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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Nats invite fans to state their case for invitations to a private clubhouse party

Nats Clubhouse SocialIn March of 2015, Nationals Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer Valerie Camillo asked her team to identify the Nats fans most deserving of a “thank you” for their support of the team on social media. Barely two dozen received cryptic invitations to what became the first Nats Clubhouse Social, a private party in the Nationals Clubhouse a few days before the start of the season. The evening offered an intimate and exclusive gathering of rabid Nats fans and special guests, including Camillo herself, principal owner Mark Lerner, broadcaster FP Santangelo, the racing presidents, and more.

This year, the Nationals announced via social media that they are repeating the event, and this time asking fans to nominate themselves:

Like the invitation says, get creative, and use hashtag #NatsClubHouseSocial. You have until 5:00pm.

Photos & Video from Star Wars Day at Nationals Park: Jedi Knights, stormtroopers, an epic battle between costumed racing presidents, and Teddy Roosevelt dressed as a Wookie

Sunday was the first Star Wars Day at Nationals Park. The Nats transformed every aspect of the fan experience into an intergalactic voyage, but the hit of the day by far was the Nationals’ racing presidents, who dressed as characters from the movies and were swarmed by the sellout crowd wherever they went.

Despite the brutally hot weather and the 5-0 beating that the team took at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers, it’s fair to say that the promotion was a resounding success, though when it came to the 4th-inning presidents race, the Nats forgot two important rules: the good guys always prevail, and you always let the wookie win.

More on that in a moment, but since a picture is worth a thousand words, here without further ado is our photo compendium of the Nats Star Wars Day.

First, representing the evil empire:

Nats racing president “Honest” Abraham Lincoln was Darth Vader (of course):Nationals Star Wars Day Darth Vader Abraham Lincoln

Nats racing president George Washington as Darth Maul:Darth Maul Nationals Star Wars Day

Nats racing president William Howard Taft as Boba Fett:Nationals Star Wars Day Racing Presidents Boba Fett

Next, representing the good guys:

Nats racing president newcomer Calvin Coolidge as Luke Skywalker:Nats Star Wars Day Luke Skywalker Racing Presidents Calvin Coolidge

Nats racing president Thomas Jefferson as, yes, Princess Leia:Nationals Star Wars Day Princess Leia Racing Presidents Jefferson

…and Nats racing president Teddy Roosevelt as Chewbacca the wookie:Nationals Star Wars Day Teddy Roosevelt Chewbacca Wookie

The inspired costume for Teddy was a seeming nod to the Let Teddy Win movement, leading some in the stands to adopt a “Let the Wookie Win” chant during the 4th inning race, a reference to this notable clip:

The costumes certainly didn’t stop with the racing presidents. Actors posing as Luke, Han, Leia and all of your favorite characters were stationed throughout Nationals Park to pose for photos with fans, but the most overwhelming presence was that of the evil empire, which stationed stormtroopers, imperial guards and officers both on and off the field.

Darth Vader makes his entrance:Darth Vader Nationals Star Wars Day

Imperial guards, officers, and stormtroopers:Washington Nationals Park Star Wars Day Costumes

Emperor Palpatine and the evil galactic empire deliver the lineup card for the Dodgers: Nationals Star Wars Day evil dodgers

Bryce Harper is surrounded by Stormtroopers during the national anthem:Nationals Star Wars Day Bryce Harper

R2D2 in the house: Nationals Star Wars Day R2D2

Jedi Master Screech the Eagle: Nationals Star Wars Day Screech

Fans got creative in ways too numerous to mention, and several were selected to go on the field and help introduce the players.

Star Wars Day Nationals Park fans costumes

Nationals Star Wars Day Costumes

Nationals Park Star Wars Day Costumes

On Nats HD, PA announcer Jerome Hruska used a voice filter to sound more like Yoda, and introduced the epic battle to come in classic Star Wars fashion. When it came time to introduce the players, every Dodger was represented as an imperial stormtrooper, while every member of the Nationals was given the hero treatment.

Nationals Park Star Wars Day Scoreboard

Washington Nationals Park Star Wars Day

Nationals Park Star Wars Day Max Scherzer

Finally, there was that matter of the presidents race. The fourth inning ritual started with the famous Star Wars Cantina music, and then pitted the galactic empire against the rebel alliance as Darth Vader (Abe Lincoln), Boba Fett (William Howard Taft), and Darth Maul (George Washington) took on Princess Leia (Thomas Jefferson), Chewbacca (Teddy Roosevelt), and Luke Skywalker (Calvin Coolidge) in a relay race.

Teddy (Chewbacca) handed Coolidge (Skywalker) a big lead in the anchor leg, but George (Darth Maul) passed Cal and engaged him in a light saber battle on the first base line.

Racing Presidents Star Wars Day Luke Skywalker Darth Maul

Cal lost his light saber, George took the win, and in keeping with what transpired on the field, the evil empire prevailed.

Video for LetTeddyWin.com by lfahome

Nationals Park introduces Pepe Food Truck by chef José Andrés

The Nationals’ debuted another new local food option for fans at Nationals Park with the introduction of Pepe Food Truck by celebrity Spanish chef José Andrés.

Jose Andres Pepe Truck Nationals Park

Jose Andres Pepe Truck Nationals Park Pollo Frito

The spicy and rich Pollo Frito at Pepe Food Truck

Jose Andres Pepe Truck Nationals Park Mushroom sandwich

The Elana, featuring Portobello mushrooms and carmelized onions on crispy bread

The truck, named “favorite truck in all of Washington” by Washingtonian Magazine, made its debut inside the right field plaza outside the new team store on Friday night.

Like the popular celebrity sandwich stand G by Mike Isabella on the first base side of the concourse, the small menu features a handful of premium-priced sandwiches with gourmet ingredients.

Pepe by José Andrés stands out from other food options at Nationals Park in three significant ways. First, unlike other sandwich stands in the Park, the sandwiches here are served piping hot. On Friday night, even after a long walk back to the opposite side of the stadium, our sandwiches were hot and toasty, but a welcome departure from the typical pre-made sandwich or frigid bun.

Second, the menu will not be fixed. On Friday night, the four sandwiches included a spicy fried chicken sandwich, a confit chicken breast sandwich with bacon, a rich “sausage burger”, and a dynamite vegetarian sandwich with portabello mushrooms and carmelized onions on a delightfully crispy bun.

Finally, you won’t find Pepe Food Truck at every game. In true food truck fashion, you’ll have to pounce at the opportunity when you see it, because it may be gone the next minute. Pepe won’t be at Nationals Park on Saturday, but they’ll be back for Sunday’s series finale.

Friday’s Menu:

Jose Andres Pepe Truck Nationals Park Menu

Calvin Coolidge Bobblehead added to Washington Nationals promotion schedule

The Washington Nationals will give away Calvin Coolidge bobbleheads to the first 25,000 fans in attendance at the September 21 game vs. the Baltimore Orioles.

Calvin Coolidge Bobblehead Washington NationalsThe giveaway was revealed as part of the Nationals’ ongoing partnership with the White House Historical Association, which includes signage on the Nationals Park left-field garage honoring a Coolidge first pitch, in-game White House history quizzes, and promotion of the annual Official White House Christmas ornament (which this year honors the 30th president).

The team announced the addition of Coolidge as the sixth of the racing presidents on Wednesday.

When the Orioles visit Nationals Park, tickets are often at a premium, and the addition of the team’s first Coolidge bobblehead makes it a hotter ticket still. On StubHub, ticket prices have already risen for the Monday night game.

Our promotion/giveaway schedule has been updated accordingly.

Nationals Park to debut new team store and food concession Tuesday (menu)

The Washington Nationals announced that the long-awaited opening of the new flagship Nationals Park team store will arrive Tuesday night as the Nats open a homestand vs. the New York Yankees.

Nationals Park Virginia Country KitchenAlso opening Tuesday is the newest locally-themed concession, Virginia Country Kitchen, behind section 113 on the 3rd base side, serving buttermilk biscuit sandwiches, house made kettle chips, and Virginia-made beverages.

The new team store on the centerfield plaza has been under contruction since before the 2014 season, and will be more than double the size of the former flagship store across the plaza. That location will eventually be turned into a restaurant.

Here’s the full Virginia Country Kitchen menu, courtesy of the Reston Patch:

    • Virginia Ham Biscuit: Country Ham, Cheddar Cheese, Apple Butter
    • Old Dominion Chicken Biscuit: Crispy Chicken Breast, Pickle Chips, Firecracker Ranch
    • TJ’s Mac-n-Cheese: Inspired by Virginia made cheeses
    • Virginia Crunch: Popcorn, Smoked Bacon, Bourbon Caramel Sauce, Virginia Roast Peanuts
    • Blue Ridge Bourbon and Tea: Virginia’s Filibuster Bourbon, Peach Schnapps, Iced Tea, Mint
    • Beverages including Redd’s Apple Ale and Star Hill Grateful Pale Ale, Two Shillings Red Wine and James River White Wine from Williamsburg Winery

Photo:JDLand

Fans at Nationals Park can now douse their own “HarpCake” with chocolate syrup

Max Scherzer Bryce Harper Chocolate SyrupThe HarpCake cupcake at Nationals Park by Fluffy ThoughtsAfter Bryce Harper’s walk-off home run Saturday, fans watched as pitcher Max Scherzer doused the outfielder with chocolate syrup, a ritual Scherzer created this season as an alternative to the traditional shaving cream pie in the face.

Beginning Sunday at Nationals Park, any fan can have the opportunity to reproduce the feat, perhaps even as a means of summoning another walkoff.

The exemplary bakers at Fluffy Thoughts Bakery, known for the Teddy Roosevelt and Jayson Werth cupcakes they sell in their stand behind section 135 at Nationals Park, are introducing the HarpCake, a “funfetti” cupcake topped with vanilla buttercream and chocolate, complete with an edible fondant hat plus brohawk and eye black.

More importantly, anybody purchasing one of these little bundles gets to douse it in all the chocolate syrup they want.

“We are trying it out for today, and if it works out we will have it for the next homestand as well,” said Owner/Cake Artist Lara Stein. “You just have to purchase a HarpCake and then go to town with the chocolate syrup. Put on as much as you would like! Who doesn’t love chocolate syrup?”

Demonstration video below. The HarpCake runs $6.50 at the Fluffy Thoughts stand behind section 135, while supplies last. And by the way, the cupcakes are outstanding.

The HarpCake cupcake at Nationals Park by Fluffy Thoughts

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