I came to the Nats game on Monday because I wanted to see a Teddy win. That didn’t work out. And so instead of writing about something brand new and unprecedented and cheerful and uplifting, I’m writing about something very stale and precedented and depressing and dispiriting: a lot of Phillies fans!
I know, I know, this fan invasion stuff is boring and cliched and yesterday’s news, but I don’t think I’ve been to a Phillies game in Washington since this became such a phenomenon. And so heck, I’ll devote another item to it.
The first, and most important observation, is that this made me want to be a Nats fan. Like, the kind who gets “Phase Two” tattooed on my breast, right above the Curly W ink and right below “Expect It!”
Now, I’m supposed to be neutral and all that, but jeez, when the enemy arrives en masse, you have to kind of close ranks. I imagine it’s not totally unlike all those left-wing hippie pinkos from New York suddenly being cool with patriotism after 9/11.
In fact, I even exchanged my first rude words with a Philly fan in my life, if I’m not mistaken. I went to visit my dear friend Rick Maese in right field, right in the pit of baby-blue-hued PH-t-shirt-gimmicky nonsense, and I had to walk past six Phillies fans to get to Rick’s seats. When I left a few minutes later, one of the fans rolled her eyes at me. “Ahhhh, if you don’t like it, go back to Philly,” were my words, more or less . How I wish she had thrown her beer on me.
Even the vendors knew it was a chance to make some money, though. This image was taken outside the center field walk, so you can’t blame the Nats — it was an independent stand. But yeesh. Thank goodness they didn’t have the full complement of awful PH shirts. Or the Richie Ashburn jerseys. Or the Mike Schmidt profile shirts. Or the Philly rotation shirts, or the Doc Halladay pun shirts, or the shirts expressing pride in South Street, or the Julius Erving jerseys, or any of the 9,000 other Philly items in the stands.
Now, the ratio is a key question. On my Green line train to the stadium, I would guess obvious Phillies fans outnumbered obvious Nats fans by at least 4-1. I went down a line for shaved ice during a middle inning and counted 25 people in Phillies gear, 5 in Nats gear and 2 in Red Sox gear. That was harrowing.
But as many pointed out, virtually 100 percent of Phillies fans would have been wearing Phillies gear — even in the retro buttocks-hugging varieties — while the same can’t be said for Nats fans. Plus, the Phillies won, which surely exaggerated the noise ratio in later innings. One co-worker at the game (not from sports) estimated it was 78-22 (in favor of Phillies fans), while another D.C. media member I met in the crowd said 60-40. I think both are too high. I’d say pretty close to 50-50, at worst. The attendance was 34,000 and change, by the way.
Right field, though, definitely hosted a strong majority of the bad guys. They did things like chant “Jayyyyyy-son, Jayyyyyy-son, Jayyyyyy-son.” Mostly just that, actually. Plus boos. Lots of boos. Werth tipped his cap to them a few times, and definitely looked at them pretty often. Then they told him he sucked.
You could really tell who was who after the home runs, I thought. You see, a decent number of people didn’t stand up, at least where I was sitting, in the 100-seats down the first-base line.
Maybe it was just too hot to stand. Jeez, it was hot. This was the other back-to-back homer.
The right field folks did bring some banners, I should note.
I asked Charlie Manuel what the Philly people sound like from his perch. “It sounds good, sounds real good,” he said. “You know, I guess they like coming to Wershington. They want to come down to the Nation’s capital and see the Phils play.”
And someone else asked Roy Halladay. “I hate to say you’re spoiled, but you get used to it,” he said. “Even some of the longer trips, they’re there. We are spoiled and fortunate to have good fans, and it makes a difference. You know, you feel it in some ways, that you have a little bit of an advantage.”
More likely, though, they have an advantage by virtue of having better players. There were plenty of young shirtless male Philly fans, which is unfortunate, but for my money, the biggest problem with so many visiting fans is in the ceremony: the home team getting booed during intros, the crowd rising to its feet with two strikes and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, the home team’s home run ball getting tossed back onto the field. It just hurts a little bit in the chest cavity, makes you feel a little bit defensive and a little bit ashamed.
But it also makes you look forward to a brighter day, when the Nats (and Teddy) are winning, and the Phillies (plus their bare-chested fans) are losing, and D.C. media members can safely walk past right-field fans while basking in their adoring love rather than eliciting eye rolls.