West Palm Beach – Day 3

Tuesday.

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!

img_2024She 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.

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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.

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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!

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I later posted this pic to Instagram to which he commented, “Your energy is contagious!” Oh Mike.

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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?!

You’re welcome.

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.

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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 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 🙂

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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