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 hot chicken parmesan sub that was drawing raves in the stands, a delicious but very messy hot roasted cauliflower sub with romesco and pickled vegetables (extra napkins required), a cold stuffed Italian hero, and the eponymous “Drewno,” a delicious (if pricey) house-made kielbasa with sauerkraut, named not for the Nat’s reliever, but for Chef Scott Drewno from DC’s The Source.

If you’re hungry, the G Italian hero is easily the largest sandwich served at any of the Nats Park stands. The Italian meats are high quality, but they are inexplicably dressed not only with oil and vinegar but also mayo. The 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

Mike Isabella's G Roasted Cauliflower Sandwich Nationals Park

Mike Isabella’s G Roasted Cauliflower Sandwich (extra napkins required)

Mike Isabella's G Italian Hero Sub Sandwich Nationals Park

Mike Isabella’s enormous G Italian Hero

Mike Isabella's Drewno G Sandwich Kielbasa Nationals Park

The Drewno features house-made kielbasa and sauerkraut

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 made-to-order steak, chicken or vegetarian burritos and burrito bowls, with a choice of toppings including rice, beans, guacamole, roasted tomatillo salsa, and pico de gallo.

Nationals Park Bullpen Burritos

Bullpen Burritos – Section 140

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

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