Before anyone calls me a whiny bastard, a caveat: I am well aware that this ballpark was not designed for people like me. I go to baseball games to see a baseball game. I was quite content to sit in section 515 with my scorecard, and Italian sausage, and a beer, and concentrate on what's going on down on the field. The new park, though, is designed to capture the attention of those who aren't complete baseball fanatics, and who need the bells and whistles. From a business point of view, I totally get that, and I only begrudge the ownership a little bit.
1. As expected, the upper deck is FAR A-WAY. It's a product of modern stadium design--to avoid obstructed view seating on the lower level, they shift the upper deck way back, and in this case they slapped not one but two levels of suites. In my opinion, it's letting the needs of the well-paying few outweigh the needs of the not-as-well-paying many. The most enthusiastic comments about the park seem to be coming from people on the lower level, and that's totally understandable, but up in the 400's it's nice and all, but yes I do miss my seats at RFK.
It's not just about the distance to the field, either--it's about the pricing model, which clearly separates the haves and the have-nots. Those lower level seats get expensive in a hurry, and the 300 level can't be had on a 20-game plan. I don't see anywhere in the ballpark I'd rather be at the price point I'm at now, but I may make a move next year. And that move may be to forgo season tickets, and just by $5 or $10 seats at the gate.
2. The Lerner's stupid M Street building pisses me off every time I look at it. For all the yammering about views of the Capitol, why did you put up a 10-story building that blocks that view for better than half the ballpark? Galling.
3. The seats sure do seem smaller than at RFK. Maybe it's the result of wearing winter coats to the game the past two nights. Or maybe I just need to eat fewer chili half-smokes.
4. The new concessions are a mixed blessing. I'm not going to be too uptight about the long lines and poor operations management from the past two nights; they're still working out the kinks. The poor guys at the coffe stand Saturday night--I think their entire training consisted of "You fellows are running the coffee stand tonight." But some of those lines will be long all season. Having Ben's Chili Bowl at the ballpark is great and all, but it doesn't mean much to me if I have to miss two innings to get food there.
5. Another double-edged sword: the kids' area with the playground. I'm going to have to lay down the law with the Little Fools: we can go to the playground before the game, but once the game starts we're outta there.
OK, so I'm a bit more enthusiastic after last night. Having the team's biggest star hit a game-winning home run sure helps.
1. Already there's more going on in the surrounding neighborhood than at RFK, and that will only get better. We threw down drinks at the Hawk & Dove before walking down to the park. I expect to regularly glug beers at the Ugly Mug pre-game before catching the N22 bus.
2. Much better variety of food at the ballpark. Saturday night we had a crab cake sandwich and a cheesesteak, which were both pretty good. Last night I only had a chili half-smoke, which I don't recall ever seeing at RFK despite its being DC's signature food item.
3. You have a view of something from your seats, instead of just other seats. (See #2 on the following list, though.)
4. Like the new parks in Seattle and Philly, large stretches of the concourse are open to the field, so you can keep tabs on what's going on while you're off getting a beer. And so far, you can hang out at the back of a section and the ushers don't chase you away.
5. Hooray for the new PA. Small sample size yet, but it seems there are neither dead spots nor deafiningly loud spots.
I'll do my best to withhold judgment until I've sat in my regular seats in 409 (that won't be until April 10). Yeah, the lines were long for everything, and they will be tomorrow night too, but they're still working out the kinks. But the upper deck sure is hell of farther away than it was at RFK. And it's simply galling that after there was so much wrangling to give the park a view of the Capitol Dome, the Lerners built that dumb-ass building right in the way.
Funny how I can have a two-week LFF with like three links, and then in a regular week like this one I'll pile them up to the ceiling.
You know what else is funny? How Barack Obama has to account for the political views of everyone he's ever met, but Republicans don't face the level of scrutiny for associating with nutcases. Also, you're not allowed to question the value of the Iraq war, even if you're an Iraqi.
But have I mentioned that you can make a case against the Iraq war based on the economics alone?
Elsewhere in Obama-related items, I'm sure you've seen Pat Buchanan's reaction to Obama's speech, which makes me embarrassed to be a white person. Good discussion on Orcinus. Also, can Obama make "liberal" a non-dirty word?
Food: I agree with Ezra's contention that meat should not be cheap, but damn if that isn't hard to put into practice. Yeah, I know I should be into free-range, organic, humanely-raised foods, but when chicken breasts go on sale for $1.99 a pound, that's hard to argue with. But at least you know what that chicken will look like when cooked, unlike this items in this photo essay on food packaging vs. reality.
Long-time readers will know of my early struggles with e-mail coming to bigfool.com when they were supposed to be going to bigfoot.com. Here's a similar item on what comes to donotreply.com.
Sports: Hemingway on NCAA hoops.
They're opening some ballpark or something in DC this weekend. Expect game reports and photos on this here site no later than Monday.
Friday: Pizza time. Fontina, pepperoni, and fresh tomato for the grown-ups, regular ol' mozzarella with pepperoni and black olives for the kiddies.
Saturday: If it's Easter, it must be time for ham. I kept it simple and roasted a butt portion (heh heh, m heh heh) with a brown sugar and honey glazed, and served it with asparagus risotto.
Sunday: If it's Easter, it must be time for our annual Easter Sunday Potluck Brunch. This year's cheesecake was the lemon and gingersnap model pictured above. I also made the inevitable Potatoes Dior, and muffins with honey and dried figs that are actually halfway healthy.
No LFF last week as the Fool Family was off on a tour of Ohio and Pennsylvania. You'd think that would mean twice as many links this week, but that's where you'd be wrong.
Have I mentioned lately that you can make a case against the Iraq war on the economics alone?
The DC blogosphere is simultaneously horrified and amused at Metro's ad for travel to the new ballpark using Peeps. Some have expressed dismay that taxpayer money might have been spent on this, but seriously, how much money could we possibly be talking about? A few years back I was at a farmers' market in Fairfax County, and there was a professional photo shoot going on for a brochure, with like ten people involved and a trailer, and they'd bought an entire stands' worth of produce so they could take pictures of it. I'm sure the results were fabulous, but I'd have taken pictures with my 3.2 megapixel camera for like $50 and gotten the county shots that were perfectly serviceable.
It's no secret that customer service sucks these days. Consumerist has an interesting interview with Ron Burley, Customer Service Avenger. Apparently the CW has changed these days--it's no longer cost-effective to give good service to retain your customers. Let them walk, because people are simultaneously walking from your competitors, because their customer service sucks too. How sad.
That's all I got, but as always I reserve the right to post more later in the day.
A contender for Best Cookie Break Ever? Maybe. Love the 'stache.
Have I mentioned lately that you could argue against the Iraq war based on the economics alone?
Slacktivist runs a weekly series in which he deconstructs the wingnut rapture fantasy Left Behind; sometimes it's an entertaining read, and other times it's excruciating, not due to lack of effort on Fred's part but because the source material is just so damn bad. He hit it out of the park last week, though, with the discussion of the Imaginary Liberal, a construct that LaHaye and Jenkins (not to mention a large block of Republican voters) have built to give themselves something to rally against.
Sports: 23 days until the Nats' new ballpark. I agree with the sentiment that the outfield seats (if not the whole park) are way too expensive, and I expect them to come down in price next season if not sooner. Monday night, the Caps pummelled Boston 10-2, leading to a mountain of free buffalo wings for fans.