Kauffman Stadium is really cool. Because it’s a stadium, not a ballpark.



KANSAS CITY — File this under “deep thoughts,” but Kauffman Stadium is really cool.

I’d been here a couple of times before. My first experience was actually for a high school game back in 2003. I was driving across the country and when I passed through Kansas City the stadium lights were on. I was curious because I knew the Royals were out of town playing Cleveland that day, so I got off I-70 to check it out. You could walk right in for free and there were only a few hundred people watching the high schoolers. I sat behind home plate for a while. In the space of two innings I think there were, like, seven doubles hit because of the alleys. If you were a lazy scout just looking at box scores you may have overvalued what these kids were doing.

My major league experience here came in 2008, when I was in Kansas City for lawyer man business. I saw two games of a three-game series here. The Royals stunk — not a 100-loss team or anything, but not good — and it wasn’t hard to get good seats. I sweated like crazy and watched bad baseball, but bad baseball is better than good most anything else.

I can’t put my finger on what I like about this place so much. It’s out at a freeway exit, surrounded by parking lots, not in the middle of the city like so many of the best ballparks are. It’s got no dramatic sightlines. Beyond the outfield walls is I-70, some budget motels and a gas station. Indeed, the best view at Kauffman Stadium is INTO the place from I-70. It’s actually pretty dramatic, as the stadium is below the surrounding grade, so you can see lots of stuff. I wonder if there are a lot of fender benders out there during games.

What I think I like so much about it is that it’s not a ballpark. It’s a stadium. It is not trying to evoke the past. It is not trying to blend in with surrounding warehouses. It is unapologetically a building in which sports are supposed to be played. And it’s of a time — the 1970s — when no one shied away from poured concrete and modernism. That approach often resulted in ugly, messed up places in the form of bad multi-purpose stadiums. But with Kauffman, they just looked into what they thought was the future and forged ahead. Kauffman Stadium opened in 1973. By 1974 the country was fully in the grips of nostalgia and would not look so steadfastly forward again for a long time. If it ever would.

It helps that they have maintained the place and, though it regrettably used taxpayer dollars to do it, upgrade it as time has gone on. The fountains are expanded and the scoreboard is bigger, but it’s still the same place, more or less. It still has big tall light towers that aren’t supposed to look like smokestacks or something. It has blue seats because, dammit, that’s the team color, and why should they have green anyway? It’s sleek and swooping and, for the most part, no one has tried to hide all of the poured concrete.

It’s a gorgeous stadium.

Nationals blow 6-run lead, rebound to beat Phillies 8-7

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WASHINGTON (AP) Lane Thomas singled in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning and the Washington Nationals sent the Philadelphia Phillies to their fifth straight loss, winning 8-7 after blowing a six-run lead.

The defending NL champion Phillies have just five victories in their last 18 games and are tied with the Nationals at the bottom of the NL East at 25-32.

“We’ve got to overcome it,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “We’ve got to play better, get consistent in all phases and keep moving forward.”

Alex Call drew a two-out walk against Connor Brogdon (2-1) in the eighth, stole second on a low pitch that catcher JT Realmuto couldn’t make a throw on and scored on Thomas’ single to right center.

“The way Lane’s swinging the bat, if you can get on second base, we can win the game,” Call said. “I look over and the ball’s in the dirt, he doesn’t catch it. Now I’m saying: ‘All right, Lane. Come on!’”

Kyle Finnegan (3-2) pitched 1 2/3 innings for the victory, stranding the tying run on second in the ninth.

Nick Castellanos homered twice, singled, doubled and drove in five runs for Philadelphia, which had scored just three runs in its past three games.

“There’s definitely a lot of positives as a group,” Castellanos said. “Showing some fight. It would have been really, really easy to lay down and allow the way the game started to be the way that it finished.”

Down 7-1 after four innings, Philadelphia tied it at 7 in the eighth. Brandon Marsh worked a nine-pitch walk against Mason Thompson leading off, and Drew Ellis singled with one out. Finnegan came on to face Kyle Schwarber, who hit a ground ball up the middle. Shortstop CJ Abrams fielded it behind it behind second base, touched second for one out, but threw wildly to first and Marsh came home with the tying run.

Castellanos’s second homer, a two-run shot to center in the sixth, pulled the Phillies to 7-3 and Marsh added an RBI single in the inning.

In the seventh, Schwarber doubled with one out and Bryson Scott reached on an infield single. Hunter Harvey came on and walked Bryce Harper to load the bases. Castellanos singled to center scoring two runs to make it 7-6.

Luis Garcia homered and Jeimer Candelario doubled twice and drove in three runs for the Nationals, who have won seven of 12.

Philadelphia starter Zack Wheeler, coming off eight shutout innings against Atlanta, allowed seven runs on eight hits in 3 2/3 innings.

“This one’s on me really,” Wheeler said. “Guys battled back. Just couldn’t finish it out. We know who we have in this room and what we’ve got to do.”

Josiah Gray gave up four runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings for Washington.

Candelario doubled just beyond the reach of left fielder Schwarber to drive in the first of Washington’s two runs in the first.

In the second, Abrams hit a one-out drive to deep center that Marsh misplayed into a double. With two outs and two on, Candelario doubled off the wall in right center to make it 5-0.

Garcia ended Wheeler’s night with a solo homer in the fourth.

“When you come out the way we did, you’ve got to tack on,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “It didn’t happen tonight, but we got one more than the other guys.”


Candelario is 9 for 26 (.346) with four doubles, a home run, nine RBIs, five walks, and seven runs scored in his last seven games.


Phillies: Thomson said RHP Taijuan Walker played catch Friday and there are “no worries about his next start.” In a four-inning outing against the Mets on Thursday, Walker’s sinker velocity averaged 90.6 mph, down from 92.7 mph for the season. His fastball, splitter and curveball velocity also dropped.

Nationals: OF Victor Robles (back spasms) took batting practice on the field for the first time since going on the injured list. … LHP Sean Doolittle (elbow) gave up a run on two hits and struck out two batters in 2/3 of an inning working his second straight night for Class A Fredericksburg.


Phillies: LHP Matt Strahm (4-3, 3.20) will start a bullpen game on Saturday.

Nationals: LHP MacKenzie Gore (3-3, 3.57) went seven innings and struck out a career-high 11 batters in his previous outing – a no decision against the Royals.

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