A Little Bummed Out

Scott Watson

Well, the passage of a few days has helped temper the frustration and embarrassment I felt after watching the uncivil, competitive, and self-absorbed behavior of some of my fellow Nats fans. But I'm still a little bummed out by some of what I saw.

I certainly don't condemn everyone who attended Opening Night - it was predominantly a fun, excited, eager, *cold* bunch of baseball fans.

But as I walked through the spacious, open concourses, I was struck by how selfish and petty so many of my fellow fans were as they marched around the new building. I felt like I was on the Beltway in rush hour - countless people rushing headlong to their goal, unwilling to cede an inch of ground to anyone going in a different direction, or at a different pace. I saw a woman who appeared to be 65 or 70 turn from a Team Apparel outlet on the main concourse level and get bowled over by three laughing men. These well-dressed, self-impressed guys were too busy walking in circles to even notice they'd knocked her down. But she wasn't able to get up immediately; the crowd was in too big a hurry to let her up. And where exactly were they going?

I saw this repeated, in different forms, from 6:00 until after 7:30. As I carefully walked with my Souvenir Cup full of [Nats Sponsor] Zero past a high-def TV broadcasting Final Four coverage, the stooges who had gathered to watch wouldn't let anyone through. Some actually jockeyed for position to stop a family of four that had the temerity to be . . . walking along the only path to their seats. It would have taken these clowns three seconds to open a path, but they seemed to view the Battle of the Stadium Turf as a zero-sum game. If they were nice to anybody, they would somehow lose.

Time has helped me understand it a little. I now realize that 40,000 of us were herded into a huge new corral, hours before the game started. We were warned by the Nationals, the city, and the U.S. government that we'd damned well better arrive at those gates by at least 6:30 if we wanted to see the first pitch. Once in, we could stand in awe of the beautiful new building and all of our choices for activities and food. We could sit in our seats and smile about the amazing sightlines, and the huge scoreboard. Great; 10 minutes down, 85 minutes to go.

After that, we could shuffle along the concourse with the other tens of thousands of fans itching to see the game. And shuffle. After that we could shuffle some more. Oh, yeah - we could also buy a lot of stuff.

So I'm willing to chalk up the crowding and the boorish behavior to the special circumstances of ppening night. But in the future, maybe we can all interrupt our Very Important Conversations about our Very Important Work and our Very Important Plans (and don't forget our Very Important Cell Phone Calls!) to let somebody get through the line with his or her soda intact, or to help a little old lady to her feet. Then, filled with the joy of doing a good deed, we can go sit down and boo the umpires. As nature intended.

By Scott Watson  |  April 1, 2008; 12:08 PM ET  | Category:  Scott Watson
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On Saturday I was trying out everything from the ramps to the elevators (that is what happens when you get there early). despite the early hour, the elevator was packed with people and when I thought a woman was trying to push past a boy on crutches I encouraged her to let him go first. She snapped back at me, "He's my son!" All I could think was, well then you should want to push him even less than you are right now. She nearly spoiled my mood. Baseball always wins over bad behavior.

Posted by: Kyra | April 1, 2008 12:25 PM

Okay, perhaps slightly off target but this rant is about ordering Nats tickets on-line. I went online last night to order tickets for an upcoming game and it was far more painful (spiritually and financially) than most other sporting events, including the US Tennis Open.
The seats at $33 per ticket were not bad at first blush. But then there was a $4.50 per ticket "convenience fee". I always thought the ability for patrons to buy tickets 24 hours a day without staffing a ticket office was to the team's convenience, but silly me.

But the killer was a special fee of $1.75 for me to print the ticket at home. HUH? They are charging me to print the ticket at my home computer??

That is what is known in the trade as "gauging". The Nationals want to attract fans to come see their new venue and attract loyalty so they don't leave town again after 10 or 15 years of bad baseball. Is this the way to genererate loyalty? Maybe one of their PR reps can respond to you. I can tell you that the tickets purchased for the April game vs the Mets will be the only tickets I buy .

Posted by: andy | April 1, 2008 12:39 PM

Hmmm, crowds at opening night? People with their attention diverted during a Final Four game? How is this so?

Did the family being blocked politely ask the men to move? I'm pretty sure that would've worked.

I find people in DC are more then accomodating if you arent scared to talk to them. A simple "Excuse Me" is a good start.

Posted by: Fushezzi | April 1, 2008 1:10 PM

It took a stadium employee pysically unplugging the TV (and causing a near-riot - they had the nerve of compaing her to Darth Snyder) to break up the crowd. "Excuse me" wouldn't have done squat.

To be fair, installing a large TV in the narrowest part of the concourse wasn't the brightest idea, neither.

Posted by: Tomanaonymous | April 1, 2008 1:23 PM

It WASN'T just a big crowd -- it was a largely rich, largely full of itself crowd. The basketball game I ran into was being shown in a semiclosed section behind the plate, and the crowd didn't budge. Polite, angry, or pleading, they were going to do what they wanted, and FU to anyone else. I ran into the same thing at a lot of concession stands.

Posted by: CEW | April 1, 2008 1:33 PM

It WASN'T just a big crowd -- it was a largely rich, largely full of itself crowd.

Posted by: CEW | April 1, 2008 01:33 PM

Oh no! You mean to tell me there were rich people at the game?!? What is the world coming to?

Posted by: Barno | April 1, 2008 1:53 PM

Hey Barno, you drip.

I happen to have more money than God. And I can promise you that I am not self-absorbed.

That wouldn't be in keeping with the incredibly cool person that I am.


And I didn't notice anything amiss at all on Sunday night; my fellow Washingtonians were perfect.

I could tell because we told ourselves so.

Posted by: D Snyder | April 1, 2008 2:03 PM

"Excuse me" wouldn't have done squat.

But you didnt try it did you?

If at first you don't try...whine, whine again.

Posted by: Fushezzi | April 1, 2008 2:53 PM

Ooooooh -- looky here at Fuzzy Chevy mixing it up.

Of course the polite people tried "excuse me." I'm sure that "pardon me" and "hey, careful there!" Were uttered. And "coming through" was regarded highly.

The point is that, notwithstanding your contention that "people in DC are more then [sic]accomodating," people in Washington are not particularly solicitous of others, and can actually be right bastids.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 1, 2008 3:05 PM

Maybe they aren't solicitous to you, but I've found it quite the opposite. I have, however, found that if you don't ask for something (ie. someone to move) you won't get it. I'm finding it hard to believe that a family walked up to people in the crowd and asked to get thru and not only no one move, but they didnt even bother taking their eyes off the TV.

The more likely scenario is that the family walked up and wanted to get by but was too timid to ask member of the crowd to move and looked for an alternate route so they could blog about it two days later.

Posted by: Fushezzi | April 1, 2008 3:21 PM

"I'm finding it hard to believe that a family walked up to people in the crowd and asked to get thru and not only no one move, but they didnt even bother taking their eyes off the TV."
I can promise you that I wouldn't have wasted the time, nor the bandwidth, to comment if this hadn't been the case. And the crowd wasn't passively ignoring people asking to get through; the crowd actively blocked their way. Which is why I felt like mentioning it.

Posted by: Scott Watson | April 1, 2008 3:33 PM

Some of this could also be blamed on the Nats' failure to use the scoreboards/message boards for anything other than ads and fan shots on Sunday night. The Park was filled with (or perhaps, more accurately contained a high percentage) of sports fans who would be interested in knowing scores of sports other than baseball. Posting NCAA basketball scores on one of the multitude of electronic displays would have been appropriate and appreciated.

Posted by: Ed Ramras | April 1, 2008 3:59 PM

I came here to read about Spinoza and Dennis Martinez. What's all this?

Posted by: Sgt Koch Ringue | April 1, 2008 4:22 PM

Good blog post. Sometimes civil behavior can only be championed by calling out uncivil jerks for their behavior. Ignoring rude and indecent behavior (that poor senior lady) is as bad as practicing it. Given that baseball tends to be (And MLB wants it to be) a family outing, I'd wish us all to be a little more conscious of the impact our actions have on others. And frankly, I'd like to see less spitting on the new concours, too.

Posted by: pollyanna | April 1, 2008 4:25 PM

Where is Miss Manners when we need her?

Posted by: ecila dear | April 1, 2008 5:41 PM

You know, I was so absorbed in everything around me that I didn't notice this myself. (Yikes, I hope *I* wasn't so absorbed that I was rude to anyone!) But in hindsight, yea, you make a good point.

Glass half full: I hope it was because everyone was getting acquainted with things and in the future there will be a better flow of people and manners.

Posted by: NatsNut | April 1, 2008 5:46 PM

guess thats washington for ya, just a bunch of jerks and congressmen (no difference between the two however)

Posted by: gillum | April 1, 2008 11:50 PM

This is a very strange column. Of course he wouldn't dare mention the boorish behavior of people booing the President of the United States. Oh wait. He works for the Post.

Posted by: JT | April 2, 2008 8:20 AM

One thing DC is sorely lacking is people that will call others on their loutish behavior in public.

We are quite the passive-aggressive city. We will complain about terrible service in restaurants or piggish behavior on the Metro, but we rarely if ever will even attempt to address the source.

True, discretion is sometimes the better part of valor, but a lot of the reason customer service and public behavior in DC is so stunningly rude is because we are all too timid to do much about it.

Posted by: Hillman | April 2, 2008 8:26 AM

"Posting NCAA basketball scores on one of the multitude of electronic displays would have been appropriate and appreciated."


boooooooooooooooooo

Posted by: that's not baseball | April 2, 2008 8:36 AM

It seems that folks need to get out more. Anyone who as been to Disney or almost any other large venue has seen this "Disney mom" syndrome where "mom" rudely rushes past everyone else in feigned obliviousness to ensure that HER family gets there first.

This is not a Nats thang ~ it's a cultural thing. Society would certainly benefit with a huge dose of civility these days. Perhaps the media can lead by example! Yeah right.

Posted by: elephant-in-the-hood | April 2, 2008 9:05 AM

Think it's bad now? Wait'll the Nats make the playoffs! Sold out crowds of bandwagon jumpers who couldn't give a darn about the team until it becomes a contender will descend on the stadium with their scalped tickets, and act as if they own the darn place.

Posted by: John | April 2, 2008 9:33 AM

As a 20 games plan holder for 4 seasons, I can say to y'all that most of these peope including the NCAA jerks will not show up again. BASEBALL fans will and I have found them to most courteous.
@Andy
Blame it ou Ticketmast not the NATs. However, I find it worth $1.75 to have the ducats right there in my hand as opposed to sweating out the mail (which is the other choice.) Mets huh? We own the Mets. LETS GO NATS.

Posted by: A Hardwick-Soon to be Section 204 | April 2, 2008 9:44 AM

No one should be surprised. You went to opening day at a brand new ballpark. As someone above said, now the baseball fans will attend.

That said, people should not underestimate the power of the NCAA tournament.

Posted by: mcmc | April 2, 2008 10:07 AM

It looks like in andy we've found the one person who's never used Ticketbastard before.

Those "convenience fees" and such have nothing to do with the Nats. Ticketbastard pulls the same crap with all tickets they sell.

Posted by: kr | April 2, 2008 10:37 AM

My biggest crowd gripe was with the people who would simply stop walking in the middle of the concourse whenever they felt like it. Nothing like having the person -- or couple, or family -- in front of you suddenly just stop moving. It happens wherever there are large crowds (malls, city sidewalks, etc.), but knowing that doesn't make it any less annoying to deal with.

I was far less aggravated by the crowd than I was the concessionaires, though: on Opening Night I got up after the 4th inning to get a Nats dog from the stand right behind my section, and didn't get back to my seat until the 7th-inning stretch. And the line wasn't that long. I spent the bottom of the 7th all worked up about the concession situation, and my friend sympathized because he'd waited an hour for coffee during the Exhibition Game.

Posted by: Section 312 | April 2, 2008 10:39 AM

for kr:

Convenience fees are stupid. Ticket printing fees are a new level of shame. I don't even think Ticketmaster has stooped to that level. And even if it has, is that any way for the Nats to treat its fans? There is not exactly a winning baseball tradition going so the Nats should not get greedy.


I have ordered tickets in this fashion for the US Open Tennis championship in NY every year, and never paid these innane fees.

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Posted by: jacyhl yhebjfkm | April 12, 2008 1:35 AM

Die Herkunft des Koi

In der heutigen Zeit gezüchtete Kois kommen hauptsächlich aus
Japan, gezüchtet wird aber auch neben Südafrika in Singapur und Israel.
Es kommen gerade in Europa viele neue „Euro"-Mischformen vor, die aus den hochwertigen ‚
Original-Koi' aus Japan und bei uns ansässigen Koiarten entstanden oder gezüchtet worden sind.

find more at koi-mag com

Posted by: SLXTC | May 13, 2008 12:48 PM

Die Herkunft des Koi

In der heutigen Zeit gezüchtete Kois kommen hauptsächlich aus
Japan, gezüchtet wird aber auch neben Südafrika in Singapur und Israel.
Es kommen gerade in Europa viele neue „Euro"-Mischformen vor, die aus den hochwertigen ‚
Original-Koi' aus Japan und bei uns ansässigen Koiarten entstanden oder gezüchtet worden sind.

find more at koi-mag com

Posted by: SLXTC | May 13, 2008 12:48 PM

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