The Nationals entered Monday’s home game against the Diamondbacks riding a season-high six-game winning streak after consecutive walk-off wins over the Pirates. It was a pleasant night, weather-wise, and yet the announced crowd of 21,292 fans at Nationals Park was the third-smallest of the season. (The two smallest crowds were on April 9 and 10 against the Marlins and one of those games was on a Thursday afternoon.)
Denard Span had a pretty good idea why more fans weren’t in Southeast for Adam LaRoche’s walk-off homer in the 11th inning and forgave anyone who was attending — or sitting at home watching — the Redskins defeat the Browns in a preseason game at FedEx Field instead.
For all the fans that ditched us for the redskins tonight u missed another crazy win ! #iforgiveyoutho
— Denard Span (@thisisdspan) August 19, 2014
The Nationals and Redskins have played overlapping home games on the same day several times since 2005. For the purposes of this post, here’s a look at attendance for those games in 2005 and 2012, the only two seasons (prior to this one) in which the Nationals were either leading their division or were within striking distance of a playoff spot in August.
Friday, August 26
Nationals defeated Cardinals, 4-1
Redskins defeated Steelers, 17-10 (Preseason)
The Nationals were 2.5 games out of the NL Wild Card spot. The announced attendance was 3,000 fewer fans than the night before, but still more than the average attendance for a home game in 2005.
Sunday, September 11
Nationals lost to Braves, 9-7
Redskins defeated Bears, 9-7
The Nationals trailed the Astros by four games in the NL Wild Card race and were also behind the Marlins and Phillies in the standings. Washington took a 7-5 lead with a five-run eighth inning, but the Braves scored three in the ninth off Chad Cordero. I remember stealing glances at a small TV showing this game in a bar while the Redskins beat the Bears in an ugly season opener. The crowd at RFK Stadium was about 2,000 fans fewer than the season average.
Sunday, October 2
Nationals lost to Phillies, 9-3
Redskins defeated Seahawks, 20-17 (OT)
The Nationals, who were out of the race, drew a nice crowd for their final game of the regular season. Many of those in attendance were Phillies fans. Philadelphia needed to win and have the Cubs beat the Astros to force a one-game playoff for the NL Wild Card, but Houston won to deny the Phillies a shot.
Sunday, September 23
Nationals lost to Brewers, 6-2
Redskins lost to Bengals, 38-31
The Nationals were 5.5 games up on the Braves in the NL East. Attendance wasn’t spectacular, but it wasn’t awful either. The average attendance at Nationals Park in 2012 was 30,010.
So were you one of the fans who skipped out on the Nationals game to head to Landover or watch Redskins-Browns at home? If so, please help me get a little more excited about preseason football, because apparently I’m doing something wrong.