Monday, July 24, 2006
So I was on hand this past weekend for one of the Nats games against the Cubs that was billed as the "Grand ReOpening of RFK".....the name of the event being "Paint the Town Red". According to the Washington Post the following was to take place over the 3-Game long series.
- "Red Carpet" Treatment
- A different giveaway each day of a Hat, T-shirt, and Towel
- Players greeting and signing Autographs
- The New Owners greeting the fans
- Introduction of New Foods and New Foodcourt
- Cutting of Prices
- According to Opposum-Palooza, Giant headed President races
- More kids activities and games
- Music before, during, and after the game
First of all I went on Sunday at 1pm, and apparently the "hoopla" was worn about by now. I made it to the parking lot, and noticed the most important change that they hadn't decided to make.....parking was still $12.
RFK OUTSIDE: On the walk up to the stadium I noticed the new "Fan Fest" section which is in the middle of a blocked off road between the Main Parking Lot and the Metro Exit. It looked relatively fun (as does anything with a moon bounce and a ball pit), but the placement is just awkward. I'd be surprised if anyone even walks over to it. I then crossed the street and noticed that the "Red Carpet" wasn't smelling too hot. I don't know if it was the material, but the whole front of the stadium smelled like dung. There was also an Olde Tyme three person band playing by the ticket booth, so there was the first music sighting of the day. I walked up to the ticket window and proceeded to ask for the $7 Upper Deck Deadspin Special (if anyone ever comes to a game with me I will show you the fine art of stealing lower level seats, which I've been honing for the last 20 years of my life). I was immediately told that weekend tickets are $12 (which I already knew) and proceeded to note that ticket prices were exactly the same in every section......
Note: No players or owners outside (The pic is from Friday)
RFK INSIDE: Walking in I received my "Paint the Town Red" Towel. Now I know it's my fault for not going to the first two games, but I was really banking on Sunday being the T-shirt day. The towel was tiny and the logo was already coming off from the heat, but hell....it's free. I grabbed a Guinness (which I hadn't noticed they offered before at RFK) and proceeded to climb up to the 500 level (you can't just go seat jacking in the first...you have to give it four innings at least).
On the way up the ramp I noticed the new "Food Court" between levels. It's a quaint little place with about 5-7 different booths where people can pick different foods. The only problem.....IT'S IN BETWEEN TWO SECTIONS ON ONE SIDE OF THE STADIUM!!! How does that even constitute an upgrade? Finally comfortable in my seats, in section 548, I was treated to even MORE music as The Pat McGee Band was rocking the stadium. If you're not familiar with said PMB all you need to know is that there's another band with very similar initials that they are apparently trying to imitate. Well Pat sang the National Anthem and later God Bless America.....there's your music before, during, and after.
DURING THE GAME: Once "newly" planted in section 206 (about the 20th row or so) I started watching the crowd. As the Nats were taking it to the Cubs I noticed that everyone was having a wondrous time. Everyone was waving towels, and dancing to the "Pump It" song when Soriano came up in the 4th Inning. Soriano proceed to blast a ball into just about the Left Field Upper Deck (it landed in the Terrace Seats) and it's that moment that the true DC fans came out of their "Pageantry" induced comas. About 31,000 people collectively turned to each other and said, "They better not trade that kid." Everyone stood for the entire last out of the game (which hasn't happened during a DC Sporting event in the past 15 years without having you yelled at). The game ended soon after and the Nats had just swept the Cubs to move up to last place in the division.
AFTER THE GAME: This is the point of any experience where I begin to pick apart things as best a pessimist can. Maybe it was because I came during the last game of the series, but things seemed more of a cover-up than anything. As Nats fans were giving the Cubs fans the business I couldn't help to think that DC Fans were again being brainwashed....again.
The Nationals are still in last place. So much so that a sweep only pulled them within 3 games of the second to last place Phillies. They are 16.5 games behind the NL East leading Mets and are third to last in the entire National League. They are on the verge of trading the only player worth the price of admission on the team in Soriano. And no matter how much you polish a turd....RFK is still a 45 year old stadium. Prices weren't cut, the Foodcourt was found only by chance, the music sucked, the giveaway was cheap, I didn't meet any players or owners, and most importantly I missed the damn President's race while I was stealing lower level seats in the fourth.
THE DAY AFTER: Here's where it gets bad. I'm an Orioles fan...I always have been, and unfortunately always will. But over the past two years the Nats have had a chance to take the honor of being my favorite "National League Team". I generally like the players, I have fun at the games, and it's only 6 miles from my house. But even after this weekend I open up the "Virtual" Papers and find nothing but negativity.
MLB is accusing the DC government of missing deadlines that could threaten the April 2008 opening of the new ballpark.
This was the perfect opportunity for the Nationals to "steal" Orioles fans in Northern Virginia like myself (I mean come on the Orioles just called up Fernando Tatis!), but they botched this like everything else so far.
The Soriano trade watch has him going to a different team almost daily. With the new wrinkle being that he wants a No-Trade Clause.
"I've never in my career -- three teams, all these many seasons, [even with] all-stars, Hall of Famers -- no one has ever had a no-trade contract," Kasten said. "That's just a matter of history. . . . I have a philosophy about that. You can give a guy what you want, you can pay as much as you want. What you can't give away is your power to improve your club."- Stan Kasten, New Nationals President.
And even as I'm writing this down there's more to piss me off about the Nationals. Apparently The White Sox are "extremely close" to trading for Nationals outfielder Alfonso Soriano, a source close to the situation told ESPN The Magazine's Tim Kurkjian. The Nationals have great interest in pitcher Brandon McCarthy......that's right Brandon "Stuck in the Bullpen" McCarthy. Just shoot me now.
I have just one thing to say to the Lerners and Stan Kasten....actually make that 31,000 things. You Better Not Trade This Guy.