Today I'll spend some time giving my opinion of Nationals Park in Washington, DC. It was a nice park, but nothing spectacular. The picture above was the best I could do as an establishing shot - the really nice view of the park I would have had to cross a river to get. But my mom took a picture out of the back of the car of that view...I'll post it if it came out nice. Anyway, the park really wet my whistle thinking about how good Citi Field is going to be. Because as un-spectacular as this park was, it was still pretty great, comparitively speaking. And I know Citi Field will be better. The details:
As much as Jacobs Field reminded me of Petco Park (and I know Jacobs came first, but I went to Petco first, so Jacobs reminded me of Petco), Nationals Park was definitely inspired by Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. I'm even more sure of this after watching the Nationals and remembering the Cincinnati connection of GM Jim Bowden. He must have had some say in the ballpark design. The outfield concourse especially reminded me of Cincy - there was more in Cincinnati, but the way the concession stands were set up, and the attractions (I think I described them as amusement-park like when I wrote about Cincinnati) were similar. (The Baby and I did not wait on line to use the play structure you see to the right.)
Do you notice in that picture the big blank green areas to the upper left? I think those are supposed to hold advertisements. And I think the outfield walls in Nationals Park are supposed to have more ads than they do. But the ballpark looks plain. It's weird for me to remark on the outfield walls of a Major League park as plain, because that's the way they all used to look, but nowadays everyone has advertisements on the walls, like the minor league parks. I think the Nats are having trouble scratching up some advertisers. Didn't seem like they were strapped for cash when we were there (it was the second-largest crowd of the season, and they did seem unprepared - certain vendors ran out of some elementary things like hot dogs), but maybe the fact that this brand-spanking-new ballpark is called Nationals Park instead of "Geico Park" or something is another indication they're having trouble selling the idea of baseball in the nation's capital.
See that middle picture above? That's another similarity to the Cincinnati design - there's not just a center field seating area - it's a strange part of the design. In Cincy, it's a steamship. In Washington, it's this rotunda thing. It's like they're trying to disguise that you have crappy seats.
Anyway, as I show you Tim Redding getting ready to throw the first pitch of the game, I'll tell you that I was psyched when I found out I'd have rooting interest - Redding is on my fantasy team, and he was starting against the Brewers. Redding has also been the best Nats starter by far, and he cruised for about 5+ innings. Then he fell apart. And the more I realized how bad the Nationals pitching is, the more I realized how sad the Mets' state of affairs is, because they make the Nationals' pitching look ridiculously good whenever they play them.
One weird thing about the ballpark is that in the parts where the concourse was open, there were all sorts of TVs. But behind home plate, in the areas where the concourse was closed, there were no TVs - the spot where you couldn't see the game at all. That puzzled me.
And lastly, it seems Milwaukee fans travel well. I'm always surprised when Brewers fans crawl out of the woodwork. We saw the Brewers in Cincinnati, and there were a good number of Brewers fans at that game. The Wife commented that it wasn't such a long ride for them. But there were a bunch at this game, too. And recently, although I spent part of that weekend traveling, when the Brewers were at Fenway, all sorts of Brewers fans were around town. I was surprised. But maybe I shouldn't be as surprised anymore.
Two more things (I'm squeezing all of my Nationals writing into two days, I guess, not the whole week like I said yesterday) - the ballpark is not in the greatest area, and here's another bad thing - just 5,000 parking spaces. Small little lots a block or so from the ballpark. The radio ads try to convince people to take the Metro...but we were able to park in a lot. And finally, there's no Expos history anywhere that I saw (no Gary Carter retired number - I guess all Expos records are gone), but there are Salutes to Hall of Famers throughout the building, and little bits throughout about the history of baseball in Washington.
Tomorrow I'll tell you about my weekend of bad decisions, and how we still survived.