NATS Plus – Player For a Day

Sunday, April 7th

(Yes, I’m behind, behind.)

One of the benefits of being a Nationals NATS Plus Member are the events the Nationals hold for members throughout the season. Player For a Day (PFD) didn’t happen last year but when I found out that it was a go this year, I new I didn’t want to miss out.

PFD is exactly as it sounds…for a few hours, fans get to roam about the park (in an organized fashion of course) as if we were a Washington Nationals baseball player.

Two years ago, my first time attending, I brought along my little cousin Korey. This time however, I brought an adult…Kyle. Kyle and I have a banter laden in sarcasm, especially around invites to the ballpark, so I know he would enjoy this experience. He happens to be a Chicago White Sox fan but trolled me prior to that Sunday, “Question, can I wear my Phillies Hat?”

We arrived at the ballpark with time to kill so we stood around chatting about sports in general, dating, places to eat, and his graphic design stuff.

Upon entering, I expected to see the warm up area where we get to do a few work outs in the outfield but that wasn’t there, folks were playing catch in the outfield but we decided to make our first stop at the Bullpen Car.

Bullpen Car


More popular in the 50s and 60s, the bullpen car brought relief pitchers into the game from the bullpen to the pitcher’s mound. In an attempt to help speed up the game, this cute little baseball-themed Herbie made its debut at Nationals Park on August 17, 2018. However, only a few pitchers have ever rode in it.

Speed Pitch
Oh yeah! So during the Speed Pitch activity, we got to throw 3 pitches in the bullpen. This was my chance to let my inner Max Scherzer out!


I totally forgot that in addition to professional football, that Kyle had played baseball before and he did pretty well. He would’ve nailed it had his ball stayed straight. Apparently, it’s all in the release.

As for me, I kept my expectations low.

Sometimes you have to be your own hype man!

Dugout
It was pretty cool sitting in the place where my guys hang out during the game.

In addition to this photoshoot we were apparently having, I spotted the cubbies of a few of my favorite players and made a call to the bullpen. Though when I made my call, I envisioned solid options on the other side. *sigh*

On Deck Circle
We made quick detour to the On Deck photo op before heading to the down to the batting cages. Even though this circle is way fancier than the rubber one the guys usually stand on before stepping into the batters box, it was still pretty cool to stand there.

Batting Cages

We then backtracked a little down towards the Nationals’ clubhouse and to the batting cages. I just knew the struggle was going to be real for me and initially opted out of participating. But hey, how many opportunities does one get to be in the batting cages of their favorite baseball team?!? It was a no brainer but the struggle was real:

I told you. I could use some work. It felt good though so you might see me in batting cages again soon!

But of course I’d look bad stepping into the cages after this show off (advance apologies for the video snafu):

Show off. Did you hear the guy ask if Kyle played before and that he should at least be on a softball team?! *eye roll*

After, we stopped by the Delta Sky360 Lounge for a quick rest and some refreshments. The set up was cute but if I could change one thing, we’d have less brick-like pretzels! We stayed for a few minutes, catching about an inning of the Nationals dealing it to the NY Mets at CitiField, then beelined for some real food.

Only while writing did I realize that we totally missed the Dress Like A Player stop in the visitors’ clubhouse.

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Parting Gifts
On our way out, I stopped to pick up my NATS Plus 2-Year Commitment gift: A replica All-Star Game ring. This baby had been available during the regular season but I kept forgetting to pick it up.

We topped the day off with ramen and drunkin’ dumplings at one of my favorite Japanese restaurants in DC.

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If You Would Have Told Me 5 Years Ago… (Part Two)

Tuesday, April 2nd…still.

It had started to rain before I even left home to head for the metro. I excited though to see whether my inclination to boo would prove true but also because my good girlfriend Reesie would be going to the game too. She used to have the seat next to me, but after not attending as many games last year, she opted to give up her season plan holder status for another package…a better seat too! But my hopes were that the seat next to me wasn’t taken and we could sit together again like the old pals that we are.

We arrived at the ballpark to news we already knew: the game was delayed due to inclement weather. IMHO…they could’ve played in the light precipitation. We decided to stay dry by ducking into the team store for a little, then made stops at the Red Carpet Rewards kiosk and Season Plan Holder Lounge. Moving through the concourse I’d see a lot of Phillies fans and would hear an Eagles chant or “We Got Harper”, I guess because they thought it’d be an effective taunt. The energy was frenetic and the tension was THICK. Phillies fans and Nats fans were both deep in number. I saw signs calling Harper out on being a “traitor” and that perhaps “Papelbon was right” to choke him back in 2015 when Harper didn’t run the ball out to first base (against the Phillies guys). Some wore “modified” jerseys with “Harper” completely cut out from the jersey and some with #34 (his old number) but with new names like “Soto”, “Sell Out”,and “Phraud”, courtesy of duck tape and a Sharpie.

First pitch was updated to 7:45p.

Before first pitch however (and as was known), a tribute to Bryce’s time as a National was displayed on the big screen. I wasn’t in view of the screen at the time, as we were making our way to the Social Lounge to meet up with our girlfriend Bleta, her brother Agon, and her new boo, J.

I didn’t need to screen though, 1) I was probably there for most of what was being highlighted and 2) the booing saturated the ballpark. It was clear to what side most fans took on the “Do we boo him?” debate. To be honest, booing is an integral part of most sports.

The boo’s continue all the way through to the end of the Phillies line up and got extra loud when Harper’s name was called.

“Bryce, you suck!”

It was game time and still raining by the way. Max was getting the start though and I knew he would have no problem striking out our new opponent, Bryce Harper. Bryce may have seen Max pitch before but what’s the likelihood that he’d ever hit off one of Max’s pitches?!

Bring it!

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I hung out in the Social Lounge longer than I expected but also to avoid going to my wet seat. I watched Harper’s first at bat standing, glued to one of the television screens, trying to cheer for Max over the crowd of Philly fans nearby. Max had allowed two hits prior to Bryce’s at bat but now he was facing his former longtime teammate and this match up was much anticipated. Max isn’t a 3x Cy Young winner (and came only 2nd last year) or called Mad Max for nothing though. We boo’d…loud.

Max struck him out. His first time back in Nats Park on the opposing team and his first at-bat. Lawd…I’m emotional just rewatching this video. I remember how intense it was. I wanted this for Max.

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Max – 1, Bryce – 0

As for the game, I obviously wanted the whole team to fail but admittedly as the game went on, I only cared about Bryce striking out. I didn’t want him to hit at all in that ballpark and definitely not a home run. However, Nationals Park was his home for SO many years…it would only be a matter of time before he found it.

Reesie and I then made our way to our seats to enjoy the rest of the game. No one ended up sitting next to me so she came up to join me. The rain had slacked a bit but the temperature took a nose dive. So cold, the “Lemonade!” man swapped his lemonade for Baileys and hot chocolate (LOL).

Adam Eaton leads off for us in the bottom of the 1st inning but gets an out. We had one out and nobody on base when Trea tried to bunt. But it was a 92-mph fast ball from Zach Eflin and Trea got hit by a pitch (HBP) and left the game. Wilmer Difo would bat in his place and strike out. We later found out that Trea suffered a fracture on his right index finger broken index finger. There’s no timetable on when he’ll be returning.

Nats – 0, Phillies – 0

Top of the 2nd inning. Oh and let make it clear here that the boo’s NEVER stopped so yeah…we’re still booing. Then to break the scoreless game, Phillies’ Michael Franco hits a homer to left field to put the Phillies out in front.

Nats – 0, Phillies – 1

Top of 3rd inning and it’s Bryce’s second at bat facing Max. He strikes him out AGAIN!

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Max – 2, Bryce – 0

By the bottom of the fourth inning, a new chant emerged toward Bryce in the outfield…”OVER-RATED!” The irony here being two fold: 1) We had an issue when a National League executive called Bryce “overrated” and a “losing player” and, 2) Bryce was recently voted Most Overrated Player, BY HIS PEERS, to be…yep…OVERRATED. He took 48.6% of that vote out of more than 200 MLB players.

Rendon comes through, delivering our first hit of the night. Unfortunately, we don’t get anything going after that.

In the top of the 5th inning, we see Bryce at the plate again but this time he gets a base hit into right field for a double (he makes it to 2nd base), bringing home Segura for another run.

Max – 2, Bryce – 1

Nats – 0, Phillies – 2

Max is done for the night and killed it as only he does. Allowing just 7 hits, 2 runs, and a walk, with 9 strikeouts over 5 innings. He was relieved by Wander Suero.

With Max out, everything just turns to shit. I’ve said this in previous posts. We CANNOT be successful if every time our starting pitchers exit the game (and rightfully so) not a single reliever can hold the opposing team. Just absolute trash, the bullpen is.

It’s now the top of the 6th inning. A pitching change has Matt Grace at the mound now. After Franco’s homer in the 2nd inning, he’s intentionally walked to first base, eliminating his shot at doing it again. However, they also eventually load the bases. Segura doubles and all 3 Phillies on base come home.

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Nats – 0, Phillies – 5

Still the top of the 6th, we see Harper for the 4th time. He hits again, doubling, allowing Segura to run home.

Nats – 0, Phillies – 6

Full disclosure: The crowd was thinning. I left around this time too. It was getting late having had the rain delay and the temperature had dropped into the 40s. Not to mention, we didn’t have a chance at winning this game.

Rendon and Difo would put up runs to finally put us on the board. However, in the top of the 8th, Bryce would homer and top it off with his signature bat flip.

Harper would go 3-for-5 (meaning he managed make contact with the ball 3 times out of 5 tries in the batter’s box) with a home run and 3 RBIs.

It wasn’t the night I hoped for. I wanted Bryce’s night of showing his new team around his former home to be a total fail. But Max proved again while he will be in the Baseball Hall of Fame and Bryce makes baseball fun. I will never take that from him despite my disappointment and how poorly he handled his opportunity to show some appreciation.

Nats – 2, Phillies – 8 (FINAL)

Until we meet again…


Record 1-3

Saturday: What a Beautiful Day for Baseball

Saturday, March 30th.

I started the morning attending my favorite cycle class then ran a few errands. I was still debating about going to the 1:05p game because I also had plans in Reston later in the evening, so rushing to the ballpark was the last thing on my mind. On the other hand, it would be the first Saturday game of the season, it was still Opening Weekend, and the forecast was calling for clear skies and a high of 77˚. I knew if I didn’t go to the game, I would regret it and maybe not spend as much time outside enjoying the weather.

So I decided to go, going all the way in by choosing to walk the mile to the metro toward Navy Yard – Ballpark.

I arrived late, missing the 106.7 FM Radio Lanyard giveaway. It was the 2nd of a 3-game series against the Mets. Stephen Strasburg (#37) was up against Noah Syndergaard aka Thor.  A nice match up for a beautiful day!

The score was 4-1, and the bottom of the 3rd inning. 

Victor Robles (#16) made his mark, hitting our first home run of the season to left field. 4-2. Juan Soto cleaned that up with a base hit that brought Adam Eaton home. 4-3.

That was it! We seemed to have gained some momentum, closing in on the Mets to just a 1-run deficit.

But then Robles the same guy who made mistakes on Opening Day and earlier in this game, but had just secured the team’s first home run of the season, got his @$$ tagged off the bag on 1st base! He’s out. *sigh* 

I’d like to pause here for a second to just let you know that Adam “Spanky” Eaton is like my favorite “right now” player!

Okay back to my story.

Soto comes to the rescue with a ground ball in the middle where there wasn’t a Met in sight. Soto hustle’s toward 2nd base. The Mets’ Conforto throws the ball toward 2nd base in an attempt to get Soto out, but over throws it and Soto is safe on 2nd base. This results in a double for Soto and an error for the Mets. Man I love how this game can change at any minute!

It’s the bottom of the 6th inning, Kurt Suzuki (#28 and Jayson Werth’s old number) is at bat. He hits a fly ball to center field and is caught, but it’s just enough to bring Soto home to tie the game. 4-4.

Like I said, it can change at any minute. As has been the theme since last season, I don’t know what happened or where the time went, but at first the score was 4-4 and now at the top of the 8th it’s 7-4. When did the Mets score 3 more runs?! Oh that’s right…as our bullpen collapsed again. Seriously, our bullpen is trash at the moment. However, I can’t remember a time when we actually had a solid one.

Anyway, after Strasburg pitched his 6 innings we ended up bidding time and not productively. Relief pitchers Tony Sipp, Trevor Rosenthal, Kyle Barraclough, Matt Grace, and closer Wander Suero would all make visits to the pitchers mound.

Here’s the thing: not ANYONE of them pitched for more than 1 inning. I’VE NEVER SEEN SO MUCH PIECE MEALING TO GET THROUGH A GAME IN MY LIFE! We have to get this together. We cannot have starting pitchers that keep runs to a minimum all for it to be erased by the rest of the pitching staff.

Anyway, then it was 11-4.

Yes…WHISKEY….TANGO….FOXTROT?!

Eventually we got what I thought was a perfect moment to come back. Bases were loaded, I’ve forgotten what inning this was at this point, but Davey had finally made a smart decision by having Matt Adams hit in place of Brian Dozier. I still hadn’t seen Dozier produce anything worthwhile so to me this was great. Big City was hitting and I was hype. The Mets decided on a pitching change mid-hype. Fine…get it over with. However, Matt’s bat just didn’t get the ball out of the field. Ball height was there, not enough depth.

We loaded the bases again in the bottom of the 9th inning. I paid attention this time…it was go hard or go home. When at home, the bottom of the 9th is the last chance for the Nationals to score runs. I mean we didn’t have a chance in hell of winning this game but we could at least try to lessen the gap, right?

The bases looked something like Trea Turner on first, Victor Robles on second, and Andrew Stevenson on third. We had only 1 out. Anthony Rendon was up next. Rendon was walked to first, which meant Stevenson walked on home.

The score was 11-5.

Juan Soto (#22) was next. It was a tight high pressured situation. It was a moment reminiscent of Bryce Harper. Twenty-year old outfielder at bat, with the bases loaded, and the potential to close the gap. But he struck out.

First baseman Ryan Zimmerman (#11) aka Mr. Walkoff aka Mr. Franchise came next. This guy is an OG. He’s the the ONLY remaining National from the 2005 inaugural season. He hits to left field off the wall and it’s just enough for Robles, Turner, and Rendon to come home…in that order.

The score was now 11-8 and would remain that way. Suzuki (#28) got the last out for the team. So…we didn’t win but we did take a 7-run deficit to come out behind by only 3! 

There were 33,764 other people enjoying the game and the weather with me that day. The game was 3 hours and 50 mins long.


Record | 0-2

Opening Day 2019

On Opening Day, you wake up SUPER hyped!

After what seemed like the longest winter…EVERRRRRR, Opening Day had finally arrived!

The best way to describe Opening Day is that it’s like the First Day of School or even Christmas morning. I’ve experienced Opening Day before but there I was, surprised I managed to sleep at all the night before. It’s like a ball of energy in anticipation for the day, that’s just waiting to be let out. I needed to tell someone…anyone. So I jumped onto Instagram to declare my excitement but then realized despite having over 800 “followers” on my personal my Instagram account, majority knew or cared little to nothing about baseball. I’d have to wait until I got to the ballpark.

I grabbed the remaining items I needed for the day then went into my closest to figure out what I was going to wear. I tend to leave what I wear on Opening Day to what sparks joy, harnessing my inner Marie Kondo. I opted for my red Curly W hat with “Nika” embroidered on the side, a red player-less jersey over a blue henley, jeans, Curly W argyle socks, and my red Converse sneakers.

It was 10:20a when I finally got in my car and made my way to the metro. At first I thought I might have missed the wave, as there’s usually other Nats fans on the train with me. However, as the train chugged along, the presence of Nats fans and the color red increased. Nine stops later (and around 10:50a), I arrived at Navy Yard Ballpark.


On Opening Day you get re-adjusted and maybe make a new friend.

Making my way down Half Street, I remember how happy I was to see that the street vendors selling bottled water, peanuts, hot dogs, and other snacks hadn’t been img_2785-1completely displaced by the development and construction going on in the area….yet.

I was surprised to find that the lines were a lot shorter than I expected given that gates would be opening at 11:05a. I decided to stand in one of the the Season Plan Holder lines so I put on my new NatsPlus 2019 lanyard and credentials for access. Despite my previous thoughts…this thing…it grows on you.

Waiting in line, I couldn’t help but jam to the sounds of DJ Flexx from WPGC 95.5 deejaying just inside the park. I also struck up conversations with fellow Nats fans, in particular Ms. Nettie. I’d never met or seen Ms. Nettie before that day, but I believe particular people are placed into your life, not just for a reason, but also at the right time. We immediately clicked. Like me, she’s a Black woman that loves baseball and was also at the park by herself that day. What’s even more awesome about her is that in addition to being a baseball fan, she’s a big hockey fan too and holds season tickets for the Capitals!

Ms. Nettie and I bid each other a “see you later” shortly after entering the ballpark. Once through the gates, I grabbed the giveaway for the day: a red DC Flag/Curly W t-shirt with the team’s home schedule on the back, then made my way over to take a pic in front of a Curly W made of balloons. Seriously, how cool is that?!

My next stop before doing anything else, is always the team store. My toughest budgeting test really. But before I could get there, I ran into Ms. Nettie again. Like a giddy school girl on the first day of school, I told her all about the Curly W balloon photo op and that she just had to get her picture taken too. So we decided to come back to the team store together.


On Opening Day you get new merch.

There were people, people everywhere in the team store. The line literally wrapped a couple of times around itself. But like with Spring Training, I have must-get items on Opening Day. One being a lapel pin for my lanyard and the other, whatever additional item catches my eye. This time I chose a navy hat with a red block W, a nod to the Washington Senators.

 …and more merch.

I left Ms. Nettie again, but not before exchanging numbers and making a deal to keep in touch. I then ventured upstairs to look around and scope out new places to eat. I didn’t make it far at all before I came up on the Breaking T kiosk and some pretty dope t-shirt designs. I grabbed two. If you’re keeping track, I’ve now acquired 3 shirts, a hat, and a lapel pin.

Avoiding further damage, I went straight to my seat to enjoy the program.


On Opening Day you catch up with old friends like on the first day of school!

I caught up with the usual suspects like Tripp, Captain Obvious, my section/row mate Beverly, and of course Matt, the beer man…oh and Stephen! I met Stephen back in 2017 at the Nationals Crab Feast on the Field. We made it a point to keep in touch and Thursday marked Opening Day #2 that we caught up and of course took a selfie!


On Opening Day your Ace pitches.

Max Scherzer (#31), a 6x All-Star, 3x Cy Young award winner and a definite for the Baseball Hall of Fame, was our starting pitcher for the day. He would be going up against the recent Cy Young award winner, Jacob DeGrom of the New York Mets. Before taking my seat for good, I went a few sections over to snap some pics of Mad Max warming up near the bullpen.


On Opening Day there’s pomp and circumstance.

Opening Day is ceremonious. We had the pleasure of having James Brown from CBS News emcee the event. There was an emotional tribute to the late Frank Robinson, the first Black manager in MLB history and a former manager of the Nationals, followed by a moment of silence.  The Mets and Nationals players, coaches, and managers were then introduced.

The Star-Spangled Banner was performed by the U.S. Army Chorus Quartet as a United States-shaped American flag was spread across the outfield by the U.S. Coast Guard Color Guard. A white star was creatively used to depict Alaska or Hawaii or both? Anyway, the Nationals Opening Day ceremony never disappoints.

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Unlike last year, the the Star-Spangled Banner was capped off by a flyover performed by the 113th Wing Capital Guardians. I wasn’t prepared, so I missed getting a pic/video of it but believe me it was glorious!

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser gave us the the green light when she shouted “Lets Play Ball!”

GAME TIME!


On Opening Day, it’s totally normal to drink beer for lunch.

Trust me, it was 5 o’clock somewhere. There’s nothing like a cold can (or two) of Bud Light from your favorite Beer Man, on a beautiful day, while enjoying your and America’s favorite pastime.


On Opening Day your team either wins or it loses.

First pitch was at 1:07p. Both pitchers were starting the season and this series with a record of 0-0. Max would strike out his first batter, Brandon Nimmo but Robinson Cano would hit the very first home run of the season and the first run of the game, in the 1st inning.

It was good to see former Nationals catcher now Met, Wilson Ramos who received a warm welcome when it was his time at bat. Nats fans shouted “Wiiilllllllson!” the way we used to when he was behind the plate for us.

The game went on and by the 6th inning Max had 10 strike outs but our offense had yet to score a run.

Road Runner Trea Turner (#7) stole his 2nd base in the bottom of the 6th. He was challenged by Manager Davey Martinez to steal 80 bases this season. At the pace from Opening Day, he’s on track to stealing upwards of 500 bases this year!

It was such a beautiful day for baseball. The only thing more we could ask for was a run or two!

(On Opening Day you’re also reminded your team still has the same issues from before.)

I’m not exactly sure why Davey decided to allow Max to hit for himself after already pitching 7 innings and we were trailing 1-0. In the American League, there’s a player known as the Designated Hitter (DH) that always bats for the pitcher. However, in the National League (where the Nationals play), there is no DH. Managers and pitchers can decide whether the pitcher will hit for himself or bring in a pinch hitter (PH) to hit for the pitcher. Max ended up striking out during a moment that could have been pivotal for us had Davey simply played a PH. I don’t blame Max, he has the tendency to rake (hit well) but Davey should’ve made a play that would have gotten us closer to scoring a run.

Max would pitch 7 and 2/3 innings before being relieved by Hellickson…and then the bullpen just fell apart. That on top of a lack of offense kept us scoreless.

There’s no half time in baseball but the 7th Inning Stretch provides an opportunity to…well…stretch and reclaim your hype. As custom, we sang Take Me Out to the Ball Game. After which, there’s usually an up-to-date popular song guaranteed to get us moving. I was surprised to hear Take On Me! Take On Me used to be a walk-up song for Michael Morse, a beloved former National turned San Fran Giant, who saw his career ended way too early after suffering a concussion during an on-field brawl. That song always got crowd participation and brought back all the feels of that time when Morse was on the team.

(Ignore the abrupt ending, there was a t-shirt being thrown my way.)

We would return to the game. Leaving runners stranded in scoring position (2nd or 3rd base) several times. Victor Robles lost on what would’ve been a run after hesitating on a ground ball. Robinson Cano would score on a single off Matt Grace in the 8th inning.

All in all, two GREAT pitchers pitched that day, recording historical double-digit strikeouts so the game was low scoring, each team having only 5 hits. At the end of 2 hours and 44 minutes, we lost 2-0. Max ended that game 0-1, DeGrom 1-0.

On Opening Day, there are 161 games remaining…still.


Record | 0-1

It’s An Exhibition: Yankees vs. Nats

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.

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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. img_2530It’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.

I took in the view, challenging myself to identify what was new about the team and around the ballpark. Things like the Scoreboard getting an updated look and Catcher Kurt Suzuki playing for the Nats for the second time around and sporting #28, Jayson Werth’s old number. There’s even a Curly W topiary-like thing hanging out in the outfield:

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Cool, right?

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 got colder as the evening went on and an occasional sprinkle would visit but the Nats were keeping the lead. It eventually got so cold that I exhausted all of the extra items I brought to keep me warm, so I jetted. It was the bottom of the 6th inning and the Nats were up 4-2. As I was leaving my seat Matt Adams aka Big City was at bat. I hadn’t even made it to the metro before I heard the ship horn followed by our adopted post-home run cheer: “N-A-T-S! NATS! NATS! NATS! Woo!” He had blasted a homer to center field and the Nats were up 5-2. The Yankees would go on to score one more run in the 8th but the Nats won the game…5-3.

It felt great being back in my home away from home and I’m definitely looking forward to what this season will bring!

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.