Poor Nationals fans. Now, after the 2008 season, the supposed enthusiasm promised at the season's inception -- and the way the new Nationals Park was supposed enliven the D.C. baseball consciousness -- hasn't really done anything of the sort. Instead, fans seem depressed, the park rarely filled up, and the first night of the season, when Ryan Zimmerman hit a raucous walk-off home run, is a distant memory.
What's worse? Even those disillusioned Nats fans, the ones driven toward brazen capitalism and ticket scalping -- even they can't catch a break. They can't ditch their tickets:
Mark Menard, co-owner of the 18th Amendment bar on Pennsylvania Avenue SE, bought season tickets partly so he could give them away to his best customers. When the stadium opened, he had lots of eager takers. But as the season wore on, he says, it got harder and harder to hand off the tickets. "I could not unload to my bar customers who lived literally 10 blocks from the stadium," he says. "Since June, it was painful trying to get rid of them."
There are a few more examples of people not being willing to even take tickets for free, which, though probably exaggerated, is still telling. When you combine a young franchise, a starless team, and an ingrained crosstown team, you get the 2008 Nationals. It should turn around, but not until the team is actually worth watching. Until then, they'll be invisible.