The 2018 Major League Baseball season begins today*. I care about this because I care about baseball. I am a minority on the BYT office. The majority of our writers and photographers are more interested in the things that are happening off the field. So here are 9 things you can talk about at Nats games this season. Only one of them is actually about baseball.
1. No, this is not the last year the Nats have a chance
Free agency has changed. Bryce Harper will probably not fetch a billion dollars on the open market. Bryce Harper will be a free agent after 2018. He has the same agent as Jake Arrietta. Jake Arrietta did not fetch what he wanted in the open market. He signed a 3-year, $75 million contract with the Phillies two weeks into spring training. All of this to say Bryce Harper will most likely get the billion dollar contract he wants. Also, baseball is a team sport. There are great Nats not named Bryce.
Max Scherzer’s contract with the Nats doesn’t expire until 2028. He’s the best pitcher in baseball. He won his second consecutive National League Cy Young award.
Last year Ryan Zimmerman reminded everyone he’s an all star caliber franchise player.
Trea Turner is the future of the franchise and the future is fast. He’s a fast child. (He’s 25 but looks 15.)
New coach Dave Hernandez comes from the 2018 World Series Champion Chicago Cubs. Last year’s new coach who was let go after one year Dusty Baker came from the 2003 NLCS debacle Chicago Cubs.
The Nats are built for 2018. They’re also built for 2019, 2020, 2021…
2. You can swing a bat!
D.C. needs more batting cages. There are no indoor year round batting cages in Washington, D.C. Someone remedy this. I will give tithe 10% of my income to batting cages. It’s the most fun you can have alone in public. Anyway, Nats Park isn’t getting a batting cage but it is getting a virtual reality home run derby. It’s not the same experience as balls getting shot at your body but it is quite fun to swing a bat.
But Shake Shack is still in the park. Shake Shack will still have the biggest lines because there’s not another Shake Shack.
The most welcome food addition is Nathan’s hot dogs, specifically their corn dog because it’s acceptable to eat a corn dog as a baseball game and not may other locations.
Devils Backbone is back for another year. It was successful enough in its inaugural season to begin appearing in liquor stores this week. It’s worth seeking out in the park. It’s available at the Devils Backbone Bar in section 240.
4. Adult juice boxes will be a hit
You know what people like to put on Instagram? Photos of them drinking wine juice boxes. These things will be available in Nats Park this season.
5. Get your own jersey
Buying a customized jersey or a jersey with your favorite player’s name on it is not a new idea. But the presentation of this new features at Nats Park is well executed.
6. The Bullpen is open but don’t go to the Bullpen unless you’re in a big group
The Bullpen is once again opening for the 2018 MLB season. We thought 2017 was the last year. Based on construction, which is in every direction surrounding the park, it looks like it would not be open when the Nats play their home opener next week. But it will be. But don’t go there unless you have a big group.
If you’re looking for quick food, go to RASA. If you want good beer, go to Bluejacket. If you want better seats without paying more, get in the park as early as possible and claim your spot in the Budweiser Brew House.
7. Star Wars day is returning. So is Game of Thrones day.
The Star Wars socks are good because they’re scary. Star Wars day is May 5 against the Phillies.
Game of Thrones day is August 18. That game includes a Games of Thrones figurine. Since Jayson Werth and his beard is gone, there’s no gnome figurine giveaway this year so the GoT figure will most likely be the most sought after Nats promotional item.
8. Sean Doolittle is my new favorite Nationals player
We said this piece only has one talking point about baseball. It does. Sean Doolittle is my favorite Nationals player for non baseball reasons.
He’s socially conscious. He’s not an idiot. He’s good on Twitter. He has a bobblehead this season.
Yes, this is still a team with Daniel Murphy. No baseball team is perfect. Hell, I didn’t root for the Cubs for the year the Ricketts family bought them due to their funding for conservative politicians. Then I found out Laura Ricketts fundraised for Obama and Clinton and is the first openly gay owner of a major-league sports franchise. The Cubs, like the Nats and every other team in all sports, isn’t strictly for Republicans or Democrats.
There are still more conservatives in baseball than Washington, D.C. But with Doolittle, bleeding heart Nats fans finally have a mascot.
9. The stars are coming
The Nationals host the 2018 All Star Game. The actual All Star Game isn’t that exciting but all the pomp and circumstance surrounding it means the region will benefit from MLB pumping money into rehabbing parks and helping fund Little League teams. I’m also legitimately looking forward to Fanfest. It’s like Comic Con but for baseball.
*It was supposed to be today. It’s been pushed to Friday, March 30 due to “inclement weather.” Who thought March 29 was a good day to begin the regular season?