Nationals presidents race to opening day, Abe gets endorsement from Chris Christie

Governor Chris Christie endorses Abe Lincoln Washington Nationals Racing PresidentsIf you haven’t been following the Washington Nationals racing presidents on social media, this week wouldn’t be a bad time to start. Teddy Roosevelt and his big-headed compatriots  are making daily appearances around the DC area as part of a countdown to opening day campaign, and giving prizes to folks who show up and share on social media. More importantly, following their “workouts” has been pretty entertaining (in between they’ve even been sharing some classic GIFs from this website).

The presidents have conducted workouts at the Lincoln Memorial, National Harbor, and Farragut Square, and made appearances at a DC United match, a Navy baseball game (where Abe picked up an endorsement from NJ governor Chris Christie), the White House Easter Egg Roll, and the Maryland Police Academy. On Thursday, they’ll be at TC Williams High School, and Sunday at a University of Maryland baseball game. In between, they’ll be holding exhibition races at Nationals Park on Friday and Saturday.

Some highlights:

 

Photo:Joshua McKerrow/The Baltimore Sun

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Fans choice bobblehead voting now open – Here are the choices

The Washington Nationals have revealed the choices and opened the voting for the “fans choice” bobblehead giveaway scheduled for Friday night, September 9.

Fans can choose from among 30 players, including many who will not likely make the 25-man roster, but NOT third baseman Anthony Rendon (who has previously had a gnome but not a bobblehead).

Choices are Aaron Barrett, Wilmer Difo, Matt Grace, Nick Lee, Daniel Murphy, Ben Revere, Joe Ross, Blake Treinen, Chris Bostick, Stephen Drew, Taylor Jordan, Jose Lobaton, Jonathan Papelbon, Felipe Rivero, Pedro Severino, Trea Turner, AJ Cole, Brian Goodwin, Shawn Kelley, Rafael Martin, Oliver Perez, Tanner Roark, Sammy Solis, Matt den Dekker, Abel De Los Santos, Trevor Gott, Spencer Keiboom, Tyler Moore, Yusmeiro Petit, Clint Robinson, and Michael A. Taylor.

The wide variety of choices is great, but the huge number of options mean a likely free-for-all in which 10% of the votes may be more than enough to win. With only 24 hours to vote, there may not be much time for lobbying by the players. Here’s hoping most votes are limited to likely big leaguers such as Murphy, Revere, Ross, Lobaton, Rivero, Papelbon, Turner, den Dekker, Robinson, and Moore.

This is the second time the Nationals have run a fans choice bobblehead promotion. The first time was 2014, when fans selected relief pitcher Tyler Clippard over manager Matt Williams and other teammates.

Voting is open now at Nationals.com and ends Friday morning at 10:00am ET.

How new on-field netting will affect fans at Nationals Park

The Washington Nationals announced Thursday that the on-field netting behind home plate will be expanded to surround most of the infield to the outer edges of both dugouts in 2016. The move is in response to new Major League Baseball guidelines regarding field netting, issued in December.

New Nationals Park Net Expanded Infield

The new netting at Nationals Park will extend to the end of each dugout.

Washington Nationals Rubber Chicken Man Hugh Kaufman

Fan-player interaction like this will now have to be conducted through a net

Rubber Chicken Man Hugh Kaufman delivers chicken soup to a recovering Ian Desmond

“Rubber Chicken Man” Hugh Kaufman delivers chicken soup to a recovering Ian Desmond

Foul Ball Nationals Park - by Scott Ableman

Expect fewer balls to be tossed into the stands at Nationals Park

Nat Pack Washington Nationals Park

No word yet on whether the netting will affect the Nat Pack’s ability to interact with fans from atop the dugout

The move means a significant increase in the number of fans at Nationals Park who will must view most of the action through a net. Most obviously affected are fans in sections 127 through 129 along the first baseline, and sections 116 through 118 along the 3rd baseline. However, fans in adjacent sections will also be affected, depending on how far back they sit. It remains to be seen whether the new netting will be high enough to affect fans in the Club level as well.

The impact on the Dugout Box and Infield Box sections will be many:

Fewer autographs. Players have historically stopped to sign autographs well before the game starts. This will presumably be limited now to the outfield foul territory.

Less fan interaction. Nationals players have a history of interacting with fans behind the dugout, most notably “Rubber Chicken Man” Hugh Kaufman, who tosses bubble gum to players and has even been known to bring them chicken soup.

Fewer balls for kids. Players, coaches, and ball boys have always loved tossing balls to kids sitting behind the dugout during each game. The netting will virtually eliminate this.

Better photo equipment required. For fans behind the dugout who like to take photos of the action, an advanced camera lens with manual focus and a very large aperture will be needed to “blur out” the netting.

Millions of blurry photos and videos. Say goodbye to crisp close-up smartphone photos and videos of game-winning at bats. Any camera that relies on auto-focus will inevitably focus on the net, and not the action beyond it.

Fewer goodies? Fans in these sections surely have more than their share of t-shirts by now, but it remains to be seen whether the new netting will interfere with the Nat Pack’s ability to use the top of the dugout for 7th inning stretch, t-shirt tosses, etc.

We’ll look to answer these questions, including how many fans are affected, during the exhibition games before the start of the season.

Photos: The Washington Post, Cheryl Nichols

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