SOUTHEAST DC —
Clap your hands madly.
Sit down with crossed arms.
Lose your mind with happiness.
Lose your mind with frustration.
The MLB playoffs are back in DC, and the Nationals delivered the home crowd every emotion they could have expected in October baseball, except the chesty satisfaction of a hard fought win. Instead, it was a long trudge for Nats fans down the concourses and out onto Half Street as the Giants grinded out a 3-2 win today.
By the time the Nats figured out a way to knock Jake Peavy (Jake Peavy!?) out of the game, Stephen Strasburg had already allowed the damage that proved to be too much for a lethargic Nats lineup to overcome.
It started out like any DC event starts out, with a big pop of excitement and anticipation. Cigars were smoked, stiff liquor drinks were drank, as Metro train after Metro train unleashed crowds of red clad revelers onto the Navy Yard.
A fantastic regular season was in our wake, but choppy waters lay ahead. Nats fans are a quirky bunch, consistently unhappy yet forever loyal to their team. The playoffs bring a large contingent of an opposing viewpoint, bandwagoners who expect excellence and a good time. The shout of “I want my money back” in my section as the final out was recorded didn’t surprise my ears; I’ve lived in DC long enough to understand the transient and fickle fan base.
Still, for every Johnny Come Lately there is a growing number of true baseball fans that inhabit Nats Park. As Peavy incessantly threw over to first base with Jayson Werth on 1st, I casually lobbed to my friend “are they really that worried about Werth takin’ a bag?” That question was randomly answered by the woman sitting to my right when she informed me that Werth is in the top 10 all time in stolen base percentage per attempt. A random stat no doubt, but a refreshing exchange in a park where I’ve seen people reading their iPad’s during playoff games.
There was excitement for sure; Bryce Harper’s 3rd deck shot over Jackie Robinson’s retired number is a story I’ll tell folks for a long time. Strasburg, his young phenom counterpart was evidently not up to the challenge as loud outs in the 1st inning foreshadowed bleeding base hits in the middle innings that led to his departure from the game.
Ian Desmond was another disapointment as he struck out in his last two at bats, stranding five total.
The crowd was left in a pickle, as Peavy carried a labor intensive no hitter into the 5th inning. A town that loves a good event was jilted, as a grueling four hour game lumbered towards the finish line, with few theatrics to entertain.
A DC playoff game brings out all the best and worst of the District. Air Force flyovers and the extra juice from the crowd on every pitch still trumps all the directionless bandwagon hoppers looking for the next big event to attend.
Chants of “Let him stay! Let him stay!” met a drunken, shirtless Nats fan with a curly W tattoo on his bicep as he was escorted from section 224. I encountered this exchange while I crouched in the ascending staircase that led to my seat, clutching a beer in my right hand and two hot dogs with mustard and relish in my left as I waited for a Werth at bat to end.
Werth struck out looking; I navigated around a sweat drenched beer man as he turned to me and grunted.
“Welcome to the playoffs.”