Sunday, June 10, 2007

On Reconnaissance

The fact that today was Cal Ripken, Jr. Bobblehead Day was icing on the cake. The African Queen and I were on a mission this afternoon at Camden Yards. We wanted to check out all the possible seating sightlines for Baltimore Orioles Home Games and compare those choices with those available in the New Nationals Park. So, we bought Club Level Seats, Section 230, in the fourth row. They were nice--situated between Home Plate and The Orioles First Base Dugout. The view of field just about as close as we currently sit at RFK Stadium--and basically the same point The Club Level at New Nationals Park will sit.

Although obviously completely surrounded by Long Time Baltimore Fans, we had a great time. Many realized that we were not the usual Orioles' Fan. Sohna and I sort of stood out and folks began to talk to us. We mentioned that we were on a reconnaissance mission to determine good seats for Our Washington Nationals New Stadium. Everyone had a opinion. Some good, some not so good. Some, just down right silly. But, what made this effort so meaningful was Our Usher today. A Nice Man named Evan. Hearing the entertaining conversations we were having with his regulars--he asked us if we might be interested in also sitting in a couple of spots in the lower bowl--to gather some more intel. Of course, we were not going to pass up that opportunity.

So, over the course of two innings, The African Queen and I spent time in Field Box Seats, not 10 rows from the Orioles Dugout. And, finally in the Terrace Box, Section 43 on the 3rd base side. At each stop, an Orioles Usher escorted us to available seats. Each inning we enjoyed the view and hospitality. Really, it was great. Knowing that New Nationals Park will have similar sightlines in the Lower Bowl and Club Level we gathered some useful information that will help us determine what will really please us on South Capitol Street. We couldn't thank Evan enough for his fine hospitality. He was great.

As nice as that was--Our Time sitting in Club Level was highlighted by some LIVELY TALK with some LONG TIME Baltimore Orioles Fans. These folks were BITTER. 10 years without a winning team I guess will depress any hardcore fan. And, some amazing misinformation concerning Our Nationals and New Nationals Park. Whether the discussion was Peter Angelos, General Manager Mike Flanagan, their Oriole players (or their lack of quality players) you could clearly see the disgust over A TEAM WITH NO DIRECTION. Not a single Orioles Fans we talked to DID NOT wish to follow the rebuilding of Our Nationals. "At Least you guys have a plan. We have NOTHING."--One Fan yelled out. Everyone laughed, But, everyone knew--it was the truth.

When the discussion turned to Our Nationals, one guy had been to a few Nats Games at RFK Stadium. "That place is a DUMP!!! And when that new Stadium is built, it will also be a dump, in a dump," he stated. You know Sohna and I would not take any of that. We both lit into the guy--stating that Memorial Stadium was fairly run down when The Orioles moved to Camden Yards. The neighborhood off 33rd Street not the best. Then, this fellow went on to claim that The Club Level at Nationals Park will be "JUST A PLACE TO SIT, WITH NO AMENITIES"--Saying Oriole Park's Club Level was as nice as it gets. Now, how could he possibly know this, if he's rarely been out of the Mid-Atlantic States? Boy, did I ever go after him then, asking the No Nothing where he got his information. He responded--"Its all over The INTERNET, in the BLOGS!!"

I LAUGHED IN HIS FACE!! Immediately followed by The African Queen and I putting him in his place, again. "You have no idea how close to home you just hit," I finally said. Once Sohna and I got through with him, he was getting up to leave in the 8th inning. "I have a train to catch," he claimed. Silently, the fellow got up to leave.

We were not the only ones happy to see him go. Many of the other Baltimore regulars saying this guy is always causing trouble, never happy, never satisfied. Reminded Sohna and I of some people we know.

Oh--by the way--The Colorado Rockies beat The Orioles 6-1. Ryan Spilborghs had a career day--2 Home Runs, 6 RBI in four total hits. And, Colorado Starter Jason Hirsh went the distance for his first career complete game. Really, it was not much of a game, but Sohna and I enjoyed seeing Jamey Carroll. Our Former Utility Man will always be a favorite with Nats Fans. Today, he doubled down the right field line and sneaked in behind Brian Roberts to pick Roberts off second early the game. When I got up to cheer the pickoff--it was not appreciated in Club Level.

Finally, as Sohna and I were walking around the ballpark before the game, we ran into this nice young fellow wearing a red "PLEDGE YOUR ALLEGIANCE" t-shirt walking with his father. As it turned out, these two were from Brooklyn, New York. The Young Man telling The African Queen and I he was New York's Biggest NATS FAN. They told us the T-Shirt was retrieved from the Nat Pack on the night of the long rain delay at RFK STADIUM against The Marlins. That great 1:42AM ending when Ryan Zimmerman blasted out a game winning Grand Slam. As we continued to talk, Sohna mentioned if they read the Nats blogs. Yes. In fact, one of their favorites--Nats 320. When Sohna told them I was SBF, the look on the son's face, priceless.

The African Queen and I got a kick out of a New Yorker reading The Nats 320 Blog. It all made for a wonderful afternoon watching baseball, but not really paying attention to the game. The folks we met, chatted with and enjoyed, far outdistanced the fun of the game itself. Today's Reconnaissance Trip to Camden Yards, well worth the effort.

PS--Sohna got a kick out of the Bronze Markers on Eutaw Street commemorating Home Runs hit on the sidewalk in front of The Warehouse. Due to our long walk around the ballpark, even after the game looking at everything, we really noticed for the first time, these Home Run Markers. Hopefully, when New Nationals Park Opens, Our Washington Nationals can Remember Titantic Blasts in such a nice way. We really enjoyed reading the markers. Ken Griffey, Jr seems to have hit the longest clout, closest to The Warehouse. I don't believe anyone has actually hit the building. I might be wrong, but I don't think so.

If you like Sushi. Sohna and I went to Edo Sushi in The Inner Harbor after the game. Excellent Service. Good Presentation and Nice Food. We had never been there before, but would recommend it to any Sushi Fan.

The Cal Ripken Bobblehead--TERRIFIC. It depicts Cal snaring the final out of the 1983 World Series at Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium. Great Packaging, too. The Sight of Hundreds of Folks buying Standing Room Only Seats walking into Camden Yards, picking up the Bobblehead then turning right around and heading out to put the figure on eBay--hilarious. What is wrong with these people? Do they realize how silly and foolish they look? Does that few extra bucks make THAT MUCH OF A DIFFERENCE IN THEIR LIVES??

And, no--We did not watch Our Nats play today, the Reconnaissance Mission was far more important. We lost 6-3, but still won the series with The Twins. Hopefully Our Washington Nationals can take two out of three at these very same Camden Yards this coming week against The Baltimore Orioles. By the way, you gotta love The Angelos Thinking. Wednesday Night's game is ORIOLES CAP NIGHT. Do you think this giveaway was strategically planned? Sohna and I laughed about that promo when the stadium announcer mentioned it on the centerfield scoreboard during the game.


Dave said...

SBH, I was at that game as well. I was sitting in section 218, club level, a bit farther out.

It was indeed good to see our man Jamey Carroll hustle to beat a double play, and to hit that double down the line.

The overall impression I got from O's fans was, like yours, one of quiet envy. Most conversations started off with the suggestion that the Nats will be an easy team to beat this week. But then it became apparent that they all wish they could have as much to be excited about as we do.

I do like OPCY, I must say. It feels like an urban stadium with many nods to the history of the town and of baseball.

Crash said...

SBF - I guess the chatter about New Nats Park being "not as nice" as Oriole Park must be "all over" the Orioles blogs, as you're no doubt aware that NO ONE on Nats blogs has anything bad to say about the quality of the amenities to come at our own park. Talk about misinformed and misguided jealousy.

Liz Wetterhahn said...

I was at the O's game yesterday. It was actually my birthday and I had planned to go to the game with my best friend, almost exclusively for the bobblehead. We arrived at the game on time and we were too late. I was heartbroken. Even more frustrated that I saw people walking out with 8 of them...and it was my sole birthday wish. I hate having to search on ebay for something that was rightfully mine - just made me really sad. If you happen to know of anyone who's willing to part with a bobblehead...I'd love to know :)

Anonymous said...

OPCY (thanks for the acronym, dave) is a very nice stadium and it's club level is also very nice (it's basically the only place i sit when i go there nowadays). but despite the fact that i have not sat i club level at any other baseball stadium, i'm guessing that club level at any stadium is rather nice. i mean, it has to be, right?

anyway, i can see loyal O's fans thinking that their stadium is better than any other. and i can also understand them dissing the Nats' new stadium...anything new is going to be better than what they have b/c that's the point. to be better than what's currently out there. i'm guessing O's fans may be a bit jealous of the new stadium (especially the main concourse, which will be SWEET! the one in seattle is so nice!) but you can't blame them for being jealous. they'll have OPCY for a very long time to come and they probably wish things were a little different than they are.

Screech's Best Friend said...

Camden Yards is really nice. Sohna and I enjoy love attending each and every game there. The Setting, The Skyline--really its a place no one should feel sorry about. That Warehouse looming in right is terrific. Can you imagine how less scenic OPACY would be if they had torn down the warehouse as originally planned? That park would be nowhere near as glamourous as it became.

Unknown said...

As a supporter of both teams, Camden Yards speaks for itself. RFK may be substandard, but there's a charm and atmosphere I really like.

I have no idea what the new Nats' stadium will turn out to be in reality, but I'm sure it will be a sight to behold.

I'm not really going to give a definitive opinion on something that's not finished, or much less I have not seen in person.

SBF, glad you two enjoyed Baltimore. I know all to well on O's fans being depressed and you echoed the difference between the fan bases quite well.

The bobbleheads - yeah, well it's reality for some people. I got mine, and I wanted to get another, thus, I'll be going on Ebay later to see the market.

Unknown said...

I'm pretty sure Junior hit the Warehouse during a home run derby, don't know if it ever happened during a game.

SenatorNat said...

"Angel-O's" - I suggest a new name for the Orioles to suffice for A Plan: The Los Angeles "Angel-O's" at Baltimore, as owned by Peter Angel-O's. This should be a sufficient distraction for the average "OH! Rioles" fan, who is average indeed.

One aspect that the new Geico's Nationals Park (at the Navy Yard) needs to copy from Camden Yards (Boog's B-BQ): I suggest the delicious aroma of "Hondo's Hots" ("D.C. Dogs") hot dog stand outside the left-center field entrance, serving the only good hot dog on the grill to be bought in D.C. {I know - D.C. Dogs very risky logo, since Nats could have disappointing year, and...}

As to RFK: opened by JKF; named after RFK; and memoralized by Coach Gibbs, it is one special place, ready for retirement, again...But, did it ever serve its purpose well. Without RFK, there would be no Nationals, since it D.C. WAS THE ONLY VENUE which MLB could move to immediately, and play in a major league stadium there, while new one was being constructed. And, it shall be ready ON TIME.

Second major advantage to having Nats at RFK for past three seasons: Danny
Boy now sees this is the location to build the $1 billion convertible roof (I See Yours Jerry Jones, and Raise You $200 million!!) stadium, suitable for Super Bowls and Olympic Events...As sure as Tony Soprano talked to the FBI, Fenty and the Snyder machine are talking, already...Ching, Ching...

How good are Kasten-Bow,Bow proving to be? Guzman and D.Young have been up a total of over 320 times together, and are batting .345!! And, Belliard at .280.

Zimmerman, Snyder, and Lopez can each probably raise their average by 25-30 points by August. Church is an everyday player...

And - here is the pitching staff by then: S. Hill; J.Bergmann; JPatterson; MChico; JSimontacchi; and relievers Rivera; Bowie; Speigner; Ayala; Rauch; and Cordero!

And some good nuggets down on the farm. And $30-35 million in payroll for 2008 before they hit the Lerner's cap. (Torii Hunter, come on down!)

And - the best and youngest Manager imaginable. He needs to fine guys, though, for "not running out their home runs!" Add the best damn blog in show business run by SBF - and ain't life grand!!!

Trust in Kasten. All Good.

Anonymous said...

You know, I don't really blame the Orioles fan for being mouthy. Sure, maybe he was obnoxious, but it's his home turf, and when opposing fans come into RFK I get a little punchy with them. Every fan is entitle to think their stadium/team/city is the best, and maybe his ideas were wrong, but they're his *ideas,* you know? And we don't really have proof yet that the new stadium is going to be utterly FANTASTIC. I'm just saying, in another park, in another city, when you're going to be rooting against the home team? It's not really surprising that this guy was hostile. (And, not for nothing, while RFK does have great charm and decades of memories, the place is falling down. It IS a dump. But alas.)

Screech's Best Friend said...

Anonymous--Its not about going into someone elses park and telling their fans their place is not that good. That's far from the truth and you misunderstand the circumstances and me. This post was all about half-truths and downright lies that people are spreading concerning Our Nationals and their new stadium. Never did I say anything disparaging about Baltimore. When others bring up crap, I will not sit there and take it. Simple as that. If people want to be intelligent and throughful--its always an educational converstation--worth having. When folks can't put two reasonable sentences back to back--they are uninformed.