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Feb 24, 2011, 10:15 PM EST

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Space Shuttle Discovery launches into orbit, as seen from Space Coast Stadium.

VIERA, Fla. — … and we have liftoff!

Space Shuttle Discovery just launched from nearby Cape Canaveral, making its final journey into orbit before NASA discontinues the shuttle program later this year.

Unfortunately, there was some cloud cover in the area, so we didn't get a clear view of the entire plume of smoke as it traveled up into the outer reaches of the atmosphere. Still, it's always a cool thing to be able to watch one of these in person, and plenty of people turned out today at Space Coast Stadium to watch.

The Nationals held a barbecue on the stadium concourse for members of the organization and their families. Several players were already here filming a commercial for MASN, and as the clock ticked down, they all raced up the third-base stands to watch over the railing in full uniform (as you can see in the below photo).Read more ยป

  1. JaneB - Feb 24, 2011 at 10:38 PM

    Cool that everyone took time out to enjoy this moment. Thanks for reporting on it. And for the photos. Was it fun to see? Could you hear anything from where you were?

  2. Steve M. - Feb 24, 2011 at 10:52 PM

    Mark Z. writes…Members of the Nationals watch from the stands at Space Coast Stadium.My guess is the crowd pressed against the fence were watching the Shuttle launch, but what are Riggles and Lee Kuntz watching? Was there a streaker on the field?

  3. Feel Wood - Feb 24, 2011 at 11:00 PM

    Riggleman is pissed because one of the new clubhouse rules is No More Top Step Jim.

  4. Anonymous - Feb 25, 2011 at 12:47 AM

    Mark, Please tell me they invited you to the bbq. I'd be sad to hear otherwise.

  5. Anonymous8 - Feb 25, 2011 at 1:38 AM

    These are Spring Training appearances on MLB Network and while the Nats don't have the most, they have 6 appearances. All appearances are based on Eastern Time Zone.TEAM Appearances Prime Time/WeekendsArizona D-backs 4 1Atlanta Braves 7 2Baltimore Orioles 4 1Boston Red Sox 8 5Chicago Cubs 4 0Chicago White Sox 6 1Cincinnati Reds 4 1Cleveland Indians 4 2Colorado Rockies 5 2Detroit Tigers 6 3Florida Marlins 5 2Houston Astros 5 1Kansas City Royals 3 3L.A. Angels of Anaheim 8 3Los Angeles Dodgers 10 3Milwaukee Brewers 3 3Minnesota Twins 5 1New York Mets 8 2New York Yankees 10 6Oakland Athletics 3 2Philadelphia Phillies 8 7Pittsburgh Pirates 3 0San Diego Padres 4 3San Francisco Giants 8 4Seattle Mariners 5 1St. Louis Cardinals 4 1Tampa Bay Rays 4 2Texas Rangers 7 5Toronto Blue Jays 5 3Washington Nationals 6 4

  6. Anonymous - Feb 25, 2011 at 1:42 AM

    Is it 6 appearances or 10 appearances (6 prime time + 4 weekend)?

  7. Doc - Feb 25, 2011 at 2:08 AM

    Riggles was watching the club house to make sure nobody stole his wallet!

  8. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Feb 25, 2011 at 2:13 AM

    No, Riggs is thinking of how to double-switch for that booster rocket that is about to be jettisoned.

  9. Anonymous8 - Feb 25, 2011 at 3:42 AM

    Anon @ 8:42, 6 total appearances and 3 are Prime Time and 1 is weekend for a total of 4 good spots.Keep in mind many games are during the day when many can't see it so I think the Nats (probably because of Bryce Harper) are getting good air time.Look at some of the teams with little to no exposure like the Orioles and Pirates. The Chicago Cubs must have pissed someone off. 4 total appearances and none in Prime Time.The NY and LA teams with Boston and then Philly, San Fran and Texas based on being in the World Series will also get good exposure (not that they need it) but I figure most of this is due to ratings but still a shocker on the Cubs unless WGN will be covering them seperately.

  10. Anonymous - Feb 25, 2011 at 11:17 AM

    Yep, there's ol gloom and doom Riggleman. Always recognize that sour puss on him

  11. joemktg - Feb 25, 2011 at 1:03 PM

    For the more experience Spring Training readers, e.g., NatsJack:1) What is the selection process for who attends camp right now? It's my understanding that minor leaguers report next week, but there are minor leaguers already in camp, e.g., Kimball. How is it that a Kimball is there but a Lombardozzi is not?2) Going to pick a number of players in camp right now: 50. Next week, I'm assuming all players from Gulf Coast to AAA report, and I'm guessing that totals around 125 players (from draftees to AA players). How does the club manage the training (and evaluation) of over 200 players across X number of diamonds? I can't believe that there can be anything more than a cursory review of some of these players.

  12. Bart - Feb 25, 2011 at 1:16 PM

    Nice pics Mark.

  13. FOTB - Feb 25, 2011 at 1:47 PM

    Good photos, Mark, but I have to say that they aren't quite as good as Mrs. Z's. Perhaps with a bit more training from her, you'll get better.

  14. NatsJack in Florida - Feb 25, 2011 at 2:42 PM

    joemkgt…. There are 61 players in the ML camp which is made up of the 40 man roster and 21 guys on minor league contracts that received invitations to the ML camp. Simply put, Cole Kimball is on the 40 man roster and Steve Lombardozzi isn't. Check the roster link on the Nats web site and you can get all the Spring Training roster info.The minor league guys report next week and they have their own facility adjacent the practice fields. Once the ML games begin, they have full use of the 4 full size fields and on infield only for their use. They also have a covered batting cage facility.Space Coast Stadium also has a covered batting cage and a half field for infield work behind right field.There are over 20 instructors that service the minor league camp. Players consist of low "A" through "AAA" and totals about 125 guys. There are always several games going on once games begin. Occaisionally, a minor league guy like Lombardozzi, or Destin Hood will get to dress out with the big club for a ML game and players like Wang or Ryan Mattheus who need extra work will pitch in a minor league game.I have been in Houstons camp and most recently in the Mets camp and can tell you that all three facilities are set up pretty much the same way. Belive me. It's very structured and NOBODY thats under club control goes under the radar.

  15. Anonymous - Feb 25, 2011 at 2:44 PM

    Mark/Everyone–I'm in Orlando on business and may be able to get to Viera on Saturday (tomorrow) or Sunday. Can anyone tell me roughly what the Nats practice/intrasquad schedule looks like for those two days?Thanks!

  16. Mark Zuckerman - Feb 25, 2011 at 2:46 PM

    Players generally start taking the field to stretch between 9:00-9:30. Workouts should run until about 12:30 both days.

  17. joemktg - Feb 25, 2011 at 2:46 PM

    NatsJack: sincerest thanks.

  18. natsfan1a - Feb 25, 2011 at 4:26 PM

    Anonymous8, re. weekday, daytime ST games, that's what DVRs are for.

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