Monday, June 23, 2008

My First Trip to National's Park

Pretty much on a last minute whim, I ventured to Nationals Park for the first time this evening. They were hosting the Angels in an interleague matchup, what my friend Bill calls “bisexual baseball”. It turned out that the terminology was very appropriate this evening. Yup, it was “Alternative Lifestyle Night” at the old…I mean, new ballpark tonight. The Washington Gay Men’s Chorus sang the anthem, a Gay advocate named Dr. Moobah or some such nonsense threw out the 1st pitch (a 40 foot strike….at least it was a case where you know who the pitcher and catcher were). The only thing missing was a Rep. Larry Craig Bobblehead doll (it comes in it’s own stall!).

My adventure began when I finished a gig at the National Labor College at about 6, knowing that my wife was away covering the California/Carolina league all-star game, and that my daughter was having her usual hang with her boyfriend. The evening was stormy, so I figured there would be a rain delay, and that scalping a ticket would be easy with a lot of no-shows.

But the main problem right now at Nats Park is parking. I passed on the old RFK lot/shuttle system, keen to see if there was a more autonomous method I could work. I remembered that it’s easy to park on the street up in L’Enfant Plaza, and I was correct. I found a spot right near the hotel. Then I spent the next 20 minutes trying to find the entrance to the Metro. Up the stairs, down the stairs, through the hotel, around the hotel. Kids, I was literally standing next to the post demarking the Metro station, without a clue as to where the access was. The area was deserted, and I just tried all these entrances until I found it by sheer luck.

Anyway, 2 quick stops and I was there. Upon surfacing, I immediately ran into a scalper, who offered me a $60 ticket behind the dugout at face value. Not intending to bargain, I merely asked him for a cheaper seat, at which point he began knocking $10 off, and when he got to $40 I bought it. I folded off what I thought was two twenties, then he came running after me to return an extra that had gotten in there. Wow…an honest scalper!

The seat was fantastic, as was the park. The jumbotron is amazing…like having a giant “gameday” display running during the game. Site-lines are as advertised, all the angles seem good. The food booths look great, but are still offering the same old crap. I had a Ben’s Chili Dog, and they are a helluva lot better on U St.

As always, the new parks have borrowed much of the extra crap that goes on at minor league parks; loud music, stupid giveaways, lots of annoying gimmicks that distract from the game. You know, baseball is just such a bad and boring game that you need a Presidential Mascot race to keep people interested. In this one, Teddy and George held down and beat Abe senseless while Tom ran to victory, apparently ending a long winning streak by Abe. I guess Abe should have skipped the game and gone to the Theatre.

Yes there was a game, and a good one at that, until the Nats’ defense unraveled on them in the 8th. Jason Bergmann dueled with Angels’ ace John Lackey inning for inning, and had a lead after 7. But thanks to Saul Rivera and Felipe Lopez treating the baseball like a bar of soap (bad image for tonight’s game…sorry), the Nats coughed up the lead and lost.

I did leave before it was over, and was shocked to see that I had to wait 10 minutes for a train in the packed and humid Navy Yard station. One thing about NY, you leave anytime from the 7th on, Yankee or Shea, and there are subways lined up one after the other to take the fans.

The Green line finally showed, and two sweaty stops later I was back at the invisible station. I found the elevator up to the hotel, and, dodging the rats on the Plaza outside, found my car unmolested, thank Abner. From the time I left my seat to my car was about a half hour. Not good. But, it was cheap! $2.70 roundtrip on the Metro.

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