Nationals Fans Attacked by Free Sausage Giveaway

Nationals mascot Screech had issues with the team's sausage cannon.
Nationals mascot Screech had issues with the team's sausage cannon. (By Dan Steinberg -- The Washington Post)
  Enlarge Photo     Buy Photo
Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Say this: the Nationals Fail stories are getting progressively more entertaining. Frowny wasn't really all that funny, aside from Stan Kasten calling him the player to be named later. The departures of Rijo and Bowden weren't funny, nor was Kasten going on Philly sports radio in search of ticket-buyers.

But "Natinals" was funny. Zimmermann batting with a Zimmerman bat was funny. The tarp failure was funny, and if there's one thing we all can agree upon, it's that exploding hot dog buns are high comedy indeed.

"It's just funny to watch hot dog rolls explode and come down on people," agreed James Timmermeyer, one of several fans to comment on my blog about the malfunction of Nick's Sausage Shooter during Saturday's matinee. "I would actually like to see that again. I'd want it to go awry every time."

The Nats declined to comment on any sausage failures, so I'll go by some first-person accounts. Screech came out on a Segway, as he always does for this promotion, and set up shop down the right field line. (The sausage shooter is used irregularly, but is a season-long promotion that has been used before and is scheduled to be used again.) This time, though, the sausages (wrapped in bun, foil and T-shirt, along with a flyer) weren't soaring into the stands with the majesty of a Roethlisberger bomb. This was the Danny Wuerffel version.

"Every time you would see one fire, you would almost see shotgun pellets of stuff come out of it, stuff would explode everywhere," said Alex Zeese, who was sitting in section 222. "A guy in front of me caught one, he opens it up, the whole thing was just crushed, and the sausage casing was pretty much the only thing left. It had been torn down the center, all you saw was little bits of meat stuck to the casing. It was basically gutted. I don't think anyone would eat that. I'm just glad there was no mustard in that stuff."

John Scholle, sitting in right field, reported grounds crew members scurrying onto the field to retrieve wayward bread.

"Big old chunks," he noted. "They were very clearly exploding as they were shot out, and we could easily see the bun and foil that were laying on the warning track."

There was at least one report of a sausage flying into the Phillies bullpen, to great amusement of the residents, although the fans were more frequently in the trajectory.

"You could just see stuff exploding over the crowd, like confetti raining down," said Timmermeyer, who was sitting in 129, behind the Nats' dugout. "You could just see the bread raining down on the people. And one time you could see the T-shirt leave and the bun was still in there, and I don't think Screech saw that, so he put another one in and then you got double-bun in there exploding."

Hey, it's better than a relief staff imploding. Zeese got a look at the T-shirt that landed in front of him, and said while it was covered with hog dog stuff, it seemed basically fine. And, like Timmermeyer, he said he was in favor of a return appearance from the Sausage Shooter.

"If they can make it work, I think it's a good idea," he said. "Anything they can do to get people in the seats."

© 2009 The Washington Post Company