Saturday, August 19, 2006
Citizens Bank Park
The African Queen and I were in Philadelphia last night, continuing my birthday weekend celebration, attending the Nationals/Phillies Game at Citizens Bank Park. Sohna's Brother is a Financial Manager for Citizens Bank. He was able to setup some PRIMO SEATS as another Birthday Present for me.
Although surrounded in a Stadium District for all the Philadelphia Pro Sports Franchises, Citizens Bank Park is actually quite an attractive addition for South Philadelphia. With a nice view of the Philadelphia Skyline some distance away. What Sohna and I really enjoyed was the beautiful sightlines from ANYWHERE in the Ballpark. And, when Stan Kasten is talking about WIDE CONCOURSE WALKWAYS and the ability to see the field from all concession stands. THIS STADIUM IS THE MODEL!
As you walk around the park, the entire concourse is open, and the stadium has these terrific standing room areas around behind the seating area, but in front of all the concessions, with elbow high resting places to place your food, so you can enjoy your meal, standing, while still watching the game. We were quite impressed with the attention in ease of use by fans.
We also love the music played throughout the game, good beats, timely, but not BLOWING YOUR EARS AWAY--like at RFK. And the music was NOT PLAYED during every lull in the action of the field. We appreciated that tremendously. I don't need to be told what to do, sing or watch every moment I am in a baseball park.
But, after attending virtually every single Nationals Home Game at RFK Stadium, I don't want to hear ANYBODY BITCH about the Nationals Game Presentation and our Fans. Citizens Bank Park is a MORGUE!! Sohna and I have never been to a park that had SO LITTLE FAN PARTICIPATION!! We met another couple, down from Boston (obvious RED SOX FANS) and they could not believe how NO ONE was into the game.
The Phillies Fans barely got up during the 7th inning Stretch to sing "TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME". And, if it wasn't for The Phillie Phanatic, there would have been NO NOISE in the stadium.
At RFK, we have the NAT PACK, Screech, FAN PARTICIPATION Q & A, More Screech, THE PRESIDENTIAL BOBBLEHEAD RACE, 5th Inning Safeway T-SHIRT Lauch, 7th Inning Stretch followed by the 'JUMPING UP AND DOWN SONG", Capitol Shuffle, XM JAM, KISS CAM, etc. And, even when the Nats are behind, Washington Fans are still cheering on the team. And actively getting involved.
Citizens Bank Park has the KissCam, Phillie Bobblehead race on Video, SEPTA TRAIN RACE on Video, and their version of XM JAM, but everyone just sat on their hands, waiting for someone else to do something. IT REALLY SUCKED!!
I don't think I am underemphasizing how bad the IN GAME EXPERIENCE was in Philadelphia.
Of course the Nats jumped off to a 6-0 lead (which made the Phillie Fans restless), thanks to a TITANTIC LEAD OFF HOME RUN by THE AFRICAN QUEEN's main love, Alfonso Soriano, on the 3rd pitch of the game off Brett Myers. The 451 foot shot, travelled to deep centerfield and landed in Ashburn Alley and the Phillies Hall of Fame. And, a full count line shot 2 run homer by Ryan Zimmerman, the 3rd batter of the game, following a Felipe Lopez single to quickly make it 3-0.
As Sohna and I stood to cheer in our special box for the Night, the verbal assault began from the Phillie Faithful. First--"F-You you TRADER!! YOU'RE A TRADER!! TRADER!! GET YOUR FACES OUT OF THIS STADIUM" Sohna and I actually laughed at him for that one--he was plastered and there was not even 1 out in the first inning and 7:15pm.
In the second, Z would strike again after a Soriano single, Lopez walk, when he ROPED a full count pitch down the left field line, scoring 2 and putting the Nats up 5-0. We both cheered MIGHTILY, to then see a 9 Years old kid, in the box over to our right, wearing a Phillies Outfit, WITH HIS MOTHER AND FATHER, REPEATEDLY YELL AT US FOR THE NEARLY THE REST OF THE GAME--"WASHINGTON SUCKS!!!,, WASHINGTON SUCKS!!" This kid was relentless and his parents did nothing to quell the behavior. I was fully expecting this kid, and the drunk guy to the left, to walk out of their suite and come down to ours to continue the abuse.
Eventually, another parent in a 3rd suite, also attending with both his youngsters, would personally go over to the Parents of the kid and tell them to show some respect. The Good Guy then came over to apologize for the abuse from that family. We told him we were from DC and were celebrating my Birthday, thanks to a relative. We offered him a couple of cocktails and his kids came over for some munchies. Made for a much more pleasant night.
Zimmerman would eventually cap a early career high 5 RBI when FLop would double JUST OVER Phillies Centerfielder Aaron Rowand and Z would plate Felipe with a bloop single to right.
Tony Armas though would, despite the big lead, not be agressive around the plate. Tony is a frustrating pitcher to watch. He never shows enough confidence in his stuff. Rarely throws a first pitch strike. And, it cost him in the 6th, when he got in serious trouble.
Chase Utley ( who I like alot) would lead off with a walk on 4 straight pitches. Amazingly, Ryan Howard would strike out looking of a 2-2 count. But Pat Burrell, looking for a fastball all the way--would first pitch slam a liner right down the left field line. The ball caromed around the corner, moving toward center, before Alfonso could track it down. Utley scoring easily. Burrell stopping at second. Rowand would hit a high chopper to Z at third, Ryan had no play and Burrell advanced to 3rd base. Armas was seriously struggling, but once again, Frank Robinson did not take him out. And it costs the Nats BIG TIME, when Mike Lieberthal, honored as the game began for setting a Phillies record by catching in his 1,125 game, would step to the plate and hammer a fastball well over centerfielder Alex Escobar for a bases clearing double to make it 6-3.
And, just like that, Philadelphia was back into it. The Crowd into it for the first time tonight.
Frank would then replace Armas with Saul Rivera, who probably pitched his most important innings of the season. Striking out Abraham Nunez and pinch hitter Danny Sandoval on a pop to Z to end the threat, leaving the Nats in the lead. Saul would then get through the 7th after a leadoff walk to Jimmy Rollins by Striking Out David Delucci, Chase Utley and, surprisingly, getting Ryan Howard to ground to Nick Johnson at first.
I had yet to be impressed with Rivera, until last night, he was pounding some fastballs, agressive with the always dangerous Ryan Howard. Saul did a very nice job.
Only to see Jon Rauch, once again, get too comfortable on the mound, and give up a full count, 2 outs, fastball home run to Lieberthal--to make it 6-4. Rauch, who I have noted, gives up way too many home runs--seems to lose concentration at times--AND ITS ALWAYS COSTLY. Can't wait for Luis Ayala to return.
Chad Cordero came on in the 9th to close it out for his 23rd save. Sohna and I loved watching the Nats celebrate on the field after the win.
We thoroughly enjoyed our night a Citizens Bank Park. Loved the Stadium, but we missed all the excitement and fun provided by everyone at RFK Stadium. We have it better than you could possibly expect.