Quick Thoughts About Nats Fan Fest and Opening Day

Posted by Dave Nichols | Wednesday, March 30, 2011 | , , , | 2 comments »

Let's address the weather issue first and foremost.

The weather is supposed to be crappy.  Drizzle all night, showers in the morning, 40 percent chance of rain at 1:05 pm, rising to 60 percent at 4:00 pm and 80 percent by 6:00 pm.  High temp of 44 degrees.  Yuck.

When speaking with reporters earlier today, Nats principal owner Mark Lerner said they would do everything they could to get the game in as scheduled, but would make the call early Thursday morning so fans could prepare.  Lerner said they would not play Thursday night, so if it does get rescheduled it will be Friday at 1:05, which is supposed to be sunny and 55 degrees.

Personally, I don't think there's anyway they don't open the doors tomorrow, whether they end up playing or not.  It's just a personal opinion.  But stay tuned here and on twitter (@NatsNewsNetwork) and we'll publish news as soon as we hear it.  We plan to be at the park early (gates open at 10:30 for fans) so we'll get the news to you as soon as we have it.

As for Fan Fest, our Off the Field page will have plenty of pictures and quotes to share very soon (you really should bookmark or RSS it, we'll be busy over there this year), but I have a few quick impressions.

The weather notwithstanding, things went pretty smoothly.  Sure, there were some long lines on an already crowded concourse to meet and greet the players (though no autographs and folks were hurried through lines to keep them moving), but the number of players available was significantly higher than in years past.

Because the team waited until the day before opening day, they had the entire 25-man roster, plus selected minor leaguers (Bryce Harper, Derek Norris, Cole Kimball) present to shake hands and have pictures with the fans.

And there were plenty of fans there, despite the gloomy weather.  I was honestly shocked at the number of folks in the park.

This area is dying for good baseball.  National and out-of-towners can make all the fun they want, but I saw families, fathers and sons, businessmen playing hooky...and there wasn't even a game.  Now granted, we're talking maybe a couple thousand max, but there were games that didn't draw that last season.

Some of the other impressive things I saw and heard:
  • Frank Howard, who really should have some semi-official sort of role with this franchise, told his nine consecutive strikeout story no fewer than three times.  And I enjoyed it each time.
  • Bob Boone revealed his favorite player growing up was Al Rosen, not his father Ray.
  • Phil Wood's personal collection of memorabilia, jerseys and other "stuff" is darn impressive.
  • Mark Lerner described Bryce Harper as a "kid on a sleepover" taking his first flight with the team coming up from Florida.
  • Lerner also said that other than a few single seats, Opening Day was sold out.  Even without inviting the marauding hoards from Philly to invade the park.
  • Stephen Strasburg is really, really anxious to get back on a big league mound.
  • Lastly, on our internet radio show on PrimeSportsNetwork.com, MLB.com's Bill Ladson went on the hook for 82 wins.
All in all, a busy, exhausting day at the park.  And I have to be back in about nine hours of this posting.  Hopefully we'll get the game in, and the 2011 season can start unfolding before our eyes.


  1. Mark // March 31, 2011 at 10:14 AM  

    If MLB schedules an off day on the day after Opening Day - and the Nats don't use it this year. What is the point of keeping the date open?

  2. Dave Nichols // March 31, 2011 at 10:17 AM  

    Mark: MLB builds in off-days early for weather, and for staggering all the openers. they've been doing it for decades.

    the Nats want to get today's opener in for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is all the folks that took off work today that won't be able to tomorrow.