Passion and Enthusiasm are Not DC's Way

Yesterday I made the trip to RFK to see the Nationals host the Hotlanta Braves. The weather was decidedly un-Hotlanta-esque. Nothing says baseball like 20mph winds and cold weather!

I love baseball unconditionally. I had a wonderful time. However, it is clear to me that the city isn't quite as enthusiastic. There were loads of empty seats. That's to be expected when you field a team that has the potential to be the worst in the history of baseball. That's not that big of a deal. No, I'm referring to the passion of my fellow spectators.

The Braves are in first in the National League East. The Nats, the Braves' divisional rivals, are in the cellar. So, you can imagine my excitement when the Nats were rallying from a three run deficit in the bottom of the seventh inning. Two runs had already scored and we had runners on first and second with no one out. The cherry on the sundae was that the heart of the Nationals was coming up. I, along with my compatriots, were standing and cheering.

In the middle of this rally, which, in true National fashion, failed to score another run, an usher approached us. She ordered us to sit down because we were blocking the view of the section behind us. We were told to sit down in the middle of a fucking baseball game. A baseball game! With the tying run in scoring position after the seventh inning stretch! We were not allowed to cheer and jump and will the home team to victory. Don't these people understand how baseball works?

(It's important to note that we weren't using obscenities or acting inappropriately. The harshest thing we were doing was chanting "Larrrrrrrrry" at Chipper Jones.)

With the combination of such a shitty team and an unenthusiastic fan base (there were more Braves fans than Nats fans at the game), I predict that baseball will fail in this city. When you're expected to sit down and be respectful in the middle of a late inning rally, it's clear to me that the city just doesn't get it. When the Nationals leave for Virginia, Portland, or Vegas, I think we should rename the (at least) $611,ooo,ooo.oo stadium the "Anthony Williams/Jack Evans Monument." After all, they were the ones who were so desperate to cement their legacy with a baseball team. Then we should shoot them out of a cannon in the direction of wherever the team decides to move.

Here's a game recap. The Nationals wore mismatching Virginia Tech hats in the field. It was a great tribute. Too bad hardly anyone was there to see it.


  1. Here's my favorite Nats usher story from last summer. I was at a sparsely attended day game with some people from work. Mid-third inning some military guys, including some on crutches (probably from Walter Reed) came down and sat in the seats a few rows in front of us. They were having a good time, but not being too obnoxious for a baseball game. Mid-fifth an usher comes down and asks for their tickets, which are for the cheap seats not where they are. Since we were about to leave the game to head back to work my boss (a season ticket holder) offered them our seats & tickets. The usher refused to let the military guys have our seats. I was stunned at the Nationals treatment of some wounded veterans and a season ticket holder.

  2. People in DC are dead at heart.
    I've been to multiple concerts at the Verizon Center and the most enthusiasm I have seen from fans is people leaping out of their seats when the concert is over to be the freaking first on the metro escalator.

  3. lincolnparkerApril 18, 2007

    Granted, RFK in that weather, with that team, is not a good scene.

    But in fairness, I've got similar stories from ballparks, arenas and stadiums in virtually every big city in the U.S. Yes, including NYC and Philly.

    And Rusty, you'll leave town decades before the Nats do.

  4. just out of curiousity rusty, who do you consider the "heart" of the nats?

    is it ryan zimmerman?

    i'd kinda like to do him.

  5. Dear lincolnparker,

    Of course you have comparable stories from ballparks in other big cities, that's what happens when a season lasts for over 160 games.

    However, I'm with Rusty on this one. If I can't hoot and holler at my team or the other, what the hell is the point?

    Bottom line, no ballpark is Fenway and I have yet to see any fan base rival the Red Sox Nation.

  6. Once again, Rusty writes about an issue as if it's endemic to DC. Perhaps if he ever moved out of here--or hell, even visited another city--he'd find out that, wow, people aren't allowed to stand at many stadiums, that crime happens regularly in all cities, that most urban bureaucracies are horribly inept and the public transportation sucks. EVERYWHERE.

    I can't wait until Rusty finds his urban utopia and moves there.

  7. I have never been asked to sit down in Boston or Baltimore. I've never heard of it happening in MYC either. The baseball fans I talked to were all horrified.

    This was probably around my 25th game I've ever been to. My third in DC. Only once have I been told to sit down during a fucking rally.


  8. Oh, it's all about you Rusty. You ever think maybe you misunderstood the usher? Heck, she probably was trying to help the Nats WIN a game. You were distracting the players! You can't just break their concentration all willy-nilly. What kind of fan are you?

  9. That's the worst story I've ever heard. I have waited for the Nats my entire life. I grew up here, I never rooted for the Orioles (because I'm not from f'ing Bal-mur, that's why). And then the last two years I've been living away from the city, and I've only been able to see about 10 games total. So this year, I'm finally back in DC, and I'm going to every game I can. But not in this weather. Hell no. You can call me all the names you want, I deserve it. But I'm still not going until the mercury hits 60.

    But once I'm there, if some usher tries to get me to sit down during a rally, I'm getting tossed out of that stadium. Fuck that.

    Nats are up 4-3 with Schneider on third, but my cable has been out since the storm on Monday. Man am I pissed.

  10. This has got to be one of the stupidest blogs on earth.

  11. That has to be one of the stupidest comments to leave on a blog on earth.

  12. That was one hell of a game today. None of the ushers told us to sit down... or the obnoxious Phillies fans in front of us.

  13. "Don't these people understand how baseball works?"

    ...and need I ask (or remind) you again why is it that you supposedly "hate D.C."?

    You're an idiot if you haven't already realized that what makes the anti-social heart of our nation's capital tick remains nothing other than a cancerous and ever-metastatizing mantra of "ME, ME, ME, ME, ME - no, wait a minute, FUCK YOU, TOO! - and let's get back to ME, ME, ME, ME, ME."

    Back in the early 90's, my brother had a lemon thrown at him for daring to stand up and dance at a Cocteau Twins concert at the 9:30 club.

    Let's take stock here: at one of the Cocteau Twins' final shows ever, for fuck's sake...and at the 9:30!

    More recently, even the little Black Cat attending hipsters only ever attend shows to obnoxiously cellphone their friends during the best numbers to tell them how cool they might be for being there, or, if male, wax Bulwer-Lyttonesque to their dates about how cool and consistent with their MySpace pages they are for having brought said dates to such an 'edgy' show.

    D.C. represents the nation, and thus everything, *everything* there is always about nothing other than absolutely corrupt selfishness: That's the American Way.

    Such a hideous aesthetic is detectable at work upon every stratum of the social experience the city sets forth to behold.

    Escape while the escaping's good - or just do what the Romans do, as it were, and while remaining in DC get your PR assistant to make sundry excuses for you while you drink yourself to death, and shut the fuck up.

  14. Wow, the Nats really make me want to switch sides from the Orioles... I've never seen anything like that in Baltimore. Plus, there's pit beef.

  15. hey you made wonkette! congrats.

  16. I am certain that the Cocteau Twins never played the 9:30 club in the '90s. The club didn't even move to its new location until Jan '96 - how could a standing person block someone at the old location, with no seats?
    The Cocteaus played Lisner in Spring '91. People heckled opener Mazzy Star.
    Who brings a lemon to a show?

  17. lincolnparkerApril 19, 2007

    Well, you still have to be careful what you wish for.

    All too often "passionate fan base" = "the city is a craphole and the people there have nothing else to take pride in."

    Someone brought up the Red Sox. Ok, they've got great fans. Wonderful. But it may have something to do with the fact that Boston is a parochial backwater. It makes sense that people there are hard core about the Red Sox, since they and their families have been there for generations. Because honestly, who just picks up and moves to Boston?

    Another case: the Pittsburgh Steelers take pride in their rabid fan base. And they do have great fans. Almost every city in the country has a base of Steeler fans and a few bars they meet up at on Sundays. Because, you see, they all left Pittsburgh. Because it sucks there.

    Bottom line, no DC aint Boston or Chicago when it comes to sports towns.

    But it sure isn't Atlanta or Phoenix, either.

  18. Wow, sounds like the Camden Yards wine and cheese crowd has moved south. I've been thrown out of OPACY for such transgressions as cheering during a rally.

  19. I realize that this is off-topic, but regarding lackluster fans at shows held inside the 9:30:

    I made the trip to DC (from Lexington, KY mind you) to see The White Stripes at the 9:30 back in 2002. Hotel Yorba was just getting major radio airplay and the place was packed. We made our way to the front, danced our asses off and generally had a spectacular time. Unfortunately, the remaining ??? people (I have no idea how large the club actually is) seemed to be less enthusiastic. Jack White made several comments, but nothing seemed to get the crowd into the show.

    I've never actually witnessed anything such as this in my life. A sold out show, a high-energy performance, and THREE people were dancing, bouncing, having a great time. How the ENTIRE crowd managed to stand with their hands folded, admiring the show as if it was an art exhibit is beyond me.

    Needless to say, I haven't made the 6-7 hour journey to see a 2nd show in DC.

  20. Three things:

    1. When the game's over, they want you out, pronto. No dilly-dallying. Move it. If you're not standing by the time the stadium announcer, um, announces the winning/losing pitchers, some grumpy codger will come over and tell you to move it. AND...say you need to go back to your seat because you forgot your umbrella. Forget it. The same retiree who's bitter he didn't save more for retirement and now he has this crap job blocks the entrance. I guess they need to hose the seats down fast before the stale beer sets.

    2. No one has been able to explain to me why you can't take coffee into the stadium. I don't buy the "hot liquids" argument; I can burn you with the pulled pork from Red Hot and Blue if I want to. They don't sell coffee in RFK, so it's not like my coffee is taking away precious dollars from Aramark.

    3. Back in the days of the Crap Center (you young 'uns may remember it as the US Scareways Arena, or that place in Maryland they done blowed up real good), I went to an Elton John concert. (Yes, I am.) Up to then, standing at concerts was de rigueur; it's just what you did. Opening number, I'm up on my feet, and some (other) codger grabs my arm and literally yanks me down back into my seat. Stunning. It ain't opera, shithead.

  21. The truly amazing thing is to hear that D.C. schools have outdated textbooks, crumbling schools and a serious lack of resources. The police and fire departments continually need upgraded equipment. Other city services continue to be terrible. Streets can't get repaired on time. Water main are antiquated. Trash isn't picked up. Yet, somehow, amazingly, the city miraculously finds $600 million to build a baseball stadium. That's the spirit! If you build it, no one will come.

  22. There have been so many unbiased academic studies of public funding of stadiums, arenas, convention centers, etc. that there are now studies of the studies of the studies (really). The unanimous, unambiguous conclusion: the economics for the public suck. It is bad policy and a chump's game. So why do these projects proliferate? Officials and citizens allow developers and team owners to convince them that their case is somehow different. It isn't. Forget about the losing team. It is the opportunity costs and damage to city credit that are the real losses.

  23. LincolnParker,

    You're right!

    As an Ohioan, we totally suck. But we effing LOVE the buckeyes.

  24. Go to a DC United game. You'll be told to stand up if you sit down and you can throw beer on the ushers.

  25. OK, under no circumstances will a sports fan ever go to a United game. I can't figure out who goes to those things. Disturbed teenagers looking for a Rave?

    Rusty, have no fear. Once the stadium is finished (provided we still have Ozone and Polar Caps to prevent loony weather swings) you will be able to go to the beautiful new stadium and celebrate with the rest of us. We will not hold your communist writings against you. As far as you know.

  26. Oh anonymous, I just love it when crotchety baseball fans talk smack about soccer. It warms the cockles of my heart, so it does.

    I've got United season tix (in one of the crazy standing-singing-jumping sections...though I never personally throw beer, 'cuz it's too damned expensive), and I had part of a Nats season ticket package the past two years (I still plan on hitting 15-20 games, but picking your games all before the season starts just doesn't leave enough schedule flexibility). I love both sports...but seriously, DC United games are pretty much the only professional sporting events in town (that don't involve the R**s***s) that consistently generate a passionate atmosphere. Maybe those disturbed teenagers on onto something...

  27. Rick,

    I work at Walter Reed and I have attended at least one Nationals game w/ wounded Soldiers.

    You should definately be able to transfer tickets to another person. That jerk was on a power trip. If I had known about that, I would have been calling to complain.

    Wow. Wounded U.S. war veterans trying to see a frickin' baseball game. Troublemakers!

  28. Rusty, you would have been eaten alive at a Skins game at RFK back in the 80's and 90's. (Back when your little stadium in the Boston suburbs was a quarter empty most weekends).

    Today, Dan Snyder has killed the soul of that organization, but Skins fans did not suffer fools back in the day. The stadium literally would shake.

    We had a crap mayor, a crack cocaine epidemic and a violent crime crisis, but those were good times to be a sports fan in D.C.

    Not that any transplant would know.

  29. all that 'boo on the transplants' and 'nobody beats the red sox nation' nonsense aside, if you really don't like seeing games at RFK, maybe you could stay home? As a resident of that neighborhood, I could use less congestion at my metro stop, and less of the idiot with the bullhorn telling people where the stadium is, and the several hundred people who forget all metro rules under the allure of the almighty 'baseball,' thus leaving me trapped as they stand left and right on the escalator when all I want is my couch. If you fans stop coming, perhaps the jackoff with the saxophone will go away, (I really want to kick him in the face. It took me until September to feel that way last season. Not. Good.) and I will in general feel less like Michael Douglas in 'Falling Down.'
    Rusty, you bitch about the expensive stadium. and you have a point. but I'd build the thing myself to be liberated from 80+ games of baseball fan shenanigans.

  30. timmy loved judas priestApril 20, 2007





  31. Rusty is a Douche....

  32. You mean because he gracefully sweeps through that vaginal cheese that is (come on, admit it) certain parts of D.C., to leave it clean and fresh?

    Incidentally, did you notice it's summers eve, as we speak?

  33. http://wwwsouthcapitolstreet.blogspot.com/

    Tear down this blackmail stadium that was illegally approved in a closed door midnite DC Council REVOTE!