Red Porch 'Lawn'

Michael Solem

What's the story with that grass-filled polygon next to the Red Porch seats in center field? Whereas every other square inch of Nationals Park has been engineered to maximize revenue, this patch of the stadium seems eerily undeveloped.

Is it an afterthought of the expedited "design-build" construction that erected Nationals Park in record-breaking time?

The red porch grass. (Photo by Michael Solem)

Is it open space that earned Nationals Park its distinction as an eco-friendly stadium?

Is it the future burial ground for Clint and the Nat Pack?

Is it where Screech hibernates in the off-season?

Perhaps at one point the Nationals planned to install seats in the space, but upon inspection, the slope of the surface is at a different angle than the adjacent Red Porch seats, creating an odd viewing angle. So until some proper use is found for the site, we'll be looking at a field full of lumpy mounds of grass.

So Grounds Crew readers, what ideas do you have for that site? Some suggestions I've heard from friends:

1) Install a Plinko or Skeeball system for charity. Home-run balls would land in slots worth various sums of money, which can then be donated to local schools, non-profits, etc.
2) Build a miniaturized version of Mount Rushmore, bearing the countenances of the Racing Presidents.
3) Set up cots for the drunks at the Red Loft.
4) Rope it off and force Phillies Phans to congregate there at all times during games.

By Michael Solem  |  May 14, 2008; 8:42 PM ET  | Category:  Michael Solem
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You're kidding right? Dear Lord, I hope you are kidding. That's the batters eye - you can't put anything there or it will distract the batters line of sight from the pitchers release point.

If you're kidding, I apologize (though it didn't read like you were). Otherwise we have a long long way to go as a baseball town.

Posted by: Arlington, VA | May 14, 2008 10:11 PM

How about one of those surfing rides they have at some water parks? But it should only be used when the other team is up to bat.

Posted by: A Different Michael | May 14, 2008 11:36 PM

As the other commenter said, that area is indeed the batter's eye and thus can't have seats or ads or videos or anything of the like that would distract the batter. But it would be possible to do something there that would be more aesthetically pleasing than the bare patch of grass that's there now. Plant bushes or trees or something else there. Many other parks do this, so perhaps over the offseason the Nats could do something there as well to improve the look of that part of the park.

Posted by: Section 419+1 | May 15, 2008 7:56 AM

If you were kidding, you need to improve your writing. If you weren't kidding, you need to educate yourself before posting.

Posted by: Section 312 | May 15, 2008 9:46 AM

I'll add to the chorus of those who are wondering if (hoping) you're kidding. Google and Wikipedia and Clem could have answered this one for you.

Posted by: Pompous Magnus | May 15, 2008 9:52 AM

Like the other readers, I really hope you are kidding.

But then again this is the Washington Post where they like to assign people to beats on topics they know nothing of. How else do you explain Mike Wise or Sally Jenkins. Heck, Marc Fisher misspelled the name of the city's hockey team a couple weeks ago.

If this is really the quality of writing The Post wants now, can I have a job? I can be a brainless blunderer who reports on menial things while ignoring the bigger picture.

Posted by: Henry Jacobs | May 15, 2008 9:57 AM

After reading his other blogs, I've noticed that well, he's drunk. A lot. He seems more concerned with getting a beer than actually reporting about the game or anything of substance that doesn't contain alcohol.

Talk about mindless, how much do you drink before you show up at the park, how much do you drink at the park and how early do you leave? Maybe they put in that "patch of grass" for you to hurl on.

Why don't you report to an AA meeting, you need help.

Posted by: Section 112 | May 15, 2008 10:01 AM

Wow. Angry crowd today. Did you guys really expect that everyone fan of the Nats will know all the nuances of the game/stadium when we haven't had a team here in their lifetime? You would've been better served by calmly explaining the reasoning which would also educate the numerous other people who, no doubt, were wondering the same thing.

Posted by: Fushezzi | May 15, 2008 10:07 AM

Come on Henry, get over yourself.

These guys are volunteers, not professional writers - give them a little bit of a break. I'd hardly consider a periodic blog post from a volunteer as being "assigned a beat".

Also, I'm curious, what is the "bigger picture"? They are supposed to be writing about the ins and outs of the park. In that context, what is the bigger picture? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Posted by: Arlington, VA | May 15, 2008 10:47 AM


According to MLB, it seems at least part of that area was originally intended for seating.

Indeed, the original Nationals Park seating diagram mailed to season ticket holders shows three sections called "Batter's Eye Box" in that location. It's hard to tell from the diagram how far down into the space the seats extended, but apparently the plan was ditched because Nationals officials were not happy with the views.

Hopefully that clarifies my post.

Posted by: Michael | May 15, 2008 11:28 AM

If you had spent 5 minutes searching around the Internet before spending 10-15 minutes writing this post, you would have learned how ridiculous your question was and saved yourself some time.

As to your follow-up mentioning the originally-planned "Batters Eye Box" seats, those were planned for the area above the grass--the spot where the bar-like ledges are now located instead as shown in your picture. There was never anything planned for the grass area, and there couldn't be, as has been mentioned.

Posted by: annoyed natsfan | May 15, 2008 12:28 PM

Well, there could have been something in that spot if they had wanted. The Cubs have batter eye boxes that are down fairly low - the windows on them are non-reflective and tinted solid black so as not to interfere with the batters line of sight.

Seriously though, why are you so angry about this annoyed natsfan?

Posted by: Bethesda, MD | May 15, 2008 1:57 PM

If you go to Tropicana Field, they have a restaurant that serves as the batters eye. I didn't think Wrigley did have something like that, but it just means I'll have to pay closer attention to WGN broadcasts to see it.

I too would like to see more substance in some of these pieces. Each of the blog writers that I've read seem to think it's about them and forgetting the bigger picture I think Mr. Jacobs referred to and that's the fan experience.

Personally, I know too much about the inner workings of a ballpark and what should and shouldn't be done. But I also know that this writer's blogs are about individuals instead of fans as a whole. There was one blog post about not being able to move to cheaper seats that actually started a pretty good interaction. True, the ushers make it tough to do, but why? Many baseball fans have that same question. Good blog.

But on the side of this blog post, there has been baseball in the DC area for over 20 years with minor league teams. Every one of those stadiums has a "blank" spot in center field. Camden Yards, not that long of a jaunt from the DC area, has the ivy in center field. So to claim that because there hasn't been baseball in DC is making the claim that people in DC never leave the city nor have any intention to. I somehow doubt this to be the case.

I've read most of the blogs that have been posted and do agree that there are a lot of good topics, but it does seem that the substance of this person's blogs is more about beer and being in a drunken stupor, asking the questions that someone else who is drunk at the game would ask, but that's based on personal experiences.

Tell us more about which concession stand line is quicker, the kind of people you meet at the porch, the kinds of beers available. Heck, make some of the concessions workers minor celebrities and single them out for their good work. The one about differing sizes for the same price, good call. Asking why there is a lawn in center field, not so much.

Posted by: Jarrod | May 16, 2008 9:18 AM

Wow... I even know why there is a grassy spot in the outfield. And you are a baseball fan?

Posted by: a girl who knows | May 16, 2008 11:26 PM

Wrigley replaced the empty batter's eye area with a flashy new bar a couple years ago that starts right above the outfield wall. It's as Bethesda describes it. So you can do something with that space if you want, and it's fair to ask why this brand-new stadium that puts revenue-generating stuff in every other square inch left such a big area undeveloped.

Sure the blog post doesn't seem to realize that's what it is, but it's not that big a deal.

Posted by: Andy | May 20, 2008 11:49 AM

Annoyed Natsfan, it sounds -- from the tone of your comments on this post and other recent Grounds Crew ones -- like you seriously, seriously need to get laid.

This blog is about the stadium experience, from a variety of fans who make regular trips to games. The question about the grass in the batter's-eye box is one I've heard from each person who has accompanied me into Nationals Park for his or her first game -- even several who are well-versed in baseball. Which Michael is, by the way.

That having been said, the boy does need to go to AA. But I have far better first-hand evidence for that that assertion than the subjects of his posts here.

Posted by: Rob | May 20, 2008 1:58 PM

Don't worry about me Rob, my wife takes good care of me. Actually, I think your point is more apropos for the "bloggers" on this blog. The blog seems to have turned into more of a forum for a litany of complaints than any other kind of interesting observations, tips, posts about cool things at the ballpark, etc. It really hasn't been about stadium experience, just gripes (and really dumb questions like this post from Michael, which my 4-year-old could have answered for him). That is what I find annoying.

Posted by: annoyed natsfan | May 20, 2008 2:05 PM

Future blog post titles that are being worked on.

"What's the deal with those bright things on the roof of nats park"

"Why are the seats blue?"

"How quickly can I get drunk yet still be ok enough to write?"

"Where in the world is San Diego?"

"Why are the lines white and the pole yellow?"

Posted by: Future Blogs | May 21, 2008 10:10 AM

Wow - I'm really impressed with the zeal some of the commentators are bringing to the blog; though, I have to ask myself, are they actually Mets fans? Maybe soccer hooligans unwisely allowed access to the internet? Surely they're not Nats fans looking to get a broader perspective of the experiences of going to a game at Nationals stadium!

These are volunteers who are really interested in sharing their perspectives on the experience, generously giving their time because of their passion for the game. Knocking them for not having an encyclopaedic knowledge of the game is just ridiculous. If you can claim to never making a simple error in your life, I can call you a liar. If you don't like the blog, don't read it, you have lots of options: start your own blog; read a book; or, as Rob suggests, get laid. I have to say that Michael highlights, mostly, the things I'm interested in at the stadium - whether that makes me a drunk baseball fan or not, that's my perspective of the experience. Just because it's not yours, doesn't make it irrelevant.

As some wise person once said, "There are no stupid questions, just stupid answers." I think the litany of unempathetic and narrow-minded comments made here about a simple observation proves that.

Lighten up people - this sort of angst causes strokes, frown lines and constipation.

Posted by: Rich | May 22, 2008 10:18 AM

I've been to probably 20 MLB games in my life. Went to a game a couple weeks ago and noticed the grassy spot and had to ask my friend the reason. Now that I know, should I be snooty and complain that the blogger is dumb? No... there are people who aren't sure about any number of things at the ballpark, and asking questions is the only way to become knowledgeable.

If you aren't interested in what the bloggers choose to write about, DON'T READ IT! In the meantime, they are providing a valuable service to those of us who are interested, but don't know everything there is to know about baseball and the ballpark.

Thanks, Mike!

Posted by: Kevin | May 22, 2008 2:49 PM

You are an idiot.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 22, 2008 6:22 PM

We're all idiots. Once you realize that, your life will be oh-so-much easier.

Posted by: Rich | May 23, 2008 4:33 AM

What I find is a nice touch at Nationals' Stadium, the "Pitcher's Eye" where the pitcher has an undistracted view of the batter, catcher and umpire in front of hundred of empty seats.

Posted by: Kim | May 23, 2008 6:37 PM

Very amusing Kim. heh heh

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | May 24, 2008 11:48 AM

When we get a real team here in this not so baseball town and start winning that will take care of all the venom that flows between fans. Hell won't even have to rely on getting laid to feel good!

Posted by: wskyrnr21 | May 25, 2008 8:23 AM

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