Happy Independence Day!

Hey y’all! I’m still here!

Happy Independence Day!

It’s never easy being a DC sports fan but it has definitely been a rough time for this Nats fan…and I know I’m not alone. Not to mention it’s TOO DAMN HOT to sit at the ballpark and watch the team fail night after night.

I skipped the 11a too-hot-to-be-disappointed game today to spend time with my Mom and Godmother instead. Somehow we still ended up near the ballpark, enjoying the scenery at The Yards, where I ran into a couple of Red Sox fans shortly after the game.

Nats lost to the Red Sox AGAIN today 3-0. Sweep for Boston. FIFTH straight loss for us.

In other news, I received my All-Star event tickets a couple of weeks ago. So I’m looking forward to that at this point because unlike a Curly W(in) from the Nats, it is certain.

-Nika

Fried Fish and Crab Cakes

Thursday, May 31st

While definite favorites of this Maryland girl, today’s post is about how the Nats are now the hottest team in Major League Baseball!

No kidding!

The Nationals have gone 21-6 in the past 27 games and are now 1st in the NL East. Talk about comeback kids!

You’re probably scratching your head wondering how this happened considering we have 11 of some of our best men on the disabled list. Additionally, 10 currently active players…weren’t even with us at the start of the season!

Following a homestead against the Yankees, Dodgers, and Padres (and in that order), we hit South to Miami to take on the Marlins in a 3 game series. The Nationals filleted and fried those fish! 9-5, 4-1, and 5-2. After which, my guys came back to the DMV for the (in my opinion) much anticipated Battle of the Beltways. Perhaps it’s not the big deal some of us hype it up to be, but it makes for a good time when I can troll my brother on social media who happens to be an Oriole fan. 

We went on to blank the Os in 2 games out of three, 6-0, 3-2, 2-0 and swept the series. Can I just say how AWESOME Max Scherzer is?! I mean your fave could never pitch 8 solid innings without breaking a sweat!

Although Baltimore doesn’t appear to be much of a contender this season, the National’s series win in Baltimore was the first since 2015…enough to put the Nationals back where they should be: 1st in the NL East! It only took 57 days. This is the first time we’ve been in first place since April 3rd (when we were 4-1) in the grand scheme of the season… a millisecond after opening day.

Wednesday’s win against the Orioles was the Nat’s 6th straight win, 9th straight win on the road (20-8). Home is a different story where we are currently 12-14. However, I’m sure the energy and momentum will translate well at Nationals Park when the guys come back from Atlanta to face the Tampa Bay Rays (FYI – Denard Span is now with the Seattle Mariners).

Of course because in baseball much like in life…one day you’re up, the next you’re down.

And this blog post couldn’t keep the pace.

On Thursday night, the Braves jumped back to 1st with the Nats loss in Atlanta 4-2. This put us a half game behind the Braves. Record: 32-23

As of the time I am still writing this…Friday, June 1st at 11:07p EST…the Nats have dropped to 3rd. THIRD! Braves completely shut us out tonight 4-0. Our loss, a Phillies win knocks us back 1.5 games from 1st. Record 32-24 (OTR 20-10).

That’s baseball for ya!

We’re halfway through this series with the Braves, so let’s see if we can get back on top by winning the next 2 games and split the series.

-Nika

Are the Nats in The Upside Down?

In Netflix’s Stranger Things, The Upside Down exists as an alternate dimension parallel to the human world. There is no recognizable life in The Upside Down.

It would seem that the Mets showed up at CitiField to play baseball yesterday. I thought I saw the Nats on the television at CitiField too but perhaps they were there…only in parallel…in The Upside Down.

When I finally tuned into the game, the Nats had a 2-run lead over the Mets. Somewhere around the top of the 8th inning. I was confident, as I sat with some friends in El Rey (smashing Thai shrimp tacos and knocking back a margarita pitcher). We only had an inning and a half left to play.  I just knew we’d ride that lead, the momentum from winning the two games prior, get another Curly W to sweep, and take alladat on the road to LA. We were going to wrap this up before 10p so this grandma could go home.

Oh it was a wrap alright.

The Mets scored 9…NINE! additional runs folks. Six of those off of Ryan Madson. Game. Nats lose 11-5.

I don’t completely blame Madson. That was his fourth time pitching in five days.

That’s baseball for ya!

But one thing’s for certain…we’ve gotta make some changes to our bullpen and come up out of The Upside Down.

-Nika

via Daily Prompt: Parallel

Fret Not…We Might Be On Our Way!

Wow! It was just a yesterday I posted about the string of losses the Nats were being dealt. #IBackTheNats but I’m also realistic sooooo full disclosure…I had very low expectations for how my guys would fare in New York. I mean come on…the Mets swept us during our opening series at home.

Why would anyone think being in New York but work out in our favor?!

But boy are they proving me wrong! Last night, the guys took down the Mets 8-6 and beat the Mets again tonight, 5-2.

Max earned NL Player of the Week and Bryce blasted his 8th home run while breaking the barrel of his bat! BOOM!

And while the Rockies recently took that series from us…they’re small potatoes. We have #OnePursuit and the Mets are currently standing in 1st place in the NL East…aka…in our way.

The Nats are now 9-9. Still ranked 4th in the NL East but only 4 games behind. I’m still on the fence regarding whether or not “it’s still early” but this pivot change and momentum the guys seem to have feels pretty damn good!

Also, shout out to the Phillies for taking down the Braves today!

Let’s Go Nats!

-Nika

via Daily Prompt: Fret

Cranking Out Losses and Home Runs

The post I had planned for today was supposed to be about my favorite Nationals things but after seeing today’s word prompt, “Crank”…I was inspired to pause and instead write about these losses my guys have been cranking out and where this fan’s feelings currently reside on the Nats Fan Spectrum.

It’s been a little over two weeks since the baseball season officially started and while my guys opened the season strong…it’s been a LONG two weeks. During this time, the Nats have played 16 games, lost 9 of those, and fell from 1st to 4th place in the in NL East. Fourth ya’ll! Just 2.5 games behind the Marlins aka…LAST PLACE! It’s a slippery slope! They’re in Queens for the next 3 games playing the New York Mets and they to LA for 3 game series against the Dodgers. But guys, we played the Mets during our home opener series and they swept us! If home field advantage didn’t work then…dare I say?

True, it’s still early in the season. There are still about 146 games left to play. But I wonder, with the consistent losses, have we passed the “it’s still early” point in baseball? Have the last 2 weeks been indication of how the rest of the season will likely go? Are major adjustments needed? Or are we still “warming up”? Either way…this string of losses sucks @$$! I’m ride or die…I’m rooting for the Nats no matter what!

On a more positive note, Bryce Harper currently leads all of Major League Baseball in Home Runs with SEVEN so far this season. So there’s that but Bryce can’t carry team. We need to make plays and take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves or it’s going to be an even longer season. Like that whole time on Game of Thrones we were waiting for winter to come.

-Nika

via Daily Prompt: Crank

It WAS Lit…And Then We Lost

Hey guys! Sorry for the delay. Full plate but without further ado…here’s my rundown of Opening Day at Nationals Park:


In Rizzo We Trust! The energy for the day started with the early morning announcement hit that our GM Mike Rizzo would be sticking around for another two years.

I arrived at the park around 11:15a, not long after the gates opened and the lines were long as f*ck. The Season Ticket Holder line…you know the line with the red carpet that I should’ve taken…was super long so I opted for a shorter elsewhere. I got in, grabbed my Geico sponsored t-shirt featuring this year’s game schedule, and relished in the fact that baseball is officially back! There were things going on at every corner of the ballpark. DJs Flexx and Chris Styles were indeed spinning on the 1s and 2s which totally added to the hype of the day. The energy was live…red was EVERYWHERE! There were a few Mets fans sprinkled in but it was clearly our ballpark. You know…I love Opening Day for many reasons but the number of adults opting out of work and opting their children out of school for the experience just warmed my heart.

Team Store Finds

The fanatic that I am…I headed right to the Team Store to checkout what was new. That place is always a problem. However, this time I was prepared with budgeted cash (best way to stay on track with your financial goals IMO). But OMG! I was able to pick up what I feel is the perfect abbreviated version of my Nationals Hershel Supply Co backpack…THE HIP PACK!!! That thing had been sold out for most of the MLB teams online for a while now but the team store had it!!! I also picked up an Opening Series lapel pin for my lanyard and a pink toddler-grade bat/ball set for my bestie’s little girl…you have to start them early 🙂

Good EatsIMG_9955

After the team store, my next stop was food because…although I enjoy and appreciate the socialization around the game…I do go to watch the game. So once I get to my seat…I usually don’t get up again. I’m that person.

Jammin Island BBQ! Man…the jerk chicken and ribs combo was SO good! Warning…it’s a lot of food but this is probably the best value in the park. For $17, you get jerk ribs, jerk chicken, and your choice of two sides. You can choose between plantains, rice and beans, coleslaw, and fried yucca. My recommendation: GET IT! But ask for extra jerk sauce and enjoy! Locations: Section 141 and Red Loft 244


Ceremonial Things

Awards were on deck:

  • Max received the 2017 NL Cy Young Award. Max is now a back-to-back Cy Young winner in the NL. He also earned the Cy Young Award in 2013 while playing with the Detroit Tigers in the American League.
  • Murph received the Silver Slugger Award…again. That would be his 2nd consecutive.
  • Mr. Washington National himself…the Face of the Franchise, Ryan Zimmerman, received the NL Comeback Player of the Year. In 2017, Zim was selected to the All-Star Game for the first time since 2009, hit the longest hit homer in Nationals Park, set a new Nationals/Expos franchise record with his 235th career home run, and set the Nationals’ franchise record for most runs batted in!

Heart-warming special guests were there too:

  • Deputy First Class Blaine Gaskill of the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office and Great Mills High School threw out the ceremonial first pitch to a standing ovation.
  • Serving us Black Girl Magic, Maame Biney (Olympic short track speedskater) and uber cool Noah Groves (sled hockey gold medalist) delivered the lineup card.
  • The U.S. Army Chorus Quartet performed the National Anthem. There was no flyover though. Perhaps something more critical came up and they had to abort? Like impending travel that made the area restricted airspace? I dunno…there was never any mention of it after that terrible awkward silence following the last lined belt of The Star-Spangled Banner. Everyone I saw just looked around (and up in the sky) waiting…some took guesses at other opportunities for the flyover to occur as the game progressed. We’re still waiting.
  • Mayor Bowser and cute little Parker Curry gave us the green light to “Play Ball!”

The Game

Did I mention how dynamic the game of baseball is?

We started off good. Stras did Stras things. We had a 1-run lead…and then entered Jay Bruce. To speed things up a bit…Stras balked, Eaton left early on a minor injury sliding into home, the home base ump was on some bs (that whole crew can kick rocks btw), Trea was ejected (1st career), Cespedes homered on a 95 mph fast ball (gotta give credit), we loaded the bases but came up empty, Stras would end after 6 innings, and the Mets went on to earn a grand slam on Kintzler. That energy I spoke of earlier? Yeah…that faded and the reality of a loss on Opening Day and the fact that I had been outside in 42° weather hit…HARD.

Two hours and 57 minutes with 42,477 in attendance…we lost 8-2 and dropped to 3rd in the NL East behind the Braves and the Mets.


Although the Nats were never able to catch up…

I was able to catch up with Stephen! (See what I did there? lol) Stephen and I met last year at the Nationals Crab Feast and made it a point to stay in touch. We were passing ships during Spring Training but met up on Opening Day for a brief chat and of course…a pic!

Despite the loss(es) it was still a good day for baseball. It’s still early in the season. We have a long way to go but I’m excited to see how the season unfolds.

#onepursuit #ibackthenats

-Nika

Nationals Home Opener + Survival Checklist

Happy Wednesday Everyone!

We’re on the eve of the Nationals home opener against the New York Mets. First pitch is set for 1:05p but gates open at 11a for all of the festivities in and around the ballpark before the game.

Here’s a rundown of the day’s promos and events:

Promotions

  • The first 25,000 fans to enter the ballpark through ALL GATES will receive a 2018 Schedule T-shirt presented by GEICO.
  • DJ Flexx will perform in Center Field Plaza from gate opening until a 30 minutes prior to first pitch.
  • Jeff From Accounting will perform at the Budweiser Terrace from the time gates open until a half hour prior to first pitch.
  •  DJ Chris Styles will perform at the First Base Gate from the time gates open until a half hour prior to first pitch.
  • Nationals Park Organist Matthew Van Hoose will perform from the NatMobile on the timeline walk outside Home Plate Gate, from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m.
  • The Family Picnic Area will feature caricature artists, face painters, and balloon twisters from the time gates open until 1:30 p.m.
  • Coca-Cola will provide complimentary samples as fans exit the ballpark through the Center Field Gate, while supplies last. I don’t particularly subscribe to soft drinks, even if they are free, but I don’t want to make it about me. Get your free Coke! 🙂

Events

  • Let’s start with the AWARDS! Award presentations including the Baseball Writers’ Association of America 2017 National League Cy Young Award presented to RHP Max Scherzer, the 2017 Silver Slugger Award presented to 2B Daniel Murphy, and the 2017 Players Choice Award for NL Comeback Player of the Year presented to 1B Ryan Zimmerman.
  • Ceremonial first pitch thrown by Deputy First Class Blaine Gaskill of the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office and Great Mills High School. If you recall, Gaskill brought the March 20th active shooter incident to a quick end.
  • U.S. Armed Forces Color Guard from the Military District of Washington and Drummers from the U.S. Navy Band, Washington Navy Yard present our nation’s colors.
  • The National Anthem will be performed by the U.S. Army Chorus Quartet.
  • Flyover by the VFA-32 Swordsmen from Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia Beach, Va., in F/18 Super Hornet Jets
  • Lineup card delivery by Maame Biney, the Olympic short track speedskater who competed in the 500m and 1500m events at the 2018 PyeongChang Games and was raised in Reston, Va., and Noah Grove, a Frederick, Md., native and gold medalist in sled hockey at the 2018 Paralympic Games in PyeongChang
  • “Let’s Play Ball!” announced by The Honorable Muriel Bowser, Mayor of DC, she’ll be joined by Parker Curry (she was the little girl smitten by National Gallery Portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama that subsequently got the chance to meet and dance with her).
  • Sophia Nadder will perform God Bless America

As you can tell, it’s going to be a long day away from home and I want to be prepared, so I’m packing some essentials.  Lately, my go-to game bag has been my Hershel Supply Co. Heritage Backpack. I believe I purchased it from the team store some time last year. I’ve found it to be super spacious, durable, and the interior detail….woooo! It’s all in the details. Everything I plan to take will fit perfectly inside.

Hershel 1
Herschel Supply Co. Heritage Backpack

As of the time I am writing this, the forecast for tomorrow is mostly sunny skies with a high of 54°.  With that in mind, here’s what I’m packing:

  • Layers
  • Wallet (including cash for the 50/50 raffle and ID for beeeeeeeer)
  • Sunscreen (especially for those midday games)
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat or visor
  • Rally towel (hopefully you won’t need it but just in case. Plus it’ll come in handy to wipe off sweat, food, etc.)
  • Lucky jewelry, socks, jersey, underwear (put these on before the game), etc.
  • Absorbent microfiber towel to absorb moisture on seat…it WILL rain eventually.
  • Umbrella and/or poncho
  • An empty water bottle to fill at the ballpark or 1L bottled water (NatsPark permits one bottle, up to 1L, per person but it has to maintain factory seal)
  • Food (individually wrapped (no glass). I tend to bring healthy snacks/salads/sandwiches but it’s Opening Day at the park so I’ll be scoping out the new/good eats.
  • Hand sanitizer and/or wipes
  • Phone (for obvious reasons but also, the Nats are killing the social media game so be sure to follow and tag @nationals across all social media platforms and use hashtags like #onepursuit, #nats, #CurlyW and #ibackthenats
  • Portable phone charger. The ballpark does have phone charging stations but who wants to be tethered to a wall…FOMO much?!
  • VERY IMPORTANT: Hard copy or electronic tickets or your…NATS PLUS CARD!

See. You. There!

-Nika