The view from RFK

Needless to say, Washington is a great city and we all enjoy travelling down here for a set of games. And obviously, those trips will be much better as soon as the new ballpark opens in 2008.

So how bad is RFK? Well, check out my view from the press box:

Sure, sportswriters are prone to whine — a lot. But look at those views… talk about tough working conditions.

First in war, first in peace, last in the National League…

Based on a very informal poll of the scribes covering the ball club, Washington, D.C. is quickly becoming the most popular stop on the circuit. For anyone who has spent any time in our nation’s capital, that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise – there is tons of stuff to do in the District away from the museums and touristy-type places.

But throw all of that stuff into the mix and it’s quite a place.

I’m hardly a sentimental person (OK, others will disagree with that, but whatever), but it’s hard not to get a tingle from standing on the top steps of the Lincoln Memorial and looking out upon The Mall and wondering what Martin Luther King Jr. felt when he gave his “I Have a Dream” speech in 1964.

Or a walk through the Vietnam Memorial at night is downright chilling. Certainly I don’t mean that in a hyperbolic or saccharine sweet type of way. You really have to see it to feel it.

Oddly, the first name I focused on after scanning the list that seemed to stretch through the landscape all of the way to the Washington Monument was of a man named Sanford I. Finger. For years I was always interested in Sanford Finger’s story – who he was and what he liked to do. What was he interested in and what did he look like? And how did he end up in Vietnam where he met his untimely death in 1971.

Finally, after all of the years spent wondering and thinking about some guy who died before I was born who just so happens to share the same last name as me, I stumbled across this on the Internet.

Anyway, last night after the Phillies’ loss to the Nationals, I took some time to unwind by taking a midnight stroll past the White House, down to Constitution Ave. and back up 15th St. for a quick pit stop at The Old Ebbitt Grill.

This morning I loaded up the iPod with DC-type songs (late ‘70s and Dischord Records stuff) before heading out on a run to see if our old wiffle ball field was still entact (a big tree was planted where the pitchers mound was, but the paint we used to mark the home run fence was still visible on the bricks).

From there I circled The Mall on the way out to RFK Stadium and back for a spirit-reviving 13-miler.

I’m sure my mom is going to love hearing about the trip through our neighborhood and stomping grounds.

Sadly, though, RFK has seen better days. The clubhouse is a dungeon, and the dugout has a Veterans Stadium-type odor. Worse, the view from the press box is severely obstructed and any time a ball is hit out of the infield we have to watch the result on TV.

More than a few writers had trouble with the wireless Internet connection, which made it difficult to send their stories in to the office.

Still, it’s always a blast to make it back to D.C. and until something sways my point of view, I’ll say RFK is so bad that it’s charming.

No one can call Shea charming.


The World Cup soccer tournament started today, and several players sat on the overstuffed leather couches rapt with attention (none more than Bobby Abreu) as Ecuador held off Poland, 2-0.

Then again, it was raining really hard outside so outdoor batting practice was cancelled.

I’m not up on what’s happening in soccer, but when I was a kid we used to go to see the Washington Diplomats of the old NASL play at RFK. That was always a thrill because no one could get tickets to see the Redskins back in those days. As I recall, in 1979 the waiting list for Redskins tickets was 159 years.

No, that’s not an exaggeration. If you think Eagles’ fans are crazy, you ought to see how the native Washingtonians love the Redskins.

I always rooted for the Eagles, though it was hard not to get caught up in the hype when John Riggins was running the ball way back when. Hey, I was a kid… favorite teams and stuff like that mattered.

Anyway, I remember a game at RFK between the Dips, as we called them, and the New York Cosmos that was settled in with penalty kicks – what a revelation. I had never seen a game decided that way before.

If I remember correctly, Giorgio Canalgia was the top player for the Cosmos, while Sonny Askew, Alan Green, Johan Cruijff and Joe Horvath took care of business for the Dips.

Next: remembrances from Memorial Stadium and the 1978-79 Baltimore Orioles and how to properly mimic Lee May’s batting stance. In fact, I showed Charlie Manuel a bit of it before the game today. He seemed more impressed that I remembered who Lee May was rather than the bat waggle.

Anyway, I’m thinking about inviting my friends over this weekend so we can all sit around and ignore the World Cup.

Then we’ll watch Bernard Hopkins get knocked out by Antonio Tarver.