The Philadelphia Invasion — Taken Outdoors

Since late yesterday afternoon we’ve received numerous accounts of what WaPost’s Dan Steinberg has termed ‘The Philly Invasion’ on Opening Day at Nationals Stadium on Monday. One emailer told us that in her section of the stadium, packed with more than 100 seamheads, there weren’t 10 people rooting for the home team. Overall, this reader observed, the stadium seemed packed with “75 to 80 percent” support for the visitors.

Where have we seen this sad scene before?

Actually, in the olden days of hockey at Capital Centre, with weaker Caps’ clubs, we never saw anything approaching that level of invasion, even with Susan O’Malley at the marketing helm. But years ago, given the proximity of the Caps’ old barn to the Interstate, as well as the fierce Patrick division rivalries among the Mid-Atlantic franchises, there were many nights when Enemy Orange made life miserable for the home faithful. They arrived by the busloads, often drunk, and taunted and tormented. We lived through it.  

A couple of points about yesterday’s discouraging development (and we’re not even going to mention the home team pitching). The Phillies are today that city’s flagship franchise, travelers to the past two World Series, and winner of it in 2008. The rest of the town’s teams are forgettable. So there’s a lot of front-runners’ support steamrolling the turnstiling on the road. But more importantly, no local team can have an executive overtly reaching out, arms wide open, and embracing the enemy, as Nationals’ President Stan Kasten has. O’Malley and he must have attended the same MBA program. Sports Business Daily chronicled this Benedict Arnold act; so too has Steinz.   

If you build it, they will come: the onus isn’t on local fans to blindly support local teams no matter the malfeasance with which they’re managed; it’s on ownership and management of the franchises To Do What Ted Did. The Nationals arrived from Montreal a solid if unspectacular club, and not long after they fired Frank Robinson and jettisoned quality talent they went into the toilet. They watched a city build a state-of-the-art stadium for them and have shown their appreciation ever since by fielding godawful teams there, since day one. And as salt in the wound, the team president, channeling his inner O’Malley, seeks “great atmosphere” in the form of hordes of enemy fans filling the home seats.

It’s revolting. Take note, too, of the management of the Redskins and Orioles up the road a bit, and how in recent years their seats have increasingly been filled by the Enemy. Our Running Presidents yesterday must have thought they were back at the Constitutional Convention.     

Let’s not forget another distinctive factor at work here, which Steinz notes with snazzy snark: “[Philly’s] fans evidently don’t have work responsibilities.”

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13 Responses to The Philadelphia Invasion — Taken Outdoors

  1. odessa steps magazine says:

    As someone who likely sees more games away from home and is generally a fan of teams not within driving distance of my house (except for Hershey), I have no problems with visiting team fans, assuming, like home team fans, they are well-behaved.

    Of course, Philly fans are Philly fans and generally conform to the stereotype regarding their fan base.

    I enjoy being a Caps fan and mostly applaud their management, but will almost always disagree with the “our house” phlosophy.

  2. Puzzle Palace says:

    While Lerner and Kasten are looking only at the bottom line, they are quickly alienating what fan base is left by letting hordes of visiting fans purchase group tickets before offering them to locals. Even before the current incarnation of the Caps, Leonsis recognized the importance of having home ice advantage.

  3. Thefingerman says:

    Never forget the night in the mid-80s at a Caps-Flyers game. Some already drunk Flyers fan stood up before the game and yelled to everyone around him, “Let’s get this out of the way. Rod Langway? Fag.” Always classy, those Philly fans.

  4. Eric says:

    Um, I’ll be honest, the Nationals have a horrible on field product. Attendance by homers will fail until the organization commits to improving the team. Personally, if tickets are offered by a connection, I’ll head down and enjoy the ball game. But I’m not going to buy tickets or all inclusive packages like I do for the Caps until it appears like the Nats organization is taking steps to improve the product.

  5. Billy says:

    “[Philly’s] fans evidently don’t have work responsibilities.”

    How about the fact that since the Phillies actually have a good team, it’s freaking impossible to get a ticket to opening day. But 2 hours down 95, a ticket can be had, and a cheap one at that. Get a team and then fill the seats. Till then, stop bitching about people from Philly spending money in your city.

  6. john says:

    This from a Philly transplant near Boston. Tried to take my 2 children to the game but could not get tickets. All of this seems like sour grapes from a very disenfranchised fan base. Many in the crowd were 20 somethings or college students based on the pictures.Like me they could have been on vacation which many people take around Easter. Considering that the unemployment rate in Philly and the nation is a result of you folks in DC and your politics, you really should keep your comments about assumed unemployeed to yourself. Go Phillies. We will be in DC to see the Phils this summer along with thousands of other.

  7. Andrew says:

    I have the fond memory of a Sunday Caps game at the Cap Centre where the Eagle Fans, after spending the day at the Vet, popped down on their bus caravan to fill the upper rafters of a heated Patrick Division match.

    Suffice it to say, security was busy, beer sales were huge, and by the end of the game, most of the seats around me were empty.

    It was very memorable.

  8. CapsFan1975 says:

    Yes, I was there at the Nats game and saw the number of Phillies fans there. Many were yelling “Nationals suck”; etc. I was thinking, “Why hate on our team? Save it for the Mets or a true arch-rival.”

    And to think that the Phillies have been a secondary rooting interest in baseball in our household. My husband (who was born 30 miles south of Philly) was a Phillies and Braves fan until the Nats showed up here.

    No wonder we Caps fan have referred to that city as Philthy. Some day, when the Nats are better than the Phillies, Nats fans will show up there and do the same. But I’d like to think that Nats fans would have more class. And then again, I see the Mets as the bigger enemy than the Phillies.

  9. Hittman says:

    LOL @ THEFINGERMAN.

  10. Jake says:

    Exactly what I want to read about when I visit a hockey blog.
    Three nostalgic sentences and a whole bunch of nothing about the world’s most boring sport.

  11. Debbie says:

    Iam a Phillies fan who would have loved to have been at that game. But I did have to work. I hear you have a lovely stadium. I was at the old one, a real pit. It’s too bad your team cannot fill the new all by itself. And as for the Mets, let their fans fill up your stadium and you’ll see how bad it can really be. Yes, some young Phils fans get out of control, but you are selling the beer to them and they are generating profits your own team can’t. Too bad, so sad. You team usually does give us a run. Yesterday was not one of their banner days. I am sure they will try again. I can guarantee it won’t be in October.

  12. TreKronor says:

    I am a life long Phillies fan too and if the DC whiners were real fans, they would have bought tickets to the opening game. Put a lid on it and go to the game if you are so upset. I go to these games and there are very few real DC baseball fans to begin with (and even those who might be are too busy writiing emails on their blackberries and talking about everything else but the game). Remember – this is DC’s 3rd bite at the apple – 2 franchises already skipped town given the small fan base. And quit dissing on Philly – the former majority owner of the Phillies – Bill Giles – was instrumental in getting the Expos to move to D.C. and you should shower him with some props.

  13. Billy says:

    CAPSFAN1975:

    The fact that your husband grew up outside Philly and roots for the Phillies and a division rival in the Braves ruins all of his credibility as a fan.

    Also, see Trekronor’s comments about your team leaving town. The Nats will never be better than the Phillies in your lifetime.

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