Nationals Stadium in all its glory — Photo courtesy of Washington Nationals
Folks in Washington, D.C., may enjoy politics, but they love sports. And that's especially true when it comes to the Washington Nationals. Just look at the jam-packed stands at Nationals Park during a weekday afternoon must-win game. Suddenly, notoriously hardworking Washingtonians tell their bosses they "feel a bug coming on," and then shed their Brooks Brothers ties and Ann Taylor power suits to make a beeline for the stadium and their beloved Nats.
It's nice to see people with their priorities straight.
The Nats worship starts all over again on Friday, April 4, 2014, at 1 p.m. That's when Washington plays its home opener against their division archrival, the Atlanta Braves. After a long, cold winter of contemplating last year's disappointing finish (at the hands of - who else? - the Braves), fans and players alike can't wait to start fresh this spring.
Suh-wing, batta! — Photo courtesy of Washington Nationals
To kick off the season in style, the April 4th game features a free opening-day ball cap for the first 30,000 spectators, plus all the fun Nationals Park is known for.
That includes the now-legendary (and colossally silly) Presidents Race (a.k.a. "The Running of the Presidents"), where, during the fourth inning, oversized commanders-in-chief sprint around the warning track, vying for the title of fastest prez. Will 2014 be William Howard Taft's year to shine? Will George Washington remain the true #1 chief executive by crossing the finish line first? Or will Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt or Thomas Jefferson snag the glory?
Will "Natitude" carry the team to the playoffs this year? — Photo courtesy of Washington Nationals
And then there's the food. Ask a diehard Nats fan what he or she likes best about coming out to the stadium, and you're likely to hear as much about snacks as sports. That's because Nationals Park offers an amazing array of noshes, from ballpark standards like hot dogs, nachos, popcorn and peanuts to upscale fare not normally seen in the bleachers, including sushi, gelato and falafel (not to mention kosher, vegetarian and gluten-free options).
And during those nail-biters, when it's bases loaded and nobody out? A frozen daiquiri, margarita or craft brew will calm your nerves.
It takes more than a little rain to dampen Screech's spirit. — Photo courtesy of Washington Nationals
If for some reason the Nats don't pull out a win on April 4th, your best bet is to come back April 6th. That's the official "Kids' Opening Day," when, among other things, the little ones are invited to run the bases and say "Happy Birthday" to Screech, the Nats' eagle mascot.
The only thing that could make the day better? Seeing the home team crush the Braves, of course.