Voting open for Clint’s new Nationals Park co-host

Nationals Park in-game host Clint Khoury has drawn more than occasional scorn from those purists who think the stadium hype during games distracts from the baseball at-hand. If you fall into that category, then it appears you are due either for some relief, or for double the pain, depending on your perspective.

The Washington Nationals have opened up voting for the new co-host at Nationals ParkFans at Saturday’s Washington Nationals exhibition game vs. the Baltimore Orioles were asked throughout the night to vote via text message for the new Nationals “co-host,” with profiles of the three contestants — all women and all beauty pageant veterans — repeatedly shown on the giant HD scoreboard (photo courtesy of fellow Nats blogger Miss Chatter).

Now the Nationals have opened the voting to the general public, with votes being accepted online now through Tuesday, April 14, at 3:00pm.

Kate MichaelKate Michael could have the inside track on local votes, as she has been an emerging personality in DC media for several years, and knows a few things about promoting herself on the internet. The former Senate staffer and Miss District of Columbia threw out the first pitch at a 2007 Nats game (alas, quite weakly), and represented DC in the Miss America 2007 pageant. She boasts a personal web site, a separate blog called K Street Kate, and over 700 followers on Twitter. Her enthusiasm for new media could barely be contained on a recent episode of internet talk show The District Dish:

Guerin AustinGuerin Austin is a former Miss Nebraska USA (2004), and for what it’s worth appears to have become blonde only recently.

The self-proclaimed “military brat” claims to have moved over 20 times, and is a former competitive figure skater with a degree in broadcast journalism and experience as a TV journalist and host.

What Austin lacks in DC connections she appears to make up for in “emcee” experience on a variety of television shows. Her demo reel gives a pretty good sense of what she’d be like as Nationals Park co-host:

Yolanda MakleYolanda Makle is the only one of the three contestants who has experience with the Nationals, having spent last season as a member of the Nat Pack while juggling a full-time job as a telecommunications engineer (I caught this photo of Makle during the 7th inning stretch at last season’s Nationals Park 70s Night).

The striking DC mother of two is another pageant circuit veteran, having represented Puerto Rico in the 2006 Miss United States pageant and currently holding the title Ms. Belleza Latina 2009. She is an active volunteer in the community, has a blog and boasts just a handful of followers on Twitter.

Makle’s community service, DC roots, love of sports, and experience on The Nat Pack might otherwise make her a favorite in my book, but I don’t think I could cast my vote for somebody who openly calls Abe Lincoln her favorite racing president. Ouch.

Online voting ends Tuesday, April 14, at 3:00pm, with the winner to be announced at the Nationals game vs. the Marlins on Friday, April 17th.

Your chance to sing the National Anthem at Nationals Park

The Washington Nationals have announced that they will be hosting open auditions this Saturday, March 7 for those who wish to sing the National Anthem this season at Nationals Park.

Angela Calo sings the National Anthem at Nationals ParkThe first 100 performers to register through e-mail at anthem@nationals.com will have the opportunity to show the powers that be that they have the pipes to perform during a Washington Nationals home game this season. All applicants will be asked to perform the anthem behind home plate facing the seating bowl as they would during the season.

Applicants are asked to include the following in their e-mail:
– Performance Resume (If applicable)
– Headshot (or recent picture)
– Voice (and Instrument type, if applicable)

On Saturday, registration will begin at noon and end promptly at 12:30pm, at the Centerfield gates. Parking will be available in Lot C, located on the corner of First and N Streets, SE. Only the person auditioning will be allowed to enter the ballpark, except for contestants under the age of 18 who must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Renditions must be kept under 90 seconds.

If you can’t make it Saturday, you can still send an application via email along with a tape, but Nationals Entertainment Director Tom Davis reports that the team receives thousands of requests, so showing up Saturday may be your best bet to stand out.

My vote, however, goes to these kids!:

Billy Joel and Elton John to perform at Nationals Park in Washington DC this summer

As promised last week, the Washington Nationals announced today that the first-ever rock concert at Nationals Park will be a blockbuster.

Bill Joel and Elton John will perform at Nationals ParkBill Joel and Elton John will give a joint concert at Nationals Park on Saturday, July 11, at 7:30pm, as part of their Face to Face tour.

According to the Nationals, John and Joel “will open the concert together with a series of duets, playing twin pianos and trading vocals. Each artist will then perform a set with their own band. The grand finale reunites the two at center stage with their supporting musicians for a closing encore.”

Tickets go on sale on Saturday, February 28 at 10 a.m. through Tickets.com.

Presidents Race on ice tomorrow following Presidents Day weekend auditions

A record number of contestants showed up at Nationals Park today for what has quickly become an annual Presidents Day weekend ritual in Washington, DC — the Washington Nationals presidents race auditions.

Seventy finalists — 20 more than the previous year — were invited to compete for the approximately 20 open spots on the Nationals’ mascot team.

As was the case at last year’s auditions, Teddy Roosevelt failed to make an appearance (he is “in training” for the upcoming season, says Nationals Entertainment Coordinator Tom Davis), so the finalists took turns racing and performing as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln. As always, SBF at the Nats320 Blog has a fantastic recap of the days activities, along with more photos. There was a nice video story over at WLJA News, and the following from WTOP News and The Washington Times, respectively:

[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8kRyzTTG-4]

Lost in the excitement over today’s auditions has been the news that tomorrow, Presidents Day, will mark the first-ever Nationals presidents race on ice. Members of the Nat Pack are heading to Long Island, New York for a running of the presidents race on skates between periods of tomorrow’s hockey game between the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins. I’m counting on Teddy to show up for that spectacle, but hope he doesn’t injure himself before we even get to spring training!

Photo courtesy of Nats320

Ideas to improve the Nationals Park experience

The Red Porch at Nationals ParkThis morning, Steven over at the Fire Jim Bowden blog posted his ideas for improving the fan experience at Nationals Park. Some of the ideas may not be practical, but I hope Stan Kasten takes it seriously. Some of the no-brainers include allowing fans to watch batting practice, and calling off the security guards when a fan throws back an opposing team’s home run. And yes, I’d like to know what happened to that planned big baseball over the red loft.

Possibly the best and biggest no-brainer of an idea is opening up the gates after the 11th inning and during the Saturday night movies. You’d be giving something away for free without cannibalizing revenues, boost concession sales, and specifically give back and build relationships with the community immediately surrounding Nationals Park. Check it out.

The sun sets on the first season at Nationals Park

With the Washington Nationals on the road, and the season in it’s final month, it’s been a quiet couple of weeks at Nationals Park. The biggest news was the announcement that season ticket prices for 2009 would be lowered in several sections around the stadium. The outfield seats had been the most overpriced, but it’s good to see the team has recognized the mistake and corrected things. Next season, the TV cameras may still show empty seats behind the batter, but there will at least be a chance we’ll see butts in the outfield seats when they show a pitcher.

Nationals ParkAs the sun sets on the first season at Nationals Park, what better excuse for catching one last ball game than to check out some of these cheaper sections for next season. Good tickets are available at nationals.com (use coupon code EMETS for 30% off selected seats to the next series), and despite the ongoing negative ad campaign by Metro, parking at Nationals park remains cheap, easy, and plentiful!

The Mets, Padres, and Marlins will be in town for ten games, and the team is pulling out all the stops to fill the home stretch with promotions:

Tue 9/16: Free T-Shirt Tuesday
Wed 9/17: St. Patrick’s celebration with free green Curly W hats
Fri 9/19: Free camouflage Curly W floppy hats
Sat 9/20: Free team photo & schedules + Saturday night move “Field of Dreams”
Sun 9/21: Free kids backpack and Family Fun Day activities
Tue 9/23: Free T-Shirt Tuesday
Wed 9/24: Free Curly W fleece scarf
Thu 9/25: Fan appreciation night

Of course, with the campaign season now in full swing, we could also see the presidents race take on some election-season overtones. With the candidates all trying to position themselves as outsiders, maybe it’s time for the original original maverick — Teddy Roosevelt — to taste victory!

Photo by Flickr member Liliang

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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