Last month, Will Leitch got a few locals worked up — or possibly just me — by comparing Nats fans to Cardinals fans, who are essentially baseball-watching superhumans who only cheer at appropriate moments, always cheer at the perfect volume, never give up on their team, are unfailingly polite, and typically smell of fresh rose petals.
Nats fans, of course, do not, do not, do not, are not, and do not.
“They just don’t get all the little things,” Leitch noted. “The Nationals ushers follow the excellent policy that no one can be allowed into their seating section until an at-bat is over, but to a man, every Nationals fan ‘suffering’ under this policy complained loudly and vociferously. By the end of the game, a 3-2 Cardinals victory, it was mostly Cardinals fans left in the lower sections. We even got a Let’s Go, Cardinals! chant in there, and weren’t drowned out. As a home crowd, you can’t let that happen, not in a one-run game, not when you have one of the best teams in baseball.”
The horror! The shame! Anyhow, my reflexive defensiveness aside, apparently even D.C. media members have noticed some issues with the Nats’ growing-but-still-inexperienced fan base. MASN’s Bob Carpenter, for example.
“Well, I think there are times when we’re sitting up in the booth saying, ‘Everybody get up, get up,’ most notably during the Strasburg game on Sunday,” the team’s play-by-play voice said Tuesday morning on 106.7 The Fan. (Audio here.) “In the seventh inning he struck out the first two guys, and then when Laynce Nix came up to bat, everybody was just sitting on their hands. With one strike a few people started clapping; two strikes some more people started clapping. And maybe by the time that at-bat ended a couple hundred people were standing. There should have been 30,000 people standing.”
“And then Strasburg in the eighth inning got the double-play ball on Ryan Howard, and then he’s facing Jimmy Rollins, who Nationals fans should be thirsting to see make an out,” Carpenter went on. “And again, just a couple hundred people standing. If we were in San Francisco or St. Louis or Boston, the really really great baseball places, where people really get what happens – not just in the eighth and ninth inning, but in the earlier innings – the entire ballpark would have been standing up with two outs to cheer Strasburg through seven, and then to cheer him through eight.
“And that’s what I’d like to see more of, is our fans be a little more aware of certain situations and the fact that Hey, this is our guy, he’s on the mound, he’s about to go seven, he’s about to go eight for the second time,” Carpenter said. “Those are special moments, and I would like to see a little more response. And we have some fans who are still learning this game. I mean, this franchise is in its ninth year, and we still have a lot of new people coming to the ballpark who haven’t been there that much before. So I’m sure the hard-core fans who have been with the Nats since ’05, they’re the ones on their feet and they understand certain situations.
“And time takes care of these situations,” Carpenter concluded. “I mean, look at the attendance. Yesterday [was] 41,260. I think the Nats leap-frogged the Cubs [Monday] into fifth overall in the National League in attendance, behind the Dodgers, the Giants, the Cardinals, the [Phillies] and I think the Nats are No. 5 now. So that’s a feather in our cap. So the fans are showing up. At times, they just need to be a little more into it.”