New York Mets
L: T. Clippard
W: B. Parnell
For the first time since beginning my tour I did not attend the game alone. My buddy Josh accompanied me to watch the Nationals host the New York Mets. Prior to today's game I had never been to Nationals Park. I was however lucky enough to have a seat for the Nationals first ever home game at RFK stadium in 2005. I was working for ESPN at the time and went to the game with my boss. I sat behind President George Bush and jumped up and down along with the 45,000 plus fans making RFK shake. I remember Vinny Castilla being a single short of the cycle in that game, leading the team formerly known as the Expos to their first home victory.
That experience was amazing, but the stadium itself left something to be desired. Fast forward eight years and my first trip to Nationals Park was almost as exciting. For the second time in four games I witnessed a walk-off win. More on that later.
Josh and I got to the park early and walked around the stadium. There is an abandoned construction site across from Nationals park called The Bullpen that has relatively cheap food and beer before and after the game. There wasn't much activity when we got to the park, but after the game was over it filled up pretty quickly.
Unfortunately there really isn't much outside of the stadium. The fun stuff is all inside the gates. As soon as we walked passed the center field gates (where we scanned our own tickets) we were greeted by three statues of Walter Johnson, Frank Howard and Josh Gibson. As the Nationals don't have a lot of history of their own, the stadium honors legendary players from many different franchises. There are pillars throughout the stadium representing players such as Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner and a many Negro League heroes. Josh and I disagreed on this point, but I like when teams represent the legacy of those who came before them, even if those who came before wore different uniforms.
One of my favorite aspects of the stadium is the Red Porch restaurant. Many stadiums have sit-down restaurants inside, but so far the seating at the Red Porch in Nationals Park is my favorite. You can sit outside at a table and eat your food while getting a great open air view from center field. These seats coupled with the bar on the upper level make for a great opportunity to buy cheap tickets and hang out in center field. We all know that ticket prices have been getting out of control at certain ballparks. My hope is that more franchises take notice of what the Nationals are doing to bring young people back to the game. The only way to do that is to actually get them inside the park and the Red Porch is a good start.
As Josh and I walked around the concourse we met John and Stacy. John is a lifelong baseball fan, Stacy comes to the park for the social atmosphere. I had a nice chat with these two different types of fans which as always you can check out on the podcast.
As has now apparently become a part of my routine, before first pitch I sought out my meal for the night. I found Ben's Chili Bowl and got myself a nice and messy chili dog. Please enjoy this photo of me stuffing my face. It is honestly going to be hard to rank the food I have had on this trip. It is taking all of my strength not to eat everything in sight.
It was a perfect night for baseball and while I normally like day baseball over the evening affairs, once the sun began to set the stadium went from nice to beautiful. A common theme began to emerge amongst those I talked to during the game about how Nationals fans are very accommodating to the fans of other teams. Because so few people are actually from D.C. and the fact that the team itself is so young, there is a camaraderie that exists no matter the colors you might be wearing.
The game moved quickly with Jordan Zimmerman on the mound. The bottom of the 9th came and it was time for me to put on my rally cap. I am going to be honest with you. I have not literally put my cap in full “rally” mode in some time. What I remember from doing it when I was a kid is that it rarely worked for me. Well Nationals fans, my rally cap worked for you this time. The park didn't sway as much as RFK did, but the fans were just as electric when Stephen Lombardozzi hit a sac fly to score Adam LaRoche for the game winning run. The Nats have had a rough year, but their fans are still coming out to support them.
Next up: Tampa Bay Rays
Game Time Temp: 72
First Pitch Time: 7:05 PM
Children's Chorus of Washington
Seventh Inning Stretch:
Take on Me - A ha
Total Pitches Thrown: 244
Total Hits: 11
Total Singles: 5
Total Doubles: 4
Total Triples: 1
Total Home Runs: 1
Total Walks: 3
Total Strike Outs: 13
Total Errors: 2
Game Time: 2:28
Attendance: 31,473 (75.8% full)
Home Plate Umpire: Wally Bell
Miles Traveled: 8
Time in Car: 0
Gas Money: 0.00
Sleep Time: 6 Hours
Bottles of Water: 6
Food Eaten: Blueberries and grapes
Ballpark Food: Half smoked chili dog, Ice Cream helmet,
All Star Game Ballots filled out: 1
Scoreboard Cap Game: Under Cap #2
Money spent on parking: $12.50
Money spent on ticket: $59.00
Cost of Program: $10
Money spent on food: $15.50
Total money spent on Merchandise: $25.44
Money spent on transit: $8.00
Total Money spent at stadium: $120.44