Saturday, January 12, 2008
Winter Tour--DC Convention Center
As Nationals Radio Broadcaster Charlie Slowes is signing his signature for The African Queen, Our Washington Nationals Team President Stan Kasten yells over to Charlie--"I need to get your autograph too--on paper!!" Everyone laughed. I was smiling. Charlie says: "That's Funny." And, it was. No, its not a done deal yet--but unless there is a drastic turn for the worse--Charlie Slowes should be OFFICIALLY back in the fold, as lead Play-By-Play Radio Man with his partner, Dave Jageler, at New Nationals Park for 2008.
Charlie and Mr. Kasten were appearing alongside Pitcher Jason Bergmann and newly acquired Infielder--Aaron Boone at The WRC TV 4's Annual Health Fair at The DC Convention Center. This Saturday Event, the first stop of the announced Winter Tour over the next few weeks in the Greater Washington Area--before Our Team heads to Viera, Florida for Spring Training. Of Course---My Best Friend!! Screech!!!! was there--always a headliner for us--Jamie from The NatPack--as well as Our Racing Presidents.
Sohna and I had not seen SCREEEEEECH!! since the very last home game of 2007. So we all took time to wish each other Happy New Year!! and catch up over the past few months.
Then, the "Let Teddy Win!!!" Chant was recited---to Teddy's Great Joy--as The Presidents appeared at The Nationals Booth at The Convention Center. As usual, GW gave the thumbs down to Teddy's continued popularity. I have no doubt--if we had really started yelling that "Let Teddy Win!!" Chant--we could have had the entire Floor of The DC Convention Center following suit. A few thousand folks singing that tune--would have been GREAT!! Alas, it didn't happen.
But, Teddy and I did take the opportunity to discuss new strategy for his 2008 Racing Dates at New Nationals Park. Still no idea whether Teddy will be able to stand on the railing in New Section 218--Club Level--like he did in Old Section 320 at RFK--to feel the love. Can Teddy actually even GET TO CLUB LEVEL?? Are the doors not too small?
As for the program itself, Charlie introduced Jason and Aaron to the assembled crowd. Then, both players gave individual skills lessons to a selected group of youngsters. After the participation part of the program ended--Slowes fielded questions from the audience (A Few Hundred Fans In Attendance at any given moment) to be answered by Bergmann, Boone and Mr. Kasten.
During the Question and Answer Session--Mr. Kasten did note that Single Season Game Tickets will go on sale for everyone during the first week of March. Season Ticket Holders will have an opportunity beforehand to select individual games slightly before that date. Even more importantly for Season Ticket Holders--Parking Information will be sent out on Monday to all holders of Season Plans. No ON SITE Parking will be available for Single (Daily) Game Day Ticket Holders--although Mr. Kasten did state--the RFK Free Shuttle will be in effect and is a go--details to come.
After the Q & A--Aaron Boone, Mr. Kasten and Jason Bergmann sat down in The Nationals Booth to sign autographs and take pictures for those fans wishing to participate. Our Washington Nationals provided the Photo Cards for the signatures.
During the signings--The Racing Presidents were standing in front of The Nats Booth taking photos with other fans. At one point, Mr. Kasten glanced up at Teddy running back and forth and stated: "Teddy looks like he's been working out. I can predict a few solid 2nd Place Finishes this coming year!!" Jason Bergmann--sitting to his left signing autographs--cracked up--nodding his head up and down.
Sohna and I always enjoy the family atmosphere of these get togethers. It was fun to see many of our friends again--fellow season ticket holders and fans from RFK Stadium. Every one of them--seemingly excited to head out to New Nationals Park for that first game in March. Yes, I know, the event itself was small in size, but everyone involved on the part of Our Washington Nationals was accessible. Whether it was Mr. Kasten, Charlie Slowes, Jason Bergmann or Aaron Boone--each took the time to speak with the fans in attendance. Screech & The Presidents posed for EVERYBODY. That's nice.
No, there was not much news--but that's not the point. It's an opportunity to see some players in a different light. And maybe--get the chance for a personal conversation about the game. Or in Mr. Kasten's case--ask a question that's on your mind.
Case in point--Charlie Slowes cracked The African Queen and I up when he mentioned--jokingly--that I was his New Campaign Manager--for all my posts on The Nats320 Blog during the past few months--wishing to get him re-signed by the team. It's these small moments--that make attending today's Winter Tour worthwhile, AND FUN, for us.
At the conclusion of today's events, Jason Bergmann and Aaron Boone were each kind enough give me a few minutes of their time. My Chats with Our Number 57 and Our New Number 8--will appear over the next few days--once I get the chance to transcribe them.
PS: Although this idea is not set in stone--it does appear--barring any change--New Nationals Park will feature a Special Curly "W" Pretzel on the Stadium Menu. And not just that dry piece of warmed over bread that Aramark served at RFK Stadium--but a moist, buttery masterpiece that will melt in your mouth. This item, one of the many changes in the works--with Centerplate in charge of concessions on South Capitol Street. Hopefully very soon, Centerplate will be able to sit down and give me a complete rundown of what they have in store. Some remarks given to The African Queen and I today (ideas still being discussed) were very inviting. Really, Centerplate does seem to understand the fans. Sohna and I can't wait to hear their final menu choices.
PSS: Our Washington Nationals were selling the Special New Nationals Park Patch to be worn on the right sleeve of game uniforms during the 2008 Season at The Convention Center this afternoon--$15 per patch. Although I forgot to take a picture of it (I did find a photo of the set at the ballparkguys forum)--Our Team was also selling a Special Three Patch Set for $45. This Set, some of which fans used for autographs today--consisted of The New Nationals Park Patch, Farewell RFK Stadium Patch and New Nationals Uniform Patch--Nicely Packaged.