Last night was my first time back in the ballpark since last season. It’s funny because during the off season, when I thought about the ballpark I could literally do a mental POV scan of the ballpark as if I was just there yesterday.
No, baseball season hasn’t officially started yet. Yesterday was an exhibition game against the New York Yankees. It’s like that very last Spring Training game but not in sunny West Palm Beach or any other Spring Training facilities. Opening Day, the official start of the baseball season, is only 2 days away.
I arrived after first pitch after a mad dash home from work to change then hop on the metro. Matter of fact it was the top of the 2nd inning when I arrived and I found is already on the board with 2 runs to nothing. Apparently, I had missed Anthony Rendon’s (#6 and again, one of the leagues best 3rd basemen…PAY THE MAN already!) 2-run home run that put us on there (the board).
Having brought everything I needed with me, I went right to my seat after grabbing a free Curly W drawstring bag being handed out. It’s cute…basic…and I’m probably right in assuming they were handed out as an attempt to make this new No Backpack Policy easier to swallow. It kinda sucks. I have this really cute Nationals Hershel Supply Co. backpack I spent some decent money on sometime last season (I think) and can’t even carry it into the ballpark.
While at my seat, I spent time talking to a couple (L & K) who I’d never met before but who are also NATS Plus season plan holders. We talked about Spring Training, swapped demonstrations on navigating through the new MLB BallPark App and the Red Carpet Rewards function (we really needed to know how to access our eCash), and of course the game itself. We even briefly talked about this baby blog of mine.
Oh! The Nats are also stepping their social media game up. Hashtag NatsParkEats is live! A hashtag that speaks to the foodie in me. There’s some new concessions at NatsPark this year. Last night someone posted a pick of an oyster po’boy from Hank’s Oyster Bar (a new addition to the park) using #NatsParkEats and was featured on the scoreboard. I’m sure there’s so much more in store!
All in all, I’m pretty happy with my choice to keep my seats in Right Field for the view, the fellowship, and also…Adam Eaton!
It felt great being back in my home away from home and I’m definitely looking forward to what this season will bring!
We’re in the home stretch ya’ll!
The 2019 MLB season low-key kicked off yesterday when the Mariners and Athletics played the first of a two-game set in Japan.
However, Opening Day (the official national holiday for baseball fans) is happening on Thursday, March 28th for all 30 teams. It’s just ONE week away! This Opening Day will mark the 150th Opening Day and the earliest EVER in baseball history.
Needless to say…I’m getting ready!
Now it won’t be my 150th Opening Day (obviously) but I’ve experienced enough of them to know how important it is to be prepared for what will be a long, yet exciting day at the ballpark.
Check out my list of must-haves sure to help ensure that you have successful Opening Day (sorry a win isn’t included):
Need this checklist on the go? Download it here: Opening Day Checklist (PDF)
Like it or hate it? Leave a comment!
Also don’t forget to check your favorite ballpark’s website for Opening Day details and specific ballpark do’s and don’ts before you go!
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I FINALLY RECEIVED MY SEASON PLAN HOLDER PACKAGE!
If you recall, I experienced a few highs and lows related to this package. I was excited, cursed FedEx, I felt left out knowing others had already received their packages, I was excited again, then nearly had a panic attack, and also cursed FedEx again.
And for what?
A lanyard and a flimsy piece of laminated paper known as “credentials”.
You might be wondering, “Well after all of that what’s up with your obvious disappointment?!” Thanks for asking! Well in previous years, season plan holders actually received A GIFT before the start of a new season. Last year it was a Curly W Flag in a Curly W aluminum tin and the year prior, it was a nice Curly W-debossed, leather-like box with our season plan holder card inside.
I believe the club is operating under the luxury tax…a small token of appreciation for the commitment wouldn’t have broken the bank.
See the thing about the “credentials” is that they can only be used to gain access to the Season Plan Holder entrances and to access stored eCash for concessions and purchases at team stores. Cool. But that’s it…that’s all folks. The barcode on the back doesn’t even house our tickets for the season and therefore, can’t actually be used to get into the park. It’s for aesthetics really and there will be those plan holders who will wear that thing around the ballpark like a badge of honor. I guess I get it. However, they could’ve just not changed the previous system where the card we carried not only got us through the SPH entrances, but housed our seats/tickets for the season, was used throughout the ballpark for concessions and other purchases, could be worn around the neck if you chose to do so, and was even personalized!!!
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” – Said Some Wise Person
On a positive note, I don’t have to carry around a card or those damn credentials if I don’t want to. The team has gone fully digital, utilizing the newly updated (and it was in desperate need of an update) MLB Ballpark App. Enhancements to the app allow us to forward, scan, and buy tickets, load and use eCash, earn and redeem Red Carpet Rewards points, and access exclusive content like walk-up music (clutch), interactive games, rosters, trivia, etc.
Here’s a sneak peak:
Admittedly, I don’t always readily embrace change and despite not receiving a gift, going digital will definitely make my ballpark experience more convenient. Oh improvements have also been made to the entire Nationals Access, Red Carpet Rewards and Ticket Exchange programs for 2019.
To be honest, if the Nats would just go ahead and offer Rendon AKA Tony Two Bags AKA one of the league’s best 3rd basemen a long-term extension, I’d forget all out this gift absent-mindedness.
My issues with FedEx date back to when I first moved to DC so I don’t know why I expected anything different.
They delivered my season plan holder package today.
Yep…the one that I specifically asked to be held for PICK UP. That one. You’re probably thinking, what’s the big deal?! Am I right?
Well you see I didn’t receive a call on the callbox outside my building in order to buzz them inside. In the past, that meant the driver left my package outside…exposed to the elements and susceptible theft. Did I mention that I live in DC?
I jumped into a group text with my neighbors hoping someone was home to grab the package before the package thieves got to it or at least confirm that it was in fact safe.
Someone was home and ran downstairs to find that FedEx had actually left the package just inside the front door and even brought it upstairs to my door. Guys my neighbors really are THE best!
Whew. Crisis averted.
FedEx is still on my list though. BECAUSE. THEY. DON’T. FOLLOW. INSTRUCTIONS!
Also: The Nationals held auditions today to sing the National Anthem. If you or someone you know has what it takes…the final demo submission deadline is May 15th!
It was supposed to be delivered this past Friday. It wasn’t. So I asked that it be held for pick up on Saturday, thinking it’d be easier to just pick it up. I arrived at the FedEx facility in NE to find that they were experiencing a power outage with no idea when the issue would be resolved. Wait…
It’s Sunday now and of course…they are closed. I’ve been avoiding Facebook group posts from others that have received their packages but I’m feeling pretty confident it’ll happen tomorrow. *fingers crossed*
This is it. My last day in the West Palm Beach area. So many things had worked out in my favor. The weather had been perfect, I spent time with one of my favorite humans enjoying one of my favorite things, I ate very well, and it appeared I’d be heading back home with only TWO mosquito bites. How’s that for winning?!
My AirBnB host was super flexible on my check-out time, so I took my time packing. Recounting what I did in the days prior in a way to not only hold onto those memories but to also hold onto that feeling of peace and accomplishment.
Packing, I realized I brought way more stuff with me than I actually wore or needed. I’m not typically an over-packer (I don’t think) so I’ll chalk it up to just being excited for the trip. However, these are some of my favorite Nationals things.
I eventually gathered all of my things, loaded up the Jeep, and headed 15 minutes south to Delray Beach to finally check out that one vegan spot before going to the airport.
Don’t worry…I kept one hand on the wheel the entire time.
I arrived at The New Vegan to find it busy but without any wait and received a warm welcome and a glass of alkaline water. Having peeped the menu a number of times, I knew I was going straight for the kale burger. A kale patty served on millet and flaxseed bread with lettuce, tomato, and vegenaise. I added pickles and avocado and decided to add the side salad and rice for an extra $3. There were several OMG moments while eating. I’m not usually one to boast but I really did save the best for last.
Before leaving, I had a chance to chat with the owner and thank her for such a delicious meal. Come to find out, there are no soy or gluten products on the menu, and the restaurant serves and cooks in alkaline water. Also, they have a location in West Palm Beach that is open on Tuesday!
I ordered a green veggie smoothie for the road and made my way back up 95 N towards the airport.
The rental pick-up at Budget was a cluster but I for certain thought returning the vehicle would be seamless. It was, actually. However, Budget had to get one more screw up in before sending me back home, and it came in the form of the USELESS airport shuttle driver. The man barely assisted me in lifting my ONE piece of luggage up the steps and onto the shuttle. He asked which airlines to where we would need drop offs (and there were many) however, when he made his one (and apparently only stop) at the airport, he failed to make any sort of announcement. The nail in the I’ll-never-patronize-Budget there-again coffin was when he stood by, carelessly, as a woman mistakenly carted off with my luggage, despite my yelling to get her attention. I literally had to run her down. You better believe I fired off my frustrations in a Google Review! He did get us to the airport safely, so I guess that’s what was most important.
…until next Spring!
I woke up like a kid on Christmas morning or like adult me on Opening Day. It was too soon for either of those days. Instead, I was beyond hype because it was finally my day to take in a Nats spring training game and my sister Cassie was coming to join me!
She would be driving almost 3 hours from Longwood, Fl to my AirBnB in Boynton Beach, just to spend the day with me. Although we keep in touch via phone and of course Instagram, it had been far too long (October) since I actually saw her.
Needing to get in a workout before we started our day, I decided to take that energy to YouFit Health Club in located at Boynton Beach Mall. There I worked biceps/triceps/legs and spent a little time on the treadmill.
Cassie arrived a little before 1p. After many hugs and a few approving looks, we hopped in the Jeep and decided on lunch. I had wanted to take her to a vegan spot in Delray Beach but when we realized they were closed on Tuesdays, we settled on pizza for lunch at Pizza Rox in Boynton. Another spot I had on my list of places to eat while here. Their website said that they had both vegan and gluten-free options but we remained skeptical…at first.
We both went for identical 12-inch pies with gluten-free crust. A crust which surprisingly didn’t taste as distinguishable from regular crust like most gluten-free crusts/breads or that imploded as soon as you touched it. I nixed the cheese (although they had various cheese options including vegan cheese) and loaded up my pie with BBQ sauce, vegan chicken breast, red onions, spinach, green peppers, and pineapple. Washing it down with a bottle of Acqua Panna spring water.
For a minute, and only half way through the pie, I thought about picking up another before my return flight home the next day.
However, I erred on the other side of gluttony and instead saved the other half for later.
After lunch, we made our way up 95 North to FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches to watch batting practice before the 6:35p game against the Astros. It was the first time I would be attempting to catch spring training BP and boy did I get it wrong. I assumed BP would actually be in the ballpark. Instead, it appeared to happen in one of the practice fields to which we really didn’t have access to or visibility of. We arrived around 3 and found the gates wouldn’t open until 4:30p. So we chatted about everything under the sun, took some pics, and did a lap or two along the walking trail.
We also managed to spot Justin Verlander (‘Stros starting pitcher that night) arriving on campus in a sort of grey muscle car with Virginia license plates. Full disclosure, it was only after Googling rosters did I realize that’s exactly who that was. You know what they say about hindsight.
They opened the gates promptly at 4:30p and we went straight for the giveaway table to collect our Nationals hoodie, a freebie we weren’t even aware we were getting until we were standing in line. Interesting how the Universe works in your favor.
To my surprise, a familiar face was at the table: It’s Mike! Mike was at the table doing Mike things…handing out hoodies and later tossing t-shirts into the stands. Quick intro: Mike (Ploger) is the in-game host of Inside Pitch Live and in-game promotions at Nationals Park. I asked him if he’d take a selfie with me and he jumped right in!
I later posted this pic to Instagram to which he commented, “Your energy is contagious!” Oh Mike.
I hit the team store next, determined to stick to my budget by sticking to the plan of picking up my must-haves: a Sprint Training-themed magnet for my fridge (I guess that’s becoming a thing) and this year’s Spring Training hat. Have you seen it?!
After making our way around the concourse a couple of times to kill time, grab some water, and snacks…we made our way to our seats. Well the section our seats were in. We chose to sit 10 or so rows back (out of the sun) from where we were supposed to sit and remained there until we left.
I ended up walking over by the bullpen to take a couple of pics and vids of Strasburg and Gomes warming up before first pitch. This would be my first time watching Gomes catch since the Nats acquired him back in November. I was excited about that but mostly just excited to finally see some baseball!
Astros were the first to go out in front. Until 21-year-old Carter Kieboom launched a 2-run home run in the 2nd putting us in the lead. Carter is our No. 2 prospect and while he struggled a bit at second base, he killed his at-bats. Going 2-for-2 and hitting another home run in the 4th…scoring both those home runs off the Astros’ ace pitcher, Mr. Muscle Car himself, Justin Verlander.
We would eventually remain in the lead, beating the ‘Stros 5-3 in 9 innings.
Stephen Strasburg pitched 4.67 innings, striking out six and allowing two runs, five hits and four walks.
Our No. 1 prospect, center fielder Victor Robles went 1-for-2 with 2 walks, 2 stolen bases, and a run scored.
It happened today and not nearly how it played out in my mind. My guy sent me a message as I was leaving work that said “Uh-oh. Don’t look at the news.” I didn’t have to. I immediately knew what happened. That gut feeling you know? Harper had finally signed a contract and it wasn’t with the Nationals. It hit me and hard. But I’m a G, so I kept it moving…walking down the stairwell from the 3rd floor to the ground floor, out the door, and to the garage. Stopping periodically to jump on social media to take a temperature reading and to scan the details about this deal…
Bryce Harper had signed a 13-year (damn that’s a long time), $330 million dollar (cool) contract having no opt-out and trade clause (interesting), with the Philadelphia Phillies (F@*$!). Yep…that’s the part that stung.
Nats ownership had offered him 10 years for $300 million at the start of his free agency to no avail. So I had concluded and was quite resolved that he wouldn’t be back at Nationals Park in a Nationals uniform. But the Phillies? The F!@#$%* Phillies?!?! That’s the part that I took the hardest. That’s the part I couldn’t let go.
In the almost 9 years of going to Nationals Park, I have yet to experience a game against the Phillies where our players, including Bryce, aren’t heckled and boo’ed or some reduction in fan experience due to their unruly fans. Don’t believe me? Just peep this article. It just didn’t make sense. Bryce…you were there! Did you forget?!
I was fuming with disappointment. I finally made it to the car, started it and as usual WTOP News (a local radio station in the DC Metro area) came through the speakers. With breaking news at that. Great…now I get to hear about it. I was already overwhelmed and when WTOP offered their comment line to hear fans’ opinions…I…RAN…WITH…IT!
I might have pulled the car over or maybe I was still sitting in the same spot, I don’t remember, but I dropped them the best 30 second synopsis of my raw feelings that I could muster. I wasn’t sure they’d even listen to my comment so I proceeded to drive but kept tuned in. And then I heard my voice on the radio:
At the next stop, I readied my phone to record this sound bite:
I don’t dislike Bryce because of this. I won’t be burning or otherwise destroying anything with his name on it. I continue to stand by my hopes that he made the decision that he thought was best for him. However, as a Nats fan that has watched this guy from his MLB debut through the 7 seasons he was a National, I’m disappointed. Big disappointed. I don’t know what my response to him will be when he returns to Nationals Park in a Phillies uniform. Perhaps he’ll get booed or be met with a standing ovation…perhaps nothing at all. At the end of the day I thank him for his part in making baseball fun to watch and I’ll ultimately wish him the best.
But until then…F**K Bryce and F**K Philly!