I spent last week in the D.C. Metro area on vacation and since last week was the All-Star Break I did not get the opportunity to make it to a game. Now, the games that I have seen at Major League Stadiums, I have sat in the upper levels where you almost needed binoculars to see the field. I have been to a few spring training games and I enjoy those games because you are so close to the field. Although in those games, if you go early in spring training you end up seeing a lot of prospects and not the players who will end up on the 25 man roster.
One of my goals in life is that when I take a vacation, I try to squeeze something baseball into it. I hope to see each of the 30 MLB teams play at home. I try to go to games or if its in the middle of the winter I at least go and see the stadium. This vacation I did something I have never done before, tour a MLB Stadium.
I got online and purchased the tickets for a tour of National Park and I arrived pretty early since I rode the metro there and checked out the team store, From the look of the store you would think that Strasburg was their only player on the team. I did see a couple of Rodriguez and Zimmerman jerseys on hangers though.
The tour guide made it to the center field gate and the tour group was my wife and I and another couple and that was it. We started off seeing the concessions and the family friendly areas of the park. I have never seen this before, but there was literally a play ground inside the gates.
Within the tour we were able to enter some of the luxury boxes. The view from the box was pretty amazing, compared to any seat I have sat in a park. I was even able to see the press boxes and sit down in the chairs where USA today sits for the game which were pretty impressive seats for getting paid to watch the game.
We thing saw the luxury club where you can eat prime rib and watch the game on TV. We then walked out onto the outside seats available to the patrons of the club and these seats are right behind home plate, close enough to even hear players talk at home plate. During the tour we then headed down to where we could look into the clubhouse, unfortunately Pudge’s and Strasburg’s lockers were at the back of the clubhouse where we were not allowed to go. Outside of the Clubhouse there was a podium for security and there was a desk right inside the clubhouse door which was probably also security. I guess the Nationals do not want Lady GaGa scantly dressed entering their clubhouse.
We then headed down the tunnel towards the dugout, but before getting there we entered the indoor batting cages and he showed us what a 100 mph fastball coming from a pitching machine looks like. After that we then went out to the dugout and I was able to sit on the bench in the dugout and see what the view of the field looks like from that perspective.
After touring the dugout we were able to step on the field level, where the groudscrew was working on the mound, although we were prohibitted to step on the grass. The tour guide told us that they are constantly working on the field. He then guided us down along the warning track to the Nationals bullpen. One thing he did tell us is that the Nationals Bullpen is in the shade most of the game and the Visting Bullpen is in the sun all day.
We then went into the bullpen and since it had been raining earlier that day the mounds in the bullpen were wet and he couldn’t let us throw from there. He but out this square target, that I assume pitchers throw out to get lose before the game. I was little nervous, but I took two throws at the target and hit it dead center each time, although I was afraid I would miss horrible and make a fool out of myself.
We then ended the tour in the tunnel which was under the seats and walked back to the center gate entrance. This entrance was something I really liked about the park because if you take the Metro to the game you get off the subway and then ride and esculator up literally 6 floors before coming to groud level. You then exit the metro and turn left on the street and the street runs straight into that entrance. From that gate you can somewhat see into the park, although the actual playing feild is 24 feet below sea level.
One thing I have to say is no matter where you go on vacation take a tour of the park, because it was one of the most enjoyable baseball experience I have seen. I can now say I have actually stood on the field level in a MLB Park and only a few feet from the mound where probably the best pitching phenom of this current generation Stephen Strasburg made his Major League debut. It will be an experience that will be with me forever.