GRADING RFK

Do you remember a few summers ago when ESPN.com Page 2 toured all the major league ballparks and rated them? I thought I would apply the criteria that they used to our own RFK Stadium. Who knows, maybe they will make a trip to RFK like they did to Philly’s Citizens Bank Park last year. I will be curious to compare the two, should that happen.

My survey is based on five trips in April and May to the park, a stretch that included three night games and two day games.

1. Access:
Two Metro lines stop a few blocks from the stadium. There are 10,000 parking spaces and I am told driving in and out is not bad at all. Metro does get crowded after the game though, so walk out of the stadium quickly. 4.5

2. Exterior architecture:
Since RFK was the prototype for the multi-purpose stadia of the 60s and 70s, it is not much to look at. However, the sloping roof gives it some charm and distinguishes it from Three Rivers, the Vet, Atlanta-Fulton County, and Riverfront. The only circular stadium that has more character is Busch Stadium (II) in St. Louis.

RFK’s position on the same axis of the Lincoln & WWII Memorials, Washington Monument, and Capitol is worth a point too. 3

3. Interior architecture:
Despite being a multipurpose stadium, RFK is surprisingly cozy. The multipurpose stadia that followed it were significantly larger and thus much more imposing and impersonal. Like so many inexplicably popular throwback jerseys, RFK’s multicolored seating level gives it a certain charm in an era of clean lines and green seats in every park. The newly painted green fences and walls are adorned with a new Ring of Stars, analog Nats clock and Nats banners keep RFK from duplicating the boring look of Riverfront or Veterans stadiums. 3

4. Ticket prices and availability:
You can show up at just about any game and get tickets for the upper deck for as low as $7. You cannot buy tickets in the lower seating area though, since those have been sold out to season ticketholders.4

5. Seat comfort:
The seats are over 40 years old and made of wood. In some areas, there is a lot of legroom though. I am probably being too charitable here. 3

6. Quality of hot dogs:
Dominic’s of New York is maker of the hot dogs and they pass my taste test. The regular “super-dog” is $4, which is pretty steep for a simple little dog. Your best bet is to find a grill cart and get the $5.50 grilled dog with hot onions & peppers. At about twice the size of the superdog, it’s practically a meal. 4

7. Quality/selection of concession-stand fare:
It is mostly the same stuff you get anywhere with nothing unique or special. The lines can be long too because the staff is terribly inefficient. Aside from the grilled dog, the $8.75 chicken fingers and fries basket is probably the best deal. Cost-wise, RFK is slightly cheaper than MCI Center. 2

8. Signature concession item:
There is none to speak of, hopefully this will be resolved next season. 2

9. Beer:
All of the standards are available. Draft macrobrews are $5, which is comparable to any number of gimmick restaurants. Plastic bottles cost $6, which is kind of surprising, I would have expected the prepackaged beer to cost less. There is a nice Foggy Bottom Brewing Co. stand/bar on the lower concourse. I saw some import stands too. 4

10. Bathrooms:
Dank, old, but functional. 2

11. Scoreboard:
It is located off the upper overhang in right-centerfield. It is nothing special, and not very visible from much of the park. The pitch speed board is inconsistent at best. 2

12. Quality of public address system:
In a good portion of the upper deck, you have no chance of understanding what is being said. This is a major shortcoming that needs to be addressed by ownership. 2

13. Fun stuff to do besides the game:
There is nothing to do besides the game, unless you consider concession lines fun. I won’t be too harsh, because this a ballpark for purists. 3

14. Price/selection of baseball souvenirs:
It’s okay. The team store is in a double wide trailer in one of the parking lots and there are stands throughout the concourses. It’s on par with the MCI Center in that regard. 3

15. Friendliness/helpfulness of usher stuff:
There are not too many of them it seems. I have not had some of the problems others have mentioned. 3

16. Trading-up factor:
This is one of RFK’s strengths, you can get in for $7 and find yourself sitting in much better seats in short order. 5

17. Knowledge of local fans:
We have not had baseball for a long time and generally know the game. The “Ohh” during the National Anthem seems to have gone away. 4

18. Seventh-inning stretch:
There is nothing unique about it in this park, though lots of people tend to sing. 3

19. Pre-and-postgame bar-and-restaurant scene:
There is none whatsoever, but that will change if/when the new park is built. 1

20. Wild card:
Baseball is back in D.C.! Proving that everything old is new again, RFK gets points for being unique in the land of Camden Yards clones. Fans on the 3rd base side can make the stands rock up and down, which adds five points itself. 10

TOTAL POINTS: 67.5

So, this puts RFK near the bottom of the list, above Toronto’s Rogers Centre nee SkyDome and below Arizona’s Bank One Ballpark. I would expect it to pick up at least 5 and as many as 15 points next year with ownership making improvements. The park has more in common with Yankee Stadium than Camden Yards in terms of feel. It serves baseball fans pretty well, but lacks the amenities that draws in the more causal fan.

For another perspective, here is the Ultimate Sports Road Trip review of RFK. On the night the USRT guys came to the game, I was unknowingly chatting with one of them, Andrew Kulyk, during BP.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

FOUL IS FAIR AND FAIR IS FOUL: ANOTHER JORDAN HAS A TOUGH TIME IN D.C.

Foul Pole Is A Bit Pesky In the Nats’ Close WinThe Post
Braves’ Jordan Has a Homer To Left Ruled Fair, Then Foul: Nationals 3, Braves 2
Who knew that I simple holiday baseball game would have such Shakespearean
overtones? I was at RFK and did not actually see the disputed home run/foul ball off the bat of Brian Jordan since we were sitting on the third base side a few sections from the foul pole. I booed anyway because that is what the crowd was doing and I knew they would not lead me astray. I have never seen that kind of reversal of a call at a ballgame. You can see video of it by going to this ESPN.com article about Jose Vidro returning from the DL around the All-Star break and clicking on “Related Video:
Nationals beat Braves with the help of an overturned home run call.” If this was NFL instant replay, the call on the field would have stood.

Tom Boswell describes how Frank Robinson got the umps to change the call. When he was vice president of on-field operations he worked with the umpires for a few years and learned how they make their decisions. Using that knowledge, he got them to overturn the call.

Other than the homer that wasn’t, the other big news was P Tomo Ohka, who did not give up an earned run in seven innings of work, lowering his ERA to 3.20 while raising his record to 4 – 3. Gary Majewski pitched the 8th to get the hold and Chad Cordero notched his 12th save, even though he gave up a homer to CF Andruw Jones.

In the field, the Nats were pretty bad with two errors, one of which led to a run. 1B Nick Johnson, who went 3 – 4 with two runs scored, saved the Nats from a SS Cristian Guzman throwing error with a great catch and tag off of first base. The baserunning also left a lot to be desired with both Johnson and CF Brad Wilkerson getting thrown out on the basepaths.

More from The Wash. Times: Nats finally find a bit of luck

BoxscoreESPN.com


Now Up for Bids, the Nationals: Let’s Begin at $300 MillionThe Post
Bidding officially begins today with nine potential ownership groups involved.

EDITORIALAnother bad baseball dealThe Wash. Times
Criticism of MLB for the MASN deal as the time for bidding on the Nats begins.

Patterson, Cordero returning from injuries todayThe Wash. Times
P John Patterson returns to the rotation today. He started off strong this season, but saw his ERA climb in his more recent starts. Chris Needham has got to be thrilled that Will Cordero is coming back too.

NOTEBOOKGuillen Is Feeling PowerfulThe Post
RF Jose Guillen does not think that numbers on the fence are accurate dimensions after getting two long outs yesterday.
Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

NATS END AWFUL ROAD TRIP ON HIGH NOTE

Nats Upbeat After Salvaging a WinThe Post
They finally broke through and ended a five game losing streak. Who else but ¡LIVAN! stopped the skid.

They return home, today at 3:05 vs. the Braves. I will be there with my family for my fourth regular season game. If you are not going, why not? You can get tickets online or at the box office. The game is on ESPN as well.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

A LOT OF NEWS FOR AN OFF DAY

Nationals Make Pitching ChangesThe Post
A whole lot of players got moved around yesterday, notably P Zach Day, who was demoted to AAA New Orleans. Claudio Vargas was designated for assignment, P Jon Rauch is a goner with a torn labrum (in the shoulder), and John Patterson was sent to the DL. Chris Needham’s Capitol Punishment has more.

More from The Wash. Times: Nats shake up roster & The Post: Injury Bug Is Biting Pretty Good


Thomas BoswellThese Are the Times That Try a Nats Fan’s SoulThe Post
Part of the fascination of a hometown baseball team is watching it suffer.

You know, if Ken Beatrice was still on the air, he might (in between rants about why he never touches the curly fries) say that is the kind of statement from the kind of person who goes to hockey for the fights or auto racing for the crashes. However, Ken was pushed off the air years ago, so I have to do it for him. I don’t like watching my team suffer, I like watching Peter Angelo$’s team suffer. Actually, I don’t like watching it, because somehow I think if I watch an Orioles broadcast, the terrorists win; so let me amend that to say I like reading about his team suffering. More like skimming actually, I cannot devote that much time to that enterprise.

I like watching my team win and hopefully they will again soon. Ryan Moore is right that if they win one this weekend, everyone will call them scrappy again.


Taking a healthy cutThe Wash. Times
While everyone else on the Nats are banged up, fragile Nick Johnson is healthy and having standout season, but it probably will be enough to get him to the Motor City for the All-Star game. We also learn he is Larry Bowa’s nephew.

Private stadium funding lackingThe Wash. Times
As of now, it looks like the District is going to pay for the whole ballpark with public financing after all because most private financing deals give up too much. Expect someone, like say, Linda Cropp to come up with something in the 11th hour that gums up the works.

MASN spars with ComcastThe Wash. Times
The more I read about MASN, the more convinced I am that they are an enterprise of pure evil, their tactics are pretty ugly. I have to say that Comcast is the lesser of two evils here and hope they prevail. I blame this all on Angelo$.

More from The Post: Cox Weighing Nationals’ TV Offer


Vagabond Nats flourishing in new homeUSA Today
Some national press for our Nationals. There is not anything in here we don’t know, but perhaps it can be of service to others, like the guy on my elevator yesterday morning who asked, in thick southern drawl, if I was a “big President Bush fan” when he saw the Nats road cap on my head. I took it upon myself to educate this new arrivial on our new team.

The Post-Dispatch has the standard article about the Nats too.


History in the making for Nationalsnationals.com
In possibly the most anticipated TV sports show event since MAAD Sports visited Mike Greir, Anson Carter, and Jason Doig of the Capitals, Brad Wilkerson is hosting This Week in Baseball, Saturday at 12:30 on Ch. 5. I might have to learn how to program my VCR for this one. Wilkerson apparently does all the touristy D.C. stuff and gives us a tour of RFK too.

I haven’t watched TWIB since Mel Allen was host, so it will be intersting to see what has changed. For starters, it looks like Warner Fussell got, umm, replaced.

You can listen to the TWIB theme here, though it is not my favorite recording — I think the one from the late ’80s was better. I also liked the closing theme a lot, I wonder if the current one is the same one they had when I watched the show. That piece was featured in the NFL Films Super Bowl X movie too, but is not on The Power and The Glory CD. Hey, speaking of NFL Films, it turns out there is a box set of NFL Films music out there — why wasn’t I informed?! I wish I had known that last December, I would have asked St. Nick for it. Okay, I am getting off topic…

Back to baseball — seeing this TWIB article made me remember the other Saturday morning baseball show. So, I Googled that one and imagine my surprise when I saw that a new version of “The Baseball Bunch” is due out this month. TV Tome reports that it will have Harold Renoylds and the Phillie Phanatic. I have to wonder if Tommy Lasorda will return as the Dugout Wizard or whatever he was called. Maybe they will go with someone more contemporary like Lou Pinella, Larry Bowa, or even our own Frank Robinson to take Lasorda’s place. Oh the endless possibilities…

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

NATS SWEPT FOR THE FIRST TIME; ENTER COLIN POWELL

Redlegs 12 Nats 3

Nats Strike Out, Go 0 for 3 Against RedsThe Post
The Nats got crushed yesterday afternoon in Cincy. Two of the Nats three runs were solo shots by Jose Guillen. P Claudio Vargas got the start and get destroyed. Hopefully, he is done in the rotation, he has been dreadful.

If there was any upside to yesterday’s game, it may have been the DirecTV missed the first 4 1/2 innings (The Wash. Times) of the bloodbath.

More from The Wash. Times: Battered Nationals skidding on road

BoxscoreESPN.com


Powell Joins Group Bidding on NationalsThe Post
Former secretary of state Colin Powell has joined the Washington Baseball Club ownership group, one of eight groups known to be bidding on the Nationals. WBC hopes that Powell will “command respect” on Capitol Hill.

More from The Wash. Times: Powell joins Malek group


Godwin to bolster benchThe Wash. Times
More bench help is on the way.

On media: How MASN figures in the Nats sale – Jim WilliamsThe Wash. Examiner
Budding sports media columnist Jim Williams gets a cable industry consultant and a Wall Street reporter to go on the record on how the MASN situation might work out.

STAR WARS, NOTHING BUT STAR WARS

On Saturday night, Erica and I saw Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith at the Uptown Theatre in Cleveland Park.

There was so much going on throughout the 2 hours and 26 minutes, that there was very little time to process any of it. My heartrate must have been at least 150 throughout the entire film.

After the movie ended, we talked about it and came to the same conclusion — we did not know how we felt or what to think — we were used to a much different kind of Star Wars experience.

While Episodes I & II certainly had their weaknesses as films, they were still lots of fun. They were the kind of movies that you could leave the theater feeling really wound-up, excited, and happy. For this one, that was not the case. We knew it was a superior movie to I & II, but , we could not decide if we could love it. We kind of felt somewhat unsatisfied that we had not reached a conclusion about the film.

On Monday night, I caught the movie again; this time with my brother at Multiplex in Merrifield, which is a pretty crummy theater. After seeing it a second time, I appreciate it a lot more. This is a very good movie and a welcome departure from the previous two prequels. I think it moves up to third best in the series.

Some other observations, which might be spoilers if you are one of the 0.01% of the population who has not yet seen the film:

  • The movie is jam packed with action since there were so many lose ends to wrap up. The prequels probably could have worked better if this story had been spread out over a couple of movies. Turning Anakin to the dark side in a couple of hours is kind of a tough sell — it would have been great if he could have turned in II and then III would be completely Vader. That would have meant an entirely different storyline for the prequels though, which could have been a great thing.
  • Hayden Christensen is greatly improved as Anakin Skywalker. He left a little to be desired in the “betrayal” scene, but I am putting that one on Lucas. When it comes down to it, he has the unenviable task of deconstructing one of the greatest celluloid villains of all time for a director that prefers working with droids rather than humans. That said, Christensen is as good as Mark Hamill ever was, which is all you can really ask.
  • Ewan McGregor continues to be a fantastic Obi-Wan. He was great throughout the whole saga, easily my favorite primary character.
  • Natalie Portman’s performance is phoned in, but at least it was better than the last one when it was mailed-in.
  • Ian McDiarmid plays it pretty straight, especially compared to ROTJ. This guys knows how to be evil.
  • StrongBad is great as the voice of Gen. Grievous. I did not know he had that much range.
  • Samuel L. Jackson excels in the role of “Samuel L. Jackson with a big, shiny stick of death.”
  • I expected Liam Neeson to show up as the ghost of Qui-Gon Jinn, a number of Web sites reported he would be returning. Perhaps Lucas never forgave him for the criticsm of the Episode I experience or Neeson was not interested. This could always turn up on the DVD though. The scene was apparently in the ROTS novel.
  • I don’t like the pointed lightsaber tips, why change them six movies into the series? Otherwise, I liked the special effects. The five lightsaber battles were great. It is hard to mess up a movie with five lightsaber battles.

    In the end, this was a pretty good end to the saga. Having seen it twice, I am satisfied — very satisfied on how it worked out. Perhaps I will enjoy it even more the third time…

    What do you think?

    Digg This
    Reddit This
    Stumble Now!
    Buzz This
    Vote on DZone
    Share on Facebook
    Bookmark this on Delicious
    Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
    Shout it
    Share on LinkedIn
    Bookmark this on Technorati
    Post on Twitter
    Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
  • NATS LOSE REDS SERIES, FINALE THIS AFTERNOON

    Nats Take Long Way To a LossThe Post
    ¡LIVAN! got in trouble early and had to pitch out of some tough situations. Still, when he left after 7, he had given up only three runs that were scored in the first. However, it would not be enough, as the Nats stranded 17 runners in the 14 inning game. The Reds won on relief pitcher Ryan Keisler’s first career hit.

    More from The Wash. Times: Blown chances

    BoxscoreESPN.com


    Guillen taking on too much blameThe Wash. Times
    I’m sick, sick, sick, sick. I want to throw up. I don’t think I should be hitting third. I should be hitting ninth, behind the pitcher. Seriously. It makes me sick, the way I’m swinging.

    Skipper Frank Robinson thinks that Jose Guillen, who is dealing with a bruised rib cage, is taking too much responsibility for the Nats recent skid.


    NOTEBOOKGuzman Will Get Overhaul At the PlateThe Post
    Hitting coach Tom McCraw plans on helping SS Cristian Guzman change his swing and mental approach when the Nats return next week. Why wait?

    Temptation no worry for Nats’ farmhandsThe Wash. Times
    Columnist Thom Loverro’s trip to the Nats farm teams stops in N’awlins.

    ANOTHER LOSS

    Nats Go Quietly — AgainThe Post
    With everybody hurt, the Nats lost to the Reds. I was not able to see or hear any of it because I was at Star Wars (again). Esteban Loaiza got the loss.

    More from The Wash. Times: Nats’ painful reality

    BoxscoreESPN.com


    Writing Is on the Wall for Team’s Former RedsThe Post
    The former Reds now working for the Nats (AKA the entire front office) were prohibited from entering the home clubhouse.
    Digg This
    Reddit This
    Stumble Now!
    Buzz This
    Vote on DZone
    Share on Facebook
    Bookmark this on Delicious
    Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
    Shout it
    Share on LinkedIn
    Bookmark this on Technorati
    Post on Twitter
    Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)