March 31, 2011: Washington Nationals vs Atlanta Braves (Opening Day)

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Game: #001 – Nationals vs. Braves
Starting Pitchers: Livan Hernandez (#61, 0-1, 2.84) vs. Derek Lowe (#32, 1-0, 0.00)
Final Score: Nationals: 0, Braves: 2
Nats New Record: 0-1
Play of the Game: At top of the fourth inning, Adam LaRoche made a play that made us believe in him as a replacement for Adam Dunn at first base – at least defensively.  It was a  diving stop to block a grounder by Brian McCann that was making its way to the outfield.  As much as we love him, we admit that Dunn would never have been able to make that play.  Welcome to Washington, Adam!
Players of the Game: Danny Espinosa.  Hear me out – there were no outstanding offensive plays, so you go with the guy who did get on base (twice), and who made some really outstanding defensive plays as well.  He’s just a rookie, but this bodes well.
Favorite Non-baseball Moment: It was opening day – it was all great.  Granted, the weather was more late February than late March, but it was baseball, and that means a long summer of games is right around the corner.
Who was there: Ashley, Maggie, and their dads.
Our Records: Ashley – 0-1; Maggie – 0-1; Ashley’s dad – 0-1; Maggie’s dad – 0-1
Where did we sit: Because we are now both season ticket holders, we sat in our opening day sections – 306 for Maggie and her dad, and 308 for Ashley and hers.  The 300s are a good section, plus, there’s an excellent view of the scoreboard.
What did we eat: Due to opening day kinks, there were a few snafus with food.  Maggie’s dad had a couple hot dogs, and Maggie had chicken fingers (it’s hard to be adventurous about new items when it’s that cold), but there was no coffee or hot chocolate. Ashley and her dad each enjoyed a Ben’s Chili Bowl half smoke. They were decent, but, due to a signage snafu, Ashley noticed that the price has gone up from $6.75 to $7.50. Not cool.
Promotional Items: Red and white curly W cap.  It’s pretty nice, and it has the new script “Nationals” logo embroidered on the brim.  This one is nice enough that it might make it into the rotation.
President’s Race: The year started off with a relay race.  George and Abe began by running out of the tunnel, jumping over hurdles, and then meeting up with their teammates, Tom and Teddy respectfully.  Tom and Teddy were manning push-carts.  T&T hopped on to the carts to “surf” while George and Abe pushed them towards the finish line.  George and Tom made it in one piece, Abe and Teddy crashed about 10 feet after they started.  In addition to changing things up with the relay, there was a new entrance video – Tom and George spent time in their homes (Charlottesville and Mount Vernon), while Abe and Teddy were a little more symbolic (Abe in a log cabin, and Teddy with a statue of himself).
Other Observations:
– Did we mention it was cold?  And that Maggie didn’t wear enough layers, and spent nearly the entire game shivering underneath her fleece curly W blanket?  Temperature at game time was 41 F, but rain and a light breeze through the upper decks made it feel colder.  Also, you could see little clouds of steam around players (especially the pitchers) when they let out a heavy breath.
– The cold didn’t just make for unpleasant watching weather…it made it unpleasant to do all kinds of blog-related things!  Maggie had a difficult time taking notes and didn’t pay much attention to Bingo, and Ashley’s fingers got cold too, which meant she eventually slowed down taking pictures, and couldn’t tweet during the game.
– This year Ashley is going to try to keep score. She used to do this back in high school, but has not kept up with it since. Luckily, it came back quickly, although it got too cold and wet to continue past the 8th inning.
– Even with all this, the opening day game experience was MUCH better than last year’s.  The crowd seemed like it was 90% (or higher) people in Nats gear, and there was no unpleasantness.  The cheering was still loud (the boos for some of the plays the refs made were booming), even with the smallest opening day crowd in DC-since-2005-baseball history (39,055).
– We loved the military tribute in the opening day festivities. The band was excellent (and well dressed against the cold) and the first pitch lineup was a hoot (quote the announcer, “Well, they’re good at other things, so we’ll cut them some slack on pitching”).
-Something just seems all-American about two girls taking their two dads to Opening Day of baseball. Now that we’re all grown up, it adds a bit of fun to know that we’re all skipping work together!
(full album from this game can be seen here)
(videos from this game and others can be seen here)
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