If you’d like to get an idea of just how thoroughly Phillies fans have co-opted Nationals Park in D.C. as their own, just take a look at this article from Dan Steinberg at the Washington Post, in which Steinberg toured the stadium during the Phillies 5-4 win Monday to find huge roving hordes of Phillies fans and entire stands devoted to selling Phillies merchandise.
On my Green line train to the stadium, I would guess obvious Phillies fans outnumbered obvious Nats fans by at least 4-1. I went down a line for shaved ice during a middle inning and counted 25 people in Phillies gear, 5 in Nats gear and 2 in Red Sox gear. That was harrowing.
Deadspin also posted video today (since taken down by MLB) of a Phillies fan throwing BACK Danny Espinosa’s home run ball. Now that’s when you know you’ve made yourself at home in the visiting stadium.
This Phillies invasion in D.C. is nothing new. I went to a Nats/Phillies game in D.C. last year with my kid and there was barely a Nats fan to be seen in the vicinity. Now, there are obvious reasons for this. The Phillies are very good. The Nats are bad but improving. Lousy teams always cede some of the crowd to their visitors, particularly ones so close by. In fact, the Arizona Cardinals were once notorious for giving the Dallas Cowboys an extra home game every year when they were both in the same division, and those teams aren’t within driving distance of each other. It’s hard for teams to prevent that from happening if the home team is playing horribly.
Still, this Nats takeover is reaching historic levels. The Phillies have made the stadium their second home venue, and that’s a powerful weapon in your arsenal when you’re jockeying for the lead in the division. So take a bow, Phillies fans in DC. You’ve annexed the Nationals field. May as well plant your flag on the pitcher’s mound.