Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Monday, December 18, 2017

Nationals’ Haunted Pep Rally excites fans for postseason

Nats bring starting pitcher, CBS radio stations, the Racing Presidents to the concourse after hours

The Washington Nationals hosted the CareFirst BlueCross Blueshield Haunted Pep Rally at Nationals Park Wednesday evening, heightening fans’s excitement for postseason home games. The Nats partnered with CBS radio stations to bring entertainment, candy and raffle prizes to the fans who want to see the Nationals get all the way to the World Series.

Chris Kinard, the programming director for 106.7 The Fan, said the radio station planned everything since they specialize in sports talk. 

“[The Haunted Pep Rally] is a fun event to get people excited about the games this Friday and Saturday, and hopefully close up the series on Monday,” Kinard said. “The Nats are family-oriented, this event is for families and our radio stations hit all the demographics of D.C., and they’re here tonight.”

The fearless fans were invited to walk through the Zombie Zone, an area in which actors playing Nationals players were trapped and surrounded by zombies, i.e. fans of other MLB teams that join the Nats in the postseason. Strobe lights, dry ice and chilling sound effects set the tone as non-Nats “fans” clawed and moaned towards anyone brave enough to walk through the zone.

While the adults got spooked with decrepit-looking, crazed fan zombies, the Nats’ huge-headed presidents made an appearance on the concourse, handing out Halloween candy in their very own costumes; Thomas Jefferson came as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, Teddy Roosevelt as Chewbacca, George Washington as Mr. Oktoberfest and Abraham Lincoln as an American tourist.

Four food trucks lined the entrance gates to Nats Park inside the ballpark: Dangerously Delicious’ pie truck, Cap Mac’s mac and cheese truck, Popped Republic’s popcorn truck and Captain Cookie’s dessert and coffee truck. There were also several red carnival games, like inflatable batting practice, a ring toss and bottle knockdown -- open to fans 12 and under who all got Halloween candy after their turns.

“Our office is literally two blocks up the street from Nats Park, and everyone at CBS is a huge Nationals fan, so the Nats invited us to be a part of the Pep Rally tonight,” said Jen Richer, executive producer and on-air personality for The Tommy Show on 94.7 Fresh.

CBS’ 106.7 The Fan hosted centerstage entertainment for the entirety of the event, bringing members from the The Fan’s own talk shows and other CBS on-air personalities in front of the crowd and broadcasted over CBS stations.

Nationals’ starting pitcher Joe Ross spoke to Danny Rouhier and Grant Paulsen from The Fan’s Grant and Danny Show on stage for the fans. Ross was the only Nats player in attendance at Wednesday’s rally. He reflected on Nats’ manager Dusty Baker’s jogs to the mound to pull him out of a game, days off in opposing teams’ cities and the worst-dressed National─he said Jayson Werth, if you were wondering.

“I’m really excited [for the postseason], and I’m glad to see you all out here tonight,” Ross said. “I think this is one of the first times we’ve done something like this for our fans.”

In 2014 and 2012, the Nats clinched a spot in the postseason, playing in the National League Division Series, which they will do once again Friday and Saturday. They lost both years and didn’t advance any further.

Ross is currently on the disabled list and has been since July 14, after his time on the mound ended with a “throbbing elbow,” according to the Washington Post. Though he is not a part of the Nationals’ 40-man roster in the games to come, he is excited for his team in the postseason.

Dan Kolko and F. P. Santangelo briefly joined Rouhier and Paulson before the Nats fans to discuss player stats, predictions and game expectations. Kolko is the MASN’s on-field reporter for the Nationals and an MLB Network correspondent, and Santangelo is the Nats’ color analyst on MASN. Santangelo was also a MLB player from 1995-2001.

CBS partnered with the Nats to give away signed Bryce Harper jerseys and miscellaneous player bobbleheads, Postseason Nats’ and CBS gear and tickets to Friday and Saturday’s postseason home games, the most-anticipated prizes of the event.

“We’re going to both the playoff games!” said longtime fan Mickie Setlow, 62. She and her husband, Loren Setlow, 69, have been Nats fans since 2005, and have the 81 game season ticket plan for the 2018 season. “We’re going to the All-Star Game too. We’re fans for life!”

The Nats lost 3-0 to the Chicago Cubs Friday night, and evened the series on Saturday with a 6-3 victory. Fans can continue watching the the postseason games on TBS Monday at 4:08 p.m., Tuesday at 5:38 p.m. and Thursday at 5:38 p.m.

kcataudella@theeagleonline.com


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