Friday, February 8, 2013

February 8- Washington Nationals

5/20/2014: No matter how many times I’ve kept sending this story out via Twitter, I did it with the feeling that I was missing a lot of vital details which have confused quite a few of my followers since the first month of when I was in the MLB Fan Cave back in 2012. Due to the fact that today is in fact Jayson Werth’s (WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF!!!) birthday AND the Washington Nationals recently came to Oakland to take on my Athletics, I figure today was just a good as any day to fill in a lot of the holes and make some important updates.

First, let’s get the barking situation out of the way. Back on March 13, 2013 I wrote about the Nationals’ “DC” alternate hat which I focused my attention on Gio Gonzalez and Bryce Harper. About a week before Ross Detwiler, Edwin Jackson and Gio stopped by the Fan Cave in early April I was given the punishment/blessing of having to bark like a dog anytime someone said Werth’s name. If I said his name, I would have to do a double set. This little gimmick became a huge hit with kids who stopped by on the weekend for a tour and especially with my good friend Robert Curtis-Hardy, a Boston Red Sox fan who lived next door. Even though this barking was only relegated for the time I was in the Fan Cave, I haven’t let that slow me down for the last two years. It’s obviously become more of an inside joke; however, it’s too fun to let up especially when I’m in random places and his name happens to come up in conversation. This takes me to May 9-11 of this year (2014).

For those of you who don’t know, I actually work for the Athletics in the special events and promotions department; however, I can’t really discuss most of what I do as it’s a bit of a surprise. One thing I can tell you is that I have on-field and behind the scenes access for every game that I work. Some of you know what I do and I would greatly appreciate it if you didn’t mention anything publicly as I would love to keep my job. Anyway, the last time I had seen the Nationals play was in April of last year (2013), when I went to go visit my girlfriend Angie in Southern Florida for a few weeks. Literally the day I flew in when headed 30 miles south to Miami to catch the last game of the series between the Nationals and the Marlins. Due to the fact that we had gotten there a little bit before the game started, I didn’t have time to run down to the dugouts to try and snag a photo with Mr. Werth; however, that didn’t keep me from having a little bit of fun when he came up to bat. 

But here we are, a year later with a much better opportunity to accomplish my goal. Well, sort of.

One of the rules of my position is that I’m not allowed to take photos or ask for autographs (I never ask for autographs) from any of the players of either team nor special guests that we may have singing the National Anthem or throwing out first pitch. I bring this up because two of the members of the band Journey happened to be in town for the Saturday game which was also a Journey-themed fireworks night. I also bring this up because I ended up appearing in photos with them before the game.

One thing that I did come to learn is that Werth always spends time in the visiting team’s batting cage right before the game starts. For those of you who don’t know, the batting cage is located right behind the wall in centerfield, which also happens to be one of the areas that I work out of. In summation, I had the greatest of all opportunities to see Werth before the game started, but unfortunately I was busy doing one job for the first two games of the series, thus preventing me from having some face time with him. Even with what I was busy doing it didn’t stop me from barking when the PA announcer Dick Callahan called out Werth’s name which also happened to be at the exact moment when he came into centerfield gate to take some more practice swings. But, as luck would have it, I had a different job to do for the final game of the series which would give me the opportunity to at least shake his hand or something.

The final game of the series fell on Mother’s Day, which is also Breast Cancer Awareness Day throughout Major League Baseball. Seeing as it’s my first year with the team I made sure to be readily available for anything as I didn’t really know what would be going on. Basically all I was asked to do was talk to some of the cancer survivors while we waited for them to be let onto the field for the pre-game ceremony and honoring. I’ll get into more details on this in a future post, but what I can tell you now is that I had a blast chatting it up with those women and the one guy who happened to contract breast cancer. My mother is a two-time breast cancer survivor so it didn’t make anything we talked about awkward.

Right around the time all of the survivors were being let onto the field Mr. Werth walked into the entrance and into the batting cage. Right after the ceremony ended we all came back inside and I hung around with my co-workers as all of the survivors headed up the ramp and into the stadium. It was within this moment that Werth was just getting done with his BP session so I figured then was the best time of any to at least tell him “good luck” or give him a fist bump before he headed out.

Now, this part of the story is going to sound like total BS, but I promise you this is exactly how it went down. Since I was somewhere near the batting cage for the first two games of the series I could hear the rhythm of when Werth was taking hacks at each pitch; after every swing there was about a two-to-three second gap in between. On the final day there was a much longer gap in between a few of his strokes, but I’ll get to that in a minute. As he stepped out of the cage I walked toward him at which he turned his head, locked eyes with me and immediately began walking toward me. Despite the fact that we didn’t personally know one another we immediately began chatting it up about how amazing each others’ beards were. “Gay” is probably an adjective that comes to most peoples’ minds, but I say there’s nothing wrong with two dudes complimenting one another over amazing facial sweaters. This also would have been a great time to take a glorious photo; but like I said, I didn’t want to get fired. Instead, we bumped fists and headed back out onto the field. A few minutes would pass before the hitting instructors that were in the cage with him came over to me to let me know that he kept stopping in between his swings to talk about how “majestic” my beard is. “Majestic,” his words, not mine.

As soon as the bottom of the sixth inning got underway Werth and I had one more encounter as I was standing in the stairwell in right field, waiting for the start of the Hall of Fame Mascot Race that the Athletics do every weekend series. Right after the Nationals got done with their warm-up tosses Werth looked right at me, stroked his beard and gave me a finger point. I of course returned the favor, because that’s what beard brothers do. One of these days I’ll be able to capture, frame and share a photo of our glorious beards together, but for now it’ll have to wait until early June when the Nationals come back to the Bay Area to take on the San Francisco Giants. I’m usually not so weird about these kinds of things, but you all know how awesome this will turn out if I’m able to accomplish my mission. Until then, Happy 35th Birthday Jayson Werth! WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF!!!

Original post- If there was ever a team with a severe case of schizophrenia, when it comes to hats and uniforms, it might be the Washington Nationals. Since 2005 the Nationals have worn seven different style of hats and 17 variations of jerseys/uniforms. I find this incredibly funny considering that from 1969-2004 the Nationals were the Montreal Expos, and during that time the ‘Spos only had three styles of hats and six uniform/jersey variations. But, I suppose big city life will do that to a person, let alone a team. But I digress; this particular hat was worm from their humble beginning in 2005 through the end of the 2010 season. I’m still a bit confused as to why they stopped using it. To be honest, it was one of my favorite hats, as well as one of the best selling hats after it was introduced. In fact, it was one of the first few hats I scooped up when I really started putting my collection together. The one drawback I have with my cap is that it’s a size too small. Believe it or not, I used to have really short hair.

I brought the hat during the summer of 2010, and at the time I really didn’t have any intentions of ever throwing numbers on it. It was simply just a hat I enjoyed wearing from time-to-time. It was during the summer of 2011 that I really started to go to town on my hats. Only my 1969-91 Expos hat had any kind of a marking on it, but one night after I had a few friends over, I noticed that my old San Francisco Giants hat was missing. I realize as ardent of an Oakland Athletics supporter as I am, something like that wouldn’t bother me so much. My biggest issue with that was that I had owned the Giants cap since my bat boy days in Bakersfield… and it was a gift from JT Snow. So yah, I was furious. From that day forward, I started marking my hats, mostly for the purpose of knowing if someone was wearing one of my stolen hats.

Wow! I really got off topic there. I guess my point of establishing the “why” of marking my hats; it will help explain the numbers on this one. And yes, there will be a lot of barking involved.

#28- JAYSON WERTH!!! WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF!!! Werth has always been one of the guys in the League that I love watching, especially during his time with the Philadelphia Phillies. So, when the Nats gave Werth a huge contract at the end of the 2012 season, I was ecstatic with the fact that he would be the standout player the Nats had needed since moving to D.C. Well, besides Ryan Zimmerman. I should also pint out that this was the first time I had decided to use a white out pen to mark my hats, as opposed to the silver Sharpie that I use now. Hence why it looks pretty lame. I’m not really sure if it was a blessing or a curse however, as Werth’s numbers didn’t exactly cut the mustard in his first year: .232/20/58 in 151 games. Yikes! At the time when I was marking up my caps I didn’t really put much focus on the year in which the cap was used, and the players from those teams, etc. I just wanted to pay tribute to my bearded brother from another mother.

#38- Michael Morse, on the other hand, I added when I was in the MLB Fan Cave. I had left Werth’s number solo for well over a year and needed to make a fine addition. After pulling up the numbers I had once again neglected to give Ryan Zimmerman any love. (Don’t worry, I made up for it on a different hat) 2010 proved to be the breakout year for Morse as he made appearances in 98 games. That season he went .289/15/41 in 266 at-bats. The most important thing to take from that season is that those numbers dwarfed the four years worth of sitting on the bench he had done with the Seattle Mariners. Morse had a lot of promise and the Nats knew how to utilize it in the outfield as well as on first base for the days when Adam Dunn wasn’t playing. But I think the biggest reason I threw Morse’s number down is for the sake of his totally badass nickname, .38 Special. Well, I’ll admit that I’m probably the only guy who calls him that, as has his nickname listed as “The Beast.” I don’t care, I’m totally sticking to my guns on this matter.

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