The Bryce Bomber…

bryce harper cover

Always great to open the mailbox on Thursdays to see my SI waiting for me…but especially great to see such a rising star like Bryce Harper on the cover standing in the freezing cold (as you find out in this article: http://tinyurl.com/bqhuz2j)!

There is absolutely pure joy in watching him play…but when he runs – with his chest out, and his head back – it’s a thrill!

If you haven’t yet read the article, here is a taste (http://tinyurl.com/cdeoc88), but do yourself a favor and read the whole article as it focuses on some of the key players in the league coming up on their “sophmore” year!

Batter up!

#11: Nationals Park, Washington DC

In June of 2008, I traveled to our nation’s capital for job training.  However, this wasn’t just any job.  I had spent the previous six months unemployed.  My position at the Fairmont Newport Beach had been eliminated because of budget on November 30, 2007, and the job prospects were slim.  I contemplated “pitching” this whole hotel PR career altogether and pursue my other interests: baseball for one, sports in general was another option, as were cars, and luxury goods.  But, one lead materialized into a job offer, and it was because of my new job that I found myself in D.C. in mid-June of 2008…I had accepted a position to work for The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo and I was about to get my introduction to The Ritz-Carlton Culture.

Of course, this couldn’t have come at a better time…because 2008 was the debut of Nationals Stadium (http://tinyurl.com/3edpq2w), the new home to the Washington Nationals (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_Nationals).

I would be lying if I said that the highlight of the trip was the ballpark.  I mean, I love baseball, but it’s also nice (more like essential) to be gainfully employed.  Basically, I had searched the entire Western United States for a job, any decent job, and couldn’t find a one.  So, I opted to “go big or go home,” and called Ritz-Carlton and asked them to hire me.  I was single and mobile and willing to re-locate – and so, they obliged.

At the time, I didn’t know that I wouldn’t move to Japan until September due to visa issues, but after I returned from Tokyo from my week-long interview, I was rushed to DC to get training in anticipation of my move – smack dab in the middle of baseball season!

The training was insightful and intense.  I had a bit of a disadvantage since everyone else had already spent a few months on property, but I managed.  And, at the end of the day, when the rest of the class contemplated the nearby Pentagon City Mall and dinner, I got on the metro to Nationals Park…the lone dissenter.

This park was bright, shiny and new – just like Pac Bell had been – and I knew, as I poured out of the train station that it would be the last U.S. Park I would see for a long time.  I was happy and a bit melancholy all at the same time.  (Of course, I couldn’t have known then that this would become my “home team” in 2011, not in my wildest dreams).

Again, I wish I could remember who they played, I wish I could remember who won, but I can’t.  I have different memories of this park that really had nothing to do with the park, the opposing team, the outcome of the game or the quality of the hot dog (which, having been back time and time again, I can confidently confirm are quite “delish”).

I stayed until the last out and followed everyone else back to the metro.  It was PACKED, yet I managed to push my way into a small “nook” that landed me under the armpit of this 6’6″ man who was holding onto the pole.  Out of nowhere, someone said, “Has anyone been to Japan?  This is like the trains in Japan.”

I looked up and smiled and sort of wondered if what he was saying was accurate (and if it was, what the heck was I in for)?

As it turned out, this man was a lawyer with an office in Tokyo and when I told him I was moving there, he gave me his card and the name of his co-worker who had also just re-located there.  And, just like that, I had my first “contact” in Japan – my one and ONLY at the time!

(Side note, his name was Miku, and we actually became friends.  He was a quiet, unassuming Indian man who turned out to be a fun guy to chat with – he had a family and relatives in CA, so we had that in common.  And, as for the guy on the train, Brian, he came to Tokyo and stayed at the hotel – such a small world).

I got back to The Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City and packed up my things for an early departure the following day.  I had enjoyed a great night at the ballpark and wondered what baseball would be like in Japan, since I knew it was BIG there. 

It’s baseball, I thought, it has to be universal, because, really, how different could it be? 

You have NO idea…stay tuned!!