Natsfest begets a Bryce Harper meme

 Bryce Harper up in arms memeIt’s been a quiet winter here in Let Teddy Win World, but what better way to kick off the season and reignite Nats fan frenzy than a new Bryce Harper internet meme?

On the main stage at Saturday’s Natsfest, I caught Harper reacting with a shrug as he was announced winner of the afternoon’s Wheel of Fortune contest.

Today, Dave Brown at Yahoo!’s Big League Stew turned the photo into an internet meme, saying the photo was “sure to be iconic,” and calling for readers to download the “up in arms” photo and manipulate it for a bit of informal fun.

Here below the original are just a few of the entries to have appeared on Twitter so far.

Facing Stephen Strasburg and Tyler Clippard on stage Saturday, the hyper-competitive Harper had figured out quickly that there was no “Lose a Turn” option on the game wheel, and so he kept spinning and racking up dollars, refusing to guess or give up control until he had amassed enough points to leave Strasburg and Clippard in the dust.

Nationals radio personality and Wheel of Fortune game host Dave Jageler declared Harper the winner, and Harper gave the shrug that will apparently live on forever…

Brown is accepting entries via Twitter at @bigleaguestew.

No word yet on what either the criteria or the prize will be for the chosen winner.

Nationals “presidential announcement” planned for Saturday

Since Teddy Roosevelt’s historic first victory at the end of last season, the Nationals have been promising some new twists for the season ahead.

A giant John Kennedy was spotted outside Nationals Park after the final playoff game of 2012, leading some to speculate about expansion of the Rushmore Four. Rumors also swirled about retirement for Teddy, but Roosevelt himself has vehemently denied the possibility.

It appears that the speculation will finally end on Saturday at NatsFest, the team’s mid-winter fan festival. This Tweet came from team officials on Wednesday:

Nationals NatsFest Announcement Racing Presidents

Details here as soon as they are available.

Natsfest returns January 2013 at DC Convention Center

Bryce Harper at NatsFest 2011Jayson Werth and Michael Morse at NatsFest 2011Racing Presidents at NatsFest 2011The Washington Nationals have announced the return of NatsFest, an off-season fan festival featuring meet-and-greet opportunities with players, staff, and future prospects, plus interactive sessions, family activities, memorabilia, and of course racing presidents.

The winter weekend event was a hit with fans in previous years, but was poorly attended after being moved to a weekday in late March 2011. There was no NatsFest in 2012, and the team had been mum about whether the event would return.

NatsFest 2013 will take place Saturday, January 26 at DC’s Walter E. Washington Convention Center from 12:00pm – 4:00pm. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children. Children 2 and under are admitted free.

Season ticketholders get a $5.00 discount per ticket, and get an exclusive admission from 11:00am – Noon.

In previous years, lines for player autographs have stretched to over an hour. The Nationals hope to quell this problem by limiting autographs to those who purchase $20.00 “autograph vouchers.” The number of vouchers will be limited, and proceeds go to the Nationals Dream Foundation.

There will be separate area for kids including face painting, balloon art, inflatables, and mascot appearances, including the racing presidents.

Full details at Nationals.com.

UPDATE: Fan activities will include player and mascot photo stations (this is separate from the pre-purchased autograph tickets), “Player Story Times” for kids, caricatures, games, a trophy display (Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards?), and booths with giveaways including MASN, 106.7 The Fan, and the Junior National Kids Club.

Major league players in attendance will include new off-season additions Dan Haren and Denard Span, plus Tyler Clippard, Ian Desmond, Ross Detwiler, Danny Espinosa, Christian Garcia, Gio Gonzalez, Bryce Harper, Steve Lombardozzi, Ryan Mattheus, Tyler Moore, Drew Storen, Kurt Suzuki, Chad Tracy, Jayson Werth, and Jordan Zimmermann. No word yet on whether Rafael Soriano will be there, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

Notably absent from the list are manager Davey Johnson (traveling in Africa), third baseman Ryan Zimmerman (on his honeymoon), pitcher Stephen Strasburg (hosting his annual charity 5K run in San Diego), and first baseman Adam LaRoche.

Minor Leaguers on board for NatsFest include Corey Brown, Brian Goodwin, Nathan Karns, Ryan Perry, Anthony Rendon, Will Rhymes, and Matt Skole.

GM Mike Rizzo, owner Mark Lerner, and broadcasters Bob Carpenter, F.P. Santangelo, Charlie Slowes, and Phil Wood are also scheduled to participate in special presentations and Q&A sessions.

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.

$5 tickets for today’s NatsFest and a chance to race the presidents

If you’ve ever wanted to run against the racing presidents, tonight may be your chance. Fifteen children and five adults will have that opportunity tonight at at Nationals Park.

The third annual NatsFest begins late this afternoon to kick off the Nationals home season. Tickets are free for season ticket holders, $10.00 for other adults, and $5.00 for kids under twelve. As of this morning, 1/2-price $5.00 tickets are also available at Goldstar.com.

New to this year’s event is a free presidents race raffle, with registration beginning at 4:00pm at the racing presidents photo station. Fifteen children and five adults will be selected to race on the Nationals Park warning track against George, Tom, Abe, and Teddy, in a total of four heats that will take place between 7:00pm – 7:45pm.

Other attractions at this year’s NatsFest include and on-field meet and greet with players on the warning track, Q&A sessions with players, broadcasters, coaches, and MLB legends, live music, batting cages, a silent auction, kids zone, mini-museum, and much more.

Full schedule here.

Nats fans rewarded for braving the cold

With wind chills in the single digits and a fresh blanket of snow covering DC, Washington Nationals fans proved their loyalty as they braved the ice and snow to line up for the 11:00am opening of today’s 2nd annual NatsFest at Nationals Park.

For those suffering from withdrawal after four months without baseball, the day offered a full slate of player interaction, hot stove talk, and optimism about the season ahead.

Fans got an opportunity meet many many of the team’s high-profile off-season roster acquisitions, including Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, Jason Marquis, and Brian Bruney, at scheduled photo opportunities and autograph sessions. The team also had Ryan Zimmerman’s Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards on display in the Lexus Presidents Club.

Rob Dibble was the lively host of a series of Q&A sessions running all afternoon in the Red Porch restaurant and simulcast live on the HD scoreboard and on TVs throughout the ball park. The sessions featured General Manager Mike Rizzo, Manager Jim Riggleman, team president Stan Kasten, and baseball know-it-all George Will.

Dibble did a great job of driving the discussion, and set the panelists up with a few questions of his own. Rizzo, Riggleman, and Katzen offered no surprises (if you haven’t heard, they are looking for a middle infielder and don’t want to rush Stephen Strasburg, Jesus Flores, or Ian Desmond) . They received few hardball questions from the fans, who are enjoying a honeymoon with the newly-named GM and Manager, but the relative lack of surprises felt welcome when compared to previous years under Jim Bowden.

The format was a nice improvement over last year, and gave each executive a chance to focus on his area of expertise. Riggleman talked game management philosophy, and Kasten fielded a bevy of questions about marketing and broadcast deals (all but promising expanded radio reach by 2011).

After skipping the Winter Caravan, the Nationals racing presidents made their first official team event appearance of the year, greeting guests as they entered the ball park and cavorting around the Club level through the afternoon. Teddy appeared well-rested and fully-recovered from last season’s hamstring injury, and was caught silently assuring many inquiring fans that 2010 would be his year.

Schedule for Sunday’s NatsFest 2010

The week-long Washington Nationals Winter Caravan comes to a climactic end this Sunday, January 31 with the second annual NatsFest at Nationals Park.

Ryan Zimmerman at NatsFest, photo by Eve Roytshteyn MLB.comNationals fans who caught last year’s inaugural event were treated to an unusual level of access to players and management, as well as behind-the-scenes opportunities to visit the home and visitor clubhouses, batting cage, Lexus Presidents Club and more. This is a can’t-miss event for the true Nats fan.

General admission tickets are available at nationals.com for $10 (adults) and $5 (kids), and include parking in the B & C garages adjacent to the centerfield plaza. Season ticket holders have until midnight Saturday night to claim their tickets for free.

The full schedule of events is available for download here. This year’s schedule includes photo and autograph sessions with players, clubhouse tours, batting cage sessions, a Kids Zone with the Nationals racing presidents, various giveaways & charity auctions, plus Q&A sessions with GM Mike Rizzo, Manager Jim Riggleman, team President Stan Kasten, and journalists George Will and Tim Kurkjian.

Last year’s Q&A sessions drew packed crowds, so this year, the sessions have been moved to the Red Porch Restaurant, and guests are being asked to register on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 11:00am in the Exxon Strike Zone. If you don’t want to ask a question yourself, don’t worry. Each session will be simulcast throughout the stadium. In fact, last year when we failed to get into Manny Acta’s Q&A session, we watched from the comfort of the Nats’ clubhouse. Nice!

Photo of Ryan Zimmerman by Eve Roytshteyn/MLB.com.

Natsfest and Spring Training “Pre Sale” tickets available now

The Nationals are making 2010 Spring Training single game tickets available this morning at 10:00am for Nats Insiders HERE. The Presale runs today, Wednesday, January 20 at 10:00 a.m. through Friday, January 22 at 11:59 p.m. Use the passcode SPRING to purchase tickets. Tickets will go on sale to the general public on Saturday, January 23 at 10:00 a.m.

2010 NatsFest tickets also go on sale to the general public this morning HERE. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids. Season ticket holders can claim a limited number of tickets for free.

Natsfest and Winter Caravan Schedule Announced

The Washington Nationals today announced the schedule for their 2010 “Winter Caravan”, in which members of the team will tour the Washington, DC area to meet fans and promote the upcoming season before heading south for spring training.

Participating players and front office staff include new acquisitions Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, Brian Bruney, and Matt Capps; manager Jim Riggleman; and players Adam Dunn, Ryan Zimmerman, John Lannan, Nyjer Morgan, Josh Willingham, Tyler Clippard, and Craig Stammen. Prospects Danny Espinoza, Ryan Speier, and Drew Storen will also participate in the first 3 days of activities. Nats broadcaster Rob Dibble will moderate the sessions.

The 10-stop tour will run from January 27th to January 31st, culminating in the second annual Natsfest on January 31st at Nationals Park.

Wednesday, January 27
11:00am – 12:00pm
Unity Health Care’s Southwest Health Center, Washington, DC
Meet-and-Greet and Book Donation

1:00pm – 3:00pm
Hard Times Cafe, Arlington, VA
Autograph Session

5:00pm – 7:00pm
Build-A-Bear Workshop, McLean, VA
Autograph Session

Thursday, January 28
12:00pm – 1:00pm
Ben’s Chili Bowl, Washington, DC

2:00pm – 4:00pm
USO of Metropolitan Washington Warehouse, Ft. Belvoir, VA
Care Package Assembly

6:00pm – 8:00pm
Potomac Nationals Pfitzer Stadium, Woodbridge, VA
Autograph Session

Friday, January 29
1:00pm – 4:00pm
Hot Stove Luncheon hosted by David Gregory,
Nationals Park, Washington, DC (Ticketed Event)

5:00pm – 8:00pm
Washington Capitals Game, Verizon Center, Washington, DC
Autograph Session

Saturday, January 30
11:00am
Children’s National Medical Center, Washington, DC
Atrium Visit with Patients

1:30pm – 3:30pm
Prince George’s Sports & Learning Complex, Landover, MD
Press Conference and Skills Demonstration & Autograph Session

Sunday, January 31
11:00am – 4:00pm
NatsFest, Nationals Park, Washington, DC (Ticketed Event)

If the second annual NatsFest is as good as the first, it will be a guaranteed good time for Nats fans. Expect long lines for to get autographs and take photos with Nationals players, but fans will otherwise roam freely in Nationals Park, tour the clubhouse, participate in question-and-answer sessions with the likes of Stan Kasten, Mike Rizzo, Jim Riggleman and George Will, and even take your shot in the Nationals batting cages for a $1 donation to the Nationals Dream Foundation. Nationals Season Ticket Holders will receive up to four complimentary tickets per account and additional tickets should be available soon for purchase at Nationals.com.

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