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Posted at 09:38 AM ET, 04/13/2012

Opening day Natitude at Nats Park

I was wandering around Nats Park looking for Natitude Thursday afternoon when I saw these two standing in line for some hot dogs.

I asked if they had Natitude.

“This guy has a LOT of Natitude,” said their friend, Amy. “He likes to be the center of attention, and he likes to be sassy. That’s his Natitude right there. It’s like the team — they’re sassy, and they want to be the center of attention in D.C.”

Indeed. Although they weren’t sure why I ran up to them in line like that.

“I was sure he wanted us to order him a hot dog,” Kara (“Ain’t 1”) later said of me.

Anyhow, the home opener seemed like a fine day to ask some Natitude questions. I even asked players.

“It’s a big expression that we’re using a lot,” Gio Gonzalez told me. “You know what, if it’s working, keep it....If the fans like it, we like it. That’s all that matters.”

I also asked Ian Desmond.

“I mean, good effort,” he said. “If it sticks, it’s good. I’m sure there’ll be 10 more [slogans] by the time my career’s down here. It was Get Your Red On when I first got here, and Natitude now. So we’ll see.”

But does Natitude fit?

“We’ve just got a good group of guys, strong character here, a bunch of fighters, a bunch of guys that are hungry to win. . . . We’ve been fighting from behind since day one.”

Good enough. So here’s more Natitude. I didn’t talk to this guy, but the pants/jersey combination has to be Natitude.

These guys, too. This is Ryan Baione and Ryan Smith. They arrived at the ballpark at 10 a.m., hung out at the new Fairgrounds, and finally walked toward the gates.

“We’re walking to the stadium, I said hey Ryan, these ponchos look good, and they’re Nats colors,” Ryan Smith said. “Home opener? Let’s get something memorable.”

“This is Natitude, baby, right here,” Baione said.

“This is making a statement,” Smith agreed.

“Now we need one more guy, though, to make the Three Amigos,” Baione pointed out.

“Will you be that guy?” Smith asked me.

My own Natitude doesn’t extend to ponchos, so I excused myself and soon met Steven and Jesse Bussey. The father and son were wearing custom-made Nats jerseys; dad Steven’s said “Bussey,” while son Jesse went with “Bussman.” Good Natitude?

“I guess,” Jesse said.

How so?

“You’re not afraid to show who you are?” he ventured.

Although really, there was a more practical concern as well.

“Players come and go,” Jesse said. “I bought my mother a Michael Morse jersey, and he hasn’t been on the field yet. He could be one and done. We’ve learned from being Redskins fans.”

“In five or seven years, these jerseys will still be good,” his dad agreed.

A few steps away I met John Lechler, who had paired a Gary Carter Expos jersey with a Redskins backpack. With the Nats honoring Carter by holding a pre-game moment of silence, this felt like a very Respectful Natitude.

“Since Gary Carter’s up there on their Wall of Fame, I’d say it is,” Lechler agreed.

But I still think “99 Problems” and “Ain’t 1” won the day in the Natitude department.

“Does it reflect our Natitude?” 99 Problems considered, when I asked. “Yeah, I think so.”

By  |  09:38 AM ET, 04/13/2012

Categories:  Nats | Tags:  Natitude, Gio Gonzalez, Ian Desmond

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