April 26, 2006

A night at the ballpark..... on the left coast

  • Arizona 7, San Diego, 0.

So I'm in San Diego for the week (well, till Thursday takes me to Vegas), and since I'm out here by myself, I was looking for entertainment.

Watson suggested that I catch a game at Petco Park. And boy, what a matchup -- Padres vs. Diamondbacks. You can't get a series I could care any less about. :)

That being said, as the resident blogger in charge of opinions on enjoyment of the game, I bought myself a ticket to sit in Section 104, Row 15, Seat 11. This is a field box seat, as I figured if I was going by myself, I might as well get the best I could and really do it up. Would keep me motivated to go, since I really didn't care about the game.

As I described to the Mrs., San Diego is very "beautiful", but I haven't figured out anything else that it is. The ballpark did have a lot going for it. I arrived about 6:30, with a 7:05 start. My first moment of amusement was watching Vinny Castilla waddle on field. I don't miss that.

First, the game. The Padres got STOMPED. It started off more like a pitching battle, with Peavy and Vargas going at it, but became a blowout when the D'backs just kept the hits coming. I got particularly pissed off when they showed Vargas' great stats "since being picked up from waivers from Washington". Yeah, that pissed me off.

But onto the more important stuff. The game experience.

This is the kind of ballpark I want. Beautiful wide walkways, open views of the city all around, good views of the field just a step away from where you are. Tons of food options, all of which had short lines that moved quickly, took my credit card, and made me a happy camper. The automated will call was also cool -- I bought my ticket yesterday online, and just had to swipe my credit card as I came in, and my ticket printed and was ready to go.

There were ushers everywhere -- and they were paying attention. They held signs to hold people from heading into the bowl when there was a play in progress, and they checked my ticket to ensure I was in the right area. No sneaking down to the lower deck in this stadium.

If you think the Nat Pack is lame, you could try the Pad Squad. Nat Pack at least rolls off the tongue better. And I'm really done complaining about Screech. Seriously. Nate, you may not like Screech, but dammit, he's at least a real mascot. We could have the goddamn Swinging Friar. I kid you not. I'll take our funky chicken any day.

I also won't mock RFK DJ so much anymore. They have the "Padres Jukebox (by Verizon)". This scam to make money by a cell phone company involves collecting text message votes for a song to play later in the game. At least RFK DJ isn't a scam to sell text messages.

During the sixth inning, I was amused by the t-shirt shoot. At Petco, you get not only the Swinging Friar and the Pad Squad, but you also get two PETCO mascots, and the whole thing is sponsored by Weinerschnitzel. I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.

Padres fans don't know what a good thing they have -- they have running water in the bathrooms and real ice cream, served in little batting helmets. Try as I might, I haven't found that at RFK yet. I haven't been able to buy my Chipwich yet. I did have to laugh -- despite a game time temperature of 65 degrees, the Padres fans were dressed like it was winter. Winter coats and all -- wusses.

Finally, I hope our baseball district is HALF as cool as San Diego's. The ballpark is right downtown, and the historic Gaslamp District is right there. Tons of cool restaurants, bars, shopping .... almost all with Padres signs, banners, neon, and the like. Trolleys take fans away from the area quickly and efficiently, and there is parking in garages all in the area.

For all you dismissing the stadium design, I have very high hopes now. PETCO felt like more a modern structure than quite a throwback like Camden Yards, and we could do very well with it. Come about 2010, we might like hanging out there more than around the Phone Booth.

Go Nats. I wouldn't mind borrowing PETCO park for DC.

April 22, 2006

Were We So Wrong?

Alright, so maybe it's time to eat a little crow. (West Nile virus be damned.) The opening weeks of the season have forced me to reevaluate my stance on the Soriano-Wilkerson trade. As much as it pains me to admit it (and it pains me deeply,) Trader Jim may have lucked into something here.

A certain reknowned MLB.com quasi-journalist called the Soriano trade "the steal of 2006." It's hard to argue with the early returns. On the heels of his "I spit on your fences" 3-homer game last night Alfonso is averaging 1 dinger per home game, and his home/road split actually favors cavernous RFK. All the usual small sample size caveats apply to these stats, but it certainly looks like Soriano knows how to play long-ball at The Bobby. Unlike some of his teammates who share a common first name, Soriano has not been trying to take every ball to the deepest part of the park. All of his extra base hits (1 double, 4 homers) have been pulled to left, with all but one landing between the left field line and left center. So I'm inclined to think that Soriano will be okay at home, at least until pitchers abandon the inside of the plate entirely and force him to hit balls the opposite way.

On the other side of the ledger, Wilkie looks truly awful in Texas, hitting .191 with a Guzmanic .247 OBP and a strikeout count that would make Preston Wilson blush. Whether he's hurt or just off to a bad start, Brad's making it hard for me to miss him. Armando Galarraga has and uninspiring 7.71 ERA for the Rangers Double-A team, and the Padres just demoted Termmel Sledge to Triple-A to attempt to get his groove back after he batted .160 over the first 9 games of the season.

Now, having said all that, I still think this was a bad trade. Soriano is essentially a 1-year rental. Even if he decides he likes DC and wants to stay, he's not worth the 5-year/$50-60M deal he would probably want, and could get elsewhere. Whatever Wilkie's value now, he was easily our most valuable bargaining chip this offseason. And instead of trading him for a young veteran and some prospects, we'll end up with a 1-year display of Alfonso Soriano's offensive prowess, then nothing.

Soriano is a "win-now" acquisition for a team that isn't, or shouldn't be, in win-now mode. If the Nats were one power hitter away from contending for the NL East this would be a no-brainer, even at the cost of sacrificing outfield defense. But anyone who looked at the Nats roster last offseason and tabbed power-hitting corner outfielder as the most glaring need probably had one too many cocktails at dinner.

April 18, 2006

Boozeball Has Been Beery Beery Good to Me!

Well heck, this explains everything! Trader Jim's not a bad GM, he just has a dysfunctional relationship with Sweet Lady Alcohol. I'm sympathetic to J.B.'s situation, and I even hope he's vindicated, but really, this makes a lot of sense to me. Think about it...

JimBo's belly up to the bar in Chi-town, trading shots of Wild Turkey with White Sox GM Kenny Williams, and all of a sudden, "BAM!" Adios, Jerry Owens. Hola, Alex Escobar.

The team goes on the road to Milwaukee, and after a tour of the Miller brewery, trading Tomo Ohka for Junior Spivey seems not just reasonable, but downright inspired.

And finally...

The winter meetings are winding down, Trader Jim is packing to leave Dallas. On his way through the lobby Texas Rangers GM Jon Daniels waives Bowden over to the bar for a "Going Away Margarita." One Cuervo Gold Especial 'rita turns to several, and someone suggests that Alfonso Soriano could be one hell of an outfielder if given the chance.

Even in an altered state JimBo is wary, knowing that Soriano has been reluctant to switch positions. Someone should definitely call him and check. J.B. whips out the cell phone and hits the entry labeled "Soriano." Unfortunately this connects him with Mariners reliever Rafael Soriano, who, though understandably confused to have the Washington Nationals GM asking him to move to the outfield expresses a qualified willingness to give it a try. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Extra Innings

There's a great article by Dave Sheinin in the post today about the longest baseball game ever played. It's a fun read and very well written.

In other news the NTP crew will be descending on RFK this Friday for the Braves game. Along with the game Nate will heckle away, Dave will continue his quest for a chipwich in the 7th inning and I will try to keep mustard off of my jersey.

April 14, 2006

Not the damn fences again

From this article:"The argument, which one source said grew heated, came roughly an hour before the Mets hit three homers in the first inning off Nationals right-hander Livan Hernandez.

"They kind of shot down the theory a little bit today, didn't they?" catcher Brian Schneider said."


We've been saying this for ages.


Or maybe here

Or perhaps here

Although this sounds vaguely familiar ..

If the Mets, or the Dodgers, can just slam homers off of us, you have to stop complaining about the damn fences.

April 12, 2006

Beloved baseball for the geek

I would be totally remiss as a geek if I didn't supply this link to those interested.

Watch The 1986 World Series Game Six re-enacted in RBI Baseball. Complete with audio.

Someone had an amazing amount of time to do this. It's absolutely amazing.

April 11, 2006

A Season in the Shade

Settle in Nats fans, it's shaping up to be a long season. First, I'd like to apologize to all seven of our readers for my extended absence. Stupid paying job kept sapping my blogging time (and my will to live.) Thankfully, it was nothing that couldn't be cured by taking a half day off to enjoy a beautiful 70 degree day and a second home opener at RFK.

I suspect this is going to be the season that I really learn to appreciate those intangibles that Dave talks about: a warm summer evening spent outdoors with friends, warm beer sold by a vendor in the 7th inning, catching up with our fellow season ticket holders in Section 313, a well-timed heckle in a momentarily silent stadium, the deep conversations about the hygiene, parentage, and ultimate eschatological fate of Phillies fans. Because judging by today's "performance" the product of the field may not be suitable for children, pregnant women or the elderly... dramatically decreasing my odds of getting a date to the game.

Some random thoughts from this afternoon's game:

  • If you have to throw the ceremonial first pitch off the grass in front of the mound, leave the job to someone who isn't one Aramark sausage away from a coronary.
  • Not many teams get to be managed by a living legend. Whether I agree with his style or not, I promise to appreciate the sight of Frank Robinson dozing on the bench every chance I get.
  • Man is Brandon Watson fast. Never have I seen a man move from the plate to the dugout with such speed and grace.
  • Someday Jose Guillen is going to learn to pull the ball so as to cause it to leave the confines of the field at RFK. I hope my children are at the Old-Timer's Game to see it.
  • Nick Johnson moves remarkably well for a fat lefty first baseman. Daryle Ward does not.
  • If 3 misplayed balls per game in the outfield are the price of Soriano's bat, I can live with that. That said, I still want him gone at the trade deadline.
  • Sure Brian Bannister pitched a 1-run, 3 hitter - but I bet you is mile time is nowhere near 4 minutes.

And one random thought for the future:

  • Since pitchers use baseballs to strike opposing batters, it's only fair that hitters be allowed to use bats to strike opposing pitchers.

April 4, 2006

Take comfort

So as I dwell on the fact that it looks like it may suck this year, as I have already predicted, I take some comfort.

We could be Orioles fans.

We're not the only ones in the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network who are likely to suck.