Remember when Randy Johnson won his 300th game at Nationals Park in 2009? It was a rainy day in early June, and most fans probably assumed that they wouldn't play. As it was, there was a 36-minute rain delay before the first pitch, and it never really stopped raining throughout the game.
The Nationals started that day with a record of 15-37, and had it been a nice day, likely would've drawn a much better crowd than the announced 16,000-plus. But 2009 was a time when many national baseball scribes were still looking for a reason to savage baseball for putting a team back in D.C., and this was just another opportunity.
I may be premature, but Stephen Strasburg, part two, may get similar reviews from some of the assembled out-of-town media who are in a somewhat crowded press box tonight. The weather forecast for tonight was terrible, and driving down here from Baltimore County was an adventure early this afternoon. Nevertheless, around 5 this afternoon it stopped raining in southeast Washington, and the game started on time before a pretty small crowd.
I was told pre-game that the advance sale tonight was exceptionally good, and with decent weather, there would've been a solid walk-up. However, the two sections down the left field line upstairs that sell for $5 and only go on sale before game time are virtually empty at the moment, and that wouldn't be the case if the forecast were even half-decent.
With other parts of the country experiencing weather-related problems far more dire, you can't blame local fans for taking a cautious attitude, but someone surely will. I can't help but think of a famous photo of the stands at Griffith Stadium from a Nats' game against the A's in September of 1954, a make-up game on a Thursday afternoon. The announced crowd was 460, though the photo makes it look more like 46. For years some baseball writer would drag out that photo and use it in a column as if that kind of fan support was typical in Washington.
Here's hoping no one makes as issue out of the empty seats here tonight, but don't say I didn't warn you.