Nats Opening Day Ups and Downs
At RFK today, the scoreboard said Mets 7, Nats 1. But Alfonso Soriano belted one out of the park and Ramon Ortiz looked good for three innings. Here's my own scorecard from the home opener:
Good: The new Red, Hot and Blue BBQ stand out at Section 300. Pricey, but popular and complete with both the vinegar sauce and hot stuff with a nice kick.
Bad: RFK remains the only stadium on Planet Earth without ice cream. (Sorry, packaged sandwiches and the always-reviled dippin dots simply don't count.)
Good: They've finally done something about the volume of the PA system, so you can hear the players being announced.
Bad: The sound mix is a mess and many of the produced bits on the big screen are accompanied by sound in which the background music drowns out all of the words.
Good: The Nats' impressive new TV announcer, Bob Carpenter, handled the Opening Day introductions.
Bad: The Nats have retained their stadium announcer from last year. A new owner should put this at the top of his To Do list.
Good: The Nats will be a frustrating team, but also an exciting one. Last year's anemic offense looks stronger, if only because Soriano can do so much. Rookies Ryan Zimmerman and Brandon Watson are likely to shake out as a real keeper and an incomplete player, respectively, but watching them grow into their new roles will be great fun. The pitching has gotten considerably worse since last year and that will be the struggle that makes this a long, long season. But we like long seasons.
Bad: Several fans said they hunted and hunted and couldn't find the half-smokes that we all fought so hard to get stocked last season.
Good: A happy, enthusiastic crowd greeted the Nats and even cheered Soriano, who behaved so poorly during the spring training dispute about what position he would play.
Bad: Vice President Cheney's appearance as the official First Ball tosser was marred by an embarrassing chorus of boos, tempered only slightly by some polite applause. Hate the policy, respect the office. Cheney didn't make matters better, sporting a surly attitude and wearing such a thick coat of armor under his Nationals jacket that he looked like the kid brother in Jean Shepherd's "A Christmas Story," the boy who gets so heavily wrapped up in sweaters and coats on a winter's morning that when he falls over, he cannot get up.
Good: A glorious, sun-drenched day ushers in the slower time of year, when evenings push their way into the space between the business day and the night. Opening Day marks the start of something warm and right.
Feel free to add your own ups and downs. See you at the ballpark.
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