The Phillies fans celebrate
If the Eagles beat the Redskins and McNabb on Sunday in front of a gloating home crowd, it will likely mark a new low in Philadelphia-Washington bi-lateral athletic relationships. Already this week, there was one of those events where the Phillies get to clinch a division title in front of their own fans in Nationals Park while Philly columnists salute the invaders' confidence.
The Phillies fans, who provided the night's only noise, lingered long after the game, before marching out en masse, chanting "Let's go, Phillies!"
Those supporters displayed the kind of understandable swagger a new generation of Philadelphians possess. A few thousand of them drove or took the train here. They seemed certain that the Phillies' celebration, delayed this weekend, would take place in this riverside stadium, just south of the glowing Capitol dome.
They roamed Nationals Park's corridors in their uniform tops and red caps, swaggering proudly, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the young Nationals and their near-empty stadium recalled what baseball had once been in Philadelphia.
Nats players, as you've likely heard, said it was "kind of embarrassing" to see that spectacle, which led Nats Insider Mark Zuckerman to spew rage at his laptop.
You can talk about how obnoxious Philly fans are. You can talk about the manner in which the Nationals' front office helped encourage nights like this by all but busing in thousands of out-of-towners every time they play here. You can even talk about local baseball fans not caring enough to show up in an attempt to drown out the invaders. But those are all peripheral factors to the real issue. You want to draw your own fans and keep visitors out? Start winning.
The most sane assessment of the night I've read came at Nats Enquirer, of all places.
Monday night was awful. But we don't begrudge Phillies fans for invading Nationals Park again. And we don't begrudge Nationals fans for staying away. It may have been awful for Nationals fans and players, and embarrassing; but the chants and the taunting and the celebrating are all fair game. Monday night was a completely different animal than the embarrassment of Opening Day 2010, when the Nationals basically rolled out the red carpet for Phillies fans. We just hope the Phillies fans enjoy the free Nationals team photo. And we hope that the Lerners were watching.
Well, they were.
"I've just [soaked] in the footage in the back of my mind," Mark Lerner told reporters on Tuesday. "We'll have our own champagne one day."
And hey, if the Nats finish 3-2, they'll have won 70 games.
(Actual photos by Jonathan Ernst - Reuters and Mitchell Layton - Getty.)
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