Phillies fans are some of the very best in baseball. They travel like mad and create entire t-shirt empires out of dust; slowly reducing the tired “violent/bitter Philly sports fan” stereotype to rubble. It is almost as though a nine-year run of sustained success is good for business!
Understandably, some of their division rivals do not view the invading hordes from Eastern PA/South Jersey so warmly. Phillies fans descend on parks in Washington, New York, and Pittsburgh like leather-lunged locusts in support of their Fightin’ Phils. Thanks to interleague, Phillies fans filled Camden Yards for every O’s/Phillies series even when the Phillies were bad, so “they could go see a team in a nice stadium instead of the Vet” says Phillies fan/writer/bon vivant Dan McQuade.
With their team on the upswing and management making a commitment to winning, the Nationals have said enough. They are tired of hearing their players booed at home and they are taking action! Guess what, Phillies fans: you are welcome at Nats Park NO LONGER. Sort of.
Despite Meech’s jocular tweet, this is serious business for the Nationals. Fans have emailed the club to say they no longer attend games when the Phillies are in town. Phillies fans, high on the Four Ace hog, declared Nats Park “Citizen’s Bank Park South”. The Nationals, while quite content to sell extra tickets, decided they were losing the PR war and went on the offensive with plans to Take Back the Park.
From Nationals Chief Operating Officer Andy Feffer (via the WaPo)
“Frankly, I was tired of seeing it,” Nats COO Andy Feffer told me this week. “Forget you, Philly. This is our park, this is our town, these are our fans, and it’s our time right now.”
Which is why, starting Friday morning at 8 a.m., the club will begin selling single-game tickets for just a single weekend series: May 4-6, against the Phillies. These tickets will remain on sale for a full month before the rest of single-game tickets go on sale. And they’ll be available only to buyers with a credit card tied to an address in Maryland, the District or Virginia.
Suck it, Phillies fans! How do you respond?
I’m filing a class action lawsuit against Nats President Stan Kasten for discrimination against Phillies fans. WHO’S WITH ME??
— Mike Meech (@meechone) February 3, 2012
Meech is obviously joking, later noting the team entire process is harmless (and acknowledging Kasten is no longer with the Nats.) The Nationals are giving their fans first crack at not buying tickets. Once the DC locals feign interest in watching their exciting young club for a few days, the Nationals will eagerly accept the money of the foreign legions.
All of this bluster likely seems very strange to fans of the Toronto Blue Jays fans who remember their front office doing quite the opposite a few years back. During the height of the Red Sox Nation craze, Jays fans expected the RSN to storm the Rogers castle and actually fill the building. Rogers, in their infinite fiduciary wisdom, reached out to travelling fans before the local supports, giving Red Sox & Yankees fans first dibs on single-game seats.
Very strange to fans of, um, the Washington Nationals as well. The Nats themselves employed a very similar policy of embracing the travelling fans just two years ago, allowing Phillies fans to seize the ballyard by not placing limits on the quantities of group tickets purchased.
Credit to the Nationals for attempting to overhaul the perception of their club. The acquisitions of Gio Gonzalez and Edwin Jackson and the recent free agent spending on Jayson Werth show they want to compete on the field, and this deft bit of brand management shows their fans a shred of loyalty. None of which will prevent them from taking the fistfuls of cash offered by Phillies fans in need of the phix.