Saturday, May 16, 2009

Nationals Park

Note: This is a ballpark review, not a rating. Once the trip ends, I'll rank all the parks, hopefully in several categories, and also declare an overall winner.

Today, Jeff and I visited Nationals Park. When it was built a few years ago in an empty warehouse district, the Nationals hoped that it would help turn the area into a trendy, upscale, developing neighboorhood along the banks of the Anacostia River. A quick walk around the park and a look at the surroundings confirms that things haven't exactly gone to plan. Although if you want to rent a U-Haul, there are two stores directly adjacent to the park: one behind right field, and one behind left. Basically, when Ryan Zimmerman leaves in five years for a legitimate team, he'll have no problem getting his stuff out of there.

Most people enter from the rear -- the centerfield gate -- because both the Metro and the two parking garages lead right to it. It's a nice little plaza where people can mill around and talk about Cristian Guzman's low on-base percentage. Also, there are ladies with accents giving out free samples of Nestea. Unfortunately, this leads to a situation where the three other gates are basically devoid of any people (not that the centerfield gate is all that crowded), and twenty minutes before first pitch, you can walk by a main gate that looks like this.

Through one of his friends, Jeff was able to get seats about 15 rows behind home plate in the Diamond Club section. Great seats, plus the tickets came with a $35 credit for food and merchandise. Alright, let's see what we can buy with $35. Large soda, polish sausage, and W-shaped pretzel. Total: $17. Another soda: up to $22. Milkshake: $30. Hmmm.....$5 left and I don't really need any more about....a minibat! Perfect. All the food was pretty good; the sausage was cooked perfectly and the pretzel was buttery and delicious -- by far the best item of the day.

And then of course, the Presidents raced. Based on the famous Milwaukee sausage race, this race involves people in giant head costumes of the four Mt. Rushmore presidents racing around the warning track, starting in centerfield and ending right in front of the Nats' dugout on the first base side. It's always a legit race....except for that Teddy Roosevelt never wins. Even though campaigns to change this are going strong, Teddy has still never won a race since they introduced this a few years ago. Today was no exception. George, TJ, and Abe came out of centerfield first, followed about 10 seconds later by Teddy channeling his inner GOB and riding in on a Segway. Still, George powered through and won the race by a good margin.

We also went to go meet up with two of our friends from Duke, Gabe and Sam. Even though we had our Diamond Club bracelets on, and there were plenty of empty seats, an usher came over and said we couldn't sit there. We showed him our bracelets that showed we had good tickets, and said that we just wanted to talk to our friends for a few minutes. He didn't care. So I sarcastically thanked him for kicking us out and then took his picture. Suck on that, d-bag.

There are also a bunch of weird statues in the centerfield plaza that are supposed to depict motion, but instead make baseball players look like Hindu gods.

Additional Pictures: View from the upper deck, View from the outfield, Attendance Counter (wait for roaring laughter to subside)....

Quick summary: The combination of an apathetic fanbase plus small crowds (there were noticeably more Phillies fans than Nats fans there today) makes Nationals Park a very enjoyable place to watch a baseball game, provided you're not actually one of the four die-hard Nationals fans in the world.


  1. Love your presidents race photo. May I blog it?

  2. Go for it. And I'm also 100% committed to the cause. Teddy deserves it.

  3. I was at this game, too...sitting in the lower section, along the third base line with tickets for the 400 level (no one stopped us or cared). Notice how unlike many other stadiums I've been, they don't announce "today's paid attendance is..."