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A 30-something living in the foothills of the Virginia mountains; I'm saved by grace, addicted to coffee and my little sister is my best friend! I devote most of my time to exploring, reading, attending as many Nationals games as possible and documenting life here. My Prince Charming got lost somewhere along the way...but I'm trying to remain hopeful that true love exists.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Nationals Park - The Tour

Yet another Nationals-centric post; you can't really ever escape them here, let's just be honest. Although if football is more your speed (and yes, I know - we are in the midst of football season) then just hang with me a little longer; I'll have not one but two football related posts in the coming weeks.

This is not a football related post though - it's totally about baseball - obviously. Months ago I noticed online that you could tour Nationals Park and I immediately latched on to the idea; assuming it would be costly and then thrilled to discover it only cost $15! It was really the only thing I actually mentioned I wanted for my birthday and so on November 1st, I got to redeem that birthday gift!

Are we in DC - well what do you think?
Do I love Yards Park? Why yes...yes I do.
Seriously delicious food at Agua 301 - go eat there!
I do love a good pose, ha-ha!
We headed into DC shortly after church and sadly, my Dad was unable to join us so it became a girl's trip for my Mom and I. The traffic was seriously not bad at all (which is saying something in DC) and we made record time; arriving with plenty of time to spare for eating lunch at Agua 301. Agua 301 is one of the restaurants at Yards Park on the DC Waterfront and it was our first time eating here; but we'll definitely go back! The food was great, the service was good and it was so nice out that we were able to sit on the deck in the sunshine, watching (and thankfully not smelling) the Anacostia float past. Our tour was at 2, so we were able to walk along the river toward Nationals Park and while we initially thought we were going to get a VIP tour, another couple happened along and joined us.

I'm reflected in this baseball...but you probably can't tell...
Worst picture - but at least it's a crummy picture of a cool thing...
The tour started at The Red Porch - because it's the only place in the Park during the offseason that has accessible bathrooms, ha-ha! There is also a plaque on the top row railing on the Red Porch that marks the longest home run hit in Nationals Park (so far). It was hit by Michael Morse against the Atlanta Braves...it was 465 feet...and I cannot tell you the date because I cannot see what the plaque says, ha! Expert photography skills at work I tell ya... Our guide also pointed out a sight that most people miss when they come to Nationals Park, even those people who have been time and time again. If you look across the outfield along the first base line (waaayyy down the first base line) you can see - the Washington Monument! Of course, my camera couldn't pick that up because my cell phone is sad and pathetic...but my Mom's phone pulled through!

This is supposed to be a picture of the Washington Monument, as seen through the gap in the stadium...
And here is the picture my Mom took - my phone wouldn't take it. Boo my phone.
I don't have a picture of this - because really, so unnecessary - but the tour guide did tell us about the counters installed at the top of the main level of seating. You see, there are two types of people who come to baseball games: the kind that come for the game and want to be able to see every play (that would be me) and the kind that come to socialize, drink beer and just have something to do. Fan Type A usually gets pretty annoyed with Fan Type B when they decide they need to get up and grab another beer in the middle of a pretty epic play - because Fan Type A might miss something while Fan Type B squeezes past them. It happens. So they built counter tops at the top of the level, so you can watch the game and drink your beer and socialize...and not walk in front of people until plays are over. Sound logic if you ask me...

My happy place. 
The view from one of the many Washington Suites
The first stop after our little sneak peek at the Washington Monument was the Washington Suites; areas that companies can rent out for games that have both indoor and outdoor seating with a kitchen area and waiters for the game. The tour guide mentioned how much people enjoy these suites when the summer heat in DC is blazing and you just want to escape from the heat, into the air conditioning. Personally...as much as I love the joy of air conditioning, I want to be fully immersed in the baseball game and you don't sit inside to watch a baseball game... Granted, I would say no to a suite if the situation ever presented itself, ha-ha!

Shirley Povich's scorecard from the 1958 World Series...
Some of the names are pretty recognizable...
Just a few memorabilia items from Shirley Povich's time as a media man in baseball.
World Series pins - from each World Series that Povich covered.
From the Washington Suites, we took an elevator to the fifth level (almost the very top) of the ballpark to check out the Shirley Povich Media Center - named for Shirley Povich, the Washington Post's Sports Editor for forty-one years! Fun fact - he's also Maury Povich's Dad, ha-ha! The Media Center has several pieces of memorabilia from Povich's time with the Washington Post; he's seen quite a few baseball games played in the District and written about quite a few of them too! A couple of the things that are stored on display at the Povich Media Center are the baseball signed by the World Series winning Washington Senators in 1928 - the last time a DC team won the World Series! Mr. Povich's typewriter, hat and World Series pin collection are also on display as well as a very special World Series score card with names such as Mantle, Robinson, Kofax and  Berra in the line-up! Crazy, right?

The view from the media center - higher up but still pretty excellent.
I could watch the game from here - that would be just fine.
I spy...with my little eye...the Capitol Dome in all it's scaffold covered glory.
The next destination? The Lexus Presidents Club - and if you guessed you have to be a pretty big deal to get in this club, you guessed right! The walkway lining the entrance of the club is lined with pictures of Presidents throwing out first pitches at major league games...a lot of them in DC! A majority of my pictures were taken in the President's Club - mostly because it was so fascinating! It's very opulent (of course) and has it's own bar in the very center of the club, as well as a huge "deck" right behind home plate, which is where THE seats at Nationals Park are! The Presidents Club also overlooks the batting cages where the Nationals players take practice swings before and even during games...and a few Presidents have practiced their first pitch in those batting cages too - with the windows completely covered, of course!

Where the big dogs watch baseball games. What a dream.
Bush II threw out two first pitches at Nationals Park. Awesome!
JFK's seat from RFK Stadium - very cool.
I certainly love this quote!
We perused the club and wandered out onto the deck, taking a seat in the very comfortable and cushion-y chairs, each one emblazoned with the Lexus logo! I mentioned to our tour guide that we'd noticed while watching the games from home that there was always an older gentleman in a red Nationals cap sitting almost directly behind home plate, on the front row of the seats. He immediately knew who we were talking about - and proceeded to tell us all about him! The gentleman is a DC native who now lives in Las Vegas but purchases season tickets for Nationals games every year - and flies to and from Vegas for every game! He meets up with his brother for every game and there they sit...and watch the games...and show up on my TV. Another little tidbit he told us? This gentleman pays about $80,000 each season for his tickets...and I'm pretty sure if he has that kind of money to spend on baseball tickets, he probably has his very own jet to fly to and from Vegas. Ha!

Does he have a grandson that needs a nice wife? I think I could handle that lifestyle! Hehehe!

And I could certainly get used to a view like this - amazing! 
Just taking in the view from the Lexus President's Club.
We could get used to these seats - very nice!
Just putting my feet up & wishing there was a game to watch from this vantage point.
As I mentioned, there were several aspects of the Presidents Club that were pretty fascinating. The Nationals Media room is located off the Presidents Club and if you are in the club before/after a game and the manager or a player meet with the Media, you can just go right in and listen to it all. That means when the manager speaks after each game, you just walk on it and take a seat to hear what he has to say! It goes without saying that the Presidents Club is obviously THE elite spot for watching a baseball game at Nationals Park - and I'm pretty sure I won't get anywhere near it again in my lifetime. I suppose that's fine though, as long as I get back to Nationals Park for many seasons to come.

The floor of the Presidents Club...and the corner of my scarf.
The media room - I've seen this many times on TV...
Looking down into the batting cage.
Just some former Republican Presidents enjoying some fun at a baseball game. There was a Democrat picture too...which I didn't get a shot of. Oops.
Entering the clubhouse - easily one of the cooler aspects of the tour.
Once we'd walked all over the Presidents Club, we descended into the lowest level of the stadium and entered the Clubhouse - oohhh...aaahhh! The first stop inside the clubhouse was the manager's office, vacant while we toured; and we were assured it would soon be filled by Bud Black and an announcement of that was coming any day...which was pretty funny when a mere two days later, they announced Dusty Baker as the new manager! Sometimes even "insiders" don't have insider information, ha-ha!

The (empty) manager's office - it's not empty anymore.
The floor of the locker room - love it.
I'll give you one guess who this locker belongs to....
Pretty gigantic lockers - seriously, I could have sat in one comfortably...but I figured they wouldn't appreciate that.
The locker room - holy cow y'all, I'm pretty sure that locker room is nicer than most people's living rooms! It's pretty easy to understand why the players now arrive hours ahead of the games; they have plush leather sofas and recliners, huge flat screen TV's and all the amenities they could want in the kitchen off the locker room! Not to mention, I think their "lockers" are large enough to curl up and take a nap in! All the lockers were cleared out and I figured finding Harper's locker would be a complete joke - but the tour guide pointed out the locker filled with two large boxes - fan mail for one Bryce Harper! Apparently they'd been collecting it and putting it into the boxes in preparation for sending it to his house - whoosh! 

The largest locker is at the apex of the round room...and it belongs to one Mr. Ryan Zimmerman!

Just a guideline to how you should look before you take the field.
I could get pretty comfy in one of those chairs - not gonna lie.
Just in case you needed to know the schedule(s).
We wandered all around and through the locker room and got to see the batting cages again - this time we were right at them, instead of looking down on them! Our tour guide also pointed out a punching bag kept off to the side of the batting cages and mentioned that he really thought Papelbon should have come and had a round with that thing instead of jumping Harper...but who was he really, to have opinions. Ha-ha! Our next stop? Up the stairs and into...the Nationals dugout and right onto the field! Amazing! 
The view from the dugout.
Oh...you know, just sitting in the Nationals dugout. That's all.
Trying to maintain some level of composure. 
I guess to say this was my favorite part would probably be an understatement - I could have sat in that dugout and just taken it all in for a good hour or so. I look back now and think of all the pictures I didn't take...but oh well; it only cost $15 and my Dad hasn't ever been...it's not like I can't go back, right? After a few minutes sitting in the dugout, we walked up the steps and onto the field, headed down the first base line towards the bull pen. I crept toward the grass and placed my toes across the red dirt and onto the pristine green grass of the outfield and felt a little thrill go through me...and then had to suppress the urge to take off running across the field like a complete nut! Granted, our tour guide was so far ahead of us, I'd have probably gotten pretty far before he realized my craziness, ha-ha!

I am on the field at Nationals Park - and just ever so slightly excited.
The bullpen & the bullpen bench for watching games.
Oh Chick Fil A cows...so silly.
The Nationals bullpen has a pretty good view of the field - courtsey of one Mr. Drew Storen; an engineering major in college who just happened to have a pretty good pitching arm and secured himself a spot as a relief pitcher. He got bored watching the games through the holes in the fence and designed an elevated bench for the bullpen so the relief pitchers could really watch the game and installed it into the Nationals pen. Of course, in baseball all things must be fair and so within a week of having it installed, the MLB insisted one also be put into the visiting team's bullpen! While in the bullpen, we each got to try our hand at pitching - and while I didn't do terrible, I think it's safe to say I won't be pitching any shut outs...or even strikes...any time soon! I leave all that to Strasburg and Scherzer!

The view from the bullpen - not bad at all.
The view from here - not bad.
The bullpen was the final stop on the tour - after that, were secreted out of the park through a back door and found ourselves outside the Park once more! It was certainly a memorable experience - from seeing all the TV's wrapped up for the Winter to peering in all the places that you don't get to see when you come for a game, I loved every minute of it. I did decide that I love the Park even more when it's filled with excited fans, anticipating a baseball game on a warm Summer evening...but hey, I'll take what I can get until April!

I'll leave you with this - toes on the field at Nationals Park. Love it.

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