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Spring Training Guide: The town

Jan 25, 2013, 12:00 PM EDT

Photo courtesy Viera.com
Viera has been the franchise’s spring home since 2003.

It’s easy to make fun of Viera, Fla., because the town is such a punching bag, inflicting wounds on itself with cheesy slogans — remember “In Viera, Even Better”? — and strip malls and an overall lack of charm.

Truth be told, Viera gets a bad rap. It’s not nearly as bad as the horror stories might suggest. It’s not even such a terrible place to visit … if you know how to find a few off-the-beaten-path locales.

You’re in luck, because your humble beat writer has spent the last eight springs on the Space Coast and during that time has managed to find plenty of hot spots (not to mention plenty of cold spots to be avoided at all costs).

So, if you’re planning to head down there this spring to catch Nationals camp, be sure to print out this handy-dandy guide to the sights, sounds and smells of Viera. (Also, if you missed it yesterday, be sure to read my guide to Space Coast Stadium and the nearby practice facility where the Nationals work out prior to the exhibition season.)

Viera represents just one small chunk of the Space Coast, a planned community well inland that boasts a dizzying array of chain restaurants, government buildings and the occasional brush fire. But venture just a short distance away to the towns of Cocoa Beach, Melbourne and Satellite Beach and you’ll find some more original destinations.

To get to Viera, you’ll either need to fly to Orlando and drive 45 minutes east along the Beach Line Expressway, fly into Melbourne (Note: There are no non-stops from Dulles, National or BWI) and drive 25 minutes north along Interstate-95, make the 900-mile trek yourself down the East Coast or hop on board Amtrak’s Auto Train, which departs every afternoon from Lorton, Va., and arrives the next morning in Sanford, Fla., (with your car).

Once you’re in town, you’ll need somewhere to stay. Though it would be nice to shack up in the immediate vicinity of Space Coast Stadium, be warned there are only a handful of hotels — LaQuinta Inn, Holiday Inn, Hampton Inn — and most get booked up during spring training, often with Nationals players and employees (mostly the minor-league guys).

Your better lodging options are going to be on the beach (Cocoa, Satellite or Melbourne) or in the actual city of Melbourne (which is where I stay). All are roughly a 25-to-30 minute drive from the ballpark, which isn’t bad at all by D.C. traffic standards. The beachfront hotels will be a bit pricier, especially in mid-March when spring break is in full swing.

OK, you’ve found a place to stay. Now, what are you going to eat? You’ve got no shortage of choices, even in Viera (which, come to think of it, is “Home to Choices” according to another one of the town’s slogans).

Just down the street from Space Coast Stadium is The Avenue, a large shopping and entertainment complex that features some standard chain fare (Chili’s, Longhorn Steakhouse, Mimi’s Cafe, Steak and Shake, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Five Guys and the infamous Panera Bread where you’re likely to run into sportswriters around lunchtime) and a few worthy non-chains (Pizza Gallery, World of Beer).

Farther down Wickham Road, you’ll also find chain restaurants Carrabba’s, Outback Steakhouse, Perkins, Cracker Barrel and Uno’s, but I recommend several non-chain establishments. For Italian, you’ve got to check out Amici’s (it’s in the same strip mall as Carrabba’s, at the opposite end) which happens to be a popular hangout for Nationals folks (including the general manager, who knows his Italian food). For sushi and other Asian cuisine, try Toyo (a couple doors down from Amici’s). And for burgers, barbeque and beer, you’ll want to stop by Charlie and Jake’s, which brews several unique beers on-site and has a been a spring training staple for years.

If you venture toward the Intracoastal Waterway and Route 1, you’ll find several higher-quality restaurants, some with excellent views: Pineda Crossing, River Rocks and Grills. And for a truly great and relaxing dinner on the water, you must make at least one trip to Bonefish Willy’s, which is tricky to find on Pineapple Ave., but is well worth the effort.

Cocoa Beach features its share of great seafood places, from the Cocoa Beach Pier to The Fat Snook (yes, that’s actually the name of a restaurant), not to mention several great oceanfront bars/restaurants including Coconuts, Fishlips and Sandbar.

Melbourne, meanwhile, has a cool little downtown area with a variety of quality dining (Matt’s Casbah) and typical pub fare (Meg O’Malley’s). Smokey Bones is a good place to get barbeque and watch the NCAA Tournament come March.

Now that you’re good and full from all the food and drink, you’ll need to find some other forms of entertainment when you’re not at the ballpark or training complex. Reporters don’t get to enjoy very much free time at spring training (certainly not during daytime hours) but the biggest tourist stop in the area is the Kennedy Space Center. They may have retired the space shuttle program, but the KSC is worth visiting nonetheless.

For those more interested in stuff that actually takes place on earth, there’s the Brevard Zoo, the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, airboat rides in the swamp, fishing in the river and ocean and, of course, miles of beaches.

Suffice it to say, there’s plenty to keep you occupied while you’re in town, headlined (obviously) by Nationals spring training. For those of you who have made the trip before, please share your experiences and recommendations in the comments section.

And for those who haven’t made the trip before, what are you waiting for?

143 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. DHamm - Jan 25, 2013 at 12:09 PM

    See you there March 3-9!

  2. The Retired Journalist - Jan 25, 2013 at 12:44 PM

    I'll add a couple of pub plugs for Coasters at Eau Gallie and A1A in Canova Beach and Crispy's on Barnes Blvd. in Rockledge as good places to visit if you're into "craft beers". Fellow beer geeks might also want to visit the Cocoa Beach Brewing Co. tasting room in, umm. Cocoa Beach.

  3. MicheleS - Jan 25, 2013 at 12:47 PM

    I can't wait. Just too Cold here this morning.

  4. NatsLady - Jan 25, 2013 at 1:11 PM

    Philly writer I often read, blasting the organization. See especially the last paragraph. I'd say they're the last of the "old school," except you may be also seeing something ("culture" vs. stats) in Arizona also.failure in philadelphiahttp://crashburnalley.com/2013/01/24/failure-in-philadelphia/

  5. Section 222 - Jan 25, 2013 at 1:12 PM

    NCNats, just saw your limerick in the previous thread. Well done Sir! A tip of my cap.

  6. SlowPitch63 - Jan 25, 2013 at 1:36 PM

    Back to the Nats vs. Braves. I know I'm not objective but I'm trying to be.Braves lost Jones, Bourn, and Prado (their 1, 2 and 3 hitters). Big losses on offense. Big loses on defense. Big loses on leadership.They also lost their "sixth" starter.They added Upton2, Johnson (4, 5 and 8 hitters)and Weldon.They improved their already strong bull pen. Outfield defense is marginally improved with a slight loss in center and an improvement in left.Infield defense is a disaster. SS appears great, 1b slightly below average. 2b and 3b black holes. Catcher no change. Improvement in power.Leadership is a big question. It could devolve into Uptons vs the World the first time one gets corrected.Big unkowns: Will Simmons improve or suffer sophmore slump. Will McCan return to form.Nats gained Harren, Soriano, Span.Nats lost Morse, Jackson, and a couple of LH RPs.Nats improved an already strong bull pen. Outfield defense may be the best in the league. Infield defense may be the best in the league. Catcher no change.Starting pitching improved with the change of #5s and the unleashing of Stras.Lost some power. Big unknowns: Will Harper continue to improve, will Espinosa see the light, will Ramos return healthy, will ALR repeat 2012?Braves start with a baseling of 94 wins and will suffer as much from their infield defense as they gain in power. Note that although the Braves improved their power they really haven't lost much in OBP. Their offense will be very good.Nats start with a baseline of 98 wins and will gain in SP and outfield defense while losing some power. My (biased) estimate: Braves 94 wins Nats 102.Let's Play Two!

  7. Theophilus T. S. - Jan 25, 2013 at 1:44 PM

    There was a link on MLB Rumors to a piece on Yahoo that basically wept over the D'backs loss of Upton and chastised Gibson and Towers for being bad parents. The gist of it was that Upton was shipped out because Gibson thought he didn't look like he was hustling and because he liked taking BP more than working out as the manager thought he should — all of which the writer believes is either/both slanderous or unrelated to his great "talent." What gets buried in the article is the AZ FO's belief that Upton had "peaked" and wasn't going to ever get back to his breakout third (?) season performance, which strongly suggests that Gibson's complaints about his work habits and attitude were probably bang on. I think the Nats will be happy they didn't get him.

  8. JamesFan - Jan 25, 2013 at 1:54 PM

    Natslady, thanks for the link to "Failure in Philly." This analysis of Amaro shows the contrast with the strategy of Rizzo and points out how lucky we are to have Mike. Rizzo's not going to get 'em all right, but his overall track record so far is spectacular.

  9. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jan 25, 2013 at 2:04 PM

    Baseballswami, so true about the Wizards and the Caps. I have theories on them and I don't think their futures are bright.Bring on baseball!

  10. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jan 25, 2013 at 2:15 PM

    The Barves are getting a lot of airtime. Right now its all air. You lose 3 of your best position players and you bring in replacements and it just doesn't work out many times in actuality.Ask the 2012 Marlins.

  11. SCNatsFan - Jan 25, 2013 at 2:29 PM

    If something wild happened and we signed Lohse do we lose #1 next year or #2 this year?

  12. Gonat - Jan 25, 2013 at 2:35 PM

    SCNatsFan, I think that is correct that you lose your picks in order.

  13. LoveDaNats - Jan 25, 2013 at 2:36 PM

    Mark, thanks for posting this. I think we had such a good experience last year due in part to your recommendations. We stayed at a B&B in Melbourne, we ate at Smoky Bones, Amici's and Charlie and Jake's and luckily had great weather for the games. So, doing it again. See you there March 21-24.

  14. NCNatsie - Jan 25, 2013 at 2:56 PM

    Great information, Mark. As I will be making my first Spring Training trip this year (Mar 8-9), I will make good use of it. I might even try out the Fat Snook, which wouldn't be a bad moniker for some NI poster.

  15. NatsJack in Florida - Jan 25, 2013 at 3:00 PM

    No where does Rosenthal claim the Mets are doing this because of Boras or that it is driven by Boras. And keep in mind Rosenthal's complete bias against Boras.

  16. EmDash - Jan 25, 2013 at 3:05 PM

    For me, even if the exception idea is driven by Boras, and he's obviously not very likeable…if he's making an argument that makes sense, so what if it comes from him? If he's right, he's right – doesn't matter who he is.

  17. Tony - Jan 25, 2013 at 3:08 PM

    One of these days old man NatsJack will learn that when you put 2 plus 2 together you don't get a 6 pack.

  18. NatsJack in Florida - Jan 25, 2013 at 3:27 PM

    Read the Fox Sports article and you'll get the whole story. Fact is, the Mets would have made the same claim if they had gone after Hamilton or LaRoche. The Mets and only the Mets have access to a claim with the support of the ML P Union.

  19. Teddy Rochlis - Jan 25, 2013 at 3:31 PM

    im surprised nothign about natsfest which is tomorrow?

  20. SCNatsFan - Jan 25, 2013 at 3:31 PM

    Hate to say it but I buy the Mets argument.

  21. NatsJack in Florida - Jan 25, 2013 at 3:36 PM

    And anybody claiming LaRoche needs to fire his agent for not seeking the same waiver in any situation not involving the Mets clearly needs a better understanding.

  22. PDowdy83 - Jan 25, 2013 at 3:39 PM

    I'm with you Theo. A lot of this negative talk about Arizona unloading Bauer and Upton, as well as Stephen Drew last year, is very one sided. Upton has been completely inconsitent. The team has a handful of young outfielders in Eaton, Pollack and Parra to go along with a pair of decent veterans in Ross and Kubel. The rotation is also pretty well ined up for years to come with Kennedy, Hudson, Cahill, Skaggs, Corbin, Delgado and other prospects. If as an organization you have the depth to move a few people who are either injury prone or causing some degree of internal issues why not move them? Is that really any different than what Rizzo did when he cleaned house? Yes Upton and bauer are more talented than Milledge, Morgan, Dukes etc. but Kevin Towers did bring back Martin Prado, Didi Gregorious, Delgado and some other prospects. While they may have sold a bit low on Bauer if they extend Prado I think the Upton trade was pretty fair value.The Dbacks still have a competitive roster and they appear to make decisions in a more statistical manner than the Phillies. That comparison seems offbase to me. Prado is a stat guy type of player, as are Cliff Pennington and Gerardo Parra.

  23. Tony - Jan 25, 2013 at 3:44 PM

    The Mets are not going after Bourn. Boras is pushing Bourn on the Mets, and came up with the idea of an exception to get them interested. As it happens, that exception has some validity. Every scheme Boras comes up with has some validity – he's smart that way. But it's clear that this is all Boras, because it didn't show up until the Mets were one of the few possible landing spots left for Bourn. That's when Boras needed to reach into his bag of tricks and figure out a way to grease the skids.If this scheme of Boras works, LaRoche is going to be wishing he had a smarter agent that could have figured out a way to work the draft pick rules and get him the 3 year deal he wanted from some other team.

  24. PDowdy83 - Jan 25, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    Tony, how are you still harping on LaRoche needing a better agent? None of the teams LaRoche would have wanted to go to (possible contenders in need of a firstbaseman) had any argument like the Mets do.

  25. Ren - Jan 25, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    Is Charlie and Jake's the one that gives you the free beer if you show them your spring traning ticket stub? I saw the recommendation in last year's comments, but forgot the name of the restaurant. Going down March 7-10, following the Nats for 4 games, cant wait

  26. Tony - Jan 25, 2013 at 4:06 PM

    If exceptions to the rules are allowed, smart agents will figure out how to get them. It doesn't have to just be the one exception that Boras figured out for the Mets to try. There could be different exceptions for other teams. All it takes is a smart agent to figure them out.

  27. Joe Seamhead - Jan 25, 2013 at 4:10 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  28. JD - Jan 25, 2013 at 4:12 PM

    Ghost, I have to agree with you in one respect: The 3 players the Braces Lost (Chipper, Bourne and Prado) combined for a total of 15 WAR last year and it's hard imagine how the Uptons and whoever plays 3rd will match or surpass that. My point is that if all 3 would have stayed they would have been very unlikely to match their output of last year in any even so instead the Braves got younger and more athletic and this will help them maintain their excellence long term. I also have a hard time debating character because neither I nor anyone else here knows the Uptons and Justin was right there in the MVP debate 1 year ago. There were tons of players starting with Ty Cobb who were miserable human beings but still led their teams to championships; we as fans hope that our sports heroes are not only superb at their craft but also have the character traits of mother Theresa but alas most of them don't.

  29. NatsLady - Jan 25, 2013 at 4:22 PM

    This is an interesting stat. (Not sure how well researched.) Rizzo and the Nats are piling on to be a team that wins those "short series." Hope we can win the grind so we get there.The most talented team rarely win because they have to win 3 short series in a row. If you are clearly the best team, that puts your odds of winning 3 such series around 15-18%.

  30. bowdenball - Jan 25, 2013 at 4:33 PM

    Not sure where you got that from Natslady, but it's overly simplified. The math isn't complicated: just take the percentage likelihood of winning a series you want to use and multiply it by 3. For example, let's you assume that a team is both clearly the best team in baseball and has the best starting pitcher. A fair guess at their chances of advancing would be 65% in the division series because of the ability to use the ace twice in five games if needed and 60% in the two other series..65 x .6 x .6 = 23.4%I'd say the best that the best team in the game can hope for in a single season these days is about a 25% chance to win the World Series. However if somehow we have some of those 105+ win teams we saw back in the day like the Yankees of the late 1990s, the number goes up.

  31. The Retired Journalist - Jan 25, 2013 at 4:44 PM

    Ren asked, "Is Charlie and Jake's the one that gives you the free beer if you show them your spring traning ticket stub?"————-C&J's traded a beer for your ticket stub the last couple of years but I haven't heard anything from the brewpub about whether they'll be doing it again in 2013.

  32. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jan 25, 2013 at 4:55 PM

    JD, I'm a big believer in baseball Karma and so much of that is team chemistry. We already know the Nats work as a cohesive unit unless you believe Denard Span and Dan Haren won't fit in and from what I have heard from both, I would say way to go Rizzo.You can't replace a Chipper Jones easily in WAR but it is far more difficult to replace him in the clubhouse. I'm not buying off that the addition of 2 Upton's to replace Chipper, Bourn and Prado is going to work as well.There is so much more to this Upton-Towers story from Arizona that will never hit the surface.I'm not saying either Upton is a cancer like Terrell Owens but I'm just saying its not a simple replacing WAR to WAR.Bring it on!

  33. NatsLady - Jan 25, 2013 at 4:55 PM

    bball–got it from the comments section of an article–which is why I said I don't know about its validity. It did strike me that you could research how many times the team that won the most games in the 154/162-game season actually won the WS. A very simplistic calculation, of course, but a warning for assumptions that the "best" team in a long season is also the best team for a short tournament.

  34. NatsJack in Florida - Jan 25, 2013 at 4:59 PM

    I'd much rather face the Upton's than Chipper and Prado any day.Can't wait for that first inside fastball to Juston gets away and plunks him on the forearm. Things will really be fun in all the Braves games this year.

  35. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jan 25, 2013 at 5:01 PM

    NatsJack in Florida said… And anybody claiming LaRoche needs to fire his agent for not seeking the same waiver in any situation not involving the Mets clearly needs a better understanding. January 25, 2013 10:36 AM I agree and LaRoche's issues go far beyond his agent. I think LaRoche's career puts him in the Rodney Dangerfield category. A top 10 player in his position doesn't make him a superstar but certainly he's out-performed almost every contract and you can't say that about too many players.

  36. NatsLady - Jan 25, 2013 at 5:04 PM

    I have very mixed feelings about the impact of "clubhouse chemistry." Myself, I have actually quit jobs where I didn't like the boss or the work environment, and it was DEFINITELY to my financial disadvantage (missed out on vesting for retirement benefits by only a few months in one situation). Of course, professional athletes have representation that would–hopefully–stop them from such impulses, but believe me, those impulses are REAL.You spend 7 months of every year with these people, flying on airplanes, riding buses, etc. If you have a guy who can calm you down, give you some perspective (DeRosa?), yes, I can see the value. OTOH, as KLaw pointed out in his chat, the Nats had really good players and a really good manager–can you say they would have won even one less game if DeRosa had not been around?There was a study done recently about the impact of middle managers on the performance of workers in corporations. It was significant and measurable. I don't know who will be our DeRosa this year, or whether we even need one, given that the team is now hardened and experienced.

  37. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jan 25, 2013 at 5:06 PM

    NatsJack in Florida said… I'd much rather face the Upton's than Chipper and Prado any day.Absolutely! Prado and Chipper along with Stanton, Wright and Kemp have "owned" the Nats. Am I missing anyone else?

  38. NatsLady - Jan 25, 2013 at 5:09 PM

    If I recall, the Nats have always played Atlanta just fine. They've under-performed against the Fish. Hopefully, that will not be an issue this year.

  39. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jan 25, 2013 at 5:10 PM

    NatsLady, its Jayson Werth's clubhouse. DeRosa fit in well. As I said after the season, I hoped he was going to be the new 3rd base Coach.Rizzo has bypassed many players based on "fit" and I truly believe the first time BJ Upton's name came up it was a "trial balloon" and Rizzo got all the feedback he needed to never revisit that again.

  40. do1teach1 - Jan 25, 2013 at 5:13 PM

    There are a couple of places on 520, the main road from Cocoa Beach to I-95, that are really good.One is the Italian Courtyard. Just the nicest people and wonderful food. Also Peroni on tap as I recall.The other is Kay's Barbecue, on the same road–520. Awesome. I mean awesome chicken and ribs.Stop by the Harvey's Groves store in Cocoa Beach. The orange juice is heavenly.Haven't had much luck with Thai food in Cocoa Beach/Melbourne. I think they're afraid to go full-Thai, so they end up with hybrid restaurants where the food tastes like Chinese food.And I agree with comments regarding Coaster's Pub in Melbourne. I've been shocked at how extensive their draft beer selection is–Bavarian and Belgian beers you can't find anywhere else. If the weather is warm, the biergarten outside the pub is really nice–much nicer than you'd expect,with the pub being in a nondescript strip mall.

  41. do1teach1 - Jan 25, 2013 at 5:17 PM

    Forgot one thing. I want to recommend the main pier in Cocoa Beach. When you visit this place you feel like you've dropped into the 1950s…kids on break, cavorting and playing volleyball on the beach, lots of surfers, a couple of (fried) seafood restaurants and bars on the pier, weathered old Floridians and locals, and gigantic pelicans, as well as plenty of local fishermen plying their trade. It's a great place to spend an afternoon and take pictures.

  42. peric - Jan 25, 2013 at 5:18 PM

    Rizzo has bypassed many players based on "fit" and I truly believe the first time BJ Upton's name came up it was a "trial balloon" and Rizzo got all the feedback he needed to never revisit that again.Just proving that the Braves organization is not to be underestimated. They put both brothers together and they are reasonably close to home. And Heyward can still learn a lot from those two. Canny move on the Braves part. They want the division back in the worst way …

  43. peric - Jan 25, 2013 at 5:23 PM

    Now there's a team (the Braves) that might give away a lot of prospects for Anthony Rendon right now. And if the Nats release Carlos Rivero? I would expect to seem him in their camp the next day.

  44. Joe Seamhead - Jan 25, 2013 at 5:27 PM

    Thanks to Mark and everybody else for the tips for spring training. The Mrs. and I decided to splurge, going down on the AutoTrain, staying beachfront in Cocoa Beach, then will drive back leisurely western route through GA and the Carolinas, stopping to visit. Interesting, if small, sample size regarding Justin Upton career vs. the Nats: .226 BA, .343 OBP and .264 slugging according to Baseball Reference

  45. Tony - Jan 25, 2013 at 5:28 PM

    Perfect team chemistry is way overrated. Ask the 1977 Yankees about that.

  46. Joe Seamhead - Jan 25, 2013 at 5:34 PM

    BJ Upton has 5 career home runs against pitchers on the Nats roster, though they were all against Dan Haren.

  47. peric - Jan 25, 2013 at 5:41 PM

    The Braves have THREE young 5 tool outfielders with lots of ceiling. All three are potential MVP/silver slugger candidates. Two golden glove fielders. The Nats have one YOUNG five tool outfielder and that is Bryce Harper. Span is a 1.5 tool. Werth is on the the decline. Offensively the Nats match up better when Tyler Moore is inserted into left field with Harper. Infield wise the Nats have it all over the Barves. Might be the best in baseball and getting better. But in the outfield I don't think they match up as well as Mark would have you believe.The Nats are not going to power by opponents as much as last season. Unless Espy, Desmond, and Moore come into their own along with better than career average seasons from LaRoche and Zim. Zim in particularly has the ceiling to be one of the elite hitters in baseball if he can remain relatively injury free. Given the way they all play in the field, having an infield that remains reasonably injury free seems a tough order. Espy, Zim, and Desmond had some pretty serious injury issues last season due to their aggressive fielding and stupendous, beyond the envelope range.

  48. peric - Jan 25, 2013 at 5:45 PM

    BJ Upton has 5 career home runs against pitchers on the Nats roster, though they were all against Dan Haren.Played his entire career for one team in the American League … the AL East. He wasn't going to be matched up against NL teams very often.Don't make the mistake of underestimating Upton now that he has been reunited with his younger brother. Again, a very canny move on the Braves part. One that Rizzo must now be sweating a few bullets over. He more than anyone else in the Nats organization knows the talent of those two brothers and what they are capable of.

  49. Section 3, my sofa - Jan 25, 2013 at 5:48 PM

    Years ago, now-defunct (I think) Spirit Airlines had daily nonstops from DCA to Melbourne for $49. I could have breakfast here and catch the 1 pm Manatees starts. That was all before 9/11, of course, and long before the Nats. I liked Melbourne then; it was a small town trying to become an artists' community for the tourists. Never quite pulled it off, and when NASA cut back, that, as they say, was that. Probably part of the reason they're so desperate to keep the Nats there.

  50. Section 3, my sofa - Jan 25, 2013 at 5:52 PM

    I still have in-laws down there, maybe I'll get to make the trip, yet.

  51. Gardner - Jan 25, 2013 at 5:57 PM

    I am a Cocoa Beach guy when I go to ST. Here are my pics:Best place to stay with a big group – Wakulla SuitesBest seafood – Jazzy's Mainely Lobster & SeafoodBest team in the world – Nationals

  52. peric - Jan 25, 2013 at 6:00 PM

    All I can think of is Barbara Eden in the Genie outfit when anyone says Cocoa Beach. They need to remake that …

  53. Grandstander - Jan 25, 2013 at 6:12 PM

    World of Beer is actually a chain too. There's even one up here in Ballston.

  54. Theophilus T. S. - Jan 25, 2013 at 6:16 PM

    Someone invoked Ty Cobb as a rationalization for finding room for players with abrasive personalities. Cobb played in only three WS, all very early in his 24-year career, none after age 22, and the Tigers lost all three. Tris Speaker, whom I regard as the player statistically most comparable to Cobb, also played in three WS (in 22 seasons) and his team won all three, all after Cobb's three WS appearances and while Cobb was still in his prime. Hardly an argument for inviting a butthead into your clubhouse.

  55. Faraz Shaikh - Jan 25, 2013 at 6:26 PM

    Theo, I definitely missed the point you were making with your post.

  56. BigCat - Jan 25, 2013 at 6:32 PM

    Those Uptons could split that locker room right down the middle. They have been known to be moody and lazy. I am sooooo glad Rizzo didn't get one of them. This could be very good for the Braves, or it could end up like the Marlins of last year.

  57. Faraz Shaikh - Jan 25, 2013 at 6:33 PM

    Peric, BJ Upton is hardly five tool anymore. When was the last time he hit for respectable AVG?Also what about IF comparison? I don't think they have any five tool players.

  58. Tcostant - Jan 25, 2013 at 6:34 PM

    Heads up – season ticket holders.The 2013 Red Carper Rewards are now posted.The intial look is that they cut the reward in half, but it is really more than that. For a Monday though Thursday game the rewards are twice the amount of last year. But now additional posints are needed for weekend (including Friday) and Prime games.So somewhere between 50% to 75% less than before, depending on the day of week.http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/was/ticketing/rewards.jsp?affiliateId=NRI7234T1-10

  59. Theophilus T. S. - Jan 25, 2013 at 6:34 PM

    Faraz — Sorry it was over your head. Maybe I should have aimed lower. You miss the point if you dismiss the idea that J. Upton's bum's rush out of Phoenix indicates the probability that management, with good reason, decided he was a butthead, or worse.

  60. Faraz Shaikh - Jan 25, 2013 at 6:43 PM

    Got it Theo. Actually I missed JD's post about Cobb also. That's what confused me further.While I get your point that bad attitude guys are never any good for teams, Ruth was no saint either but he seemed to be worshiped universally.

  61. Traveler8 - Jan 25, 2013 at 6:44 PM

    Ghost of Steve M, I think of the players who have owned the Nats as the All-Opposition Team, and I think that Raul Ibanez is the captain.

  62. BigCat - Jan 25, 2013 at 6:44 PM

    Did somebody say Barbara Eden? Now we're talkin!

  63. bowdenball - Jan 25, 2013 at 6:48 PM

    Theophilus-I think you're really overstating the impact of clubhouse presence. There are multiple buttheads on every team, including every World Series winners. Clemens and A-Rod both have World Series wins. Enough said on the "butthead" front.Want to talk about guys who are sometimes rumored to give less than 100% or not take things seriously? I can do that too. The three main culprits in the Red Sox "fried chicken and beer" clubhouse controversy have a combined four World Series rings and a World Series MVP trophy. Between them they've won three clinching World Series games. You get the point. The truth is that bad clubhouses are a product of losing, and good clubhouses are a product of winning, and that's all there is to it. Buttholes win. Guys who seem not to care a lot win like crazy. All that matters is production.

  64. baseballswami - Jan 25, 2013 at 6:59 PM

    I have been seeing lots of stories about the Braves now being better than us . At first I was defensive. But now, I think it might not be a bad idea if we came into the season with the team having something to prove — again . Can't rest on your laurels at all. Stay hungry my friends.

  65. peric - Jan 25, 2013 at 7:01 PM

    Also what about IF comparison? I don't think they have any five tool players.They don't. The Nat's infield wins hands down most especially if Tyler Moore gets thrown in the mix. But he might also end up in the outfield … a lot more than folks here expect.Right now I would not be surprised at all to learn that the ATL has been on the phone about players like Anthony Rendon and Matt Skole. And don't be surprised if Carlos Rivero ends up on that roster ala Chad Durbin immediately after his release if/when he gets released.

  66. NatsJack in Florida - Jan 25, 2013 at 7:02 PM

    Man… just finished cutting the grass. Damn this 75 degree weather.

  67. Faraz Shaikh - Jan 25, 2013 at 7:04 PM

    You want to trade places, NatsJack?

  68. baseballswami - Jan 25, 2013 at 7:09 PM

    NatsJack- you have a mean streak.

  69. NatsJack in Florida - Jan 25, 2013 at 7:12 PM

    No, I'll stay right here, Faraz. But thanks for the offer.

  70. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jan 25, 2013 at 7:16 PM

    Traveler8, agreed on Raúl Ibáñez through 2010. I don't miss him.

  71. peric - Jan 25, 2013 at 7:16 PM

    You miss the point if you dismiss the idea that J. Upton's bum's rush out of Phoenix indicates the probability that management, with good reason, decided he was a butthead, or worse.Don't underestimate the Upton brothers. BJ has been a key component in more than one pennant race and has significant playoff experience. Justin is a potential MVP candidate. What happens when they play together with Heyward? I guess we'll have to wait and see.

  72. MicheleS - Jan 25, 2013 at 7:17 PM

    :-p to NatsJack. My mom does the same thing to me. If she ever complains about 50 degree weather I threaten to disown her.

  73. MicheleS - Jan 25, 2013 at 7:24 PM

    Tcostant. Thanks for the link on the Red Carpet Rewards.Sadly, I will not be able to go to Opening day this year. Bummer! 1:05 games suck during the week

  74. Tcostant - Jan 25, 2013 at 7:26 PM

    No problem. I love those day games during the week, but the best time is really 3pm; easy to get there and past rush hour ion the way home. But I'll take it.

  75. MicheleS - Jan 25, 2013 at 7:28 PM

    And for those of you going to NatsFest… The boys are on their way or are already here. Per the twitter accounts:Gio getting on plane in Miami and not happy with cold weather.Byrce and Ian on planes and excited about coming. Nate Karns is also on his way.Denard Span is freezing and apparantly wearing a coat that doesn't agree snowDet is here and trying to figure out what is up with the closed streets and trafficRyan Matheus was having a blast at NatsPark (with Det) playing in the snow and informed Corey Brown that it was Flip FLop weather. The two have brought their bathing suits.

  76. Faraz Shaikh - Jan 25, 2013 at 7:30 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  77. NCNatsie - Jan 25, 2013 at 7:37 PM

    Yeah, Big Cat. It appears Peric still dreams of Jeannie after all these years. I knew there had to be a soft spot in there somewhere.

  78. baseballswami - Jan 25, 2013 at 7:38 PM

    Michele- and Mike Morse sounds like he misses his buds.

  79. Faraz Shaikh - Jan 25, 2013 at 7:40 PM

    btw have you guys read this:'The Marlins have made a minor league contract offer to Pat White, the former Miami Dolphins quarterback'. Looks like free agents have smartened up.

  80. Faraz Shaikh - Jan 25, 2013 at 7:41 PM

    JZ is probably creating snow angels somewhere out there.

  81. NatsLady - Jan 25, 2013 at 7:42 PM

    Just started snowing in Foggy Bottom and I have to go to work. Regretfully, I feel the Upton brothers will improve greatly from (1) being one the same team and (2) NOT being in Tampa and Phoenix.

  82. MicheleS - Jan 25, 2013 at 7:45 PM

    So a young Nats fan has started a blog. His name is Matt. He is totally adorable and will even melt the coldest of hearts (some of you should read his stuff). His website is mattsbats.comHe is also on twitter at @MattsBatsSwami,yup,sniffle, the big guy sounds lonely.

  83. BigCat - Jan 25, 2013 at 7:46 PM

    Regardless, the Braves have raised the stakes in this poker game. Gonna be a very interesting season. I still feel very good about our pitching though. I think Stra is gonna win 22-24 games

  84. baseballswami - Jan 25, 2013 at 7:47 PM

    Faraz- JZ probably ice fishing in a t shirt.

  85. Section 222 - Jan 25, 2013 at 7:48 PM

    Starting times for home games have also been posted! On Red Carpet Rewards, as noted by Tcostant, weekend and "prime" games cost more. This could mean (I'm trying to get confirmation from my rep) that there are no blackout games this year (except perhaps Opening Day).

  86. MicheleS - Jan 25, 2013 at 7:52 PM

    222 there are about 10 black out dates. They at the bottom of the link where it shows parking/prime dates, etc

  87. JD - Jan 25, 2013 at 8:04 PM

    Theo, I don't think the Oakland A's of the early 70's were choir boys. I know for sure that the Yankees of the Billy Martin/Reggie era were not and the Dave Parker led Pirates were also something below sainthood level. The Rockies made an effort to assemble a very 'Christian' team several years ago resulting in results which were not so impressive. In addition I don't buy the assertion that Justin Upton is a butthead because Kirk Gibson didn't get along with him and no one has the right to make that judgement unless they know the man or unless there is documented evidence that he has done something terrible. I think people here are taking quite a leap of faith in their character assumptions.

  88. Section 222 - Jan 25, 2013 at 8:11 PM

    Right you are Michele. Some of the blackout dates make sense — like Opening Day and Memorial Day against the O's. But the Sat. July 6 vs. the Padres?? Hmmm.

  89. NatsLady - Jan 25, 2013 at 8:12 PM

    JD, I recall that Ryan Z vouched for BJ and that is enough for me. They sound pretty crazy out there in AZ, and Justin is not the first guy that didn't fit into their "mold." I think we fans know very little about what goes on in the clubhouse–and frankly, I prefer it that way. As you said, unless a guy is arrested and charged, I pretty much don't care. Rizzo seems set on "character" guys, and that works for me.

  90. NatsLady - Jan 25, 2013 at 8:14 PM

    222 and Michele–thanks for the heads-up. Last year I waited on the Red Carpet rewards to see what would work with my plans and I lost out on a couple of date. This year I will reverse the priorities–I'll get the games and worry about other stuff later… :)

  91. MicheleS - Jan 25, 2013 at 8:16 PM

    JD..The sheer fact that the DBacks think that Cody Ross is an upgrade over Upton is hilarious. DBacks not well run, but if Gibby didn't like Upton, then he had to go. (not saying he was an issue, but obviously they didn't get along). I also see from Braves reporters that they believe they are the best team and as mentioned by someone else earlier, good. Let them get the inflated sense of self. Our boys can have a chip on their shoulders the entire year and pummel them into the ground.

  92. sjm308 - Jan 25, 2013 at 8:37 PM

    MicheleS – thanks for the heads up – I got the email and while its definitely fewer games, the fact that we can get even 4 free games/per seat with a partial plan is pleasing to me. It will be interesting to see if our cards will work better then what is happening with the Caps. I also am still amazed that they will know that my card is for the Teddy plan and someone else with that exact same seat will have the Abe plan. Not sure the ushers will handle this smoothly.As to the Braves. I believe they are a better team "on paper" but I think we are as well. You just don't know if the move to join the brothers will work but if it does, they benefit. I am not a fan of their infield and with errors and lack of range comes pitching breakdowns. I also think the other 3 teams in our division are weaker and I don't care who we beat to win our 102 games as long as we win 102 games.Go Nats!! World Series or Bust!!

  93. Faraz Shaikh - Jan 25, 2013 at 8:50 PM

    is this real @RBtheshark on twitter?

  94. Faraz Shaikh - Jan 25, 2013 at 8:51 PM

    it seems like he is.

  95. JD - Jan 25, 2013 at 8:54 PM

    MichelleS, The people the Braves lost all had great years last year so even if they all came back it is highly unlikely they would have done as well this year so at the end of the day I think what they did was improve their chances to maintain a strong level for the foreseeable future. I still think the Nats have an advantage over the Braves based on much better starting pitching.

  96. Section 222 - Jan 25, 2013 at 8:55 PM

    sjm, I agree that it will be interesting to see how the cards work out. I suppose you won't be able to use your card to get in the park when the game is on the Abe plan, but that won't prevent you from buying another ticket (or getting an RCR ticket) and then sitting in your seat in 308 until the Abe plan ticketholder shows up. Not that you would do that of course….

  97. sjm308 - Jan 25, 2013 at 8:57 PM

    222 – I will hide out over in 211 with you and try and learn that great cheer over in 213.

  98. sjm308 - Jan 25, 2013 at 8:59 PM

    Seriously, I am guessing attendance will be way up this year. I still sort of miss those days at RFK where you could start out in Centerfield and end up sitting behind the dugout by the 3rd inning. What I don't miss is the caliber of baseball our lads played back then.

  99. MicheleS - Jan 25, 2013 at 8:59 PM

    Faraz.. Ian and Mikey Mo vouched for the account. It could just be that Roger hasn't gotten back to the USA to get the official stamp of approval

  100. sjm308 - Jan 25, 2013 at 9:00 PM

    222 – of course I meant 311 and 313

  101. MicheleS - Jan 25, 2013 at 9:01 PM

    SJM.. you could always get deals on the secondary market too. I doubt the deals will be as good as last year, but you never know.

  102. Faraz Shaikh - Jan 25, 2013 at 9:07 PM

    thanks Michele. I also just noticed that Ian and Mikey were following him on twitter so I assumed that he wouldn't be a fake.

  103. Tony - Jan 25, 2013 at 9:09 PM

    Cuts in RCR make sense. There are more STH now, thus more points available to be used. But attendance will be much greater, meaning fewer seats available to be bought with those points. Demand is up, supply is down. You don't have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

  104. Section 222 - Jan 25, 2013 at 9:13 PM

    Agreed Tony. I'm glad the program is surviving in any form. My rep told me last year that they put a lot of effort into designing the program and developing the online request system, so they want to keep it going in some form for many years. I guess when we get to the point of daily sellouts, that will be the end of it. sjm, you'll find me in 314, not 311 — unless I'm using an RCR ticket. :-)

  105. Tony - Jan 25, 2013 at 9:17 PM

    The ushers won't have to handle anything if you come in with your card. You get a strip showing your seat location – that's why the Caps had such long delays, because it takes ten seconds or so to print out one strip. The usher will either check your strip or check your ticket, depending on which one you used to get through the gate. If you have a partial plan, your card won't print a strip on days that aren't in your plan, and they won't let you through the gate. If you have a ticket or print one out instead of using your card, you put the barcode under the reader and blip, you're in, just like before. Printed tickets are the way to go if you don't get there early.

  106. Tony - Jan 25, 2013 at 9:29 PM

    Here's an example of how much RCR got cut. I used to have a quarter season plan and got enough points to buy 3 club seats. Now I have a half season plan and get enough points to buy 1 club seat.

  107. sjm308 - Jan 25, 2013 at 9:31 PM

    Thanks Feel, I mean Tony. I figure its not going to be that difficult but I am always amazed at technology. Did someone on here mention that they are going to have an actual Opening Day Ticket that you can keep? I have all the others and being a pack rat, would really like that.

  108. sjm308 - Jan 25, 2013 at 9:33 PM

    Yes, RCR did take a hit but like 222, I am just glad it survived. Tony, you do what my other 3 guys do. They take the points and splurge for one nice seat. I believe you are in 309 and I really like where we sit in 308 so I am fine with just extra games up there. I did get to sit in those nice seats once last year and its a huge difference but for me, the more games the better.

  109. Tony - Jan 25, 2013 at 9:34 PM

    Feel?

  110. MicheleS - Jan 25, 2013 at 9:36 PM

    SJM.. I am with you. This year, I will be using my points for the 300 sections so I can go to as many games as I want.

  111. Section 222 - Jan 25, 2013 at 9:49 PM

    Michele and SJM, that's my RCR strategy too. Our four seats were good for 162 extra tickets last year, 80 this year (if we only use it for weekday games, which is doubtful). That's still alot of seats that make satisfying a group of 7 that has only 4 seats alot easier.I expect the program will keep shrinking though, and soon you'll just be able to get those No. 1 fingers or maybe a coke with your points.

  112. MicheleS - Jan 25, 2013 at 9:51 PM

    222 if this is the cost of having a good team, I am okay with that. As long as I get October tickets, I am good.

  113. NatsLady - Jan 25, 2013 at 9:59 PM

    Can't believe all my students except one have cancelled due to this tiny amount of snow. Oh, well. I hope our guys are tough, because it could be um, chilly in Detroit in October. Go Nats.

  114. MicheleS - Jan 25, 2013 at 10:01 PM

    NatsLady.. the roads are nuts.

  115. Section 222 - Jan 25, 2013 at 10:01 PM

    Michele, here here!It's interesting that the season ends for us on Sept. 29 this year. That's four days earlier than last year, presumably to allow for the Wild Card games and travel days, which will eliminate the unfair scheduling (2-3 in instead of 2-2-1) that Division winners faced last year. The season starts four days earlier. Brrrrrr.

  116. Joe Seamhead - Jan 25, 2013 at 10:05 PM

    MicheleS, when are you going to FL?

  117. MicheleS - Jan 25, 2013 at 10:12 PM

    JoeSWill be at 3/17 at Tigers. 3/21 at Braves, 3/22 At Viera. When will you and Mrs S be down?

  118. natsfan1a - Jan 25, 2013 at 10:37 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  119. natsfan1a - Jan 25, 2013 at 10:39 PM

    Just popping in for a quick hello. Haven't kept up with baseball stuff since last weekend, when we needed to leave town suddenly due to a family health crisis (and, subsequently, memorial service). Just took a quick look at posts since then but haven't read comments. Oh, I did have one baseball conversation, with an out-of-state in-law who wanted to talk a little baseball. Of course, his leading question/comment was about the SS shutdown, which he'd seen all the hoopla about in the national media (le sigh).Anyhoo, am planning to be at NatsFest tomorrow, probably from 12-4. Don't know whether any kind of meetup may have been planned, but I'll be sitting around listening to the various talks/presentations for the most part. Probably will be sporting my red Nats DC logo hoodie and jeans, possibly with my navy blue Nats windbreaker-type jacket as well. I believe I also wore that combo to the last game of the year (le sigh).

  120. MicheleS - Jan 25, 2013 at 11:56 PM

    1A.. I am so sorry for your loss…I will be there tomorrow, don't think we will need the pepcid this time

  121. Scooter - Jan 26, 2013 at 12:02 AM

    Okay, it turns out I'm going to Spring Training again this year. Yippee!! 2/26 – 3/1.The Braves' stadium: which side is the visitors' dugout? Thanks much.

  122. Section 3, my sofa - Jan 26, 2013 at 12:04 AM

    1a, my condolences to your family. Drive carefully tomorrow, the streets aren't too good at the moment in DC.

  123. NatsJack in Florida - Jan 26, 2013 at 12:54 AM

    At Disney, the Nats are on the 3rd base side Scooter.

  124. SCNatsFan - Jan 26, 2013 at 1:24 AM

    Taft the new President? That is an upset. Rizzo surprises again.

  125. Another_Sam - Jan 26, 2013 at 1:33 AM

    Looks to me like a 100 win season has done a lot to stimulate interest in trip to viera. LOL. See you there. I second the recommendations above — including Coasters, a fovorite of mine. I like Charlie and Jake's. Bonefish Willy is on my list. But for food, try Island Fish Grill at the end of New Haven street in Indianlatic. Only bottled beer, though. Here's a special — The Yardhouse, near the Jupiter park, is good enough for a drive to a game down there.Someone above commented that the cost was keeping him [her?] away. I say: you don't need a resort hotel with golf courses and pools if you're there for baseball.

  126. baseballswami - Jan 26, 2013 at 1:37 AM

    Off topic maybe, but for those of you on twitter, there are some awesome kid Nat's fans blogging and such. So great to see how passionate and knowledgeable they are. The next generation- kids who will grow up having had a team their entire fan lives. Does my Nat's fan heart good.

  127. Scooter - Jan 26, 2013 at 2:01 AM

    Thanks, Jack.

  128. SonnyG10 - Jan 26, 2013 at 2:04 AM

    baseballswami said……The next generation- kids who will grow up having had a team their entire fan lives. Does my Nat's fan heart good.January 25, 2013 8:37 PMI second that thought, swami!

  129. Scooter - Jan 26, 2013 at 2:19 AM

    Dude, Sam, my dad and I are staying at he Holiday Inn. Between flying, rental car, hotel, and tix, we're spending mor than some of my friends could.Travel in general ain't cheap.

  130. NatsJack in Florida - Jan 26, 2013 at 3:31 AM

    Scooter…..let me know when you and your Dad are coming and we'll hook up.

  131. Joe Seamhead - Jan 26, 2013 at 4:27 AM

    MicheleS, we'll be there from Mar.12 thru Mar19th. Looks like we'll just miss you. We'll be at Space Coast for Mets on 3/13, Astros games on 14th & 16th, Tigers on the 18th. We may try and go to one, or more, of the other parks. Nats Jack, if the offer is still good for two on the 14th, I'd love to hook up with you. Let me know.

  132. Scooter - Jan 26, 2013 at 4:29 AM

    Feb 26 through March 1. We'll be in Viera for all of the 27th and 28th, which are both home games. Games at Disney the 26th and 1st.

  133. The Retired Journalist - Jan 26, 2013 at 1:16 PM

    I'll also endorse the biergarten at Coasters as a nice place to get some local seafood on a nice day to sit outdoors. (I live ten minutes' walk from the place so I've spent quite a bit of time there.) Let me try to sum it up for the craft beer drinkers: World of Beer is closest to Space Coast Stadium (and the past couple of seasons they've run a beer stand in left field). Coasters has good food and is by the beach. Crispy's has the best beer selection in Brevard County.

  134. Gerry Gleckel - Jan 26, 2013 at 1:43 PM

    I'm a "full time" Viera resident too (the Air Force sent me down here for a couple of years). I want to add a couple of great restaurant suggestions. These are all casual "local" joints. Cheap eats, great place to meet up with friends:- Ryan's Village Pizza in Cocoa Village (not to be confused w/Cocoa Beach). Pizza by the slice as big as your plate and about a dozen beers on tap. – Smokehouse foods in Port Canaveral (across from Grill's and Fishlips and such). They have great smoked pork/fish/chicken sandwiches and wraps. – Madd Jacks in Cape Canaveral (off A1A); great tri-tip and brisket.- El Ambia Cubano in Melbourne is a great little Cuban restaurant. See you at the Nats games…my Dad and I will be in Section 114 over the Nats dugout.

  135. Iowa Nats Fan - Jan 26, 2013 at 1:48 PM

    Some Viera Rec's:1) Bonefish Willys2) An out of the way beachfront hotel in Melbourne3) Sunscreen4) Hit up the workouts and scrimmages at CB Complex5) Sunscreen

  136. natsfan1a - Jan 26, 2013 at 2:38 PM

    Seconding this. Not everyone has the discretionary income to attend many baseball games at home, let alone travel to do so. That doesn't make them any less of a fan, imho.As for food, lodging, and other recos, am still catching up with reading but will repost mine and read comments here at some point.Scooter said… Dude, Sam, my dad and I are staying at he Holiday Inn. Between flying, rental car, hotel, and tix, we're spending mor than some of my friends could. Travel in general ain't cheap. January 25, 2013 9:19 PM

  137. Ebby Calvin - Jan 26, 2013 at 4:27 PM

    My wife and I stumbled onto the Doubletree Guest Suites Melbourne Beach (actually located in "Indialantic") by accident on our first spring training expedition years ago. It has served us very well. Not the least of the pleasures: The fresh chocolate chip cookies check-in gift. We had some annoying but manageable room maintenance issues last time, but we are hoping that was an aberration, and will most likely again make this our base if we go to Florida again this year. (I'm leaning toward investing our travel money for regular season Nats trips, maybe to southern California or San Francisco area; my wife prefers catching the Nats' last stand in Viera).Melbourne Beach is not the best choice if your top priority is ogling the maximum number of nubile bodies. It attracts a more mature crowd, and doesn't seem as busy as some of the other area beaches. Those so inclined will be able to peruse a fair number of cuties, though.One major Melbourne attraction: The Blueberry Muffin. This is a fantastic diner within walking distance of the Doubletree. We would never have discovered this wonderful place if not for the assistance of a great guide: The AAA Tour Books (free to members) use their diamond rating system to rate not just hotels but restaurants. We have found these invaluable. Melo's Italian Restorante, a few miles away, was another good AAA pick.We had to stay at the Crowne Plaza north of the Doubletree once when we foolishly failed to make Doubletree reservations. Their restaurant, Coquina's, yet another AAA pick, is pretty good. The lodging is OK as a fallback, but not quite as nice and more expensive. No cookies, either. More travel tips later.

  138. Scooter - Jan 26, 2013 at 6:36 PM

    It occurs to me that I should share my own thoughts.First, for anyone looking for info, find the Nats Insider posts from one year ago and two years ago; those had TONS of information in the comments, and we found them very useful. Good stuff this year, but even better in 2011 and '12.Okay, my experience:My dad and I didn't do anything fancy. We stayed at the Holiday Inn, which is less than a 5-minute drive from the stadium. Just last night, we made reservations for our end-of-February trip for 2013. So despite Mr. Zuckerman's warning, rooms apparently aren't that hard to get. Right next to the hotel, or right across the street, are a Chick-Fil-A, a Bob Evans, and a nice barbecue place. If you forgot to pack something, the Wal-Mart is probably close enough to walk, but the streets are busy enough that we drove. What I'm saying is, if you don't insist on finding the micro-est microbrew, or finding the very best scrod-and-halibut smoothie, you can find plenty to eat, and you can buy anything you need.For the love of Elvis, remember your sunscreen!!!What my dad and I did is, we'd wake up in the morning and go over to the practice facility, where the minor-leaguers were working out in their accelerated camp. We watched the drills, then it was time to walk the 5 minutes to Space Coast Stadium for a home game, or get in the car for a road game. One afternoon, we went to a batting cage, which is on Wickham Road (same road as the Holiday Inn), about a 15- or 20-minute drive, and that was nice.But for my money, watching the kids practice in the morning, and the big boys play in the afternoon or evening, that was enough to fill up my time. It was an outstanding week, filled with nothing but baseball, and I don't feel like I missed anything. (It would have been nice to get to the Kennedy Space Center. We just never made it there.)So, have fun. And bring your sunscreen!

  139. Another_Sam - Jan 26, 2013 at 8:31 PM

    Scooter – I'm with you. When I'm there for baseball, I'm there for baseball. Of course, a good brewski is also nice. LOL And did anyone mention sunscreen? LOLEbby — at the Double Tree you're very close to the beloved Coasters that's mentioned many times above.

  140. Another_Sam - Jan 26, 2013 at 8:32 PM

    Oh — Coasters:L if they still have Trivia night on Monday, get there very early.

  141. efowl4 - Jan 28, 2013 at 6:31 PM

    Contemplating heading down and trying to get in a little golf as well. Any recs on where to play, it would be pretty nice to play a course that most of the players hit up. Thanks for the help.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB MN
WASHINGTON 78 59 -- 18
ATLANTA 72 67 7.0
MIAMI 67 70 11.0
NEW YORK 65 74 14.0
PHILADELPHIA 64 74 14.5
Through Tuesday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
WED: Nats at Dodgers, 3:10 p.m.
THU: OFF
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Phillies at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Braves at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
TUE: Braves at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

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