Testing the Commitment to the Faithful Fan
As much as I wanted to see the Nats extend their scoreless-innings streak -- when things get this bad, a dark part of my soul wants to see just how low it can go -- I thought that attending a ceremony at which my daughter received a scholarship was just a bit more important. Now that I missed the game, I'm kicking myself that I missed out on the first real test of the Nationals' commitment to the "faithful fan."
Anyone who watches enough late, late conclusions to painful rain delays knows that there's a magic associated with the ballpark on those nights (or mornings). The sound eerily reminds me of pee-wee and little-league games. But that shouldn't really be a surprise, since once the trappings of MLB are stripped away, that's all the games are: They're just baseball games.
Admittedly, they're games played by hulking men with unbelievable skills. But they're still just games. As I watched television replays of the high school students from D.C. play at Nats Park over the weekend, I was reminded that they're all playing the same simple game, no matter where they're doing it. After a rain delay, a faithful fan has the rare chance to be wholly reminded of it.
As a faithful fan, you're a member of the tiny, intimate crowd of fellow sufferers who have stuck it out through the pain of a long, soggy rain delay. You deserve to be rewarded. Not with a discount coupon to the team store or a free hot dog, but with an acknowledgment that you're one of the idiots blessed by the Gods of Baseball on a given night. You've been stripped of all sense or reason.
And the only way I know for MLB to acknowledge that crazed condition is to give the faithful fan free rein o'er the park. Let him sit in the Emperor's Section behind home plate. Let him sit behind the dugouts. Let the faithful be baseball nuts, since that's clearly what they are.
From the scenes on television, it doesn't seem like the Nats embraced that philosophy. I hope I'm wrong. In the face of obvious difficulties -- if I'd paid $325 for a ticket, you can be damned sure I wanted every Johnny-come-lately escorted out of my sanctum -- I think the mark of a superior organization is the flexibility and imagination to deal with those special situations to make a lasting mark on the faithful fan.
With the awful level of play on the field right now, they need to make every connection to the faithful fan that they can.
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