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Phillies fans absolutely took over Washington yesterday

Apr 6, 2010, 12:15 PM EDT

Anyone who was at the Phillies-Nationals game or watched it on TV yesterday was well-aware that the joint was overrun by Philly fans, but I hadn’t realized how overrun until I read some of the commentary about it all this morning: “tens of thousands” of Philly fans came to Washington yesterday, many as the part of a concerted, group-ticket-purchasing effort.

I lived in D.C. for three years and it’s obvious that most people there come from someplace else, thereby explaining the lack of deep, city-wide loyalties to any sports teams not named “Redskins.” And heck, even the Redskins are more of a social networking event these days than a true rooting interest. But to get shown up so terribly on Opening Day in your own ballpark is just poor.

There have to be 40,000 die-hards in a region of five million. The team can’t choose who they sell their tickets to, but they can structure their promotions to do more to develop a local interest, can’t they?

  1. Disgusted - Apr 6, 2010 at 12:31 PM

    The stadium was half Phillies by my guess – and they were of course louder. Apparently the Nats group sales dept sold thousands of tickets to Philly groups long before they went on sale to the public. Actual Nats fans (there really are some) were shut out because the tickets were already sold to folks putting together bus tours from Philly. They even thanked all the Philly groups on the scoreboard.
    Crappy team, low payroll, no loyalty to local fans. An embarrassment. Stan Kasten and the Lerners are happy liars, talking about their commitment to DC.

  2. APBA Guy - Apr 6, 2010 at 12:41 PM

    I lived in DC for 20 years before I came out to the land of perpetual sunshine, and still have many friends in DC. Unfortunately, Disgusted sums it up pretty well in his comment.
    There is a LOT of hostility towards the owners, who are widely regarded by fans as dishonest and cheap. I have 3 friends who had season tickets who have given them up with no plans to renew, ever, so long as the owners are named or related to the Lerners. My other friends attend a game once in a while, if the visiting team is of interest to them.
    I think the Lerners have wrongly concluded that the model franchise is the Orioles. Maybe it’s the proximity. Maybe it’s the one-sided TV arrangements in Angelos’ favor. Whatever, Lerner and Angelos make Wolfe and Fisher look good, despite putting similar lousy product on the field.

  3. OldNo7 - Apr 6, 2010 at 12:42 PM

    Many teams in many sports will have a priority presale for locals only. The Nats could have initially limited ticket purchases to buyers whose credit card billing addresses are in DC, Maryland or Virginia. That way visiting fans can still attend a game, but they’re a bit dispersed.
    Of course, Nats fans would need to actually buy the tickets alloted to them, and not scalp to Philadelphians. My take is that it takes a generation to establish the core of a fan base–here in Colorado it’s just beginning to happen.
    “kagan throughout”

  4. Jeff V. - Apr 6, 2010 at 12:48 PM

    “There have to be 40,000 die-hards in a region of five million.”
    Have a look at the MASN viewer numbers for National games.

  5. JE - Apr 6, 2010 at 12:56 PM

    As you know, Craig, I was at yesterday’s game and found the crowd to be divided 60/40 in favor of the visiting team overall with perhaps an 80/20 advantage in the outfield seats.

    Until the team on the field shows signs of life, Nats fans will stay away in droves. Moreover, the game was played on a gorgeous Easter Monday against the defending NL champions who happen to be situated less than 2.5 hours away by car, meaning that it was a perfect roadtrip opportunity. (FWIW, I was at the Nats home opener against your Braves two years ago and the ratio there was probably 80/20 in favor of the home team.)

  6. YankeesfanLen - Apr 6, 2010 at 12:59 PM

    I am shocked- Shocked at such a thing! It’s like some Universe fans accidentally going to Camden Yards. Oh, the humanity of having a fan base.

  7. Jonny5 - Apr 6, 2010 at 1:00 PM

    Maybe if they built a decent team that would build a fan base there would be more fans in the stands? Ya think? It’s opening day, they are playing in Washington. No one saw this coming? Whenever Philly plays in Washington there’s always a lot of Philly fans. It is expected. Captcha: of pummel That’s kinda how the game turned out anyway.

  8. Will - Apr 6, 2010 at 1:05 PM

    Wow, that sucks. I’m boycotting the games when the Red Sox come to Denver this year, because I dislike being in the minority rooting for the home team. But to have the home team actively sell out to the more popular road team is really low.

  9. CausewaySt - Apr 6, 2010 at 1:08 PM

    don’t worry, these Philly fans will be gone soon, just like pre-2006. Boston will take over Citizens again this summer, which should keep them quiet for awhile

  10. Philly Fan - Apr 6, 2010 at 1:08 PM

    If you want a playoff contending team you need to show support in good or bad times.
    It take money to put a contending team on the field.
    So either buy the tickets or shut-up.
    Oh as for the Nationals thanking the fans from Philly that is just good business.
    Stop blameing the owners for your inability to show support for your team. It isn’t totally there fault. The city is also to blame. The metro stops running so makeing it more costly to the fan.
    In the end you have to remember that it takes time to build a contending team. They are primarally an expansion team.

  11. bigcatasroma - Apr 6, 2010 at 1:08 PM

    What they should do is what soccer teams from Europe/South America (and presumably everywhere not “the United States) do — allot a certain amount of tickets for the away team to purchase, and sell to their fans, and then have them sit in certain areas of the stadium. I think it gives a cool vibe, enemies in one dark, hidden corner of the home stadium, united in their travels. Each team’s allocation can be based on a 3 year trend in overall attendance or something. That way, the Phillies would only have had 3k – 5k or something there, instead of “tens of thousands” . . .

  12. phillymike - Apr 6, 2010 at 1:10 PM

    For $89 people in Philly could get a bus ride down and back from DC and get a ticket to the game. For that price Phil’s fans got to see the opening day game with Halladay pitching for the first time as a Phillie. And see the President throw out the first pitch. For that price you would be lucky to find standing room only tickets at the other stadiums in the northeast area of the country.
    So until they turn the Nats around and get fans in the seats the Phils fans will be there every time the Phils come to town.
    I am going down there to catch a few games at the end of July when the Phils are in town for a 3 game set.

  13. JE - Apr 6, 2010 at 1:15 PM

    “If you want a playoff contending team you need to show support in good or bad times.”

    Funny how Philly fans conveniently forget how Mets fans owned the Vet in the mid to late 80s and again a decade ago.

  14. Route36West - Apr 6, 2010 at 1:33 PM

    Im a Phillies fan so Im proud of what happened in Washington but Im with you the Nationals could have done something to counter act the problem. I can understand it happening this year because its the first time it really happened but next year the Nationals front office will be prepared for it and should do something about it.
    They could do something like 40% of opening day tickets as a discounted two game package. Something like buy 1 ticket get half off another ticket of your choosing. This way it would stop other teams fans from purchasing the tickets because there not going to go to another nationals game especially if its not there team thats playing them. This would gurantee that atleast 40% of the crowd is the home team while still leaving plenty of tickets available to fans who only have the money for 1 game.
    Thats just 1 of the ways the nationals could counter act extremely loyal fan bases like the Phillies.

  15. phillymike - Apr 6, 2010 at 1:49 PM

    Good luck with that. 28,750 of the 44,000 seats in Citizens Bank Park have been sold as season tickets this year. And to even get a ticket to one of the BoSox vs Phils games you had to buy a six game pack of tickets. So if you Beantown boys want to come down to see a game this season its going to cost you a pretty penny on Stubhub.

  16. The Truth - Apr 6, 2010 at 2:33 PM

    Opening day for our back to back World Series appearing Phils, new nr1 pitcher taking the mound for the first time and DC only 2 hours away what Phillies fan wouldn’t want to go. I would have gone if I could have taken off Monday. If you look at any sporting event were a Philly team is visiting you will notice a large number of our fans there, not usually at theses levels though. Philly fans are a passionate bunch and we follow our teams through good and bad (we need to let them know if they are good or bad, how else will they know).
    The Nats are a young team and only been around for a couple of years you can’t expect a large die hard following, that takes generations to develop. For the guy saying Mets fans owned the Vet in the 80s and 90s I was there and don’t recall that. Maybe his memory is hazy after the beatings he took in the 700 level. Then again they do tend to group together for protection so he may have thought they were there in force.

  17. Wooden U. Lykteneau - Apr 6, 2010 at 2:38 PM

    I fail to see how any of these methods would prevent a confederate (read: someone with a local address) from purchasing group tickets on behalf of the opposing-team fans’ interests. Furthermore, if you believe that none of the season ticket holders didn’t part with their Opening Day tickets for someone willing to pay above face value, you’re similarly deluded. Yes, even the racist-named football team’s fans did this when the Steelers came to town in November 2008, and these fans are inarguably more devoted.

  18. Old Gator - Apr 6, 2010 at 3:35 PM

    Feesh fans everywhere…well, there aren’t nearly enough of them to be everywhere so to rephrase it, everywhere there are Feesh fans they’re bending over for you, Craig. Keeck us next.
    These comments about attendance and hostility to ownership really set off the opinion meter that goes peeng! here in Macondo. Feesh fans sympathize with you Gnats fans, unless you’re among the endometriotic surfeit of lawyers and of lobbyists, most of whom are degenerated lawyers – yes, I know that sounds redundant, but it really isn’t – in DC. But on the other hand, if only half of the fans who showed up for that game were the usual run of Feelies louts burping beer and horsemeat and velveeta methane, you got off easy. Try coming to a Feesh game some time and see what 40,000 Mutts and Borg fans look, sound and smell like in a stadium where all but 42,000 of the seats are covered with tarps.

  19. Utley's hair - Apr 6, 2010 at 6:55 PM

    I remember in previous seasons when Gnats fans have voiced their displeasure loud and clear when Phightins Phans have shown up at their home games against the Phils. But, it’s difficult to feel sorry for them when I get emails from the Phillies and pushing tickets because the team in DC can’t seem to sell them.

  20. Michael - Apr 7, 2010 at 12:42 AM

    DC United drew 20,000 for their opening match on Saturday.
    That would put them at 5-10,000 more supporters than actual Nats fans at the Opening Day game.
    And yet the Nats are the team that got DC to say “how high” when they said “jump” for a new stadium, while DCU supporters dodge the chunks falling off of RFK with no end in sight.

  21. Chasin3 - Apr 7, 2010 at 9:21 AM

    Disgusted: I’m sorry, you thought that was THANK YOU message from philly tailgate? No, it was directions since we are from out of town and YOUR stadium could not accommodate our buses in the area. I am absolutely appalled about all of the trash that’s been talked on Philly just for that message, it really is amazing how you can turn bitterness into anger on so many different levels.

  22. chasin3 - Apr 7, 2010 at 9:23 AM

    Causewayst: Actually, the Phils tickets for the Boston games were sold by raffle only, so no bus trip. nice try though haha

  23. chasin3 - Apr 7, 2010 at 9:25 AM

    JE: No, actually we don’t forget, but lets see how you guys act when you reach the top. You’re going to be just as proud as we are. If you guys are as loyal to your team as you say you are, then you will be invading other stadiums too. It’s just how it goes when your team gets going the right way

  24. steve carlton - Apr 7, 2010 at 1:29 PM

    as a life long pillie fan it did my heart good to see the best fans in baseball show the nats and the country what being a phillie fan is all about,dont hate us,try and be like us…WORLD F…ING CHAMPS!

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