It’s Opening Day 2018…for real this time!

And yes, I am way too excited to sleep!

Of course my countdown to Opening Day was solely based on when the Nationals would open the season. That day has FINALLY arrived!!!

True…we’ve only waited one additional day while the other teams started their season yesterday. But it kinda sucked watching your friends play outside while you’re stuck inside the house. You want to be happy for them for having fun but you’re also a little salty.

I think F.P. captured yesterday’s feels perfectly:

But it was Opening Day and some pretty awesome stuff happened. Here are some of my favorite highlights:

First of all, off the VERY FIRST pitch of the season, Cubs’ Ian Happ, a 95 mph fast ball thrown by the Marlins’ Jose Urena, blasts a home run (first run of the season) out to right field!

Cubs won 8-4.


Former Nationals outfielder Denard Span (we miss you in DC!), opened the day back in his hometown of Tampa and playing for the Rays, with what I perceived to be a heart pumping-anxiety laden-bases loaded-no doubt about it-best career moment!

The Rays took the lead, rallying from behind to win against the Red Sox 6-4.


And we cannot forget about Giancarlo Stanton! Aside from the fact that this man is beautiful, in his first at-bat with the Yankees, he hits a home run! And then another. Making him the 7th Yankee to have multiple home runs on Opening Day.

I must say…I’ll miss seeing him in the Marlins uniform but Yankee blue and pinstripes is not a bad look. AT ALL!

Yankees beat the Blue Jays 6-1.


Today is March 30th. There’s no more waiting. Today is OUR Opening Day!

LET’S GO NATS!

-Nika

Days until Opening Day: ZERO

 

Life Is Too Short To Wear Boring Jewelry

This also happened today…on the eve of Opening Day, ALEX AND ANI launched its new MLB bracelet collection and…I want them all!! Not really, but the Nationals one is caaaaute! Unlike the old charms, the new charms are color infused and actually resemble a baseball (see the stitching detail?!). I’ll definitely be adding this piece to my Nats jewelry collection (subject to be a blog post at some point).

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ALEX AND ANI | 2018 MLB Collection

Check out the entire collection here.

Also, I accept gifts 🙂

-Nika

Yep…Rain Will Do It!

I received the alert from WTOP not long ago that tomorrow’s Opening Day game between the Nationals and Reds in Cincy has been postponed due to inclement weather.

Instead, the game will be played and all of the Opening Day festivities held, on Friday 3/31 at 4:05p.

Scherzer is still expected to take the mound.

I just hope the boys bring back plenty of Curly Ws from this upcoming run on the road.

-Nika

Days until Opening Day: 12

3 More Days! But Who’s Counting?

I AM!

Ladies and Gentlemen!

We are Michael A. Taylor (he’s #3 guys) days away from the earliest Opening Day in history! That’s right, we are only 3 days away from the official start of the 2018 MLB regular season.

Today is also his birthday.

Happy Birthday MAT!

But if you’re wondering why the season is starting in March, it’s due to the recent CBA. The current CBA creates 3 to 4 additional days off for teams throughout the season.

So for the first time since 1968 (I wasn’t even born yet), each team will open on the same day…March 29th. The 2019 season will start on March 31st.

The Nationals will open the 2018 season playing away, against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park, with the heterochromia iridum bandit Max Scherzer projected as the probable pitcher. This will be followed by a 6-game road trip until my guys come back home to Nats Park.

The Nationals will open at home on Thursday, April 5th against the Mets. This will be the 85th home opener in DC since 1901!

I’m so hype I can hardly contain it!

See. You. There!

-Nika

I’ve Got Mail!

Err muh God!

Cue the part in Fever Pitch when Jimmy Fallon’s character runs outside…barefoot and grossly underdressed (there’s snow on the ground btw)…to receive a package from the UPS guy…

It’s Ticket Delivery Day!

I didn’t receive hard copy tickets…we get a convenient little card with all of our games and other perks loaded up on it. But I did receive this cute little Curly W tin and inside…a Curly W flag!!!

As a NATS Plus Member this has to be one of the most exciting days and just one more sign that baseball, soon come.

This has been a LONG winter.

-Nika

Days until Opening Day: 5

Spring Training was EVERYTHING!

The last few days here in Palm Beach County, Florida have been absolutely AMAZING! I had every intention to blog real-time or at the conclusion of everyday but I doubted how much justice my words at the time would give my experience.

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We flew into Palm Beach International Airport (PBI) late Sunday night after a couple of flight delays. But we got our rental car and got settled in. Staying in this cute apartment in Lake Worth we found on AirBnB.

Each morning,  I went for a walk/run (ok…mostly walk in my running shoes) before we started the day to make sure I got in as much activity as possible. And every evening, I made sure I was by the water to watch the sunset. The weather ranged from 76° – 89° with occasional winds. I never saw a single raindrop the entire trip. I know…I was surprised too.


Monday, 3/20 | Indian Breakfast and Hiking

When she first suggested an Indian restaurant for breakfast, admittedly, I turned my nose up. “Indian…it’s too early for that.” But Reesie has yet to be wrong when suggesting places to eat, so I went with it and let me tell you… this place DID NOT DISAPPOINT.

I browsed the menu. Still a little skeptical, I went back and forth on whether to get something typical (American) for breakfast or try something different. I finally decided on the Spinach Keema Omelette. Reesie, the Eggs Nissa. OMG!!! I don’t think I’ve ever had a breakfast so full-body flavorful! I ate it so fast I forgot to take a picture.

After breakfast, we laced up our hiking boots laced up our hiking boots and trekked about 6 miles through the Apoxee Wilderness Preserve.


Tuesday, 3/21 | Miami Marlins vs. Nats @ FITTEAM Ballpark

On Tuesday, my sorority sister Cassie drove from Longwood (about 20 minutes outside of Orlando) to hang out with Reesie and I in Lake Worth and to take in the Marlins vs. Nats game. I was so excited to see her. We had been talking about her possibly joining me for a Spring Training game since December. She’s got that kind of spirit you just want to be around and always finds the good in everything. She simply made a day I already knew was going to be great…greater.  I couldn’t wait to get the day started!

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3/20 | Starting Lineup

Strasburg (#37) was the starting pitcher that day. We arrived after first pitch and by that time the Marlins had already scored one home run. Strasburg (*ahem* who only allowed 13 home runs over 175+ innings pitched last year), would give up 2 more runs, 8 hits, and 3 walks, throwing 81 pitches over 4 1/3 innings. We were down 3-0  in the 5th, when the most handsomest manager (Martinez) came out to excuse Stras.

However, we rallied. We took the lead, 4-3, with an RBI single from Difo (#1) that brought in two runs and a two-run blast by Harper (#34, and his 2nd of the Spring). We’d score 4 more runs via Moises Sierra, Brignac, a sac fly by Dominguez and an error on the Marlins.

Moises Sierra indirectly provided us a laugh when I asked Reesie to Google his stats. She starts telling us about where he’s from, what team(s) he came from, how tall he is. When she said 5’3″, we looked toward the outfield and scratched our heads.

Cassie and I: “Moises Sierra? Right there…number 49? Are you sure?!”

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3/20: Reesie, Cassie, and I

Reesie: “Oh, I thought ya’ll were talking about Wilmer Difo!”

Cassie and I: “Huh?! But…LOL!”

Wilmer Difo is 5’11” by the way.

Nats won! 8 – 3

#kidgoals

There was a kid (now affectionately called “The Kid”) and his dad that sat behind us at the game on Tuesday. I loved the way they talked about the game as the day unfolded. They were fun. Both providing commentary, chiming into our conversation, often offering answers to questions I’d ask or joining in to banter. I remember asking a question, to which the dad answers then adds, “I’m here for you.”

At some point, the dad gets up to run to the bathroom or the concession stand and leaves the kid. The Kid, having already caught one, gets offered a dead/throw away ball by another kid. I’m completely shocked. Kids don’t like to share but I thought, “Oh, how sweet.” But then I get a tap on the shoulder. It’s The Kid…yes my kid. He says, “Here…you keep it.”

Wait…what?!

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Official Game ball from 3/20/18

He said, “Yeah. I already have one. Do you know how many of these things I have at home?!” I go on and on about how kind and thoughtful the gesture was to which he replies, “I have good parents.”

It absolutely warmed my heart. Not only because this little guy offered up an OFFICIAL Spring Training game ball to me after acknowledging his excess, but that he recognized the actions and values his parents taught and gave him, respectively. And then gave his parents the credit in their absence. He was truly #kidgoals.

Shout out to The Kid and his dad (and mom)!

 

My girls and I ended the day at Lake Worth Beach, enjoying happy hour at Mulligan’s, taking in the sunset along the fishing pier, and eating ice cream and sorbetto from Kilwins.

 


Wednesday, 3/22 | Houston Astros vs. Nats @ FITTEAM Ballpark

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3/21 | Houston Astros vs. Washington Nationals

GIO! GIO! GIO! Gio was the starting pitcher for the game against the World Series Champions. I was hype! He’s one of my favorites, Eaton was in the line up, and come on…who didn’t watch the crazy match up between the Dodgers and Astros?! Again, I was hype! Ready for a win. I thought the guys knew that!

During that game, Gio would allow 8 runs…EIGHT…4 of them unearned; give up 6 hits, 2 walks, with 95 pitches over just 4 2/3 innings.

We would finally get on the board with a two-run home run by Matt Reynolds and then a home run by Andrew Stevenson in the bottom of the 9th.

Nats fell. 8-3


Where to Eat

The Pelican Restaurant (Lake Worth) – Indian and American. This unassuming yet fun restaurant is located in downtown Lake Worth. Take a chance, order your eggs Indian style. It’s cash only though, so come prepared.

Havana Cuban Food (West Palm Beach) – This could be THE best Cuban spot in the state of Florida. My sample size is small to jump to such a conclusion but if you try it and don’t agree…let me know! I recommend the fricasé de pollo or the masitas de puerco fritas. Oh and they are open 24 hours. OPEN 24 HOURS!

Mulligan’s Beach House (Lake Worth) – Located at the Lake Worth Casino Building and Beach Complex. American food, on the water, and drinks are 1/2 off during Happy Hour

Places to Go

John Prince Memorial Park (Lake Worth) – This was my go-to place to get in some activity each day. This park is centered around Lake Osborne and full of options: camping, playgrounds, fishing, picnic pavilions, bike trail, fitness course…you name it!  There are also a variety of birds around so just look out for bird poo. Sadly and despite my best efforts, I never made it all the way around on my feet.

Latana Public Beach (Latana) – On the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, this was the first beach I visited on this trip. There’s ample metered parking.

Apoxee Wilderness Trail (West Palm Beach) – Pronounced “Ah-po-ee”, meaning “beyond tomorrow”, is a 2.5 mile (or 4 mile round trip when also taking the Owahee Trail) hike through Florida’s grassy water everglades. Hiking boots optional.

Lake Worth Casino Building and Beach Complex (Lake Worth) – Also along the shore of the Atlantic Ocean. Mulligan’s Beach House is located here. There’s ample metered parking.  There’s also a fishing pier that extends to what feels like oblivion on which you can walk as a spectator for $1. Then reward yourself for walking out on the pier by making a stop at Kilwins Chocolates and Ice Cream for some raspberry or lemon sorbetto. I had them both. #cosign #nom

Ocean Inlet Park (Boynton Beach) – I visited this spot last year and I don’t know what was more breathtaking: the drive to Ocean Inlet or the inlet itself. The park is situated intercoastal but with easy access to the beach. After our loss to the Astros on Wednesday, this was the right place to collect, watch the sunset, and connect with the beauty around me. Actually, it was the perfect way to end this trip.


I’m back in the DC. While away, friends and family back home returned my pics of sunny Florida days with pics of snow so I knew what to expect. I should be used to this weather by now. But it was still a shock after being in shorts and tank top weather the past few days. However, real Spring and baseball, soon come.

-Nika

Days until Opening Day: 7

Wheels up! West Palm Beach Here I Come!

Reesie, my good friend and colleague, and I are headed to West Palm Beach, FL for a quick getaway from the erratic DC weather and of course…Nationals Spring Training games!!!

With NATS Plus, 4 tickets to a single Spring Training game are included in the membership. So of course we pooled resources to get the best experience. We’ll have a chance to catch some batting practice (BP) and the games against the Marlins and Astros home at the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

Ironically, it’s a pretty mild day here in the District, but winter weather is headed this way, so this trip couldn’t be more timely.

I’m excited to see Adam Eaton and the rest of the guys back in action, as well as the new additions to the team!

See you in WPB!

-Nika

Days until Opening Day: 11