Closing the Nats Season With Two Donkeys
I was certainly among the least cheerful of Nats observers this season, and I'll blame that on no one but myself. Well, and whoever sewed the Natinals jerseys. And the timekeeper for that giant clock. And Daniel Cabrera.
But I still believe in the fundamental goodness of the D.C. sports fan, and with a seven-game season-closing win streak, even the loss numbers weren't that bad. Heck, eight teams in my lifetime have lost more than 205 games in back-to-back seasons. The fans, too, went out with a bang, showing up despite the bad record to watch that season-ending home sweep and that season-ending home walkoff homer.
Plus, there were two guys dressed like donkeys in honor of Adam Dunn, and that's certainly the sort of behavior we need to encourage.
"A lot of people ask, 'Are you guys Democrats?' " admitted Chris Reams, aka Big Donkey, in an e-mail exchange.
Well, sure they did, but still, that's what I'm talking about. The Nats have plenty of earnest fans, but the next step is to bring out the weirdos.
"The lack of weirdness was one of the main reasons for the donkey suits," agreed Ben Goodhue, aka Dunnkey. "I think the bigger problem right now is that people don't like to sit behind our ears."
"The Redskins have Chief Zee, Hogettes, a super hero guy, etc.," Reams continued. "We wouldn't be on anyone's radar at a Redskins game. Nats Park has a few rules that make it hard, too. I brought a broom when we went for the sweep against Toronto and couldn't bring it in because it's a weapon. No one's painting 'Nats' on their chests because shirts must be worn at all times."
But donkey suits are better than bare chests, any day. As for the specifics, back in April, the two fans (and law school grads) began discussing the need for iconic fans and zaniness in the cheap seats. The donkey things seemed like an easy enough gimmick, and Goodhue reached out to Houston's Little Pumas fans for help. They even planned to name their section the Donkey Deck.
The donkey suits and heads available online were too expensive, and Goodhue's wife had taught him how to sew last year, so he whipped up a the design while studying for the Virginia bar and Reams approved. The latter's inability to sew meant his donkey didn't debut until the final two home games of the year, when the costume wasn't even quite finished, but you can't really use your Big Donkey outfit during the offseason, so he made it work. And the reaction?
"Dunn refuses to look at us," Goodhue wrote. "I've seen a couple players point, but none have said anything in particular."
Mild. Fans, though, reacted as they should.
"Fans respond well the donkeys, although only about half of them recognize the Dunn reference," Reams explained. "It's a little easier to get people to put rally caps on or cheer as a donkey. I think that when a grown man dressed like a cartoon makes the suggestion, no one worries that an inside-out hat looks foolish."
As for the future, the donkeys weren't agreed. Goodhue, a native Wisconsinite, is glum, worried about the pitching, the talent level and the free agent budget. Reams, a lifelong D.C. sports fan, is optimistic, not because of the fluky winning streak but because he sees the talent level increasing. As for the weird fans? Well, they're coming.
"Winning brings fans," Goodhue wrote. "Fans bring originality and weirdness."
"I agree with Ben," Reams added. "The biggest issue is winning, and as the Nats win more, hopefully we'll be part of a sea of freaks."
Here's to that.
(See also: a Nats 2009 epitaph.)
Posted by: futbolclif | October 5, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: dclance | October 5, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse
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