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O's vs. Nats

Updated: Wednesday, August 6 2014, 04:06 PM EDT
Monday evening was a perfect summer night to take a drive down the B-W Parkway to Nationals Stadium to take in a rare instance of our American League Orioles playing the National League Nationals. The drive took less than an hour from downtown Baltimore, and landed us at an easy parking lot a block-and-a-half from the ballpark. Arriving about an hour and a half before gametime, we strolled into the adjacent Bullpen, a large fenced outdoor lot lined with beer bars, food trucks, a cornhole toss pit and a stage with live performing bands-- a great way to spend some pre-game time with friends. The we walked across the street and into the beautiful new and modern Nationals Stadium, which has a very different feel than our beloved Camden Yards. Despite a smaller seating capacity, (41,000 vs. 46,000) the new Nats stadium feels bigger inside, and certainly more hi-tech. That's due, in part, to its more pronounced verticality. It's also geared more as an "entertainment complex" while the Yard cleaves to a more traditional, old-fashioned baseball approach. That feeling also extends to the food options on offer at the two ballparks. While Camden Yards offers mainly a no-frills line-up of generic burgers, dogs, nachos and pizza-- all dispensed from cookie-cutter stalls, and all operated by whatever food service vending contractor they happen to sign with (the exceptions: Boog's BBQ, Dempsey's, Gino's, Stuggy's and Polock Johnny's)-- Nats park offers a real variety of local and original culinary outlets. Spectators have choices such as: Ben's Chili Bowl, Shake Shack Burgers, Blue Smoke BBQ, Boardwalk Fries, Bullpen Burritos, Chesapeake Crab Cake Co., Foggy Bottom Diner, G by Mike Isabella and Papa John's Pizza (and I gotta say, the 15-minute wait in the queue for a Shake Shack burger was SO worth it). And there are some nice open lounge areas scattered throughout the park making it easy to sit down and eat or congregate with friends outside of one's seats. The usher system in DC is stricter, too-- ushers make fans wait to take their seats until a play is completed, much like how theatre ushers have patrons wait to be seated until breaks in the acts of a show. Very civilized. Baltimore was certainly well-represented at the game, with easily as much Orioles orange on display as there was Nats red. Spotted Baltimore peeps included Denis Nash, Stacy Swann, Jon Wilkin, Avery Strachan, Nick Zupancic, Tom Brinkley and Chuck Gardner. To cap off a perfect evening out at the ballpark, the O's bested the Nats, 7-3.

(Shown above: Pre-gaming fans at the Bullpen, across the street from Nationals Park in D.C.)O's vs. Nats

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