Saturday, March 29, 2008
The First Game
If you hung around New Nationals Park a good 25 minutes after tonight's First Game by Our Washington Nationals--you would have enjoyed one of best moments of the entire evening. A test for what's coming tomorrow on Opening Night-- A FABULOUS FIREWORKS DISPLAY. Yes, Bang!! Zoom!! Went The Fireworks!! from directly behind The Centerfield Plaza. Everyone still on site--turned to look. This was good stuff.
A fitting conclusion to another fine evening enjoying baseball with Our Washington Nationals--never does the experience get old. From the very first moments Sohna and I stepped through The Centerfield Gate at New Nationals Park this afternoon--fun was at hand. Our Washington Nationals were playing that first game at New Nationals Park. And yeah, I know, it was "MERELY" an Exhibition Game. But, the fact that The African Queen and I had been fortunate enough to experience the build out--first hand--by The Clark/Smoot/Hunt Construction Team--did not take away from any of our enjoyment. This Fresh Experience as 34,635 showed up for Major League Baseball on South Capitol Street to take in the new sights. Back for the fourth consecutive season in The Nation's Capital--many of those on hand--we were very thrilled to view the new facility.
Especially--when not 15 seconds into the new park--"The Let Teddy Win!!" Chant was bellowed out. Yes, by total chance, Our Lovable Loser was standing directly in front of The African Queen and I. Teddy feeling the love once again. Even Abe, so into the joy--he insisted on posing with The African Queen. The sight of Our Racing Presidents brought back fond memories of the many hours spent on East Capitol Street--with our friends--sharing baseball.
Tonight's affair provided the opportunity to catch up, relive the past and look forward to the fresh times ahead--in a spanking new venue. Of course--no baseball season can OFFICIALLY begin until The OFFICIAL FIRST POUR--provided by Section 320's Number 1 Beer Man--Neal. The Best Beer Hawker of All TIME!!--looking mighty sharp in his new Vendor Hawaiian Shirt with Red Curly "W". Nice Shirt-- got to get ahold of one of those. Of course--the relocation has separated the entire Section 320 faithful from RFK Stadium--many of us no longer sitting on the same level. Yet, that did not keep many apart tonight. Throughout this 2 hour and 27 minute game with The Baltimore Orioles--Sohna and I found ourselves greeting many of our friends. Five long months after Our Washington Nationals last played a baseball game in DC--it was like we had never missed a beat.
Friends are friends--and many times for life.
Yes, there was a game played tonight--but the action on the field played second fiddle to the activity in the stands. Precious the sight--of watching fans surveying the scenery. Nothing like a first impression--and except for some rather long concession lines (more on that later in this post) not many were paying attention to the exhibition. The Ballpark was the star tonight--and it was basking in new found glory. Of course--Our Washington Nationals won the very first game in New Nationals Park, 3-0. Jason Bergmann pitched a good 5 innings of shutout ball--giving up one hit. Garrett Mock and Mike O'Connor closed the door. And Nick Johnson was warmly welcomed back by Our Fans with two hits and the first RBI in Stadium History. The sight of Our Number 24 hard--pop up--sliding into second base on a throw--the most promising sign of the night. Nick Johnson is back and ready to play. Nothing else on the field mattered more tonight.
Which was fine with The African Queen and I--because today was all about New Nationals Park. On March 29th, 2008, Sohna and I first experienced the fully completed Stars & Stripes Club. What a difference from just a few weeks back. This two tier Club with the nice view out toward The Anacostia River was better than expected. Two nice bars--The Homestead Grays Bar & Nats Bar. A Brick Oven Pat's Pizza--Anacostia Station with the Traditional Ballpark Fare and The South Capitol Grille serving up a entire assortment of offerings--including The Ben's Chili Bowl Half Smoke. Also--two Serving Stations--providing upscale meals from The Presidents and Diamond Clubs. One plate offerings--tonight a Pasta Bar with Shrimp and a Turkey Sandwich with extras. Some Quality stuff--not junk.
Our food choices this evening--Turkey Sandwich, Pat's Brick Oven Pizza, The Noah's Curly "W" Pretzel and "The Dinger". Gifford's CEO Neal Liberman providing Sohna and I with his Washington Nationals Foundation Special Creation during it's initial offering. On a cold night--the chill of ice cream going down--a nice feeling. "The Dinger"-- Two real chocolate cookies with all natural vanilla ice sandwiched in between at $5 a pop. During the hot summer time--they should sell like hot cakes. We liked them--alot.
There is so much to cover from today--so please find below our thoughts of the many experiences by us for New Nationals Park's first game--beginning with transportation.
When Our Washington Nationals announced The Nats Express would begin running 3 hours before first pitch for this First Game at New Nationals Park--Sohna and I decided to try the new service. 15 Buses were awaiting. Arriving at 2:45PM at RFK Lot 8--we gathered our belongings for the trip to South Capitol Street and boarded THE VERY FIRST Nats Express Trip. Total time from Lot 8 to 3rd & M Streets SE--7 Minutes. I timed it. Then, another Seven Minute walk to The Centerfield Gate. Upon completion of tonight's game--there was no problem returning back to RFK Stadium. The moment we stepped on The Nats Express--we were back inside our car at Lot 8 and driving on The Southeast/Southwest Freeway heading back to Alexandria--in 10 minutes total time--no backups. The Nats Express worked for us and it was free. Although, Lot 8 lighting seemed significantly dimmer than the previous three years when Our Washington Nationals played at RFK Stadium.
Along the way--walking into the ballpark tonight--we stopped by The Newly Renovated West Entrance to The Navy Yard Metro Station. Although, Sohna and I did not use Metro Service Today--the station seemed to be running fine. Others will have to inform us how that part of the transportation process worked.
Once inside--Mayor Adrian Fenty tossed the Ceremonial First Pitch. Jason Bergmann threw the very first game pitch to Brian Roberts. And The HDTV Scoreboard looked wonderful. After a while--we wandered around the ballpark. The Centerfield Upper Terrace was interesting and the wind was absolutely howling. It was 10 degrees colder up there than down below--frigid. But, we enjoyed the view. Tomorrow--we are going to check out The Red Porch and Red Loft in Left Centerfield.
Our Racing Presidents no longer run from the right field line to home plate on the warning track. For the first time in the 4th inning's running--GW, Abe, Tom & Teddy--entered from The Centerfield Fence--were introduced individually--and raced from centerfield--around the warning track toward first base. Tom won handily--Teddy finished last.
Of course the surprising sight of "TEDDY" hanging out on the Terrace Level of The Stars & Stripes Club did not go unnoticed. Once again--"Let Teddy Win!!" was bellowed out for all to hear. How in world did they get his gigantic head up to The Club? He wouldn't fit in the elevator. But now since I have seen him there--Teddy better come surprise The African Queen in Section 218--nothing less will be acceptable.
My Best Friend Screech!! got lost tonight looking for his Best Friend. After yelling down to him directly below us--Screech visited Club Level. But, couldn't find the right section. When he finally showed up two sections over from us--the sight of Screech holding up his rather large girth to get past folks in aisles to meet up with The African Queen and I--priceless. The one aspect of RFK that many may miss at New Nationals Park was the cross traffic around the lower bowl. At New Nationals Park--there is no such movement. An adjustment that many are now making.
Of course--not all was perfect. The Concession Lines were mighty long. At one point on the Main Concourse--first base side--it was virtually impossible to pass through the queue--to walk somewhere else. The passage was blocked. On Stars & Stripes Level--the narrowness of the passage at either end of this Club--clogged up--as patrons awaited to order food at Anacostia Station and South Capitol Grille. No, that wasn't good--but I am not going to fault the tweaking that needs to be done to make the concession operation more efficient. This was just the first day of full operations.
But, what Sohna and I will not stand for--is incompetence. After checking over the choices in The Stars & Stripes Level--The African Queen decided to order the specially carved Turkey Breast Sandwich--with chips and pickle. That part of the process went fine. Then--the order took a serious turn for the worse--when the cashier had NO IDEA--how to operate her register for a Credit Card Payment. After 10 swipes of my credit card, she calls over someone else. That person--could not figure it out. Now 10 minutes into this process--the original cashier wants us to wait another 15 minutes for a "SUPERVISOR" to show up and figure out the problem. You can bet the lineup of customers behind was stacking up. Eventually, we decided to pass on the meal--later a Centerplate person personally cleared up the matter with us.
But that snafu is just a minor detail. Overall--we enjoyed our experience tonight in the first Major League Game at New Nationals Park. What was your experience like?
PS--We bought the new Nationals Gamer Jackets today. The Therma Fleece lined weather model with Red Curly "W" on the side. Nice and comfortable. Even in the brisk winds tonight--this jacket held out the air.
PSS--Sohna and I appreciated the many fans who approached us tonight to thank us for the effort put forth in The Nats320 Blog. Thank you all so very much for the nice compliments.