I went to NatsFest this year and didn’t stand in a single line, pretty much avoided people and had a very good time. I am genuinely surprised by the number of serious Nationals fans who didn’t attend NatsFest this year. I know people are busy, but I get the sense from some, especially on Twitter, wouldn’t have gone even if they had the time and happened to be eating a slider at Matchbox on H Street. I can assure you that NatsFest has something for everybody.
One thing I find interesting is that there is so much going on, no two people will have the same experience. Some fans love getting photos and autographs. I couldn’t care less about that aspect of NatsFest. This year, similar to last year at the Gaylord, the entire event happened in one giant room in the lower level of the Convention Center with areas cordoned off for interview rooms. This was big improvement over two years ago when it was held on a couple very crowded floor with not enough food offerings.
One fun aspect of the event is open microphone time the Owner, GM, and Manager held for season ticket holders at the very start of the event; this year didn’t disappoint. The fans that rush to the front of the line to get their thoughts directly to the top three in the organization are a unique breed of Nats fan. They are solid core of @MASNcommenter
In just about every panel I attended there was a take away or an insight I picked up about the team.
Insight: Rizzo was asked by a fan who was going to play 2nd base next year. The first answer he gave was a Danny Espinosa platoon. Anybody who follows the team knows that has always been on the table, but to have Rizzo make it pretty clear that they don’t really plan on having Espi hit from the left side this year is interesting to hear him say.
As the panel was wrapping up, I had a chance to check out some of the photo ops set up around the event.
My favorite part of the NatsFest is the panel discussions they set up in the smaller rooms off the main stage. This year they added twice as many chairs as last year, which were not used for the first couple of panels, but completely full during Matt Williams event later in the day. FP, hosting the event used the room setup to mention the other more “popular” sports team in town.
The Minor League Panel was pretty much Souza and Taylor giving their second by second breakdown on the final out of Jordan Zimmermann’s no hitter. Souza mentioned that he had a poor day in the field game 161 and was pretty surprised he was going to be used as a defensive replacement. One funny thing he added is that he rarely uses two hands catching a fly ball, but for some reason did for that iconic catch.
Insight: This may be recency bias, but the Zimmermann no hitter might have actually surpassed the Werth game 4 home run as the most iconic moment in franchise history. It was all any fan wanted to talk about. Just about every player was asked to give their take, even Fister and Strasburg.
The 3rd panel I watched was some kind of interview event hosted by Anthony Rendon and Tanner Roark. As Ryan Zimmerman pointed out, they are two of the most introverted players on the team; throw Strasburg into that mix and it was incredibly awkward from the start. It was fun to watch them kid each other on stage though.
At that point someone in the crowd asked about pets and every player went into great detail about his pet dog.