#TBT – Super Heroes, Siths, and Saltiness

I know what you’re thinking…”Damn girl, you’re still here?!” Yes, yes I am. Listen keeping up with writing and everything else life throws your way is hard! I have much respect for those of you who do this professionally and/or with some level of consistency.

But I’m back right now and OMG so much has happened!

We A LOT of lost games.

…and at one point I never thought we’d get to .500 (meaning we have the same number of wins and losses). But we did… actually we’re .535 (8 games over .500) and look real good sitting at 2nd place in the National League East, 6 games behind Atlanta and 1.5 games in front of Philly! For the first time in Nationals history, we are Wild Card contenders. You see in the years we’ve won the National League East we had the wins and simply clinched it. This time is different because we’re coming back from a big deficit. But watching us play during this second half in pursuit of a chance at making the playoffs, certainly makes for good baseball and high blood pressure.

The BF and I had our first outing together at the ballpark…and then another!

May 25th – Marvel Super Hero Day

Although he had done the Spartan Stadion at the ballpark just two weeks prior (*ahem* on my birthday), this would be The BF’s first time at the ballpark for an actual game. I felt the pressure. Admittedly, I had my doubts. The ballpark is one of my happy places and I’m quite protective of that. Plus my past dating during baseball season (DDBS and yes, I just made that up) experience had been shitty at best. So just in case he wasn’t that into baseball or was uncomfortable with how much I am, I chose two themed games I knew he’d enjoy: Marvel Super Hero Day and Star Wars Day. To say he loves these two things, universes, cults, or whatever you want to call them would be a gross understatement.

We arrived at the ballpark a little late, missing the Ryan Zimmerman as Captain America bobblehead giveaway. It was hot and humid and I wondered how well, if at all, I would balance following the game and making sure The BF was comfortable. After all I had dragged him out to the ballpark on a hot and humid day to sit in the direct sun for several hours. Turns out that as usual I hyped that entire scenario…in my head. Things had been effortless with us up to that point and being at the ballpark was no different. It was perfect and by the end, I was looking forward to catching another game with him. I actually think he paid more attention than I did and I might have observed the beginning signs of conversion.

We walked away with a Curly W, beating the Marlins 5-0. The biggest win for me though was walking away knowing that I have someone who loves me, even when I’m a sweaty screaming fanatic at the ballpark.

June 15th – Star Wars Day

Star Wars Day was our second time at the ballpark. We arrived early enough to snag the Obi Sean Kenobi bobblehead. Before taking our seats we checked out battles between The Resistance and The First Order, fans young and old in cosplay, an inflatable Death Star, and a pretty cool R2D2.

I must say that while the Nationals did well with Marvel Super Hero Day, they just did a must better job with Star Wars Day. It was a completely different experience with Star Wars-themed sights, food, and entertainment all throughout. Which made up well for the 10-3 loss to the Diamondbacks.

I took my salty family to the ballpark too!

June 4th

Every year, I bring some of my favorite people out to a game and it’s always a good time. Usually Karl and Jen will join me for a Phillies game, and Kyle, an Orioles game, but this year everyone joined me when the White Sox were in town. This was during the time that neither team had reached .500. To be clear…they weren’t salty at first. Actually when they arrived at the ballpark, they were quite confident the White Sox would take the win to get them closer to .500.

I just checked…they are .451 and 18.5 games behind the Minnesota Twins so I’ll spare you the details of how that game went (we won 9-5).

Also since this post is super late and the cat’s finally out of the bag…

Congratulations Jennifer & Karl! 💙

 

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 One)

Tuesday, April 2nd

“If you would have told me 5 years ago…” That’s how his Instagram post started.

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If you would have told me 5 years ago I would be walking into Nationals Park as an opposing player, I would’ve told you that you were crazy. Five years later, I’m doing just that. I remember the first day I walked into Nats Park. My first base hit. My first home run. And, of course, my first standing ovation. Nationals fans delivered that first ovation. The things that I will miss most are the relationships I gained on a personal level with so many of the Nationals staff and workers around the ballpark. Every day I walked in, I got a smile or shared a laugh with you. I especially want to thank The Lerner Family and Mike Rizzo for the unwavering support they showed me during my tenure in DC. The city of DC was home. Filomena’s, The Silver Diner, The Italian store, and countless other places helped make it feel like home. You, Nationals fans, made me one of your own for the entire time I was a part of the Nationals organization. I’m so blessed to have been able to play for a fan base that cared so much about our team each and every night. You will always hold a special place in my heart no matter what. I look forward to continuing Harpers Heroes with LLS in the DMV as well as making sure the legacy fields bearing my name are the best youth fields in town! When I run on the field tonight I am sure to hear some boos, but I will always remember the cheers and the screams that are still with me right now, as I start my new chapter. So for that, DC, THANK YOU.

A post shared by Bryce Harper (@bryceharper3) on

We’ll come back to this.

The day before, on April Fool’s Day, I noticed an Instagram post by both Bryce and his wife Kayla, announcing that they would be expecting. Congrats to the parents-to-be! That was my initial reaction, but then I thought whether this was the first of many things to come in order to invoke empathy from disappointed Nationals Fans before we would face the Phillies and Bryce on April 2nd. Of course I could have totally read into that but the timing seemed oh so…well…convenient?

On that same day, an article came out detailing why Bryce is no longer a National. To note, the Lerner’s (owners of the Nationals) first offer to Bryce was for $300 m/10 years with deferred payments until 2052, made in 2018 during a damn rain delay. Wait, is this how it’s normally done?! Silence. Still Bryce was apparently excited and hopeful he’d remain a National when he met with the owners in December. Sometime went by and no one said anything again until January, when the Lerners extended yet another offer, but this time for less and with payments deferred 20 more years than the first offer. Well we know how that ended. You can read all about that elsewhere. We could also speculate why the Lerner’s did what they did but we won’t get into that right now either.

For a moment, I felt bad for Bryce. According to the article, he wanted to stay in DC. But Bryce was going to test his free agency, also.

Let’s get back to this Instagram post…

I read the post. In its entirety and full disclosure, it made me shed a little tear. Not because he was gone and I longed to have him back. Not even because he’s a Philly now. I cried because after all of the time that had elapsed…that’s all we got. I was so disappointed. Beyond disappointed really. Maybe I wasn’t managing my expectations but that post came just before he made his return to Nationals Park in a different uniform…seriously it was the day he was returning.

It was literally too little…too late.

Here’s a timeline for context:

  • September 30, 2018 | End of the Nationals 2018 season
  • October 29, 2018 | Harper’s free agency starts
  • A
  • WHOLE
  • LOT
  • OF
  • DAMN
  • TIME
  • February 28, 2019 | Harper signs with the Philadelphia Phillies

He could have gotten in front of this months ago! There was plenty of opportunity to address us Nats fans…even if the language was something along the lines of, “I don’t know what the future holds but…” Does Bryce Harper not have a PR person?!

To be clear, there were levels to how Nats fans felt about this whole situation. Some stopped caring for the guy a long time ago, some destroyed their jerseys, some hated him for going to Philly, some immediately wished him the best. For me, it was never that he signed elsewhere, and after a while I had pretty much moved passed the fact that he was now in Philly (our division rival). But this thank you/walk down memory lane/ode to DC felt rushed, inauthentic, definitely half-assed, and did nothing but slap us on the other cheek.

WE DESERVED BETTER BRYCE!

I was there the year he made his MLB debut. I, along with thousands of other people, flocked to the ballpark with excitement to see this young prodigy and hopes of witnessing him hit a home run then flip his bat like a boss. Bryce had so many good times and some bad through the years. And us fans were there through it all.

So, if you would have told me 5 years ago…

…that Bryce not only wouldn’t be a National, but would end up 4 hour drive NE to our division rival…

…that he would come to be an immediate turncoat, declaring love for a city whose fans disrespected him year after year, and go on to unnecessarily spell words with “Ph” like “Phamily”…

…that he would live up to the douche bag label everyone else fought to give him that we undoubtedly defended…

…that the day would come when his first fan base, the only fan base he knew would feel betrayed and then non-existent…

…that I’d come to witness what seemed like all of the DMV root for him during the Home Run Derby, all to be given an 11th hour thank you later…

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I would have told you that you were crazy.

But here we are.

So for that, Bryce, no thank you!

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 – Last Day

Wednesday.

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.

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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.

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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.

Touchdown!


…until next Spring!

West Palm Beach – Day 2

Monday.

Yesterday was my first full day in the West Palm Beach/Boynton area. Although I’m actually staying in Boynton Beach, WPB is just a 10-15 min ride on 95 North from Boynton.

One of my goals for the 3-ish days I’d be visiting, was to workout at least 2 of those 3 days. And I knew I wanted to get those workouts in and out of the way before I truly started my day. I dropped in at Fitness Hub Studios in WPB after finding them on

ClassPass. There, I took a 45-min virtual cycle class. It was my first time taking a virtual class and I must say, it was great! Now I was the only person in the class, but it didn’t stop me from challenging myself or from having a good time.

*UPDATE* How could I forget that I paid TEN DOLLARS to park for 45 minutes near Fitness Hub?! However, they do validate parking if you park in the parking garage behind Duffy’s (Olive and Banyan Streets) and in the City Center garage (Banyan and Dixie Streets).

Knowing that Tuesday would mostly be spent at the ballpark and I would be heading back home on Wednesday, I wanted to make sure I also got in some time at the beach to read and recharge. So after a much needed shower and change of clothes, I headed straight to Oceanfront Park. Last year, I spent a few hours at Oceanfront Park and really enjoyed the amenities and cleanliness of the beach. There, I laid out a towel, spread across it, and dug further into Becoming. I occasionally looked up to see and listen to the sounds of the other beachgoers, and let my mind wander at the meditative sounds of the waves crashing ashore.

I also wanted to catch the sunset. However, Oceanfront Park is East facing so I hopped in the Jeep to travel just a mile down N Ocean Blvd to Ocean Inlet Park. I don’t know why, but I am rarely aware of the sun as it sets back home. Maybe it’s because I’m too busy trying to meet a deadline or run from one place to the other (geez I should really should do better). But watching the sunset on the water was something  I did every evening while here last year and it’s become a must-do. It’s almost as if my body needs it by the time it happens. SOLITUDE and PEACE To sit peacefully with nothing but my own thoughts. To reflect on the day’s events, the year-to-date, life so far, as the day ends with hope to live another one.

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FEED ME!

I scoped out a few places I wanted to try before arriving to WPB. One of those places was Prime Catch right here in Boynton, to where I headed just after the sun set. However, please DO NOT confuse Prime Catch with Prime – Delray Beach, which in full disclosure, is exactly where I made my reservations. The hostess was cool though…apparently I wasn’t the only one that’d made that mistake before and after about a 10 minute wait…I was seated.

I was greeted and taken care of by Andrew. Because I’m fancy, I ordered a glass of Malbec and an order of Veggie Fries for starters. Man those veggies were delicious! Tempura-fried asparagus, eggplant, and zucchini, drizzled with honey, and a lemon garlic aioli for dipping. It was like a dance party on my taste buds.

I went all in on the seafood for my main course, opting for the Prime Mixed Grill of lobster tail, scallops, jumbo shrimp, in a garlic herb butter. For sides, I chose the mashed potatoes and substituted the grilled asparagus it came with for sautéed garlic spinach.

I also didn’t skip dessert. My eyes zoomed in on the menu at the Flourless Swiss Chocolate Tort and it did not disappoint.

I didn’t eat all of my dinner or dessert but I wasn’t left feeling hungry or miserably full. The meal truly hit the sweet spot. Signaling the end of my meal, I was offered a slice of lemon and warm towel to rid my hands of the seafood smell. 

I’ll definitely be back and I would highly recommend Prime Catch…in Boynton…not Prime – Delray, to anyone looking for good seafood, welcoming environment, and outdoor seating.