The entire experience at a Nationals game is best summed up in one word: overproduced. I understand that the majority of people who attend sporting events, especially baseball, are there to be entertained by the on field drama as well as the off the field experience. At Camden Yards, the off the field experience is made up of the Hot Dog Race, Crab Shuffle, and Kiss Cam, all of which have their equals throughout baseball stadiums across the country. These "filler bits" take all of about two minutes and engage the crowd well. But the pomp and circumstance that is displayed on a daily basis at Nationals games borders on ridiculous.
The Nationals have a cheering squad that tries to "pump" the fans up before and during the game, something I don't see at any other Major League level baseball game. The artificial nature of having to get the fans excited about the team creates a sterile fan environment. During both games that Paul and I attended this past weekend, the crowd would respond well to the guided cheering, but would be extremely quiet throughout the game, even when prompted by scoreboard messages.
The scoreboard messages throughout the game were played so frequently that they had absolutely no affect on the crowd. The "two strikes" and "let's hear the 10th man" variable message signs were virtually ignored throughout the game because they were played so many times.
On Friday Night, we sat in right field, above the bullpen. On Saturday Night, we sat third base line, front row. On Friday Night, I thought I was having issues hearing the stadium audio because of the awning over our right field seats. But the issue persisted on Saturday Night, even though we were right in the middle of the field. The audio should be fixed one way or the other.
The remixed variations of "charge" and clapping patterns were barley audible and played so many times that they lost any meaning with the crowd. I'm not an audiophile by any means, but I do enjoy hearing that variety of sounds, songs, and announcements that are played at the stadium during the game.
The only thing that was audibly clear the entire night was the entrance music for the Nationals players, but even they were stepped on occasionally by the over the top announcer, who would introduce players with an exaggerated "Now batting.............for YOURRRRRRR WASHINGGGGGTTTTTON NATTTTTIONNNNAAALLS, the SHORTSTOPPPPPPPPPPPP, IANNNNNNNNNN DESMONDDD!!."
It was almost as if they were mocking the regular convention of announcing the players and letting the fans cheer them on.
I'll be very happy to return to Camden Yards tonight, even with the obnoxious Red Sox fans showing up for the first of three against the O's.