...is really, really nice.
That HD screen out in center field. Holy Hell is it amazing. It's a shame that the operators don't quite have the hang of it yet.The pitch count didn't move for two entire innings. That's not acceptable, but I am sure that will fix itself in time.
And thank goodness the stadium is using on-base percentage and slugging percentage on top of the typical (and outdated) batting average, home runs, and runs batted in. Maybe we'll get lucky and Nats Park will be the first stadium to showcase VORP.
There are problems of course. Beer and food are prohibitively expensive. Nationals Park has managed to surpass the 9:30 Club in extorting their captive customers out of their hard earned money. There is no excuse for $7.50 bottles of Miller Lite. And beef brisket sandwiches should probably cost under ten dollars a pop unless they're made from fresh sirloin.
Another problem is of course the attendance. For a weekend game against a good team, there were far too many open seats. Baseball is about atmosphere. It's hard to really get the sensation of baseball when the park is only filled to two-thirds capacity.
I'm disappointed in the field of play as well. It's a very nice park with very nice amenities, but the field of play is boring. I'm not demanding anything as artificially wacky (or deplorable) as Minute Maid Park's hill in center field. I'm not even asking for a foul pole at 302 feet or a 37-foot wall out in left. But, the park needs something. It needs something like Camden's warehouse or Kansas City's waterfalls. There's nothing in the field of play that gives the stadium a personal touch. The field is similar to the cookie-cutter parks (like RFK) that have become so unfashionable since Camden Yards opened in 1993.
I ignored most of the extracurricular stuff in the ballpark. I guess a Playstation 3 booth would be nice for the kids, but I'm already a Guitar Hero champion and spend a good portion of my week playing MLB '08. I don't feel the need to prove my PS3 chops when I could be watching a baseball game.
Unfortunately, the stadium has that extracurricular vibe. All that extra stuff is nice, but I'm more interested in a hot dogs, beer, and good baseball. Nationals Park is merely adequate in that regard. I want more than adequate for the stupid financial obligations the city made on our behalf.
This post is getting more and more negative. I don't mean it to be. I just wish the same creativity that went into the stadium's stunning exterior was brought into the field of play. But, man, that exterior. Any bad thoughts I had about the stadium were dashed as soon as I got off the Metro. If this neighborhood develops like the city has planned (which I of course think is highly unlikely), the stadium will be an absolute jewel. The park fits seamlessly into the neighborhood. If it weren't for the ticket gates, one could imagine stumbling into the stands by accident.
It's that exterior that allow me to temporarily forget all of the bone-headed decisions that led to the stadium being built. That opening lets me do nothing but daydream about baseball for three hours. For that I am grateful.