August 20, 2009 [LINK / comment]
"The best ballpark in America"
That is the slogan you will see displayed around PNC Park, on the souvenir plastic cups, etc., and it would be very hard to argue with that contention. Perhaps I got a little carried away with the beauty of the place: I have raised my ranking of PNC Park to second place (at 8.0 out of 9.0 possible), tied with Fenway Park (see my Stadium rankings page), and have added nine (9) photographs to the PNC Park page, including this one (slightly reduced in size) of a very memorable play:
Talk about a "turning point"! Was I lucky to take that photo at the perfect moment? You're damn right I was. Unfortunately, it was rather cloudy on the day I was there, so most of the photos I took of PNC Park aren't as sharp as they could have been. That only gives me more reason to go back and see another ball game there!
As in other ballparks, many Sunday games in Pittsburgh are promotions for young fans. On the day I was there, kids got free (mostly oversized) Pirates jerseys, and had the opportunity to run around the bases after the game was over. I was amazed that the line of kids (and their parents) waiting their turn to join the fun stretched along the concourse all the way around the right field corner, behind center field, to the bleachers in left-center field! For the young fans, it was too bad the home team lost, but the visiting Nationals were in desperate need of a win, and it sure put a smile on my face. I was pleased to exchange greetings with a number of other Washington baseball fans in Pittsburgh that day, but "Nationals Nation" pales in comparison to the fearsome "Red Sox Nation."
RFK Stadium panoramas
Speaking of Washington, the other day I posted two new panoramic photos of RFK Stadium that I took on August 1, replacing older ones I had taken in 2004, before the Nationals even existed.
Strasburg joins the Nats
Speaking of the Nationals, the last-minute signing of Stephen Strasburg obviously raises hopes for the team's future, showing that the Lerners are indeed committed to fielding a team worthy of postseason contention. The successful outcome of the negotiations with Strasburg's agent Scott Boras may have the additional benefit of making it easier to keep stars such as Adam Dunn, whose contract expires after next year. Tomorrow (Friday) the Nationals are selling thousands of tickets for just one dollar to ensure that a big crowd is present when Strasburg is officially introduced to fans at Nationals Park. See MLB.com. Maybe I should drive up to Washington real quick to see that game...
The Nationals played hard the last two nights, losing to the surging Colorado Rockies by one run each time. That is encouraging, but attendance is starting to fall again as the Redskins season approaches. The Nats need more fan support!! And so do the Pirates. In both Pittsburgh and Washington, past success by the football teams has undermined fan interest in baseball.