I had a lot of fun yesterday at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, where NatsFest was being held. Including the after-party that I was invited to, I rocked my Natitude from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The first thing we did at the convention center was view all of the awards the Nationals won in 2012.
We saw Bryce Harper’s Rookie of the Year trophy, Ian Desmond’s Silver Slugger, Adam LaRoche’s Gold Glove and Silver Slugger, and Stephen Strasburg’s Silver Slugger. Here are a few pictures we took.
Next we went up stairs and watched as some of the players were interviewed for the radio. The first one we saw was Ryan Mattheus. Mattheus is one of the dominant right handers in the Nats bullpen. Mattheus gave me a ball once after a game, so it was nice to meet him and get his autograph! Something crazy happened with Mattheus near the end of the day, but you have to keep reading to find out.
|Matt’s Bats fan Ian Desmond|
We also watched SS Ian Desmond get interviewed for the radio. Last week he wrote on Twitter that he wanted to meet me, so I introduced myself to him, and Desi remembered me. He’s so nice and seemed excited to meet me. He said, “hey you’re Matt!” and that made me feel so special. I didn’t get a chance to get his autograph but maybe I will another time.
Next I hit in the batting cages for some live BP. I got a few hits, but the best one was a comebacker to the pitcher. Good thing he was standing behind a net.
|F.P. Santangelo and my family|
Then I met another of Matt’s Bats reader and Twitter follower, F.P. Santangelo, the Nats TV color commentator. The funny thing is when he met me he said that he thought I was a “Catfish,” meaning that I was not really an 8 year old. (I may not be a Catfish, but I am a Matt-fish and a Nat-fish!). He took an official photo of me and my family, but also asked someone to take a photo with his camera so he could tweet it too.
Then we got autographs from two players. We got to meet utility player and DH Chad Tracy. Tracy has the nickname as leader of the “Goon Squad”because he comes off the bench and beats the other team up with his bat. So my brother and I got him to sign a mini-Nats bat.
At the same time we also got to meet Ross Detwiler, the breakout starting pitcher in the Nats incredible rotation in 2012. I’m so glad I got to meet him. The Nats rotation is so deep that other players like Stras, Gio and even J-Zimm get more attention, but the “National Det” deserves to get the same amount of respect.
When I got up to meet him, I gave him one of my business cards and said “I have a baseball blog about the Nationals. You should read it.” Ross said, “Oh, I’ve already read it.” Can you believe it! I know he retweeted something Desi wrote about my blog, but I didn’t know that he ever read it. Now I just need to make sure he follows me on Twitter too!
After getting the autographs, I ate the longest hot dog ever eaten by an 8 year old ever. It was a foot long!
We were able to get our picture taken with Denard Span and Bob Carpenter. Span is the new CF who came from the Minnesota Twins. I gave him a card and asked him to follow me. We’ll see if he remembers.
Bob Carpenter is F.P.’s co-host. It was crazy to hear his voice talking to me because I am so used to hearing it on TV.
One of the players I was most looking forward to meeting was Danny Espinosa, whose girlfriend has been writing to me on Twitter a lot. I was hoping Sara would be there too, but I guess only Danny could come. We spent a long time looking for him and finally found him signing autographs for other fans. I yelled over to him and he recognized me and said “Hi Matt!” We waited for him to finish his autograph session and then I was able to take a picture with him quickly and he signed a ball for me. He even let me keep the pen. A lot of people were talking about his beard. It was pretty big. He actually kind of looked like the Lorax.
I heard yesterday that he hurt his should very badly last season and he didn’t even know it was so bad. It has been healing over the winter. I hope it doesn’t hurt anymore and that he will be 100% healthy next season because all of his teammates are counting on him.
We watched Nationals Jeopardy!, where pitchers Ross Detwiler and Drew Storen, and outfielder “season saver” Jayson Werth answered Nats trivia questions. Detwiler won. One of the questions was how many games Tyler Clippard pitched in 2012, and Detwiler, Storen, and Werth looked at Clippard who was standing backstage for the answer. Clippard held up 7 fingers and then 2 and Jayson ringed in. He said “72” but the answer was actually 74. Clippard didn’t even know the right answer. The questions were not that hard for me because I know so much about the Nats.
Then NatsFest was over and all the players came on stage to say goodbye.
As they were walking off stage, Ryan Mattheus threw his hat into the crowd. I bet you won’t believe who caught it. ME (actually my dad, but I am going to share it with my brother)! I am sometimes the luckiest person. I tweeted him a picture of me wearing it the same way he wears his hat, and he retweeted it. (Ryan, if you read this, you should follow me!)
Even though the day was already so long, I went to the after party at Bobby Van’s that I was invited to. There were lots of other Nats bloggers there, but I was the youngest one. In fact, I was the youngest person in the whole restaurant. I wanted steak, but it was 35 bucks and I didn’t risk it. I got to meet Charlie Slowes, the Voice of the Nats. He has a great radio voice. I was able to talk to him about the best call in baseball history. If you don’t believe me, check out this video. Charlie is another Matt’s Bats reader and a Twitter friend of mine.
F.P. was at the party too. He talked with me for a while about baseball and broadcasting and gave some tips. He quizzed me about scoring baseball like what do you do if the SS throws to the 2B to the 1B for a double play and I said “6-4-3.” He is a really nice guy. He signed a ball for me and took another picture with me.
One thing F.P. said was really true– the Nationals 2012 MVP (Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner) Adam LaRoche, Face-of-the-Franchise Ryan Zimmerman, and Ace Pitcher Stephen Strasburg, as well as the Skipper Davey Johnson and new Closer Rafael Soriano, were all absent from Nats Fest, but there was still major star power with Harper, Gio, Desmond, Espinosa, Werth, Span, Clippard, Storen, etc. That’s how good this team is!
OK, there is one last person. Dave Ross, from Fox 5 in DC. He does sports on TV. He talked with me for a while too and gave me suggestions. Dave should follow me on Twitter too.
When we were heading to the Farragut North metro station, dad kept telling me how special today was. I agreed. It was so fabulous. I work hard at my blog every day and it is good to see that people like it and are giving me good opportunities. This post today took like 2 or 3 hours to write.
We got home, and I was so tired that I almost immediately went to sleep. That’s how I spent “Natitude” day.
I can’t wait for baseball season. Spring training starts in a few weeks. We are going down in late March. I will write about it, and write about Nationals baseball almost every day during the regular season. Keep following along, and……