Wave battle at Nats Park crescendos

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Wave fighter Andrew Shields.

By now, you’re no doubt familiar with the ongoing controversy roiling Nats Town and attracting national attention, involving pro- and anti-wave forces. Players are largely against it, from what we can tell. A large and vocal faction of fans is also trying to end the wave.

The battle reached a boiling point on Saturday afternoon, when one fan sitting near the back of Section 109 repeatedly attempted to start a wave during later innings — including while the Nats were in the field, an ever bigger sin than usual, as the wave theoretically could distract the home team’s pitcher.

Now, I should say that I only have one side of this story. That being said, here is the story. This account has been slightly edited for clarity and length.

“He was not having much success,” said Andrew Shields, a 34-year-old season ticket holder and wave opponent who attended nearly 70 home games last season. “We were heckling back toward him — Stop, what are you doing, you’re ridiculous, this isn’t going to happen, this is Pier 109, The Wave Stops Here.

“I’ve always hated the wave. It’s a ridiculous tradition. It’s exactly what [Ryan] Mattheus said: it takes the attention off the game, especially in close situations. And we had Haren on the mound, so every situation’s a close situation.

“So he wasn’t having any success up top. There was a group he was with that would do it, but then it wouldn’t carry. So he decides to run down between the stands and down to the bottom of 108/109, and he decides to keep doing it. So we’re heckling him and we’re heckling him and it’s just not catching on. He recognizes it’s failed and he starts jawing at us….[Another wave opponent] just sort of casually balls up a paper bag and tosses it at him, like get out of here kid. Well, that gets his back up, and now he’s gonna throw beer on us, mostly hitting my girlfriend, who’s sitting next to me. So now I’m involved.”

What happened next? Andrew stood up and told the Waver to leave. Tempers flared. One of the Waver’s friends got involved. Security eventually asked Andrew to go to the concourse and discuss what happened.

Andrew said at least a half-dozen fans he’s never met came by to support him and his account. The paper-bag thrower was conciliatory. The Waver was not. And the security official eventually led the Waver away, and presumably escorted him out. Anti-Wave Crowd 1, Pro-Wave Crowd 0.

A Nats spokeswoman said the team could not confirm this account, but did confirm that a fan in that section was ejected Saturday afternoon for violating the team’s guest conduct policy.

I asked Andrew whether he would still heckle future Wavers, despite this hubbub.

“Absolutely,” he said. “I’ve done it before, I’ll do it again.”

Dan Steinberg writes about all things D.C. sports at the D.C. Sports Bog.
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