Friday, December 07, 2007

Boys & Girls Clubs of Washington Holiday Party

"I love playing for The Washington Nationals" said Luis Ayala. "I am looking forward to playing in the new park. And (now looking directly at Principal Owner Mark Lerner standing about five feet way), I hope to play the rest of my career here in Washington, DC. I really mean it. I love it here, are you listening?"

Mark Lerner replies nodding and smiling: "Then stay healthy." Everybody cracks up laughing. Smiles all around.

Was Luis Ayala ever in a great holiday spirit!! You can't say enough about his effort yesterday afternoon at The ESPN ZONE in Downtown Washington, DC. The occasion--Our Washington Nationals Second Annual Holiday Party for The Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington. Over 180 invited children showed up from 8 different Area Clubs. Five from The District of Columbia, Two from Alexandria and Fairfax, Virginia, and One from Silver Spring, Maryland.

Ayala, Mark Lerner and Senior Vice-President, External Affairs--Alphonso Maldon, Jr. presented each child in attendance with a special holiday gift from Our Washington Nationals.

The ESPN Zone provided, not only the venue, but a Buffet Meal plus Game Tickets for the various play stations on the lower level of their restaurant. Also on hand--Principal Owner Judy Lerner.

Centerplate--The New Concessionaire at New Nationals Park--provided specially made Curly W Holiday Cookies (Really nicely done--by the way).

And--last, but far from least-- My Best Friend Screech!!! posted up to provide the antics.

Honestly, I didn't know what to expect when I first decided to attend this event. But, Luis Ayala was GREAT with the kids. He told some jokes, sang songs with them, played along with their games, signed an autograph for EACH AND EVERY ONE in attendance-- and took plenty of pictures. Our Number 56 worked the room like a real pro. And--most importantly--he was loving every minute of it. HE WANTED TO BE THERE.

Luis Ayala flew in from his home in Mexico on Wednesday--along with his brother--Mario. "I don't see snow often." he said. "So, this is different, but I am really not use to it." Of course--Ayala, like Ryan Zimmerman the day before at The New Nationals Park Holiday Lighting Party, was only wearing a light jacket in the freezing weather, as well. There must really be something about being young and adapting to cold--that I just don't remember as I approach 50 years of age.

The event itself lasted over two and half hours. In addition to the toys provided--each child also received a Goodie Bag of Washington Nationals memorabilia--including a Red Curly "W" Cap. Most all those caps left The ESPN Zone with Luis Ayala's autograph.

Stacey Wiessbock--Head of Catering for Centerplate and Chef Michael Snead (The New Executive Chef for New Nationals Park) took the time to introduce themselves to me and thanked EVERYONE who posted suggestions on The Nats320 Blog about their food and concession desires at the new ballpark. Both assured me that Centerplate was very pleased to receive and hear those comments. And, their company is looking forward to announcing what's in store for New Nationals Park after the start of the new year. Without taking away any one's thunder--Centerplate has been listening--and seemingly does want everyone to enjoy the upcoming choices to be available on South Capitol Street--no matter how much, or how little, you wish to spend at a ballgame. That can't be a bad thing. No way--in my opinion.

The Event itself was fun. Glad, I was to attend. No, not over news worthy--when it comes to The Baseball Operations side of Our Washington Nationals. But, its nice to know Our Team, along with some of their players and business partners--are reaching out to various parts of The Washington D.C. Area Community to show their appreciation--to others. Like the Holiday Lighting Ceremony on Wednesday afternoon and this Party at ESPN Zone. Something simple--goes along way in building and generating a solid fan base--especially during The Holiday Season.


SenatorNat said...

Thanks for nice post on a nice occasion for the kids, SBF - I have always really liked #56, and agree with the owner that it would be terrific for all concerned if he can remain healthy: as Bow-Bow says, the back of the Nationals pitching staff is solid with Rivera; Ayala; Rauch; and the Chief (aka the "Chef"!)

Speaking of chefs, Nationals Park actually boasts an Executive Chef!

Michael Snead, Executive Chef, looks a bit like the guy who runs the deli next to Ed Sullivan Theatre in New York who David Letterman uses as a device in his show all these years...He looks like he can actually produce something edible, which is a vast improvement, certainly...Unless he gets the yips (Sam Snead joke).

Nationals giving every signal that they do not think Jesus Flores is up to the challenge of being a first-string catcher in 2008. While we fans would probably gush over adding Paul LoDuca, more likely to be Johnny Estrada, when the dust clears. The latter played in Atlanta, so he "qualifies" as having once been associated with either the Reds or Braves, or both, and is relatively inexpensive.

Aaron Boone fits all the Nationals' qualifiers, including having his Dad in the organization. Healthy Boone could be a real boon for the team, another excellent economically priced veteran in the D.Young; R.Belliard mode...

At the rate the Nationals are going, their payroll may end up being about the same, or even a tad lower than last year's - evident that cost control remains a premium, as part of THE PLAN.

Hard to argue with this, compared, for example, to signing Guillen for $36 m as Royals did, for a guy who shall sit for the first 15 games of his stint as a Royal. Royals seemingly have no plan - they and the Orioles are perennial aimless twins...

Trust in The Chief. And the Chef. All Good.

Anonymous said...

When exactly is it your TV Station actually has you work?
Mike says there's a typhoon that went through Hawaii. Why weren't you there??

Anonymous said...

Luis Ayala is the man. I can't wait to have him *hopefully* pitch a full season, and bring back some of that set-up/shut-down Ayala/Cordero magic.

I know we just picked up Aaron Boone, but is there anyway you can talk to Jim Bowden about talking with the Indians to pick up Jamey Carrol?

Can't wait for April! (or maybe March 30th)