So, Nationals Park

...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And thank goodness the stadium is using on-base percentage and slugging percentage on top of the typical (and outdated) batting average, home runs, and runs batted in.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.


  1. I love Kaufman, but when the cherry blossom trees in center field come in, I think Nats park will be every bit as distinctive.

    Isn't there still supposed to be a huge baseball on top of the red porch thingy out in left-center, too? That'll help, as well.

  2. Yeah, the cherry trees are supposed to be distinctive, but that'll last what, two or three weeks?

    The gigantic baseball was in the early concept drawings, but was scrapped.

    As for lots of empty seats, try this: take your free program, turn to the seating and pricing page, then laugh uproariously as you see how much of those outfield seats cost. Only $47 for the red seats in left-center! $33 to sit in the right-field corner on the second level! Bargains bargains bargains, come on down!

  3. At least four sections of those second level RF seats were completely empty. I guess sitting that close to the Five Guys isn't worth the premium pricing.

  4. Unless something happend to Camdem Yards since I visited a week and a half ago, the warehouse is NOT in the field of play. That's considered a sight line view. Kinda like getting to see the Capitol Dome from the Upper Decks.

    The baseball on top of the bar is not just a concept. The Lerner's are waiting for the stadium sponsor to pay for that amenity.

  5. To enjoy baseball, I need to be drunk. And I can't afford to do that at the new stadium. I think beer prices will be the underlying cause of baseball's demise in D.C.

  6. Shiane, you're right. It's not even close to the field of play. The only person to hit the thing did it in a home run derby.

    The waterfalls at Kaufman aren't in the field of play either.

    However, the way the warehouse looms over the field certainly adds a certain je ne sais quoi that Nationals Park lacks.

  7. Perhaps attendance would increase if the Nats could, at least occasionally, win a game? What are the odds over there? 96.7887% of seeing the Nats get their asses slaughtered. Yeah, line me up to spend money on that shit. Whatevs...Maybe next season.

  8. Been to two games. Here's my problems.

    Empty Seats - especially those "luxury" seats behind home. Last 3 years we had season tickets RIGHT BEHIND HOME.

    Lower level. They were awesome and only $35 per seat a game. Same seats these days are $150 a game. And they all sit empty (meanwhile, I'm stuck behind 3rd base at $60 a game).

    Food. Yes, its expensive. Took my son Thursday night. He got a Hot Dog and I got a Half Smoke with Chili from Ben's. And an order of chili cheese fries. Add a beer and a soda, and it was $37 dollars. Holy Shit!!

    Of course, the worst part is that the cotton candy guy never made it to us. Whats up with that. There were tons of kids, but the only vendors we saw in the stands were hawaking beer. Hell, there was only oen guy all game selling peanuts. And no Kracker Jack.

    Thats just un American.

  9. I just don't know what's the point of having a state of the art, top notch facility for a bottom ranked team...

  10. Tickets are insane. That's ridiculous pricing. I thought we were bad in St. Louis when they more than doubled the prices in the cheaper seats to pay for Busch 2.0. At least here you can get center field bleachers (noticeably missing in Kaufman- and the best seats in the house at Busch)...

    ... That being said, I'll probably be in the $18 lower right outfield terrace when the Cardinals come to town... You really can't keep me away apparently.