The Washington Nationals kicked off their 2017 season Monday at Nationals Park in Southeast with cheers from over 40,000 fans as they marched to a 4-2 victory over the Miami Marlins.
Along with the cherry blossoms, the home opener is a true sign that spring has arrived in Washington, and fans couldn’t wait to return to the ballpark.
“I came from Springfield, Virginia, and I took off today to go the game because it’s the home opener, the happiest day of the season,” Daniel Giles said. “Being out in the Nats ballpark is always fun, seeing the players, the food, it’s good times and a good vibe.”
In the opening ceremony before the game, emceed by sportscaster James Brown, the Baseball Writers Association of America presented pitcher Max Scherzer with the 2016 National League Cy Young Award and second baseman Daniel Murphy with the Silver Slugger Award.
“I think we had a pretty good season last year,” Giles said. “They should definitely win at least 90 games and go to the playoffs.”
Others had even loftier expectations for the team.
“I definitely think they will go all the way and win it all,” said Harry Williams. “Anything less than that, I’m not accepting and it will be a disappointment.”
The Nationals gave fans plenty reasons to be hopeful, as staff ace Stephen Strasburg had a superb outing Monday and star outfielder Bryce Harper contributed with a home run.
“It’s a long 162-game season, but if we can stay healthy we’ll make it all the way,” Williams said.
The baseball club made changes in the offseason, both to their roster and the all-important fan experience.
The first 20,000 fans received a Nationals Magic 8 Ball presented by GEICO. Fans also got a taste of the ballpark’s new technological advances, including an app where fans can manage tickets, order concessions for express pickup, access to special promotions and discounts and a upgraded Wi-Fi connection.
This year the Nationals will also roll out new programs such as an Easter egg hunt on Sunday, April 16 after the game against the Philadelphia Phillies and a Mother’s Day Brunch before the game on Sunday, May 14.
In the meantime, fans and players alike rejoiced in a win that set a positive tone for the lengthy season ahead.
“Throughout the season you win a lot of games in a lot of different ways, and the good teams find different ways to win,” Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman told The Washington Post. “Today a lot of people did a lot of great things to come out with the win.”