by Adam Kilgore
Washington Post Nationals Blog
The only obvious thing about all those Phillies fans from opening day is the anger. A lot of Nationals fans who attended believe the presence of so many visiting fans spoiled their opening day, and a good number of them are under the impression that the Nationals aided and abetted the interlopers.
Definitely, I can say the Nationals did not discourage them. After that, I think it gets kind of complicated. What should the Nationals have done? Should the Nationals have turned away large groups from Philly? Should they have sold fewer groups seats, period?
There are two viewpoints that probably cut to both sides of those questions. A Nationals fan named Daniel Furth e-mailed the Post yesterday and called Monday, “the worst baseball experience ever.” He’s the fan I talked to for the story in the birdcage liner. He goes to about 20 games each year and he usually brings with him a small group of people.
“I just think that they are really short-sighted about how to build a fan base,” Furth said. “Sure, they’re getting revenue and they’re selling tickets. But building a fan base would have been making sure these tickets were available to people all over the D.C. area.”
Another viewpoint comes from a Phillies fan named Brian Michael, who I also talked to for the story. In 2004 he started a Web site, Phillies Nation, that has turned into one of the more prominent fan blogs. He organized one of the bus trips. He said he doesn’t make much money off of them, he just does it for fun, the same reason he started his site.
“If Nats fans simply organized themselves into a group of 25 people, they can purchase group tickets just like all the other groups (including Phillies groups),” Michael wrote in an e-mail after we spoke on the phone. “So, if you are a fair weather fan that just wants to go to the important games, then you have no right complaining. … The Nats ticket office doesn’t do anything egregiously out of the ordinary. … if you care enough about the team to go to Cincinnati game on July 21, then you’ll find a way to get tickets to Opening Day (e.g. the Nats will offer them). If you don’t care that much, then you can’t complain about not getting to Opening Day. Phillies fans care and we fill stadiums both home and away.”
That’s another way to look at it, which I’m sure will produce more anger. The bottom line is probably this: Whatever the Nationals did or did not do, a lot of their fans left opening day, really, really mad at them, and how can that be good?
For further context, I also wanted to include the e-mail back-and-forth I had with Stan Kasten. .