The past two days, I went to D.C. for four events: Cherry Blossoms, Natsfest, Nationals Opening Day, and a Caps game. The only reason I wanted to go is to experience my first D.C. Sports Doubleheader. This one is special because it was opening day in baseball and the Caps push to the playoffs.
I have done this the past three out of four years. It never gets old. There’s nothing to add except I would like festival organizers is more choices for JapaDogs. That day, it felt like Vancouver.
I walked from the Tidal Basin to Nationals Park to go to Natsfest. It started to rain when I arrived and I was amazed there was a solid crowd who came. I would imagine a smaller crowd with the weather and it was a school day, but this shows there’s a growing fan base in Washington. With the rain coming down, practice was cut short and there were no autograph sessions, but people saw memorabilia of Washington’s baseball history and Q & A sessions. The star of Natsfest Washington Senator great, Frank Howard, who told his nine consecutive strikeout story at least two times and it never got old. The event went well under the circumstances.
Nationals Opening Day
This was my first opening day. I would imagine a sunny and a crisp 60 degree day. Instead, it was drizzly, but freezing. All the weather reports said there was a good chance of rain and in the mid 40s. It almost felt like it was 25 degrees. This was easily the coldest event I went to and I was outside for a good 6 hours, although I did get a free bratwurst and water as a result from broken registers :). I don’t mind the cold, but it’s spring and it’s suppose to be warm, but on the plus side, I met most of the Nats tweeps in real life and made this a better event, even in the cold. I have been to 4 different home openers and by far, baseball is the most genuine I attended, although the 2006-2007 George Mason men’s basketball home opener was very special. As for the game, the Braves beat the Nats, 2-0. A disappointing result, but a wonderful event everyone should attend and if you’re lucky, next year’s opening day might be a buck.
Just to go back on Natsfest; the Nats lost and I mostly think the weather play a role, but another part could be about Natsfest. There are several fans who were upset Natsfest was a day before Opening Day and not in January, where most baseball teams have their annual fanfest. Mark Lerner, principal owner of the Nats, said this was the only time to bring all the players to come to Natsfest. I heard all sides and both make compelling arguments. I understand Mark’s standpoint of holding the event the day before the game, but this event needs to happen a week before the first game and the Nats can’t do it because of spring training. January is a great time to do it, but I understand this is the players’ offseason and they have their own schedule, plus going into D.C. in the winter has started to become brutal with snowstorms. There are two options the Nats can take:
Option 1: Still hold Natsfest the day before Opening Day and have a deal with the DC public schools to bring kids to the park after school and bring them to the field and have the players stay in the field, meet and greet, sign autographs, and take pictures.
Option 2: Have Natsfest in January, but social media has to play a role since nearly everyone in D.C. has a social media profile (remember, DC is the most socially networked city in the U.S.). Word can get out quick and the players will respond. Right now, the Nats do not have a strong enough fan base to have their voices heard, but when 2012 comes around with Strasburg and Bryce Harper on the team, things might change. In addition, we know Strasburg and Harper have Twitter accounts, so we can bother them why they can’t attend.
After 6 hours in the unexpected freezing weather, I travel to Chinatown to California Tortilla to get a burrito and getting a “10” hot sauce to warm myself up. After that, I went to see my friends and it was off to the game. Caps won 4-3 over the Columbus Blue Jackets in overtime, but it shouldn’t be like that since Columbus didn’t have Rick Nash in the lineup and fielded an AHL team. The Caps might be in the playoffs, but without possibly Mike Green and Dennis Wideman, can the Caps advance? The longest preseason is almost to a close, but the real season begins and let’s sees if the Caps have learned from past seasons.
For these past two days, it was a time to relax and enjoy something special that may never happen again, unless you have the Beltway Series and the Stanley Cup Finals, which would be the penultimate. Overall, these past two days is a great time to be a Washingtonian…unless you’re a twitching little freak who is ticked by this and this.