Monday, June 11, 2007

Cherish What We Have

Its funny how when things you are accustomed to are no longer around--you tend to miss them--whether you really ever thought about them, or not.

The African Queen and I both harbored those same feelings this past Sunday while visiting Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Despite all the talk, both for and against the In-Game Entertainment provided by Our Washington Nationals--we found ourselves longing for those customary events provided throughout each and every Nationals Home Game. Between Inning distractions and stunts, that are not a major part of The Orioles Presentation.

That's not to say Baltimore's Entertainment was that less enjoyable, as a few of their Scoreboard Events are quite charming. The Old Bay Hidden Ball Shuffle is quite good--especially when the Crabs twirl and go under the sand. Very nicely done. And, the Esskay Hot Dog Race is fun--you can tell fans enjoy the event. When The Hot Dog Designated "Relish" slid first across Home Plate, I would say the majority of the crowd cheered the win. Obviously, they are doing some good things.

We didn't personally come across The Oriole "Bird" Mascot--as he did not come near our Section. But, he was around and received huge responses wherever he showed up during the ballgame. In fact, when the "BIRD" showed up at RFK last season along with "ACE", the Toronto Blue Jays Mascot and " Mr. Met"--Sohna and I loved seeing all of them.

But, what we missed in Baltimore was the TOTAL FAN INTERACTION that we experience at each and every Nats Home Game. Now, I am not just talking about Section 320 and our fun. For EVERYONE AT RFK, the Nat Pack are constantly involved with fan involvement. "Clint", The Nats TV Host is usually having a contest for prizes with a fan. There is always the Tee-Shirt Delivery in the 5th. And, more Tee-Shirts during the 7th inning stretch. MY BEST FRIEND!! Screech is featured for the XM Dance Jam and is a fixture at events throughout a Nats Game. And, of course--We have The Racing Presidents--one of Greatest Promotions any team could ever pull off. Those "Rushmores" are around for the ages.

At RFK Stadium--The Fans and The Between Inning Events are FEATURES--almost always expected, watched & enjoyed by thousands. What we noticed at Camden Yards was far less personal fan contact by most everyone associated with The Orioles. The "Bird" was around, but he was being the Mascot, slapping hands--having fun. That's all fine. I have no problem with that. And, I am not bitching about him--the guy doing The "Bird" does a terrific job. We like him. But, from what Sohna and I noticed at Camden Yards was Baltimore, as an organization, not making an attempt to enhance their fans adventure--making them more a part of the game. Those occasions that make the ballgame, more of a personal experience for everyone.

Granted, I have been just as guilty of complaining about some of the In-Game Entertainment provided by Our Washington Nationals. Could it be improved?--you better believe. But, what Sohna and I discovered was--as fans of Our Nationals--we have it far better than we really believed. At least in Washington--people are making the effort--to provide something different, something interesting--something fun--outside of just the baseball game.

For that, we feel very fortunate to be Washington Nationals Fans. The African Queen and I concluded we should cherish what we have.


BrianH said...


I get the feeling the your "glass" is always "half-full." ;-)

I do enjoy the Nat Pack. Have they turned more into cheerleaders this season? From my visits to RFK this season, they seemed to be less involved in between-innings entertainment than 2005 and 2006.

Happy to hear you enjoyed The Yard. Do you and Sohna have a better idea of your seat preferences for the new ballpark?

Baldino said...

My comment is not specific to this post, but I would like to say that it is a pleasure to read a positive blog about the Nats. I enjoy this team just about every day -- either at the ballpark or on TV -- and I get tired of all the complaining on other Internet blogs and forums. Certainly everything is not perfect with the team, the owners, the ballpark, etc., but hey -- we've got a team of real gentlemen who play hard every game.

paul said...

Read an interesting article in today's Times about the remoteness of press seating areas these days. The Nats are following the trend, placing the press (and poor Charlie and Dave) in the ozone layer next year. Wasn't sure if the newspaper's link would work, so I created a link if anyone wants to read the story:

Screech's Best Friend said...

brianh--I am always more positive--that's just the way I am. From our vantage point in Section 320 The Nat Pack hasn't changed that much. But, some of their guys could be a little more enthusiastic. Like I said in the post--there is room for improvement--but we do enjoy many of the things they do. Bottom line its all about having fun. Which Sohna and I enjoy each game. Going to another ballpark really hit home as to what is done that we do like at RFK. In a short period of time, Washington has some tradition. The President's for sure. As far as Our Seating Preference is concerned, we are still considering our options. There is alot to take into account and there is one more month to pull it all together. We have narrowed it down though.

baldino: Thanks for the kind comments. I try not to forget that I LOVE THE GAME, and everything about it. My favorite pastime and sport. Nothing else is close. And, its finer that The African Queen supports my efforts, to the max. For that I am very fortunate.

Paul: Its funny you mention the Press Box, Dave Jageler personally told me he's dreading the highness of the Press Box as the distance makes it far more difficult to call the pitches in each game as accurately as before. I actually feel for them. Their closeness to the action really helps their cause. Their work is all about the details--something that will be harder for them to accomplish at Nationals Park. Honestly, they are sitting in the Cheap Seats to broadcast a game. Not good for them.

An Briosca Mor said...

SBF, are they still playing Thank God I'm A Country Boy up at OPCY? I've never quite understood the reason for that particular song, but it's a good thing that the O's have a "signature song" that's unique to their ballpark. It would be nice if we had one here as well - as long as it's not Sweet Caroline, which as I've said before is not a bad thing per se, but it's a Red Sox thing!.

Maybe this is something that needs to grow organically over time as a grass-roots thing among the fans rather than being forced on us by stadium event programming. Toward that end, it would be nice if the music programmers quit throwing up Sweet Caroline all the time and instead started putting out some other songs that might find themselves being latched onto by the crowd. Sort of like the way they've taken to running that John Belushi Animal House clip when we're heading into the bottom of the ninth all tied up. Each time it's come up, it seems the crowd response gets just a bit better than the time before. Enough times, and it will be a huge crowd favorite. The same thing could happen with a song.

I had a random thought about that the other night, when Charlie and Dave came back from commercial playing Blue Oyster Cult. How about Christopher Walken up on the big screen saying "I've got a fever, and the only prescription is...MORE COWBELL!" Then they launch into the song, and instead of the cowbell the crowd gets to bang their beer bottles or whatever in time to the song. Eventually, folks might even start bringing their own cowbells to the park. Beats Neil Diamond, if you ask me...

Kevin said...

While I enjoy most of the between-innings entertainment at RFK, Clint has got to go.

Screech's Best Friend said...

an briosca mor: Yes, The Orioles do still play "Thank God I'm A Country Boy". I don't mind it. I actually like it. Growing up attending hundreds of games at Memorial Stadium it was a part of their tradition. I'm OK with that. The Animal House thing I have now seen in 5 different venues across America. Sohna and I did like Bustin' Loose as it a DC Song that was born here. But, The Nationals decided they would rather go with Twist & Shout. None of us in Section 320 Like Sweet Caroline. We are sick of it, too

SenatorNat said...

You don't know what you got till it's gone - that is for sure. When Fed X opened as Jack Kent Cooke Stadium in Raljohn (remember?!) the fans didn't realize for a moment what was truly missing, which was the circular intimacy of RFK. At RFK, all the ringed walk-ways is how folks have always been able to interact. FedX has everyone separated by three distinct (separate indeed) levels, PLUS it cages everyone in pens on each level, with no interaction among fans.

Nationals Park is built for interaction via concourses with easy vantage of the field, and shouldn't therefore be a disconnected affair.

Nat Pack, Screech, "Let Teddy Win," all invented here: "Sweet Caroline" while sung by Ethyl Kennedy's sometime beau has no other connection to RFK, and is owned by Red Sox, as said. Would be great to cultivate our own - can we somehow adapt "Macho-Man" by the Village People, for example? ("Nat-O; Nat-O Man"...)

I am really hopeful, on a point about improving the team for 2008 that Guz might help attract his old beer and nachos ordering buddy Torii Hunter to rejoin him here: what a hole that would plug, and what a great, smart, committed guy Hunter is, too.

Trust in Kasten. All Good.