbasa and shaved beef (Twitter photo:@Gee_Dad)

G by Mike Isabella at Nationals Park Stadium - Roasted Cauliflower Sandwich/Sub - Photo by Caroline Jones Washington City Paper

Roasted Cauliflower Sandwich (Photo: Caroline Jones/Washington City Paper)

Nationals Park G Sandwich Italian Hero by Mike Isabella Stadium

G Italian Hero (Photo:Maura Judkis/Washington Post)

Nationals Park G Sandwich Chicken Parm by Mike Isabella - Photo by  MAURA JUDKIS Washington Post

The G Chicken Parm Sandwich (Photo:Maura Judkis/Washington Post)

On the third base side of the main concourse behind section 114 is the new Chesapeake Crab Co., offering a simple menu of crab cakes, a crab grilled cheese with brie on sourdough, or crab “snack chips,” an upscale take on nachos featuring Old Bay kettle chips, crab queso, roasted corn and tomato salsa.

Chesapeake Crab Cake Co. - Washington Nationals Park - Stadium Food

Chesapeake Crab Cake Co. – Section 114

Menu: Chesapeake Crab Cake Co. - Washington Nationals Park - Stadium Food

Chesapeake Crab Cake Co. Menu

Crab Grilled Cheese - Chesapeake Crab Cake Co. - Washington Nationals Park - Stadium Food Options

Crab Grilled Cheese with Brie on Sourdough

Crab Nachos - Photo by Scott Allen Washington Post

Crab Shack Chips (Photo: Scott Allen/Washington Post)

Vegans, vegetarians, and those looking for healthy options will welcome the new Field of Greens food stand behind section 113 on the third base side. The extensive menu includes cold salads, vegetables and fruit, plus a number of soy-based imitations of more traditional ballpark food, such as burgers, hot dogs, and even a cheese steak.

Field of Greens - Vegan Food - Washington Nationals Park - Vegetarian Option

Field of Greens – Section 113

Field of Greens Menu - Vegan Food - Washington Nationals Park - Vegetarian Option

Field of Greens Menu

Nationals Park Vegan Food Stand - Field of Greens - Veggie Cheese Steak - Washington Nationals Stadium

The Veggie Cheese Steak at Field of Greens – Section 113

Grilled Portobello Sandwich - Washington Nationals Park Stadium - Field of Greens - Vegan Food Stand

The Grilled Portobello Sandwich at Field of Greens – Section 113

Salads at Washington Nationals Park Stadium - Field of Greens - Vegan Food Stand

Veggie Chop Salad, Greek Salad, Fruit Cup, and Veg Out Cup at Field of Greens

Burrito fans can herald the return of Bullpen Burritos to Nationals Park. Bullpen Burritos was a fixture at the stadium when it opened in 2008, but the stand disappeared in 2010. Now it’s back, featuring steak, chicken or vegetarian burritos, plus the welcome addition of burrito bowls and salads, with a choice of salsas and pico de gallo.

Bullpen Burritos - Photo by Scott Allen/Washington Post

Bullpen Burritos Burrito Bowl (Photo: Scott Allen/Washington Post)

Fans up on the 200 level can now add a thai noodle stand, including vegetarian option other than the Shake Shake ‘Shroom Burger, to the popular food choices along the Scoreboard Walk. Intentional Wok can be found behind section 233, and offers a simple menu of pad thai, drunken noodles, or veggie noodles, all cooked by batch in woks and served in classic takeout food containers with chopsticks.

Nationals Park Chinese Food Stand - Intentional Walk - Washington Nationals Stadium Food Stand/Cart

Intentional Wok – Section 233

Nationals Park Chinese Food Stand - Intentional Wok - Stadium Menu

Intentional Wok Menu

Nationals Park Chinese Food Stand - Intentional Walk - Washington Nationals Stadium Food Stand/Cart

Pad Thai at Intentional Wok

Chinese Food Container at Intentional Wok Nationals Park

Intentional Wok serves noodles in traditional takeout food containers

And it doesn’t stop there. The Nats added another location for Ben’s Chili Bowl behind section 141, and adult beverage choices also received an upgrade, with two new carts serving local craft beers that will change throughout the season, plus several new outposts (near sections 113, 130, and 306) offering pre-mixed cocktails with barrel-aged bourbon.

To be clear, there have been good food options at Nationals Park for years. If you haven’t had Ben’s Chili Bowl Half Smoke, you haven’t had the full Nationals Park experience. The shawarma and falafel at Max’s Kosher Grill behind section 143 continue to be the sandwiches to beat in the stadium (but being strictly kosher, they are not open on Fridays and Saturdays). Jammin’ Island Barbeque makes great jerk chicken and ribs. Hard Times Cafe Cincinnati chili still warms the soul on cool evenings (and has the fastest service in the park), and Fluffy Thoughts Bakery behind section 135 is the undisputed dessert king. The Scoreboard Walk restaurants from Union Square Restaurant Group (Blue Smoke, Shake Shack, Box Frites, and El Verano) remain incredibly popular, and the team’s outside food policy is still the best in professional sports.

However it’s safe to say that until now, interesting and healthy food options for the average fan remained the exception in a sea of bland burgers and chicken fingers. The plethora of interesting new options should help both attract more fans and smooth out the lines at all of the food stands throughout the Park.

So what have you tried and what do you recommend?

“Red Carpet” look to blanket Nationals Park Concourse

At Saturday’s NatsFest, Washington Nationals owner Mark Lerner revealed during an interview on 106.7 The Fan that a “hot looking” red coating that “looks like you’re walking on carpeting” is among the changes in store for fans at Nationals Park this season.

Washington Nationals Mark Lerner at NatsfestNationals Park Concourse Red Floors“We knew it would take about five years, six years before it would get really dirty and you couldn’t get it clean anymore,” Lerner told 106.7′s Holden Kushner. “We put a textured coating on it that is absolutely fantastic, looks like you’re walking on carpeting.”

“Same color?” asked Kushner.

“No, it’ll actually be red,” Lerner said. “So it’s hot looking.”

The Nats’ principal owner also promised that in addition to new food offerings and computerized menu boards, the concession lines “will be a lot quicker… A lot of money’s being spent and we’re excited about it.”

Lerner described two new party suites available for single game rentals, and shared his impressions upon first meeting the new Nationals Manager Matt Williams.

You can listen to the entire interview at CBSLocal.com.

Update: Photo at right from the Nats

Why the Lerners want a roof over Nationals Park

News that the Lerners want to add a roof over Nationals Park has caused quite a Thanksgiving week stir among Nats fans, with many questioning the hubris of the request and others calling into question the necessity. Over at The Post, Adam Kilgore and James Wagner have compiled an analysis of rain delays and postponements showing that 88 games have been affected in the team’s first six seasons there.

Whether 88 is a big number or a small number can be debated, but that would be missing the point. The real question for the Lerners (and ultimately for the fans), is how many games had attendance impacted by weather. That number could easily be five times higher.

For better or worse, this is a team that depends on a la carte ticket sales. Even when there was a surge in season tickets after the 2012 season, the team capped sales at about half the stadium capacity, and that includes partial season ticket plans. I don’t know if that was an attempt at manufactured scarcity, or some philosophical statement by the owners, but unless the Nats win several World Series in a short period of time, it is likely to continue to be the state of things for the Washington Nationals.

It’s a much more complicated analysis, so I can only speak anecdotally, but it’s my observation that unless the Orioles, Yankees, or Red Sox are visiting, if the forecast is anything other than sunny and warm, attendance will be somewhere between 1/3 and 2/3 capacity. And of course, that’s just announced paid attendance. When the actual weather matches the forecast, the true attendance is always much lower. We’ve all been in Nationals Park when the forecast is cold and drizzly, and it turns out to be cold and drizzly. The place is pretty empty.

I’ve had to list a number of my tickets on StubHub over the years. The consistent #1 determinant of whether they sell is… the weather. When the forecast is bad, even when the game is played without postponement or delay, you can’t give them away. By contrast, when the weather is nice, tickets sell even if it’s the Padres or Astros in town.

For what it’s worth, bad weather includes the inevitable mid-summer heat waves that hit DC every year. When it’s 100 degrees outside and the air quality is Code Red for a day game, there may not be a delay, but the entire first base side of the stands becomes no man’s land.

I’m sure the Lerners have compiled and analyzed this data, and I’m sure it’s compelling.

This of course says nothing about whether a retractable roof would be an eyesore, or what circumstances would determine whether it’s opened or closed. There are surely negatives to the idea; but as a fan I want the team to be able to fill the stadium with other fans.

Filling every seat is the single biggest thing the Lerners can do to make for a better day at the ball park. It pumps the crowd and the team, it throws of the opposing pitchers, and it funds free agents and long-term contracts.

Would a roof drive away some fans? Would it be retractable? Would it be an eyesore and block the sun when the weather is nice? Should the Lerners pay for it themselves? Is it even possible to retrofit a roof onto an existing ball park? All good questions. But it’s a good conversation to have.

Photo: Chris Rief

Racing presidents, Nationals Park to be featured on finale of CBS’s The Amazing Race Sunday

 It looks like a mid 60s pennant to me. "Off the floor in '64"CBS’s The Amazing Race will feature Nationals Park, the Nats’ racing presidents and mascot Screech, as the season finale takes place in Washington, DC.

The episode was shot last December, and features a task in which participants are suspended from a zip wire stretching from the center field plaza to the top of the stadium, and toss baseballs as they fly above the mascots on the diamond below.

The episode airs this coming Sunday night at 8:00pm. Preview below.

Video: Today’s Chicken Sacrifice at Nationals Park

Washington Nationals Chicken Man Hugh Kaufman sacrificing a chickenEarlier today, we shared the full story of the chicken sacrifice at Nationals Park, performed by “Rubber Chicken Man” Hugh Kaufman in response to the team’s recent string of injuries.

Here now is the video chronicle, including notes on how to make a rubber chicken kosher, bonus theories about Ozzie Guillen’s voodoo dolls, and The Washington Post’s Dan Steinberg cracking up as the ritual is finally completed:

Canine Teddy fan wins Fan of the Game at Pups in the Park

If the 2012 elections were held today, Teddy Roosevelt has an early “leg up” on the canine vote.

Cachucha the pug of Adams Morgan at the Nationals Park Pups in the Park Day photo by Johanna DiazAdams Morgan pug Cachucha brought her owner Johanna Diaz to Nationals Park for Saturday’s “Pups in the Park” day, decked out to support her favorite racing president, Teddy Roosevelt.

Cachucha took the pre-game parade seriously, sporting an elaborate “float” that included a Teddy Roosevelt bobblehead doll mounted on her back.

“She was really hoping her float would give him an edge for a win,” said Diaz.
Let Teddy Win Dog T-Shirt“She was soaking in the glory of being on the field, and sending some good vibes for Teddy.”

Sadly, the pups simply proved to be a distraction for Roosevelt, but Cachucha got a consolation prize: She was featured on the HD scoreboard and voted fan of the game by the Nationals Park crowd.

“Teddy has always been her favorite,” added Diaz. “If she could wear a monocle, she would.”

With three more Pups in the Park promotions scheduled for this summer, perhaps Cachucha can start a whole canine cheering section for our favorite president.

…and if a float isn’t your dog’s thing, there’s always the Let Teddy Win T-Shirt for dogs (above).

Nationals Park photo courtesy of Johanna Diaz

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 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

Nationals quietly support candlelight vigil for Wilson Ramos

Vigil for Wilson Ramos at Nationals ParkThe Washington Nationals have remained silent on the Wilson Ramos kidnapping at the request of government and law enforcement officials, but that didn’t prevent the team from quietly supporting the impromptu candlelight vigil tonight in front of Nationals Park.

The vigil was organized entirely by fans via Twitter in a matter of hours. Those who braved freezing temperatures to show their support for the Ramos family arrived to find tables set up with coffee and hot chocolate, courtesy of the team.

The Nats also let it be known that the area around the center field gate fence is open territory for signs to be left in support of their catcher.

9:50pm UPDATE: The Ramos family has just confirmed that they received a call from authorities telling them that Wilson Ramos has been found and freed!

11:00pm UPDATE: Statement from Washington Nationals GM Mike Rizzo: “The news from Venezuela tonight is reassuring. Though details are limited and we have not yet talked directly with Wilson, we are thrilled with reports that he has been rescued and is being safely returned to his family. We greatly appreciate all the prayers and thoughts of all who have joined us in wishing for this conclusion to what has been a nightmarish 48 hours. We are eager to see Wilson and let him know just how many all over the world have been waiting for this news.”

Vigil for Wilson Ramos at Nationals ParkCandlelight Vigil for Wilson Ramos at Nationals ParkWilson Ramos Nationals Vigil SignCandlelight Vigil for Wilson Ramos at Nationals Park

And finally, just after midnight, from @educal1973 and Mauricio Centeno at El Carabobeño newspaper:

Wilson Ramos Rescued

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.

Phillies fan ejected for punching Thomas Jefferson during presidents race

It wasn’t a complete invasion, but busloads of Philadelphia fans were among the 24,875 at Nationals Park Thursday night to see Cliff Lee and Jordan Zimmermann go at it in the final game of the Nationals’ series vs. the Phillies.

Phillies fan reaches from stands, hits Nationals racing president Thomas JeffersonThe notorious boo-birds have earned a reputation for importing disruptive behavior to Nationals Park, and Thursday night was no exception, as the local MASN broadcast caught a spectator reaching into the field of play during the fourth-inning presidents race.

The fan appears to be reaching for a high five, then cocks his arm and slams Thomas Jefferson squarely in the face:

The fan wasn’t wearing team gear, but can there be any doubt where he’s from? UPDATE: We’re told that Nationals Park security “swarmed” him and immediately ejected him from the park.

After getting hit, Jefferson spun around but maintained his balance. Teddy Roosevelt was nearly able to take advantage and grab the victory, but he was outpaced by Abraham Lincoln in the stretch.

UPDATE: Confirmed.

Video courtesy of YouTube member lfahome

Changes for 2011 at Nationals Park

The new-look Nationals begin their first extended homestand at Nationals Park tomorrow, bringing a 4-5 record and a renewed sense of confidence to face the Philadelphia Phillies and Milwaukee Brewers beginning Tuesday night.

It’s an exciting time to be a Nats fan. The many changes on the field have the Natosphere buzzing, and fans heading to Nationals Park have a number of off-the-field changes to look forward to as well. Some of the highlights:

R.I.P. Natstown

With Stan Kasten officially out of the way, the Nationals Marketing department appears to have gotten its act together for 2011.

As we first saw when the new uniforms were announced, and observed on opening day, the team’s cacophony of colors, logos, and slogans has been wisely narrowed to a simple focus on the “Curly W” and the color red.

Yes, the seats are still painted blue, but that remains the exception as the curly W and the new, brighter red have taken over the flags, banners, uniforms, scoreboard, and ad campaigns for the team. For a team still building its identity, it’s a welcome evolution of the Nationals brand.

Accordingly, the original block “Nationals” logo has disappeared, as have all references to “Natstown.”

If you are an official citizen of Natstown, it appears that your passport will not be renewed.

In-between the action

Every new season brings a few changes to the complement of “down time” distractions for the casual fan. Among those is the player’s annual selection of personal walk-up music. If you’re wondering why you’re hearing Guns n Roses and Metallica at Nationals Park, take note. Some of the team’s newest players have brought a little different edge along with their walk-up themes.

Most front-and-center is the addition of radio personality Sarah Fraser to the in-stadium entertainment crew. As I wrote previously, I think she’s a real upgrade and hope readers agree.

Most exciting to fans of the presidents race may be the return of the “classic” racing presidents. Last year, during the All Star Break, the presidents received a significant facelift, with no explanation offered by the team.

It was the last we’d seen of the original, more menacing-looking presidents — until now. The “classic” presidents reappeared at this year’s auditions, and on opening day reclaimed their position as regulars at Nationals home games. Meanwhile, it appears that the “new look” presidents have been relegated to emergency backup and other command appearances.

Where to Park Yourself

New casual seating areas have been added outside the Red Loft, near the Miller Scoreboard Walk, and behind the centerfield plaza, in what was formerly the Kids Zone.

For those driving to Nationals Park, the team’s two discount parking options remain in place at lots HH ($5.00) and W ($10.00), but the private MarcParc lot at M and Half Streets has raised its
rate to $20/game.

Lots of Food Changes

Pastrami at Nationals Park? For the fourth time in as many years, the Taste of the Majors stands have been revamped, but the latest version of the menu is the truest to the original concept — with specialties from around the Nationals League East: a Philly hoagie, Atlanta Chicken and Waffle, Miami cuban sandwich, and from New York, that grilled pastrami on rye.

I can report that the latter was made with authentic Romanian pastrami and swiss, but despite coming right off the grill, was cold as ice.

Fans of the Rough Rider are mourning the elimination of Teddy’s Barbeque, but for a limited time, the popular stand has reemerged in a tent at the Miller Scoreboard Walk. You can get pulled pork and pulled chicken, but alas, no Rough Rider.

The tent will disappear soon, as soon as New York’s Blue Smoke, Shake Shack, Box Frites, and El Verano open behind the Scoreboard Walk.

Also new to the scoreboard walk is Jammin’ Island BBQ, adjacent to the Red Loft, featuring jerk chicken and jerk ribs cooked on an open grill. The menu mirrors some new options being offered to Club and Suite ticketholders in the Stars & Stripes Club, but it’s pricey for an outfield stand, with combo platters costing as much as $16.00.

Other new items at the Stars & Stripes Club include barbeque chicken nachos, braised short ribs, sweet potato fries, pork wingettes, and fish & chips.

Nationals Park regulars know that the most reliably speedy food line can always be found at Hard Times Cafe in the otherwise busy left field concourse.

This season, Hard Times has expanded to two additional locations within the main concourse, behind the first and third base lines. The stands offer all of your Hard Times favorites except for Chili Mac. This should put an end to the oh-so common question “Where’d you get those nachos?”

Along with Budweiser, two other long-time sponsors — NJ’s Curly W Pretzels and Giffords Ice Cream — appear to have completely disappeared from Nationals Park, leaving the Ben’s Chili Bowl Half Smoke as the only remaining local signature item (sorry Hard Times, your chili recipe is from Cincinnati).

The former Giffords stand has been replaced by Breyers Ice Cream, which features a knockout Caramel Cookie Dough, but alas, no more milkshakes.

There is one bit of good news for Nats fans looking for a local treat. The popular but elusive DC food truck District Taco has just been awarded a license by the city to park on the street near the Nationals Park centerfield gates on game days.

District Taco offers outstanding homemade tacos, burritos, and quesadillas that put Chipotle to shame.

The Nationals do allow outside food, as long as it’s packaged in a single serving soft-sided container (no hard plastics). Let’s hope the line at District Taco isn’t too long.

Race photo courtesy of Flickr member afagen.

New Nationals Park Co-Host Sarah Fraser

Personnel changes in the Nationals Park dugout were the main topic of discussion in the Natosphere this opening weekend, but outside the dugout, another newcomer was introduced to the stadium faithful.

Nationals Host Sarah FraserLong-time Nationals in-stadium host Clint Khoury has a new partner-in-crime for the NatsHD segments that appear on the Nationals Park scoreboard before and during the games.

Listeners to The Kane Show on DC’s Hot 99.5 FM will recognize the the Nats’ new self-described “Hype Girl” as Sarah Fraser, co-host of the top-rated morning drive program. Fraser also hosts her own late morning block called simply “The Sarah Show” from 10am-12pm. She also appears weekly on NBC 4′s “Daily Connection,” and has filled in as a traffic reporter on WTOP news radio.

A native of Maine, Fraser, 28, moved to the District after graduating from Mt. Holyoke College. On her website HeyFraz.com, she writes that she is taking classes at the DC Improv and working toward her debut as a stand-up comic.

Yes, I know the baseball purists would prefer to do away with in-game hosts altogether, but NatsHD pays the bills, and the kids and casual fans love it.

Sarah Fraser and Ryan ZimmermanThe co-host job has been a revolving door since Nationals Park opened, but if this opening weekend was any indication, the Nats have finally found a great counterpart to Clint.

Fraser is focused and full of energy — in this fan’s eyes, a definite and welcome upgrade!

Photos: Sarah Fraser

Rain hampers NatsFest, threatens opening day

A steady afternoon rain and temperatures in the 40s put a damper on the first-ever springtime NatsFest on Wednesday at Nationals Park, as many of the planned outdoor activities were moved, postponed, or canceled altogether.

An open batting practice had been billed as the main afternoon attraction,
Washington Nationals mascot Screech the Eagle at NatsFestbut the field remained covered for most of the day, leaving Nationals mascot Screech to pray for the sun to come out, and fans to wait until evening for meet-and-greet opportunities.

Fans were still invited to enter a raffle for a chance to race against the GEICO racing presidents, but the announcement of the winners was postponed, as was the race itself.
Washington Nationals players greet fans at NatsFest
Unlike previous years, there were no opportunities for fans to request autographs, but the change made for shorter lines and a much faster-moving meet-and-greet opportunity with nearly every opening day starter, plus a few players brought up from Florida for the event, including pitcher Stephen Strasburg and future stars Bryce Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg greets fans at NatsFest
Harper and Derrick Norris.

The forecast calls for a 70% chance of rain for Thursday’s season opener at Nationals Park. A team spokesman said that they would consider moving the game to Friday afternoon, but will not make that call until Thursday morning.

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