This is Part II of my experiences at Nats
Blooger Booger Blogger Day on June 22nd; for Part I and to meet the other bloggers who were picked for the occasion, click here.
So I assume you have played that Charlie Slowes/Nook Logan YouTube link a sufficient number of times and have giggled each time Slowes goes WHAT IS HE DOING, as he realizes Logan is rounding third towards home, and are ready to hear about the actual Blogger Day escapades. It was quite a packed day, even before we got to watching and discussing the actual game or its outcome (hint: it’s wasn’t good).
So what did we get up to?
After a brief session of intros of each of the bloggers and some discussion as to the role of the New Media section of the Communications department and their efforts to make the Nats as accessible as possible across all of the varieties of new/social media platforms – blogs (such as the aforementioned Curly W Live), Twitter (@Nationals), Instagram, and Vine – we were visited by a number of folks. Let’s meet them, yes?
Shawn Bertani – Senior Director, Community Relations
Shawn spent a few minutes with us discussing her department’s role in establishing, supporting, and nurturing community partnerships across a number of endeavours, including the Dream Foundation, ziMS Foundation, as well as some of the efforts being made by players like Ian Desmond (Spread the Glove Campaign, among others), Denard Span (the Jeremiah Program, among others), and Bryce Harper (Harper’s Heroes, in conjunction with the Leukemia Lymphoma Society), along with other Nats players and their participation in the DC community. Overall, she described a number of very active endeavours that have a lot of support of both the Nats organization and players alike – some things done in the public eye, but with a lot done out of the limelight.
Craig Stammen – some blogger
Stammen came by to talk about his blogging days and described his time with the USO holiday tour of the Middle East in the offseason. Dressed appropriately in a pretty rad camouflage Nats undershirt, Stammen apparently is also a baseball player. Who knew? Is he any good?
Jonathan Stahl – Levy Restaurants/Catering
Jonathan, along with the executive and sous chef from Levy Restaurants (the names of whom escape me – my apologies, gentlemen) stopped by once we were safe and sound and provided oxygen therapy at the auxiliary press box, high high high above Nats Park. Here, they provided us with a number of samples of the food available at the Park, as well as a sneak peek at what will be filling the menus and bellies at the Park in days to come. In particular, we were given the chance to participate in the selection of the next chicken finger recipe, each of us given five new finger offerings from which to vote for. It was like America’s Next Top Model, except meatier and with less bitchiness. Jonathan also chatted with me about the craft beer offerings of the Park and what might be on the horizon. I can’t divulge much here, but let’s say craft beer drinkers should not only head over to Red Porch for some newer offerings from their 14 taps, but should also be on the lookout for a new collaboration with a local brewery soon.
Speaking of local, Jonathan also discussed with me on the side the importance of using local ingredients and companies to provide foodstuffs for the Park; while a lot of the minutiae have since escaped me, I did come away with the knowledge that the Nats make every effort to keep things local, however there are situations where supply demands can overwhelm some of the smaller outfits in the area, which can slow down the formation of partnerships. But again, every effort is being made and is being done so with a good amount of success.
Baseball Operations staff – Bryan Minniti, Assistant General Manager and Samuel Mondry-Cohen, Baseball Operations Analyst
Bryan and Sam joined us briefly in the press box and discussed some of the daily (and not so daily) comings and goings of the analytics staff. Some great questions were brought up and Sam even gave us a bit of a teaser – apparently there are four ‘magic’ stats that tell you quite a bit about a player and his ability and are useful for projecting value of said players. He didn’t say what they were. :/
However, we all walked away with a better appreciation of how much analytics plays a role in how the Nats evaluate players and manage salaries and budgets. They also gave mention to the relationship the analytics staff has with the medical staff and some in-house research projects they have worked on revolving around injury analytics. Needless to say, I was left wanting more with this tidbit.
In a great surprise, both Kerr and Knight came up to talk shop to us mother’s basement-dwellers. Knight, as he is wont to do, gave an impromptu hitting clinic, which you can see over at Nationals Archive (along with some pics of the grub), on top of offering some pearls of wisdom and insight into the game and to the Nats in particular. And if his .233 average as a DH wasn’t enough confirmation, Knight also mentioned how much he hated hitting as a DH.
Kerr came by later on, and was a wealth of information about how the team is playing, but also how to make it in a career in sports journalism and broadcasting. We also learned that if he were to ever ‘misplace’ his phone, there would be plenty of numbers to call and prank. Like, good ones. Trust me. We also, in an interesting twist, learned more about Kerr’s role in bringing Frank and Susan from Nationals 101 together in holy matrimony. I’ll leave it to them to give you the details, but it involves Kerr’s phone and the PNats.
Pre- and postgame conferences
Along with meeting and chatting with the aforementioned folks, we also had the opportunity to sit in on both the pre- and postgame conferences with manager Davey Johnson. While both were brief, they did provide a wealth of information (well, sort of) as to the inner monologue Davey is having with himself and the direction he sees the team moving in. He also brought up two interesting points:
– regarding Bryce Harper‘s injury, he made intimations as to his feeling that above everyone, the player is the expert on his body and that the player’s feelings about his health status should play a role in when he returns from injury and how quickly the rehabilitation process goes. I am paraphrasing here, but he mentioned that if a player says he’s fine, he trusts them, and if something’s up, then the medical staff should intervene, no questions asked. Again, I am paraphrasing and I might be losing some of the minutiae here, but it was an interesting look at the relationship between player and coaching staff as well as player and medical staff with respect to how injuries are handled by all of the stakeholders involved.
– Johnson discussed the dwindling effectiveness of Dan Haren‘s cutter. As I have discussed before here, it’s his worst pitch these days and is also frustratingly the one he uses the most. Johnson mentioned in the postgame interview that he thought the cutter was getting left up in the zone and flattening out, perhaps due to a physical ailment or just to Haren trying to throw it too hard and not getting the proper snap and release. For the day, all of the runs Haren gave up were on cutters up in the zone, which does lend credence to perhaps a back/hip issue possibly at play along with the shoulder ailment that currently has him on the DL.
Last and not least, Noah gave us breaking news, in the form of a Tweetup at the July 3 game against the Milwaukee Brewers. Giveaways and Q&A’s are just an RSVP away – get on it.
And that was Blogger Day. The other bloggers might have their own versions to the day and how it went and I hope you all check out the descriptions of their experiences.
…and once again thanks to Noah, Chad, Rachael, Joanne, Jonathan, Craig, Ray, Byron, Sam, Bryan, and Shawn for making it an eventful day, in spite of the loss.
You can’t win ’em all, but with the help of some internet buddies, we’ll do our darnedest to blog ’em all.