We’ve covered the issue of late Nats finishes and WMATA’s Metrorail system a few times in these parts, but people can’t get enough.
I wrote extensively about the issue in June, explaining that Metro cannot stay open for an extra hour of service without a contract and a $29,500 deposit from the Nats.
Dr. Gridlock then covered Monday night’s situation, when the Nats and Braves started about an hour late due to rain, and ended well after midnight due to a 13-inning marathon.
And after that game, between the NL East’s top two teams, late in the season, the issue really seemed to gain traction. WJLA
filed a report from the scene of the Navy Yard station; “Don’t leave us stranded in the street,” one fan told the station Neal Augenstein. “After this fantastic win in 13 innings, we’re a number one team, in the number one country in the world. What’s the story, Metro? Let’s get on the bandwagon. Get on the same page.”
WUSA, meanwhile, compiled a list of the late-night post-game rail options in several other baseball cities.
The long and short of it is that there are no current plans for the Nats to pay to keep Metro open later for regular-season games. The team did pay for an extra hour of service during an 8:05 Sunday night start against the Phillies earlier this season; Metro said 445 passengers used the system during the extra hour of service.
The team is still in the initial planning stages for hypothetical home playoff games, so it’s unclear whether any arrangement would be made for the postseason.
Asked about Monday night’s result, a Nationals spokesperson sent along this statement:
With 81 home games every season, the Nationals appreciate the effort it takes our fans to travel to and from the ballpark. That’s why we make every effort to encourage fans to consider all options when traveling to Nationals Park, as listed on nationals.com/waytogo. Additionally, we will continue to make announcements during the game and broadcast reminders on the video board about Metro closing times so that fans can make appropriate arrangements for leaving the ballpark. We hope everyone made it home safely.
Now, you can argue this thing in at least a couple ways. On the one hand, the Nats have encouraged fans to use Metro for years — the above link says Metro is “the way to go to the ballgame.” They’re now baseball’s best team, with a whole bunch of meaningful home games on tap in September and October.
If another rain and/or extra-innings situation comes up with the division title or best record in the NL on the line, do you really want thousands of fans streaming for the exits? Do you really want a first-ever playoff berth clinched in front of a tiny crowd, with frustrated fans already on trains home?
On the other hand, what would the threshold be for determining a game worth paying the $29,500? After July 1? With a record above .500? Any qualification would be arbitrary, and the Nats might then feel forced to keep Metro open for any late game, at any point in the season. That could be quite costly, and might benefit an extremely small number of people.
The Caps could play a maximum of 16 home playoff games with multiple overtime sessions per season; the Nats could be on the hook far more often.
Suggestions and comments are welcome.