Monday, I found out quite abruptly that single game tickets for the Baltimore Orioles had gone on sale. I thought I was subscribed to their mailing list, but now that I’m thinking about it, I may have unsubbed due to too many emails. Figures. Lower deck tickets were mostly sold out for the April 12th game I am planning on attending, but StubHub came to the rescue, and I now have some pretty decent seats. I probably won’t be completely relaxed about it until I am able to print them (the seller has not yet placed the actual tickets on the site yet, I only have the section and row I am sitting in), but I have gotten them and that is a step closer to being there. Coincidentally, my Mariners home opener tickets arrived in the mail the same day. We still have some days until pitchers and catchers report, but we’re getting closer and closer to the beginning of the 2014 baseball season.
Part of my trip, of course, involves a 4PM game at Nationals Stadium on Thursday April 10th. The game is against the Marlins, so I’m not sure how excited about it I can be, but neither the opponent nor the home team are the whole point of this journey; I just really want to go see a ball game in DC, and investigate a new park. To this end, I’ve been doing a bit of research online to find out what I need to know about Nationals Park and its surroundings.
Everything I have heard or read so far from various sources says that the best way to get there is a public train line that arrives near or at the stadium. I am not sure how we will accomplish this, but am relying on my friend to know more of his way around the area than I currently do (my knowledge of DC is limited to driving mostly in the dark, and mostly in the worse areas of town, where nightclubs I have played exist or existed. I have zero directional knowledge of the city). My goal is to take in a museum somewhere in the city earlier in the day, though I have not decided which one. I am anticipating a bit of jet lag given my early morning departure time the day before, so I am guessing that will impact whether I actually make it to a museum, or spend the whole day eating everything at Nando’s. As it is, I plan on grabbing dinner there the night before, if GPS and my friend’s driving are both successful in getting us there. In any event, I’d far rather just drive to the stadium and find parking if possible, but if not, I’ll hop on a train, sure, why not? Nothing quite as comforting as taking public transportation in an unfamiliar city. Parking, however, is a bit expensive. That train looks slightly more appealing now!
I will also be in DC just as the cherry trees are blooming, by happy coincidence. The Stadium has “fourteen Kwanzan Japanese Cherry Blossom Trees” within the stadium; eight in the Center Field Plaza, and six more on the main concourse in left field. I find myself wondering if the field is kept free of pink “snow”, and looking forward to how beautiful the city will be at this time of year.
Nationals Park also has statues:
World renowned husband and wife artists Omri Amrany and Julie Rotblatt along with Jody Rotblatt, Sean Bell and Oscar Leon, worked hundreds of hours to bestow on Nationals Park the likes of Josh Gibson, Frank Howard and Walter Johnson in white bronze. These Negro League Baseball, Major League Baseball and D.C. sports icons have now staked claim to the Center Field Plaza where they can be seen, admired, discussed and argued over by all who enter the gates of Nationals Park. Known for many types of art mediums, the team from the Fine Art Studio of Rotblatt-Amrany in Highwood, Illinois has created such artistic immortalizations as Michael Jordan, “Magic” Johnson, Gordie Howe, Ty Cobb and – Mr. Take Me Out to the Ballgame himself – Harry Caray.
You would think that the MLB.com team websites would all be set up quite similarly to each other, but unfortunately that is not the case. While the Orioles and Mariners sites have A-Z guides that are pretty inclusive of all the things to see and do in both parks, other teams’ sites are not as cut and dried. The Red Loft and Red Porch are mentioned in their A-Z guide. These sound very similar to the Hit It Here Café and Lookout Landing, though the Loft and Porch are above and below each other. I have posted a picture of the field below, and indeed, there they are in center field. A little more poking around and you have an absolutely insane list of concessions. If you click on that link, your head might explode, and you will definitely be hungry. The options are wide, and unlike things we have here in Seattle. Of particular interest to me:
Features traditional Italian gelato in a variety of flavors
Features an assortment of gluten free food items as well as beer
Field of Greens
Featuring some healthier options at the ballpark, including salads, wraps, sushi and fresh fruit and vegetables
Features Kosher Hot Dogs, Knishes, Falafel and Shwarma. Under the Supervision of the Rabbinical Council of Greater Washington
Hawaiian Shaved Ice
Features sno cones in a variety of different flavors and sizes
Curly W Pretzels
Featuring the “Curly W Pretzel”, slushy puppies, and pretzel dogs
Samuel Adams Brewhouse
Featuring an assortment of Sam Adams Brews
Are you kidding me with all of this?! I’ll never make it out of there alive! Or, at the very least, I’ll gain an additional 10 pounds! This is totally nuts. I think I may be shooting for a falafel and Curly W pretzel, with a battle between shave ice and gelato to top it off. If you’ve never had proper Hawaiian shave ice (and there is a massive difference between that and sno cones, so I’m hoping that the Nats do it right), it’s just wonderful. If you’re in the city here, you can try it out at the Marination Mobile in West Seattle, and there is a cart that shows up to some of our local street festivals that also has it. Get it with ice cream, you won’t regret!
I have been told by a few people now that the park is just beautiful, and everything I have seen online makes it look very clean and pleasant. The seating chart may take some studying. Whereas Safeco has three levels, and a few sections that are pretty easy to figure out, Nationals Park has more sections at a bunch of different price points. I generally think of Safeco as having three levels with price points that aren’t all that different from each other, but I think that’s mainly because it’s so familiar. Nationals Stadium looks like this:
The main concourse seating area is divided up around the middle, making the more choice seats behind the plate a little more roomy than it is here at Safeco. It will depend greatly on my finances over the next few weeks (holy cats it’s a matter of weeks now!), but the nicer seats might be fun to check out. I am still waiting for single game tickets to go on sale.
So I know literally nothing about the Nationals as a team except that Mike Morse did pretty well there, Doug Fister was sent over recently, and they’ve got Bryce Harper. And, of course, Stephen Strasburg, Mariners fans’ favorite thing to moan over a few years ago, when we were battling the Nats to the bottom of the barrel for a first draft pick. I would love to see either Strasburg or Fister start, but I’ll take what I can get. The gates open two and a half hours prior to game time, so I am hoping to have a lot of time to check things out, take pictures, and walk around. And yes, I will be rooting for the Nats to win. I might even buy a shirt.