You Can Find Me in the Club
I felt guilty as I walked to the dessert table. I complained all season about people sitting in the Presidents Club, the best seats in the house, not actually in the seats for the first pitch. Here I was, with seats six rows behind home plate, and I missed the first pitch. Now I know why.
The Presidents Club was certainly my most extravagant sporting experience. Upon entering the stadium, you are escorted to an elevator where you descend to the field level, walk across a red carpeted hallway and into the dining room. The dining room looks as swanky as any K Street $100-a-head restaurant; lofted ceilings, dark cherry paneling, silver cutlery, pleasant servers, flat screens littering the walls. This is a world away from the 45-minute wait for nachos upstairs.
Sitting at the table, the media room for postgame press conferences was over my left shoulder, while the batting cages for in-game BP were just down to the right. Both were enclosed in glass, inviting those in the dining room to watch.
The buffet was vast; the roasted pork with fig chutney was my favorite. The cost of food is allotted into the ticket, and because my ticket was free, I approached the buffet like Kobayashi walking into Nathans.
My first plate consisted of Caesar salad, spinach salad, snap peas and carrots with ginger, creamed spinach and a grilled chicken breast. This was my health-conscious plate. My next plate was the heart attack plate; I loaded up with two lamb chops, a generous portion of the freshly trimmed roast pork, rice pilaf, mashed potatoes and more snap peas (they were really good). Stuffed, I got dessert anyway, a trio of cakes: cheesecake, chocolate cake and strawberry vanilla. Looking back on how much I ate last night, there really should be no surprise I split my pants at a wedding this past weekend, but I digress.
Finally able to drag myself from the dining room, I walked out to the seats. The view was incredible. All I could write in my notebook was "WOW;" I stood no more than 30 feet from home plate. Though I missed the first pitch, I was in my seat for Chase Utley's first at-bat. Major league baseball this close is intoxicating; the speed of the pitch, the crack of the bat, the smack of leather as ball meets glove. My senses were almost overstimulated. When the first foul ball came screaming straight back, I ducked behind my coworker like a teenage girl would grab her boyfriend at a horror movie.
The actual seats were big and soft, padded both on top and bottom, the top of the seat rising above my shoulders. Underneath the seat was netting to hold personal belongings, which for the upper-crust that usually sit here probably consists of iPhones and designer handbags, though I kept my free two-year upgrade Samsung in my pocket. I was so close to the action that when Ronnie Belliard was drilled in the bottom of the fourth, I not only heard him scream in pain but I heard the ball make a hollow plunk bouncing off his back.
Excluding the action on the field, the night was unbelievable. In the eighth inning, the waiters (oh yeah, in these seats you have a personal waiter) came through the aisle passing out free containers of Dibs (bite-sized, chocolate-covered vanilla ice cream). Later in the ninth inning, as I hoped for the Nats to score one more run, one of the waiters was presenting a couple with their check and inadvertently knocked over my beer. I pointed it out, and he was back in a flash with a new beer and an apology. Show me where that happens in Section 133.
I doubt I will ever spend $350 on a regular-season baseball game, but if I had money to burn, the Presidents Club is a great place to start. Everything except alcohol is free and the experience is unforgettable, although if I ate that much at every baseball game I went to, I would definitely run out of dress pants.
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