VIERA, Fla. — The spring training camp of the Washington Nationals at Space Coast Stadium, like the franchise it serves, has a slightly dysfunctional feel about it. The campus itself is curiously appointed. There's the horse trailer pictured above. Is this where they keep Jayson Werth(notes) when he turns into a werewolf?
And what else? A giant statue of the fictional Casey at the Bat, from classic baseball poetry. It's enormous, for one. For two, you wouldn't necessarily realize it was Casey unless you were told. And he struck out in the poem, you know? Why is there an 18-foot statue of someone who not only never played in the major leagues, but also struck out in his only documented at-bat? What kind of inspiration is this?
The mustache is a nice touch, though.
There's also a space shuttle — smaller than the real thing (and Casey) but bigger than an ornament on one of those kiddie rides at a second-tier grocery store. I kept looking for the quarter slot. It looks like someone had an idea to design a space-themed park and stopped. Giant, invading, mustachioed baseball player and his small craft.
So, being from Washington, how are Nationals doing at the poles? Pretty strangely.
Though no doubt well-intended, it seems to me like a morbid way to pay tribute to a couple of exploded space shuttles and the astronauts who died while aboard. Do we have to be reminded of the respective disasters every time someone hits a long fly ball down the line?
And, a practical point: Don't the banners make it harder for umpires, you know, to tell if the ball is fair or foul? There's a reason foul poles are painted fluorescent yellow.
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The complex tries to marry two of America's proudest achievements — baseball and space travel — and cannot quite pull it off. Perhaps if the Houston Astros moved in, with Houston being the headquarters for NASA, and Cape Canaveral being so close to Viera, would the vision truly come together.
As long as the Nats can take the trailer with them to another site, of course. They need it for Werth when the moon is full.