Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Nats fans dressed as empty seats

The paid attendance last night for the Nationals' not-so-marquee matchup with the Cincinnati Reds was just 19,264, the lowest at RFK Stadium since the team moved from Montreal.

The Washington Post made small mention of the attendance (although it was highly placed in both the article and the article summary), and I saw it and scurried over to my blog, fully prepared to write a scathing article about how I knew this would happen and how Washingtonians don't support any team not named "Redskins" unless the owner is personally offering every ticket purchaser a money back guarantee that the team will at least make a championship appearance that year.

But then I paused, thought about it, and came up with a few reasons why that would make me a raging hypocrite.

First, I would have to excuse the Orioles for their attendance woes. Birds fans must have missed the memo about the season starting, because they've fallen below 20,000 several times, including breaking a record for lowest attendance at Camden Yards with a paltry 13,000+ in the third game of the year. (Granted, that was against the Devil Rays in a cripple-fight of perennial AL East cellar dwellers.)

Now, I could have said, "Look, the O's have been mismanaged and fans have every right to be angry and not buy tickets." But no one can claim mismanagement like the Nats. NO ONE. Major League Baseball is absolutely running that team into the ground, and Jim Bowden is drinking-and-driving them straight into last place. (Come on. You didn't think I was going to let THAT get away, did you?)

If anyone has a right to stay away in protest of their situation, it's the Nationals fans. Sure, O's fans can piss and moan about Peter Angelos, but Nats fans DON'T EVEN HAVE AN OWNER TO BE MAD AT! (Parentheses!)


So here's some excuses as to why you aren't going to any Nationals games:
  • Futility. The Natspos have made ONE playoff appearance in their 37 years in existence.

  • More futility. The Curly W's have won only one of their six home games to this point in 2006. Do the math. If you go tonight, there's only a 16.66666667 percent chance you're going to see a win.

  • Location. Have you been to RFK Stadium? Neither have I. I keep getting mugged or assaulted between the Metro stop and the entrance. I hear it's a complete dump, though.

  • Protest. Every time you buy a ticket or a hot dog or a foam finger, you're giving money to every other owner in Major League Baseball. Steinbrenner, Angelos, Selig... Inexcusable.

  • Fear. It's annoying having to rush to the exit before last call for alcohol at the end of the seventh inning, but if you don't, you run the risk of navigating through the parking lot with a crazy drunken Jim Bowden weaving about. And even if you get out before he gets to his car, there's no guarantee his wife won't be hiding behind a light post ready to pounce and claw your face.

So why would you go at all? Well, you certainly aren't getting any games on TV because Comcast and Peter Angelos are screwing you simultaneously. And what else are you going to do? Listen to the games on the radio? This isn't 1940. Get serious.

Look at it on the bright side. The Nats are coming from Montreal, where they would have KILLED for 19,264 fans in the seats.


Matthew Taylor said...

I'm a longtime O's fan and co-founder of the Roar from 34 blog. I found your blog on Camden Chat, which was generous to give us a mention as well.

Anyway, I have attended a Nats game (last season's showdown with the Mets when Pedro took the hill) and I realized that D.C. doesn't want Baltimore fans to head south. At least it sure didn't appear that way.

D.C. events are always a mess when it comes to Metro. It's as if no one anticipates the crowds. In the case of the Nats, the Metro line was unbearably long after the game. Once we waited in line we realized that the trains headed back our way (we parked at New Carrollton) were spaced in intervals that were at least 15 to 20 minutes apart. It was more than a minor incovenience to take Metro from the Baltimore area to RFK. And you can forget about driving.

The Post's coverage prior to the Nats season and throughout last year made it clear that they wanted to fan the flames of a Beltway rivalry. I thought it was a silly effort, but it appears that Baltimore baseball fans really don't have convenient options if they want to see NL games. Do the Nats not want Baltimore baseball money? I guess Peter Angelos really didn't have anything to worry about.

C. Stone said...

I'm kind of lucky in that I work in College Park right by the Metro stop there. Traveling to Caps/Wizards games is a breeze because it's on the green line. I still haven't attempted the trip to RFK, but even after Caps games the intervals between trains is far too long, and Nats games attract twice or three times as many people. Maybe a new owner will be able to get some changes made.

As for attendance, I really believe the Nats moving to town had a minimal impact on the Orioles attendance. The attendance drop at Camden Yards is more a result of 8 years of frustration, plus all of the problems last year with Raffy and Sosa.

The O's are going to have to win a LOT of games to get the fans to come back.

C. Stone said...

Just want to give a quick thanks to SPORTSbyBROOKS for giving Beltway Sports Beat a link and a quote in his topics today.

It's a funny site with a lot of pics of scantily-clad chicks, so go check it out.