Wooden's World of Baseball

Sunday, June 29, 2008

When Potomac Is On The Road...

Every year, as part of my obsessive-compulsive need to while away the weekends when there is no baseball, I take the weekends that the PNats are on the road and catalog the possibilities. Sadly, the options are few without having to go for long drive... Bowie, Frederick, and Hagerstown have been the mainstays in 2006 and 2007.

But this past offseason, a new team was added to the mix: The Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. Last night, the weather finally cooperated (though just barely) for me to check out the new club and the new park.

First off, Regency Furniture Stadium is gorgeous, state-of-the art, and has all the amenities one ought to expect from a AA-level stadium. The food is good, with plenty of options and is comparably priced to other venues. The team store was a little lacking, as it seemed like every shirt or item that I might have wanted to buy was sold out in my size. The rest was fairly generic, and there were none of the "Crustacean Nation" shirts in adult sizes.

My chief complaint is just how far out in the sticks this place is, at least 4-5 miles away from the main highway (301) with little traffic controls (read: 4-way stop signs) and few street lights, with a sea of orange-and-white cones lining the roads. It was a little unnerving driving home in the nearly pitch dark, with lightning on the horizon and fireworks shooting off in my rearview mirror.

I suspect this may be part of the reason why the team is not drawing as well as you'd expect for a brand-new team in a brand-new stadium. Last night, for example, the reported crowd was just 3,279 - respectable, but not for a Saturday with a fireworks promotion. Compare that to the Bowie Baysox's crowd, some 30 miles to the north, which was 8,173 folks and is less than a mile or two from the highway.

The other part, unfortunately, may be the ignorance of folks to the quality of the Atlantic League's brand of play. Brooks Robinson's face is everywhere, much the way Butch Hobson was made the face of the Nashua Pride as a branding vehicle. Hope I'm wrong about that, so let's put the blame on the O's-Nats game keeping some folks at home.

The game was a solid 7-0 win for Southern Maryland, with three HRs, good defense, and three pitchers combining for a five-hit shutout. For the few folks that may read this, I would argue that the park is one to consider for a trip, particularly if you plan on going to the area for vacation anyway.


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