Washingtonians are dead last in ballpark etiquette. Here's how they can improve.
That's the good news. The bad news is we Washingtonians are dead last in baseball fan etiquette. I don't know if that's because all of this success has brought an infestation of new fans to the park who have no idea how to watch a game, or that we don't really have a baseball tradition in this town after losing two teams, or if I'm just getting older and more get-off-my-lawny. But one thing I do know for sure: I go to about half the home games and I miss a lot of the action because people are standing up way too much during play. Like that guy two sections over—why is he suddenly standing during an at-bat? And why did that woman five rows down choose bases-loaded-two-outs as the perfect time to get out of her seat to submit to her jones for Dippin' Dots, "the ice cream of the future?" I'm not even sure many of the new fans are aware a game is going on.
They say the hardest thing to do in all of sportsdom is to hit a baseball with a bat, but sometimes the hardest thing to do is see the feat from the stands. There's not much I can do about it when I'm at the game other than yell "Down in front!" And I doubt the Nationals' brass would go for my idea of distributing tasers to season-ticket holders. I feel a bit like Montgomery Burns when he famously said, "This anonymous clan of slack-jawed troglodytes has cost me the election, and yet if I were to have them killed, I would be the one to go to jail." So I'm left with my soapbox, and it is here where I can reach the audience that I most covet: the one that is sitting down.
Instead of posting "Make Some Noise" on the scoreboard to tell patrons when to cheer, the Nats should tell them when to sit down. My favorite usher, Martha, does her best, but when she politely asks people to wait until the play is over to make their way down the row, she gets puzzled glares from a lot of the ticket holders. Sadly, the words "entitled" and "Washingtonian" go together like Roger Clemens and denial. People walk around in their bubbles, completely oblivious to the other 40,000 people trying to watch the game.
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you probably think I'm the uptight Puritan who is concerned that somewhere someone is having a good time. Well, that is false, because I am a Presbyterian. They say the hardest thing to do in all of sportsdom is to hit a baseball with a bat, but in Washington sometimes the hardest thing to do is see the feat from the stands. So sit down during play, turn off your phone, tip the beer guys generously, and pay attention to the drama unfolding in front of you on that big green field where all the people are running around. If you do, you'll find that baseball rewards your close attention more than any other sport. And I might not have to take those anger management classes after all.