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

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,102 other followers

%d bloggers like this: