With snow on the ground and temps below the freezing mark, a sea of fans wearing smiles and their red-colored Washington sports gear converged on downtown this afternoon. A Capitals game?
Almost always, yes. But today we’re talking NatsFest, the Nationals fan festival held at the Convention Center.
The Nationals have had a checkered past with this annual rite of the off-season. Hosting the event at the new ballpark in 2008 ushered in a better chapter, but this year, the combination of a even more Metro-friendly location, the attractiveness and convenience of the Convention Center, the success of last year’s team and an even more talented squad this year, made this one easily the best ever.
Highlights in the main ballroom included team co-owner Mark Lerner and GM Mike Rizzo on the “State of the Nationals,” and Gio Gonzalez and Tyler Clippard interviewing Ian Desmond, Bryce Harper and Jordan Zimmerman. Gonzalez is a natural at the cock and bull.
Also drawing a standing-room only crowd was the introduction of William Howard Taft (“Bill”) as the fifth racing President. Let Taft-mania begin!!
No breaking news that I know of, but Bryce Harper said he bought a ’69 Camaro with 800 Horsepower. Rizzo said Washington deserves the All-Star team.
The schedule was brimming with activities, with an accent on kid-friendly events such as two batting cages and a base run. Autograph sessions drew long lines and Bob Carpenter and Charlie Slowes emceed.
Most of the team appeared, with Gonzalez the most generous with his time. As Mark Zuckerman noted skipper Davey Johnson is on vacation, Ryan Zimmerman on his honeymoon, and Strasburg in San Diego for an event.
Hats off to the Nationals. You've come a long way baby!