It was a beautiful Sunday. I had a buy one/get one free coupon for the Nationals. So I headed to Nationals Park along with Squinty and Bird to watch the Nationals take on the New York Mets.
Obviously, I’m primarily a Phillies fan. But I do like the Nats. Since they came into existence while I was a DC area resident, I feel that I’m permitted to take them on as a second team. Of course it helps that they’re at the other end of the spectrum from the Phillies. While the Phils are World F’n Champs, the Nationals have been the worst team in the league the past two years.
I am also no fan of the New York Mets. They’re supposedly the Phillies’ arch rival. Of course, as a Phillies fan, I have no fear of the Mets, as the Phillies have proven to be a strong September team, and the Mets have proven to be huge chokers. Regardless, it would be nice to cheer against them.
The ticket line moved quickly, and we got three seats in Section 206. Pretty good crowd at the game, although it’s amusing how the upper decks are mostly full, while there are large expanses in the lower bowl without people in them. It seems to me that they need to do some price adjusting. Of course, if you can’t get a good crowd for a beautiful afternoon game against the Mets, you’ll never get a good crowd. I’d say the crowd was about 60% rooting for the Nats, with 40% cheering for the crappy New York team.
In exchange for purchasing my ticket, I agreed to buy Bird lunch at Ben’s Chili Bowl. The line wasn’t too bad, but by the time we got to our seats, the Nats were already down 1-0. Not a good sign. The Mets went on to score five runs in the first inning, with two runs scoring on wild pitches. If the Nats wanted to make a good first impression, they failed badly.
It soon became obvious that the Nats weren’t going to be making a comeback, so we started to analyze ways to improve the stadium. While Nationals Park is nice enough, there is absolutely nothing about it that stands out. One problem is that while the stadium was supposed to be representative of DC buildings, as Squinty pointed out, DC has no real distinctive architectural style. I came to the conclusion that since DC’s most famous buildings are monuments and government buildings, why not incorporate that into the stadium?
There’s the large circular scoreboard that sits in center field. Why not put a replica of the Capitol dome over it? Of course, we’d be able to see the real Capitol dome if the idiots hadn’t built up huge parking garages that effectively block the view of the skyline. Maybe place some pillars at other locations around the stadium to give it more of a monument feel?
There’s also nothing especially “fun” about the stadium either. Sure, they have the PlayStation area for the fans with short attention spans, but you find stuff like that at every stadium. Look at what they have at Camden Yards. They have a special section for Boog Powell’s barbeque. Why not give Ben’s Chili Bowl similar treatment? Baltimore also has a large picnic area. Why couldn’t the Nats have included something like that? The area could have been shaded by the cherry trees that were originally supposed to be planted in the stadium.
Other stadiums also have sections of the stadium where they salute the team’s history and the franchise’s great players. The Yankees have their monument park. The Phillies have Ashburn Alley. I realize that the Nats don’t really have much history, but why not honor the Senators, the Expos, or Washington sports in general? They certainly have enough material to fill a historical section.
And then, there’s the food service. In the middle innings, I decided to get a hot dog. I got in line for the all beef hot dogs. I placed the order, gave the cashier my money (and she couldn’t have looked less happy to be working), and then moved to the side and waited for my hot dog. After two more customers had gone, I heard the cashier tell the next customer, “We’re out of all beef hot dogs.” I asked for clarification, and she repeated herself. I reminded her that I was waiting for an all beef hot dog. She glared at me and then said, “Oh, do you want your money back?”
I looked at her blankly for a second before answering, “No, I want to pay you and not get anything in return.” Quickly realizing that my sarcasm was either unnoticed or unappreciated, I quickly said, “Yes, can I please have my money back.” At this point in time, the guy who had originally taken my order reappeared with an all beef hot dog which he handed to me. I asked if he was sure, because the cashier was telling people they didn’t have any. He merely shrugged. I took the hot dog and left.
As for the on field product, obviously, this is not a good team. Their relief pitching is historically bad, but of all aspects of a team to fix, relief pitching may be the easiest. The lineup is actually pretty good, and Ryan Zimmerman is finally living up to hype given to him by the Nats’ announcers for the past two years. They have some promising young pitchers, and if newly drafted phenom pitcher Stephen Strasburg lives up to the hype, they’ll have an ace to build around.
Until then, I have a bunch of coupons for the games, and unless they’re playing the Red Sox or Cubs, I can be assured that good seats will be available!