July 3, 2006
My travel schedule finally coincided with a Washington Nationals home stand, so I took my niece Cathy and her friend Yanira to the the Sunday afternoon game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. We actually had front row seats -- in right center field, that is. The view from the far-away upper deck was not exactly ideal, as there were a few doubles and fly balls caught on the warning track beneath us that we couldn't see, but it was adequate. By leaning forward, I did see one of Marlon Anderson's great catches at the center field fence. The game was in honor of U.S. armed service men and women, hence the flags in the photo, but we arrived a few minutes late, so we didn't see any of the special ceremonies or the Air Force flyover. We also missed Ryan Zimmerman's first-inning home run that put the Nats on top early on. They got two more runs on three bizarre errors by the D-Rays in the sixth inning. On one of them, the D-Rays' center fielder and right fielder were chasing a fly ball hit right in front of us, and both backed off at the last second, possibly influenced by a fan sitting next to me who yelled "I got it!" The Nats held on to win, 6-2. The matchup between the respective cellar-dwellers in the AL and NL Eastern Divisions was not exactly championship caliber, but it was a fun, relaxing way to spend a summer day. I figure the Devil Rays may not be used to playing in the hot sun, since their home field in Florida has a roof on top. I don't know if the Nats are starting to rebound, but it was a relief that they won a series for the first time since the Yankees were in town two weeks ago.
I noticed there are some new seating sections behind glass below the mezzanine level in left field. That alone could not account for the 1,000+ increase in capacity this year, however. I spliced together three images to create a new panoramic photo showing the "roller coaster" roof profile, which is on the RFK Stadium page. There is also a new photo of the Nats' bullpen, which was moved from left field to right field this year. On our way home, we passed by the new stadium construction site, and I was surprised by the progress that has been made since my previous visit last month. There must have been a half dozen or more cranes in that strange empty "desert" in the middle of the city. "Analog" photo pending.
Absent from the lineup in the Sunday game was Alfonso Soriano, who is probably resting up for the Big Game next week, when eager pennant-contending teams will be eyeing him intensively...
The American League has been so dominant in interleague games this year, it will be a wonder if the National League even makes a competitive showing. Is it purely a coincidence that since interleague play began in 1997, the AL has won every single All Star game? For the record, here are my (biased) picks, with players who made the starting teams in bold face, and those who failed to get a reserve slot (or a "final man" alternative)
|American League||National League|
|Position||Name, team||Position||Name, team|
|First Base||Ortiz, D., BOS||First Base|| |
||Second Base|| |
|Third Base||Rodriguez, A., NYY||Third Base||Wright, D., NYM|
|Shortstop||Jeter, D., NYY||Shortstop||Renteria, E., ATL|
|Catcher||Pierzynski, A.J., CWS||Catcher||McCann, B., ATL|
|Outfielder||Dye, J., CWS||Outfielder|| |
|Outfielder||Guerrero, V., LAA||Outfielder||Bay, J., PIT|
|Outfielder||Ramirez, M., BOS||Outfielder||Soriano, A., WAS|