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August 20, 2009 [LINK / comment]

"The best ballpark in America"

That is the slogan you will see displayed around PNC Park, on the souvenir plastic cups, etc., and it would be very hard to argue with that contention. Perhaps I got a little carried away with the beauty of the place: I have raised my ranking of PNC Park to second place (at 8.0 out of 9.0 possible), tied with Fenway Park (see my Stadium rankings page), and have added nine (9) photographs to the PNC Park page, including this one (slightly reduced in size) of a very memorable play:

PNC Park: Josh Willingham's home run

August 2, 2009, at PNC Park: In the seventh inning, with the Pirates leading 2-1, and Ryan Zimmerman just having reached first base on a single, Josh Willingham hit a home run to take the lead, 3-2. The Nationals went on to win, 5-3, ending a four-game losing streak and beginning their eight-game winning streak.

Talk about a "turning point"! Was I lucky to take that photo at the perfect moment? You're damn right I was. Unfortunately, it was rather cloudy on the day I was there, so most of the photos I took of PNC Park aren't as sharp as they could have been. That only gives me more reason to go back and see another ball game there!

As in other ballparks, many Sunday games in Pittsburgh are promotions for young fans. On the day I was there, kids got free (mostly oversized) Pirates jerseys, and had the opportunity to run around the bases after the game was over. I was amazed that the line of kids (and their parents) waiting their turn to join the fun stretched along the concourse all the way around the right field corner, behind center field, to the bleachers in left-center field! For the young fans, it was too bad the home team lost, but the visiting Nationals were in desperate need of a win, and it sure put a smile on my face. I was pleased to exchange greetings with a number of other Washington baseball fans in Pittsburgh that day, but "Nationals Nation" pales in comparison to the fearsome "Red Sox Nation."

RFK Stadium panoramas

Speaking of Washington, the other day I posted two new panoramic photos of RFK Stadium that I took on August 1, replacing older ones I had taken in 2004, before the Nationals even existed.

Strasburg joins the Nats

Speaking of the Nationals, the last-minute signing of Stephen Strasburg obviously raises hopes for the team's future, showing that the Lerners are indeed committed to fielding a team worthy of postseason contention. The successful outcome of the negotiations with Strasburg's agent Scott Boras may have the additional benefit of making it easier to keep stars such as Adam Dunn, whose contract expires after next year. Tomorrow (Friday) the Nationals are selling thousands of tickets for just one dollar to ensure that a big crowd is present when Strasburg is officially introduced to fans at Nationals Park. See Maybe I should drive up to Washington real quick to see that game... smile

The Nationals played hard the last two nights, losing to the surging Colorado Rockies by one run each time. That is encouraging, but attendance is starting to fall again as the Redskins season approaches. The Nats need more fan support!! And so do the Pirates. In both Pittsburgh and Washington, past success by the football teams has undermined fan interest in baseball.

COMMENT by: Chris Knight, of Kansas City, KS on Aug 21, 2009 03:52 AM
I didn't ask this before, but How many stadiums and what stadiums did you visit on your trip to Colorado to watch the Rockies? Did you make it to Kauffman Stadium on that trip? I hope to see the new K Diagrams soon.

COMMENT by: Andrew Clem, of Staunton, VA on Aug 23, 2009 20:27 PM
Chris, if you scroll down to the Aug. 16 post, you will see a full list of the ballparks I saw, including a (small) photo of Kauffman Stadium. That visit helped. Your hopes will be rewarded.

Posted (or last updated or commented upon): 23 Aug 2009, 8: 27 PM

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