April 27, 2008
While watching the Nats play the Braves the other day, I got my first good look at the new "SunTrust Club" box seats at Turner Field. As with the premium seats at Nationals Park and the newly-added box seat sections at other stadiums, they come as part of a package including free buffet, drinks, and valet parking. (Perhaps there will be a butler to shell the peanuts and serve the Cracker Jacks on a silver tray...) The distance to the backstop has been reduced to a mere 43 feet, which barely even qualifies for college baseball standards, let alone minor league. Stop the insanity! See the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
And so, I have updated the Turner Field diagram, which now includes the structures surrounding the stadium per se, as well as lights and a few other details.
After an extraordinarily dismal month of April, the Nationals finally won a series at their new home ballpark, raising hopes for a prompt return to normalcy. On Friday they beat the Chicago Cubs 5-3 in extraordinarily dramatic fashion: They took the lead in the first inning with an upper-deck home run by Nick Johnson (the first one in Nationals Park, I believe). Eventually, the Cubs tied it 3-3 going into the bottom of the ninth when journeyman backup catcher Wil Nieves made his mark by knocking a walk-off homer into the Nats' bullpen in right field. It was his first major-league homer! Nieves has been impressive behind the plate, showing a fierce competitive spirit, making some great throws to second base, while keeping the pitchers calm and focused. Maybe Paul Lo Duca and Johnny Estrada (first- and second-string catchers) have something to worry about! As a reward from his teammates, Nieves got a cream pie in his face while being interviewed after the game.
The Cubs came back to even the series with a 7-0 shutout last night, but with Carlos Zambrano pitching, what else do you expect? But the Nationals took an early lead in this afternoon's rubber game, and John Lannan threw seven shutout innings, raising his streak of scoreless innings to 19. See MLB.com. Pretty impressive! [Final score, 2-0.] The Cubs are still in first place in the NL Central Division (a half game ahead of the cards), and are in very good shape to make a postseason bid and maybe even win the World Series for the first time in exactly one century!
UPDATE: Total attendance for the three-game series with the Cubs at Nationals Park: 104,137.