Phillies fans aside, the atmosphere at Nationals Park over last weekend was vibrant and full of life. The fact is that Nationals Park feels different when the seats are filled. If it takes a division rivalry to pack the place, then so be it. But it's a whole other thing to sink to the level of the proposed enemy of the evening.
Nationals fans tend to be well-behaved while a certain contingent of the rival fan base tends to get a bit more riled up than their counterparts. After sitting through all three games of the first Phillies-Nats series of the year, I thought up a few guidelines for putting on the best face as a fan in the stands. Here are a few:
1. Pull a Bryce Harper (aka, "Speak with action")
If someone's bothering you - or, you know, plunking you in the back with a pitch because "that's the way old school baseball is played," shake it off, hold your head high, and keep on keeping on. If Harper can steal home after that, then there's nothing Nats fans can't do to dust off a few stiff comments from the competition.
2. Don't cheer with joy and proceed to heckle when an opposing player gets hurt
Jayson Werth ended up having both a good and bad time during the series. His three-run home run in game two helped spark the Nats' winning rally, but a play in game three left him with a broken wrist (to which some opposing fans cheered, "You deserve it" and "That's what you get"). It's of no matter that Werth came from the Phillies. He's a man who has a job playing baseball and he broke his wrist. Would you cheer if the opposing right fielder and cleanup batter on your kid's Little League team got hurt? Think about it.
3. Arguing for the sake of arguing leads nowhere
Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel was ejected three batters into game one after arguing with the umpires over an at-bat Harper had. It's a simple lesson to take away, but if things get heated and you're only going to explode then walk away. Why take a chance of getting kicked out of the park?
The overall theme here is to keep it classy inside the ballpark. Major League Baseball is an all-ages affair that brings families, friends and people of all walks of life together to watch a game. And when there are two rivals facing each other, there really is nothing more entertaining in any sport. Just remember to savor the experience and watch the game as opposed to making the whole event a sour outing for those around you.
Nats fans tend to not have a problem with keeping it classy, so maybe pass this along to any other baseball fans in town that might need a refresher on the protocol. It couldn't hurt.
Rachel Levitin blogs about the Nationals for We Love DC, and will be sharing her observations about baseball in the nation's capital as part of MASNsports.com's season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our little corner of cyberspace. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.