Tuesday, May 24 – Nationals 7, Mets 1. Nationals Park is my “home field,” just six stops down Metro’s Green Line from my home in Northwest DC. I go to perhaps 10-15 games a year. When the five most noteworthy games in Nationals history were designated after the team’s first 10 years in Washington, I’d been to all five. Former work colleagues arranged a get-together, so I designated this game as my “official” Barnesstorming visit.
Access: Easy, as usual. The Green Line’s Navy Yard/Ball Park stop is less than a block up Half Street from the center field entrance to Nationals Park. The lines get long after a game, but I’ve seldom had to wait long for a train home.
Seats/pricing: The seat was priced at $32, including $10 for concessions credit. When I go alone, I usually take advantage of what I consider the best bargain in baseball, or any professional sport for that matter. The Nationals sell 400 upper left field seats for $5 before almost all games. The seat isn’t bad, but I almost always walk around the third-level concourse to one of the many excellent standing areas between first and third.
View: When the park opened in 2008, the view of the U.S. Capitol behind left field was highly touted. You can still see it, but ongoing development in the immediate Southeast Washington neighborhood is likely to block it
Food: Nationals Park offers lots of variety, but the most noted area specialty is the Ben’s Half Smoke “all the way.” A half smoke is a D.C. sausage that in part obtained its notoriety at the main Ben’s location on U Street that attracts both regulars and celebrities.
Beer: The best beer deal is $5 cans on the second floor scoreboard walk behind right-center field, available at that price until 35 minutes before first pitch. Offerings are regular size rather than the 20 to 25 ounce versions I saw at the western parks.
Crowd: 33,096. Because Washington is populated by so many people who come from somewhere else and bring their sports allegiances with them, the crowd at a Nats game typically includes lots of fans for the visiting team, especially visitors from other eastern cities. It was tough to even determine if the yell from a segment of the crowd was “Let’s Go Nats” or “Let’s Go Mets.”
Men’s Rooms: Clean, generally spacious, paper towels.
Neighborhood: When the park opened in 2008, signed around some cleared lights boasted new buildings soon to come. In the ninth year later, some are still on the way. On one side of the street from the Metro, outdoor beer gardens are built from old shipping containers (see top photo). But the overall neighborhood is gradually developing, including a scenic river walk, a water park, and an increasing number of bars and restaurants. Ground has also broken for a new soccer stadium a short walk away.
Arts and visuals: Sculptures representing the three past eras of Washington baseball used to be inside the park behind left field. Now they’re outside the home plate entrance on the river side the park, which is used by far fewer people than the center field entrance near the Metro.
Baseball Moment: The new (since last August) and unbeaten (so far this year) Stephen Strasburg breezed to an 11-strikeout victory, backed by five home runs.