Results tagged ‘ Nationals Park ’
On June 3, 2009, I knocked off work early and Tim and I trekked down to Nationals Park in Washington, D.C to witness a piece of history — Randy Johnson’s 300th career victory. However, the rain put the kibosh on our plans.
July 19th was our make-up game. Instead of seeing Randy Johnson’s 300th win, we saw Kevin Hart’s third. It was a fun game — but as the math would reveal, it was about 100 times less memorable than if we would have got to see Randy’s big win.
The process of exchanging our rain out tickets for these tickets was made 50,000 times more difficult due to the inadequacies of the Washington Nationals telephone system. I called them at about 4-5 different numbers I found on their website. They all led to the same automated phone system. No humans ever answered. I was dumped into a “general” voicemail box and none of my calls were returned until I got creative. Eventually the team store gave me the number 202-640-7000. From that number, you can get a company phone directory. I went through the front office directory on MLB.com and entered random Nationals employees into the phone directory. The first 3-4 employees went straight to voicemail. I was beginning to think that no one actually worked at Nationals Park. Eventually, I reached someone. She told me I could only make the exchange at the box office at the stadium and they wouldn’t hold tickets aside for me — just in case I didn’t show up. So I was stuck driving 2.5 hours not knowing if they’d have any cheap seats to exchange for our cheapseats tickets.
When we got there, they didn’t. All the cheap seats were sold out. So we had to get tickets about twice as expensive as our original tickets. This was frustrating. I pulled out my card to pay the extra money for the more expensive tickets. The guy asked me if I was buying more tickets. “No.” “Then you don’t need your card.”
It was the first good moment in the whole process: they made a straight exchange for my cheap seats tickets. This made me happy. A small amount of redemption. But the Nationals as an organization have a long way to go to get back in my good graces. The handling of the rainout and then the unanswered phone messages and emails did a lot of damage.
Anyway, there is a game to report. Let’s get to it.
To add to my already mounting frustration while heading down to the game, I missed the exit from I-95 to I-295. So I had no clue how to get to the Park. I saw an exit sign that said “To Naionals Park.” So I took it. Then I drove around totally clueless for about 15 minutes until I magically popped out of nowheresville and onto a bridge heading straight to Nationals Park. This is what I saw:
We entered the stadium and there was a lot of hoopla going on — the Nats fans and employees were all jazzed up for the beginning of the game (FYI, we got there about 10 second before the Nats took the field):
Often times, we walk into a game and Tim instantly informs me, “I want ice cream!” Today to my surprise, he told me, “I want ice cream, after we eat lunch.” He wanted chicken strips and fries, which interestingly is what we had at our only other game at Nationals Park.
We bought the chicken and fries and sat in the handicap accessible seats behind 1B field level seats. This was our view:
At our first game here, the attendants were dictators. They checked tickets everywhere. I had to sweet talk a guy to let Tim and I sit in the LAST ROW of the upper deck to eat Tim’s ice cream helmet. I was happy to find the stadium much more relaxed at this game.
Here is Tim between french fries:
Tim was a little camera shy today. He was all smiles and laughs all day except when the camera looked his way. This is serious Tim.
I am excited for this entry because I felt like I got a lot of good action shots at this game. Here is the first:
Okay. So there really isn’t much *action* going on here. But I wanted to get a picture of Nick Johnson and give him big SeaTown props. Both today and at our last game at Nationals Park, N-John came to the plate accompanied by the sweet sounds of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Posse On Broadway.“
Soon, the action picked up: Alfonso Soriano hit a double:
Soriano seemed to be the only big name in the Cubs line-up. I’m not up on the Cubs. I’m not sure where everyone else was — no Aramis Ramirez and no Milton Bradley. So my Cubs photos focused on Soriano. He looks like he is going to hit a bomb on every swing he takes.
While sitting here, I noticed that the out-of-town scoreboard was telling a happy story:
After eating, Tim wanted to go check out the play area in CF:
The play area is the red and blue thing to the far right of the picture. To the left, there are some big signs with all of the 30 MLB team logos. Usually each stadium has the team flags or logos in order of the current standings. Nationals Park just has the logos. Not sure why.
When we arrived at the play area, they had just told everyone to clear out. Some kid had spilled some bodily fluids (not sure what) out there and they brought the hazmat trucks in to clean up.
So we stood in straight away CF and watched the game. This was our view:
It was a good thing we got booted out of the play area or we would have missed Soriano hitting a bomb in his second at bat:
In the interest of full disclosure, the top left picture is actually a foul ball right before the HR. But the top right, is the actual HR swing. A pretty sweet swing. I thought we were in Chicago — the whole stadium went crazy!
Did I mention that I love my new camera? Check out these floating ball shots I took from straight away CF:
After we got these shots, it was time for the play area:
The most frequently broken rule? No. 8 — no food or drink in the play area. The violators: Moms and Dads. Not this one.
After a little while, play time was done and it was off to the RF seats for us. Here is an interesting picture of Tim that I took through his seat:
Can you tell what Tim is doing in this picture?
In the picture to the left, Tim is holding out his spoon after telling me to take a picture of his ice cream. By the way, for the first time ever, he went with Cookies’n'Creme — and he loved it. In the picture to the right, Tim is all concerned that I missed getting a picture of the ice cream on his spoon. He was very invested in that shot and was upset by the idea that I might have missed it. As you can see, I nailed it!
This was our view from our ice cream seats:
Unfortunately, Adam Dunn couldn’t quite find the seats in this at bat:
[NOTE: click on picture to enlarge. You'll be able to see the ball in the top picture right at the bottom of the "T" in "Tickets."]
Check out all of these empty seats:
See the yellow circle at the bottom right? That’s where Tim and I sat for the ninth inning.
So, all season, I’ve been trying to get a good action shot of an outfielder catching a fly ball. Its harder than it sounds because you don’t know when a ball will be hit to any given outfielder. Somehow, I got two decent shots at this game:
In the top picture, the ball has just hit the leather of Soriano’s glove. In the bottom picture, you can see the ball a couple feet above Adam Dunn.
While we were sitting in these seats, we noticed the Nats bullpen catcher would sometimes throw his warm up ball into the stands after warming up Josh Willingham in RF. Tim wanted to play catch. So we decided to give it one shot at a ball before going to find a spot to play catch. It worked like this:
As far as I can tell, the Nats bullpen catcher is former career minor leaguer, Nelson Robledo. We were sure to thank Mr. Robledo for his kindness.
Then it was off to play catch by the batting cages in CF:
In the middle picture, Tim is showing his pitching leg kick. He just learned his pitching motion in the last couple weeks. I didn’t teach it to him. He just copied what he saw me and other pitchers doing. He does a full wind-up at time too. These pictures are poor quality because we were in a dark hallway type-area. Eventually, we were told not to play catch in there — “BOO, NATIONALS! BOO!” If we can play catch in a busy area of a bustling new Yankee Stadium without incident or reprimand, surely we should be able to play catch in an empty area of Nationals Park.
Next, we headed up to the Red Porch to watch the game with the party people in the house. People were having a good time up there. This was our view:
…and here is what it looks like up on the Red Porch:
Next, we headed over to the seats behind the Cubs’ dugout. Here is a panaramic from the top of the aisle:
When I took this picture, Tim was sitting on my shoulders. I was sure this guy in the yellow shirt and Nats hat to the far right was going to kick us out of the section and tell me to take Tim off of my shoulders. Last time we were here, that is certainly what would have happened. However, he did just the opposite. He told me, “You have your hands full, why don’t you grab a seat.” Excellent idea. Thanks.
I grabbed some seats in the fourth row.
They gave us an excellent view of Notre Dame football start Jeff Samardzija:
Hey, did I mention that future Mariners Hall of Famer, Sweet Lou Piniella was in the house?
…Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Cubs Win!
And it was time for Kids Run the Bases:
The gal standing on the grass by first base in the Nats jersey is in the process of shouting, “MARINERS!!!” I didn’t get her back story, but she said the Mariners are her favorite team. Good to see we’ve infiltrated the Nationals!
Here is Tim at first base:
Tim ran about 10 feet passed first base and than stopped. He turned around and he yelled that he wanted me to run with him. He came back over to me and I explained that only kids can run the bases so I couldnt’ run with him. In an odd twist, Tim decided he didn’t want to run without me on this day. So we just walked around the track and looked at everything.
I got this picture of the Nats doing some field touch-ups:
And with that, we left Nationals Park for the final time this season.
But before heading home, we decided to go see a few other attractions in the D.C. area — you might have heard of them:
Tim loved the fountains at the WWII memorial.
Eventually, we had to hit the road to head home. We had directional difficulties on the way down, so we decided to have some more on the way home. This is an easy drive. I’m not sure what the hecked I was thinking. All I had to do was head up I-695 and connect to I-83 in Baltimore.
Sadly, I missed the I-695 turn off from I-95. No problem. I figured I’d just head into Baltimore and connect to I-83 downtown…by this:
The Baltimoreans decided it would be an excellent idea to put a street festival on the street leading to the I-83 entrance. Hey, no problem. I was looking for an opportunity to detour all around downtown Baltimore.
Oh, well. Here are our goodies for the day:
[Note: Ball from Robledo, ice cream helmet, exchanged ticket showing $0.00, and Nationals give-away of insulated lunch bags].
Season Fan Stats:
19 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
7 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, and Fenway Park)
14 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves and Padres, Dodgers — and sort of the Giants)
15 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (3), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3) and Yankees)
18 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals)
4 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, AL East, NL West, NL East)
3 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ryan Perry)
2 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), Orioles Bird (2), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)
On the way home from Nationals Park, at around 1 a.m., my mom gave me some good advice: “You should stop driving around to these milestone games. It doesn’t work for you.”
She was right.
Last season, Tim and I went to see Griffey play in Philadelphia. He was sitting on 599 home runs. I REALLY wanted us to be there for number 600. In three days, he pinch hit twice. Swung the bat once. Walked twice on 9 pitches.
A couple weeks ago, we went to see Jamie Moyer try to win his 250th game of this career. He looked great. Then it all fell a part and he lost.
But I wasn’t deterred. I’d been tracking Randy Johnson’s march to 300 wins like a hawk. I’d been hoping he would be somewhere nearby when he was sitting on 299. Then last week, it all fell into place. He won number 299 and his next start was against the lowly Nationals. It would be only 2.5 hours from our house. Perfect!
Despite previous milestone failures, I had to try it. It was too important to pass up.
The weather report wasn’t good. But when we walked up to the stadium, it looked like we were set to get the game in.
The grounds crew was chalking the field:
The MLB Network’s Hazel Mae gave us a smile and an awkward little wave:
Giants skipper Bruce Bochy was out and about:
Yep, things were looking pretty good. Close to business as usual. Baseball and a 300th win coming soon. Or so we thought.
We decided to visit the playset in center field before the game started. On the way, we ran into Screech:
Tim had a great time in the play area. But after a few minutes came THE RAIN!
We took refuge under the concourse behind RF where people were enjoying their dinners in the covered picnic area:
Yep, all of a sudden, baseball as usual didn’t seem quite as certain.
The skies they were a-threatenin’
We walked the spacious concourse from foul pole to foul pole, and it was packed:
Then the rain REALLY started to come down. The Nationals put up notices to the crowd telling them to hide in the concourse…and promising more information to come:
We checked out the Nats bullpen to see if there were any pitchers hanging out in there:
See that security guard sitting back with his legs out? See the ball in his right hand? I don’t want to give anything away about this story, but I must note that that is the ONE AND ONLY baseball that I saw while attending this “game.” (Well, except for in the team store).
Did I mention there was a lot of rain?
This is what it looks like when a lot of rain meets poor drainage planning:
We sat down in the first row behind the bullpen and Tim kept himself entertained crawling around by my feet:
Eventually, the rain stopped! We’d already been at the park a long time there was no baseball being played…Tim was confused:
The grounds crew raced out to start preparing the field for BASEBALL! Note the huge splashes as this guy runs through the outfield:
…and into the outfield grass:
This Giant’s coach started squeegeeing the bullpen — looking like they were gonna play a game:
And then came the diamond dust…lots of it:
At this point, heck, it sure seems like we’re playing baseball tonight. Yes! Bring on Randy Johnson’s 300th win!
But first, Tim requested ice cream. Even though the game hadn’t started yet, I agreed we could go get his ice cream helmet. We headed to the concourse behind home plate so we could go out to RF where there are a bunch of standing counters or covered seats where Tim could sit and eat his ice cream.
However, before we could get around home plate, we ran into a familar face, snagger and MLBlogger extraordinaire Zack Hample.
(Note, in this picture I’m not toting my usual black Rawlings Trap-eze. I made an exception for this game and brought my black Rawlings Randy Johnson RBG10B.)
How did I end up meeting up with Zack at the game you ask? How about a little overly detailed back story?
So, my favorite ball park of all time is the one and only Kingdome. Many a night, I find myself searching google images for pictures of the Kingdome. Like this. A couple months back, I came across a Kingdome picture titled “Alli Zack Kingdome.” I’d actually come across it before in my quest for Kingdome pictures. I thought to myself, who is this dude whose picture has now come up twice when I’ve searched for my beloved Kingdome? So, I followed the link to his webpage. I ran through a number of the pictures from every year of his life – including many pictures at different stadiums wearing different teams’ apparrel. Eventually, I found links to numerous articles and video clips and learned that he catches a whole lot of balls at games. Then I found his blog. This was the off-season, so I pretty much scanned around old entries from different games. I really enjoyed all of the random stadium pictures — like this stuff. So, I started following his blog.
Tim, Zack and I ended up wandering over toward the seats behind third base. Zack wanted to watch to see if any players were out on the field. (NOTE: at no point during this “game” did I ever see a single player on the field of play — that’s from 5:45 to 10:45, no players on the field). Zack and I chatted while Tim stood on a railing giving Zack what seemed to be thousands of fist bumps and high fives…some of them might have just been slaps – the boy was getting tired and restless. Here is what it looked like:
After a while, I got Tim his ice cream helmet — real chocolate ice cream (not soft serve) in a helmet for $5.00 — and then the three of us sat in the back row of the field level seats behind third base.
Maybe I’m an optimist, but it seemed like we were close to playing some baseball. The field was looking a whole lot better. It wasn’t raining. But that darn tarp was still sitting in the outfield.
Worse than that, there was just no urgency on the field. It seemed like they should have been working harder to get the tarps off of the field so the game could start. But no, they were working at a snails pace.
Even more frustrating was that the Nationals were giving us absolutely no updates about what was happening. Literally, for several hours the only “update” was a sign (shown in a picture or two above) that reassured us that the Nationals would provide updates about the situation.
Tim pointed to the sky and told me all about the “rain buggies” and “thunder monsters.” He asked me “is the baseball game over?” I reassured him, “no, it hasn’t started yet.”
A kind member of the crowd provided comic relief by running on the field, rounding the bases, and then took out a security guy at home plate (the guy in yellow):
Remember how I said the Nats gave us no updates? That isn’t entirely accurate. At some point in the 9 o’clock hour (maybe later), they announced that the buses to the naval ship yard (or something like that) will run for “half an hour after the conclusion of tonight’s game.” Is it just me or doesn’t that sorta imply there is going to be a game tonight?
Around 10-something, the umpires came out and tested the outfield. Then they left. Nothing changed. No announcements. More sitting and waiting.
A while later, they did it again. This time, they had a big meeting by the third base dugout after testing the field. It looked like one of them signaled a “no go” sign to Manny Acta, but then he stopped and walked over to Acta and told him something. Then the umps left. A bunch of Nats were still in their dugout. Shouldn’t they be gone if the umps told them it was postponed? They kept standind around in there.
But a couple minutes later, all of the Nats left at once as if on cue. Maybe they’re leaving to get ready to go home? Maybe they’re leaving to get ready for the game? A couple minutes later, a guy grabs the Nats gatorade coolers and took them into the clubhouse. Not a good sign. But still no announcement. What is going on?
We decided to get up and look for some food. Everything was closed. No food or drink available in the stadium. Do they know something they’re not telling us? Here is a view of the field through the Red Porch restaurant, which was closed:
Finally, at 10:47, they called the game:
Tim and I headed for the shuttle to the RFK parking lot. Tim was fast asleep 5 minutes into the car right home. We arrived home a little after 2:00 a.m. Before heading off to bed, I checked my email. I had an email from the Nationals saying the game was postponed. The email was received at 10:05pm. That means they had emailed me about the game 40 minutes before they announced it in the stadium — incredible!
The worst part is that Randy Johnson pitched today and won his 300th game. AND WE MISSED IT!!! Well, we watched it on TV:
I felt a little sorry for Randy because there were only about 5 fans at the game. It was terrible. He should have won number 300 at home with a packed house or somewhere where the stands would be filled with Bit Unit fans cheering him on like crazy.
CONGRATULATIONS, RANDY!!! Excellent career. Thanks for the 130 wins you brought the Mariners!
Season Fan Stats:
12 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
5 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field and Nationals Park)
12 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Braves and Padres, Dodgers — and sort of the Giants)
10 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (3), Mets and Nationals (2))
5 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies)
3 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, NL East, AL West)
1 Player Autograph (Ryan Perry)
1 Player Photograph (Ryan Perry)
3,897 Miles driven/flown to games (season)
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), The Bird (O’s), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats))
This entry was supposed to be titled “Moyer’s 250 Bid – Take 2.” Unfortunately, our bid to see Jamie Moyer win the 250th game of his career failed before we even left for the game. I learned on Saturday night that Chan Ho Park would be pitching Sunday, May 17th in Washington, D.C. rather than Jamie Moyer. Moyer is a great pitcher. But its tough, even for a great pitcher, to get a win in a game you don’t pitch.
So Tim and I would have to focus on our other two main goals of the day – (i) checking out Nationals Park for the first time and (ii) participating in Kids Run the Bases after the game. Our pursuit of those goals met with great success, as explained in detail below.
Nationals Park can be both incredibly expensive and quite affordable, depending on how you want to “do” the stadium. For example, parking in the garage connected to the stadium is FORTY BUCKS!!! That’s ridiculous. On the other hand, the parking route we took was both an adventure and totally FREE! You see, the Nationals have arranged for their fans to park for FREE at RFK Stadium and then take a FREE shuttle bus to a point about 2 blocks from Nationals Park. Here is what it looked like:
Here is our first view of the Park walking from the bus:
Here is our first view of the field as we entered the Park from the LCF entrance:
As you might know, I am a Mariners fan. But alas, I did live in Philadelphia for three years and I have no NL allegiance, so i bought a Phillies BP jersey back in 1999 or so. I doubt I’ve worn it since 2000. But this was only my second Phils road game, so I thought I’d give it a try wearing the Phillies jersey and my Reading Phillies hat to see if some nice Phillies player would reward me and Tim for coming to see them on the road. Now, wearing the visitors’ jersey/hat even if you hate the team is a classic “ballhawk” technique. I am not a ballhawk, but generally I have no problem with the ballhawks doing it. But, personally, I felt dirty as heck wearing Phillies stuff, even though I was there rooting for the Phillies. It just hurt me right down to my Mariners core (in fact, I couldn’t do it without wearing a M’s shirt under the Phils jersey). Anyway, more on that later.
So, as we entered the stadium, we saw a bunch of Phils stretching behind 3B. So we headed over there where this was our view:
We headed down to the field level where they have a little trough (for lack of a better term) where there are just a couple seats in a big aisle). We watched the guys warm up amongst a sea of Phillies fans:
Yep, to the left, that is team leading (pick an offensive category) Raul Ibanez warming up his legs. To the right, Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins stand in front for the national anthem while Chase Utley, Jayson Werth, Pedro Feliz and a trainer stand behind them.
After the anthem, the guys started playing catch and running (sorta) sprints:
In the photo to the left, you can see Jimmy Rollins playing catch with Chase Utley (off camera) and Ryan Howard playing catch with Shane Victorino. After a few mintues, Jimmy and Shane set their gloves down on the foul line with the balls sitting on the grass next to them. Then they started running sprints.
To the right, you can see that, after finishing playing catch with Victorino, Ryan Howard came over to the stands and started signing autographs for 5-10 minutes. As you can see, almost everyone down in the trough bunched up next to Howard in hopes of getting his autograph. We didn’t have a pen or anything worth getting the former NL M.V.P. to sign, so we stood our ground. The difference was, after Ryan started signing, we were pretty much standing all alone, no more sea of Phillies fans surrounding us.
Tim was on my shoulders (where his Mariners shirt was hidden behind my head). I was wearing my Phils jersey and R-Phils hat. We looked like a nice father-son Phillies fan combo. Jimmy Rollins took note. When he was finished running, he grabbed his glove and ball and took a couple steps toward the dugout. He then stopped, turned back toward us and fired his baseball directly into my glove. Nice – our first ball EVER from a Phillies player:
A few minutes later, the game started. The baseball we got from J-Roll looked the same, but I looked different:
J-Roll shouldn’t feel as if he got duped. We still rooted for the Phils. I just had to show my true colors during the game. Also, I did put my R-Phils hat back on after Tim got chocolate ice cream on his fingers and I thought he would get the white portion of my M’s hat chocolately. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Like usual, we had some cheap tickets. Not SRO, this time we were apparently high in the rafters of the RF foul territory stands. We never went to our section. Instead, we started walking around getting to know the stadium. Let me tell you something, unlike the team that plays there, Nationals Park is beautiful. Despite a couple negatives, it instantly ranks right up among my favorite ball parks.
Why don’t we take a look around? This is reverse order as we walked, but how about we start behind the plate in the third deck:
As you can tell, its a beautiful park. In addition to checking out this great park, Tim and I also had a goal of testing out our new digital camera. It has a great zoom – both optical and digital. Here are a couple pictures taken from various locations in the Park:
At top right, Ryan Howard is seen batting in the first inning. I took that picture from just behind the RL foul pole.
Below Howard, is Chase Utley also hitting in the first inning. I took this from the field level concourse behind all of the seats a little bit down the line from first base.
How about another panoramic? Here is CF from the field level concourse:
Okay, now, I took all of these panoramic views while walking around in the concourses circling the stadium. Although fans in their seats usually aren’t paying a lot of attention to the concourses, they are an important part of any stadium. Bad concourses make a stadium feel cramped. Open concourses from which you can see the field make the stadium feel bigger and they let fans maximize their time at the ball park (ex: they can still watch the game while standing in line for some food). Nationals Park has GREAT concourses. HUGE. Mostly all open. Not crowded. Excellent. Here are a couple examples:
Walk these great concourses and eventually you’ll find yourself in biggest open area I’ve ever seen inside a ball park:
The Field Level CF panoramic a couple pictures ago was taken on the opposite side of that escalator. The Second Deck CF panoramic and the pictures of Jimmy Rollins batting a couple more pictures above were taken from the second deck just to the left of the big “DC” sign and under the picture of the Nationals celebrating (they must have won a game?).
The black strip at the top center (where it says “GET YOUR”) is the “Red Porch.” I’m not quite sure what the deal is with the red porch.
The building to the right is a massively expensive parking garagle. The openings on the ground level are various fan attractions. The one with the yellow sign is a “stuff a bear” type place where you can make your own Nationals mascot. The “Strike Zone” at the far right of the picture has a batting cage where the ball shoots out of a video screen. When we watched it, Randy Johnson was pitching and the ball would shoot through the screen through his hand. Pretty cool. In the back, there was a similar game with pitching. I watched a guy pitch to Larry “Chipper” Jones.
And right behind me as I took this picture? The play area:
Tim loved this play set. From a father’s perspective, it seemed better than the playset at Safeco Field, but a not quite as good as the playset at Citizens Bank Park. The worst part about it is that it is massively far away from the field and there is no TV to watch the game. It would be perfect if the Nats would follow the Mets lead and put a BIG SCREEN on the back of the scoreboard for all of the parents watching their kids play in the CF play area.
Anyway, back to the tour. Here is a post-game picture from the deck of the aforementioned Red Porch:
And here is a picture looking at the Red Porch from the 1B field level seats:
Well, look at that…I stand corrected. The “Red Porch” is really called the “Red Loft.” Hmm…I’m wondering if that is the upstairs and the downstairs is called the Red Porch. I definitely heard someone call it the Red Porch during the game. Anyway, in the last panoramic, Tim and I took the pictures standing under the “Red” in the “Red Loft” sign in the last picture.
The only bad part of the concoures at Nationals Park is that the Red Porch/Loft cuts off all view of field as you walk from CF to LF (or vice versa). Same thing with the field level concourse behind home plate. Its just like Citi Field. They have field level suites and a restaurant that cut off all view of the game for *commoners* walking behind home plate. But I like the way the Nationals did it more than the Mets. The Mets concourse is like a dark cave that feels like it is 100 yards away from the game. The Nats concourse is bright and airy and it has a team store entrance and big pictures on the wall telling about the history of baseball in Washington, D.C…check it out:
But, back to the outfield. Here are some interesting statues on the back side of the Red Porch/Loft:
Well, look at that. I am right. The field level is called the “Red Porch” (as shown in the middle picture behind Frank Howard (who by the way shouldn’t have swung at that pitch, he’s reaching too far!)).
Note, PNC Park in Pittsburgh also has a Josh Gibson statue.
Back to the panoramic views, here is the RF corner from the third deck:
This picture leads to the final negative point about Nationals Park: the ushers guard the seats like they are made of gold. I had to sweet talk an usher to persuade him to let me and Tim sit in the BACK ROW of the LAST SECTION in the UPPER DECK! There is a fourth deck starting a little closer to home plate. But where I took this picture, we were literally sitting in the back row of the highest section at the greatest distance from home plate down the 3B line. Is that ridiculous or what?
So how did we get to sit in these coveted seat? I told the usher Tim’s ice cream was melting, we were all the way across the stadium from our seats, and I was looking desparately for a standing room spot with a standing counter where Tim could sit and eat his ice cream…but there are none in the third deck down the 3B line. So in the face of melting ice cream, the usher relented and let us take the empty seats in the empty row in the highest and most distant seats from home plate.
Here is Tim and his ice cream and, in the distance, the Washington Monument:
There is a big walking ramp down from the third deck to the field level in the LF corner. As I stood on that ramp, I took the picture of the Washington Monument to the right above. I said to Tim (sitting on my shoulders), “That’s the Washington Monument, Tim.” Two seconds later, some random 50′ish year old white-male-American walks up to me, “Are you serious? That’s the Washington Monument? Cool!” He was dead serious. It was p-a-t-h-e-t-i-c.
Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, I posted this panoramic tour in reverse order of how Tim and I actually walked. We really came from CF to RF to home plate, to an ice cream stand in the third deck behind 3B and then out to the LF corner. On our walk from the ice cream stand to the LF corner, I spotted the Capitol Building from the concourse:
The picture to the right above is also taken from the ramp down to field level. But, once again, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Before heading down the ramp, I tested my camera out a bit more. Here are some more action shots:
Here we see J-Roll take a pitch and then hit another foul.
The top right picture of Raul Ibanez was also taken from the third deck in the LF corner. The others were taken elsewhere…as should be evident. In the bottom right, I’ve snuck a picture of Shane Victorino in with three Ibanez pictures.
Pretty much every swing I took a picture of at this game resulted in a foul ball, a foul pop out, or an infield pop out. No hits or homeruns to speak of.
Okay, so it was time to head down that ramp. From the ramp, I took this cool picture of the concourse going from the LF corner out to CF:
Note the vegetation growing on the roof of the concession stand. This prompted Tim to tell me that there are no plants growing on our roof because, “Our roof isn’t flat. Our roof is a triangle.”
Once we got down the ramp, we stood for a little bit behind the LF seats where we saw the Presidents race:
After the race, the Presidents headed out to CF and took pictures with fans. They were mobbed by people. I really wanted a picture with Teddy Roosevelt, who looked hilarious, but it wasn’t in the cards. The Presidents were a big hit at the game. They have George Washington, Abe Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt…and someone…I have no clue who the fourth President is. Anyway, the Nats also have a silly looking eagle named “Screech” (I think). But he is a pretty weak mascot. The Presidents were far superior.
After the race, we headed down into the LF seats and got a picture of the visitors’ bullpen (shown here with an inside-shot of the Nats bullpen):
This Phillies fan in the middle looked somewhat protective of the Phils’ bullpen. Note, the visitors’ bullpen (to the right) is grass, but the Nats’ bullpen (left) is turf. I’m not sure why this is, but my guess is that there is access through the Nats’ bullpen to a big tunnel system under the stadium. Possibly they drive vehicles through the Nats’ bullpen from time-to-time and put in turf so the grass wouldn’t get torn up. Just a guess.
We then headed back to the second deck in RF where we got one of the stadium fanfoto gals to take a picture of us with my camera:
Finally, we settled into some seats for the last 2-3 innings of the game. The ushers had apparently lost some of their motivation. He easily slipped into some really nice seats down the 1B line. Here was our view:
See that light stand all the way across the stadium in the LF corner? See that last section of seats on the third deck that hide the left side of the light tower? That is the section where I had to persuade an usher to let us sit for a couple innings (and to be clear, in case I wasn’t earlier, at first, he in fact told me that he “couldn’t do it” when I asked him if we could temporarily sit in the back row).
Anyway, there was no one else in our row in this section down the 3B line. However, there was a group of maybe 8 young 20s’ish year old Nats fans sitting two rows behind us. Tim flirted it up like crazy with two young gals. At the time, the Nats were winning 6-5 and the gals (and their whole group) were all smiles and giggles. Here is Tim cheesing it up for the ladies:
Tim’s new friends’ mood changed abruptly in the top of the eighth. With runners on first and second and no outs, Pedro Feliz laid down a nice bunt toward third. Zimmerman and Jesus Colome converged on the ball. Either could have grabbed it. Colome did and he made what seemed to be a perfect throw to first where second baseman, Anderson Hernandez, was covering first. By my first hand account, the throw was perfect and Feliz should have been out at first. Instead, Hernandez jumped out of the way of the ball and let it sail into foul territory down the 1B line. Both runs scored and Feliz made it to third. Anderson said he could not see the ball because of the crowd. I guess he isn’t used to having more than 10,000 fans scattered throughout the stadium. Amazingly, they gave the error to Colome for making a perfect throw that Hernandez simply failed to catch.
When this happened, the stadium exploded with Phillies cheers. But the people sitting behind us never uttered another word. Their win was gone
We actually missed the ninth inning and the Phillies win because we were lined up outside the RF side of the stadium — it was time for Kids Run the Bases! We were toward the front of the long, long, long line of kids. As we waited in line, an usher told me to take Tim off my shoulders, “you know, for safety.” Okay, whatever.
We started our run the bases experience with our standard picture by the RF wall footage sign:
Tim then stretched his legs with some pre-bases sprints down the RF foul warning track:
I took a shot of the Nats’ dug out (shown to the left, with the visitors’ dug out on the right):
Then Tim was off to the races:
The Nats seemed to have 100 people out there on the field working. It was impossible to navigate the warning track and get even a half-way decent picture of Tim rounding second, which was HIGHLY dissapointing.
But I got a great shot of Tim rounding third:
Then it was impossible to get a good shot of Tim scoring at home plate — that is more standard, I’ve never got a good picture of Tim at home plate yet in the three run-the-bases Tim has done so far.
We took a couple more shots as we left the field of play:
So, that was it. Our game experience was essentially over.
Particularly because the next weekend would be our first weekend not to go to a game this season.
In fact, we wouldn’t have another game until May 31st.
We walked around the LF seats a bit more.
We looked at the visitors’ bullpen close up outside of the watchful eye of that concerned Phillies fan.
We went up to the Red Loft where we took the pictures for that panoramic up above.
Then we sadly headed toward the CF exit, the same one we’d passed through just 45 minutes before to line up to run the bases.
At the bottom of the exit stairs, we turned right and we started walking down the street.
We spotted the end of the run-the-bases line. Only 30 yards long now. Those lucky kids still with all of that fun ahead of them.
We walked sorta close to the wall as we passed down the wide sidewalk.
Tim was on my shoulders again. That same usher who told me to take Tim down “you know, for safety” was still standing by the line.
She had to recognize us. We’d just spoken with each other 45 minutes ago. Everyone at the game was wearing bright red Phillies and Nats gear, and we were wearing dark blue Mariners gear.
But then she uttered seven magical words that let me know she most certainly did not recognize us, “Does he want to run the bases?”
I respond, pointing, “Oh, is this the line?” (as if we’d been looking for it for the past hour).
“Yeah! Have fun!”
Tim was officially (I certified it OFFICIAL), the last kid to round the bases and touch home plate and I got a great shot of it:
It was pretty awesome. All of the Presidents, Screech and a boat load of Nats employees were on the field (again preventing a good picture at 2B), and because he was the last kid, they all followed Tim to home plate. As you can see, as he stood at home, he was surrounded by employees and mascots all cheering for him. Very satisfying.
Plus, because we were last, we were able to right a past wrong — we got that coveted picture with Teddy Roosevelt — and it is a keeper:
A great day! We give Nationals Park two thumbs up.
One more game note: we saw Sergio Escalona make his major league debut and earn the first win of his career pitching the 7th inning for the Phillies. The day before the game, Escalona was assigned to the Reading Phillies. Good job, Sergio.
Season Fan Stats:
11 Games (double digits!)
5 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field and Nationals Park)
11 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Braves and Padres, Dodgers)
9 Ice Cream Helmet (Mariners (4), Phillies (3), Mets and Nationals)
5 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies)
3 Divisions Closed Out (AL West, NL East, AL West)
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), The Bird (O’s), 3 Presidents (Nats))