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On Harper’s message to Nats fans

Sep 8, 2015, 10:21 AM EDT

USA Today

The question was simply about the pennant race atmosphere at Nationals Park, and Bryce Harper’s answer was brief. But his quick, perhaps off-the-cuff response has set off a firestorm of scrutiny both from outside the city of Washington and within the Nationals fanbase itself.

Harper, when asked about the crowd on Monday afternoon, noted how many of the 34,210 in attendance left after the seventh inning. “That’s pretty brutal,” he said.

This just happens to come on the heels of Jonathan Papelbon referencing a lack of energy among the Nats faithful during Friday night’s win over the Braves.

“I got a little bone to pick with some of the fans here tonight. I saw a few of them sitting down. I’m not going to lie. We need to stand on up in those situations. So let’s get that going, you know what I mean? Because this is playoff baseball,” he said after the victory.

Those are two of the biggest names on the Nationals – their best player and their closer – essentially calling out the fans who root for them.

First, on Harper’s comments. In fairness, his observation was correct. After the Nationals saw four relievers combine to allow three runs to the Mets in the seventh inning, thousands in the stands cleared out. It was a mass exodus of sorts.

But, for what it’s worth, many of the fans who left were sitting on the first base side, or the part of the stadium that had been baking in the sun all afternoon. The departure of so many fans was noticeable from the pressbox in large part due to its symmetry. One third or so of the stadium was nearly empty during the eighth and ninth innings, while the rest of it was packed.

Could that be a coincidence? Possibly. But I did have Nats fans reach out on Twitter in support of that theory and some said they were sitting on that side before moving to the shaded concourse to watch the rest of the game.

And though many left after giving up hope for a comeback, there were 34,210 there to begin with. That’s actually about a thousand more than what the team has averaged this season (33,109), a mark that is good for 10th in baseball.

Of course, it wasn’t the quantity of fans that Harper and Papelbon, it was the manner of their support. And, love him or hate him, Papelbon of all people would know.

The right-hander made his name while pitching for the Boston Red Sox, who not only played some pretty big games while he was there, they lifted a fanbase that had been through decades of disappointment to new heights. The feeling of a pennant race at Fenway Park, especially in the first few years of Papelbon’s Red Sox career, would be hard to replicate, especially in a town that is relatively new to the experience.

As we outlined in our previews leading up the Nats’ series with the Mets, this is the first time in team history the Nationals have been playing games this late in the season with such high stakes. They are going head-to-head with the team they are chasing in the division with only a handful of games separating them. Each of these games can either help close the gap in the NL East, or create distance and put them one step closer to missing the playoffs.

This is the first pennant race not only for the Nationals, but for generations of sports fans who call Washington, D.C. home. A major league pennant race is its own, unique thing. Sure, the Redskins have had do-or-die Week 17 games where their postseason hopes rested on a handful of plays. The Capitals have fought for their playoff lives in April, and so have the Wizards. But those are all different than the highs and lows of an MLB pennant race when every single day can change so much.

For Harper, in particular, to say what he said speaks volumes. It’s one thing for Papelbon to ask for more from the fans. It would be another thing for a tenured veteran like Jayson Werth or Ryan Zimmerman to say it. But coming from Harper, who is not only their best player but an emerging face of the sport, it carries a special kind of weight.

This is actually not the first time Harper has done this. Late in the 2013 season he made a plea in his then-weekly sitdown with CSN for more support as the team was chasing the Braves. Excitement for the football season was heating up and Harper sensed a fade in loyalty.

“Coming to a game without any fans isn’t fun. Last night we didn’t have that many, and we need that for this last month,” Harper said at the time. “I think it’s tired, I really do. Just because football season’s coming up, we’re still in it.”

Harper further explained it by saying, “I think fans know that guys feed off the crowd.” It was a message he wanted to get across, and Monday’s comments were likely coming from the same place.

Criticizing your fans is always a risky proposition, but maybe there is an intent behind his words just like there was last time, a call to action that apparently he isn’t alone in believing is necessary.

  1. micksback1 - Sep 8, 2015 at 10:32 AM

    Well Bryce you have a point. Before I defend you let me say this, you did not do your part yesterday. You and Max, SUCKED and were not prime time at all.

    Now to Bryce’s point, I was there’re and I stay to the end all the time. I am so freaking pissed at our fan base right now. You idiots show up for the Braves and other crap ass teams all year and you do not show yesterday??

    Are you kidding me!! There seemed to be more Mets fans than us yesterday. This angers me a and it gives idiot O’s fans the right to call us half ass fans.

    Bottom line, Max you are now a bust, we are paying your ass 210 million bucks. This is what we got for a game like this and you could not suck enough. Bryce, I love you but when your at bats look pathetic,,, shut the hell up and back it up in a game that was the most important of the season.

    I do not fault MW at all yesterday, this was on what is one of the worst, gutless BP’s in the National league. Casey Jansen, you are a Loser and you look and act the part.

    Mike Rizzo you screwed up big time with this BP, also, I bet old man Lerner will be in your face about paying Max $210 million!!!!

    • wadelefler556 - Sep 8, 2015 at 2:45 PM

      It’s easy to get sore after a season like this. BUT, Bryce is just getting used to the DC Way, arrive late, leave early. PLUS, it was LABOR DAY. The mighty NFL tried opening their season on Labor Day once and went running from the scene. People, families, have plans. PLUS it was a gajillion degrees out there and fans could smell death…I don’t blame them…(I would have stayed, just because I love going to games, win or lose.)

      That said, if we don’t make the playoffs, Rizzo and Williams should go. A pattern is developing that must be squashed right away.

      All that said, I love my Nats and they still have a great chance to crash this party, and I for one, wanna be there!

      Yours truly,

      WLeffler!

      • wadelefler556 - Sep 8, 2015 at 2:49 PM

        PS…has anyone noticed that what’s happening to Max and Fister is almost identical? That isn’t coincidental, both pitchers still have all their stuff, could simple pitch selection be the problem? And post season someone better evaluate the training staff, my guess is their’s a monster in the weight room causing many of these injuties. Question: Does your right fielder really NEED to bench press 420 lbs? Just sayin’…

        WLeffler

  2. micksback1 - Sep 8, 2015 at 10:35 AM

    Bottom line, Nats MUST win the next 2 PERIOD

  3. natsjackinfl - Sep 8, 2015 at 10:35 AM

    I’m not going to get all bent out of shape over either players comments.

    Somebody needs to let Papelbon know that a large part of Friday night crowds are the happy hour bunch that are usually more interested in when the 1st wave will get started than whatever the score is.

    And as for Bryce, I too was disappointed in the exodus after the 7th inning meltdown. And nobody is going to convince me that it was all people with kids and others that were succumbing to the heat. I was at the Dodgers Saturday and Sunday games where the heat index was 105 and there wasn’t anything like that.

    • micksback1 - Sep 8, 2015 at 10:37 AM

      spot on about LA fans

      I was ashamed at my fellow Nats fans for not showing up to begin with and even more upset at being drown out by Mets fans!!!

      Even O fans show more passion for their team even when they are losing

    • Spectator - Sep 8, 2015 at 10:43 AM

      As one of those baking in left field yesterday, I am disappointed with Bryce’s comments. After a few $10 beers, I was dehydrated as heck and not keen on dropping $5 for bottled water or drinking lukewarm water from the fountain. I am also assuming Harper does not ride the metro home from games. But I stayed long enough to have the privilege of watching Janssen predictably blow another game. We are all frustrated Bryce, but you are barking up the wrong tree.

      • micksback1 - Sep 8, 2015 at 10:51 AM

        that is why I drink before games and after, LOL

    • sunshinebobby - Sep 8, 2015 at 1:16 PM

      Mick says, “I’m not going to get all bent out of shape over either players comments.”

      Well, I’m glad to hear that and that you are taking this matter in your usual restraintful, calm, collected and rational manner, Mick.

      I was worried you might get too emotional.

  4. Guapo - Sep 8, 2015 at 10:42 AM

    Harper was asked a direct question about the fans creating a playoff atmosphere, immediately after a critical game the team lost, he had a rare bad day at the plate, and the fans did start leaving after the 7th inning.

    How else is he supposed to answer that question, at that moment in time? Do fans want him to ignore what happened, sweep it under the rug and thank the fans for giving up on the team?

    This org has dug itself enough holes by ignoring obvious truths for years (i.e. Desmond is terrible defensively, MW is not a MLB quality manager, etc.)

    Harper’s quote is exactly the brutal truth this org needs to adopt across the board.

    • Candide - Sep 8, 2015 at 11:15 AM

      Harper was asked a direct question about the fans creating a playoff atmosphere, immediately after a critical game the team lost, he had a rare bad day at the plate, and the fans did start leaving after the 7th inning.

      How else is he supposed to answer that question, at that moment in time?

      For all of Bryce’s considerable talents on the field, he still hasn’t graduated from the Crash Davis Institute for Advanced Cliche Studies.

      You have to recognize when a reporter is asking a question designed to stir up a sh!tstorm, and know how to steer around it. Everyone criticizes MW here for (among other things) being boring, but that’s what you have to do when a reporter invites you to step into a mine field.

      • Guapo - Sep 8, 2015 at 11:20 AM

        I think Bryce is more concerned with wining that pleasing reporters. Maybe MW should be too.

      • Section 222 - Sep 8, 2015 at 12:06 PM

        +1 to Candide. The idea that Bryce had no other way to answer that open-ended question is laughable. How about: “Yeah, it was great. There was definitely a playoff atmosphere and it’s great that the fans support us. It’s too bad that we couldn’t come through today, but we’re going to play out hearts out for our fans and the city the rest of the way.”

      • sunshinebobby - Sep 8, 2015 at 1:18 PM

        “Yeah, it was great. There was definitely a playoff atmosphere and it’s great that the fans support us. It’s too bad that we couldn’t come through today, but we’re going to play out hearts out for our fans and the city the rest of the way.”

        and one more thing: “I’m going to love it in New York!”

  5. Guapo - Sep 8, 2015 at 10:42 AM

    Harper was asked a direct question about the fans creating a playoff atmosphere, immediately after a critical game the team lost, he had a rare bad day at the plate, and the fans did start leaving after the 7th inning.

    How else is he supposed to answer that question, at that moment in time? Do fans want him to ignore what happened, sweep it under the rug and thank the fans for giving up on the team?

    This org has dug itself enough holes by ignoring obvious truths for years (i.e. Desmond is terrible defensively, MW is not a MLB quality manager, etc.)

    Harper’s quote is exactly the brutal truth this org needs to adopt across the board.

    • micksback1 - Sep 8, 2015 at 10:46 AM

      well said and Nats fans take heed, this would be a reason Bryce would not resign here when his contract is up. Bryce plays with passion, Yankee fans and other real baseball towns have that passion, if we act like a bunch of bird watchers or fans a t chess match when a huge game is on like yesterday, that does not bode well for the future.

      • Guapo - Sep 8, 2015 at 11:19 AM

        Exactly. So many people don’t understand Harper. It’s not about the money for him. He likes to win. If that Nats org, fans and team mates show him he can win and create a legacy here, he’ll stay. But I’m not sure we can do that. The tone of this org is sleepy. A complete lack of urgency – whether is sitting your ace in ’12, excusing your SS kicking easy grounders each April, or hiring an unqualified buddy to manage the team. And its sad because Harper may well be on his way to being one of the greats.

  6. ward5nedc - Sep 8, 2015 at 10:47 AM

    Every home game I’ve been to this season (33 of them) a large part of the crowd leaves in the 7th inning.
    Maybe Harper’s short rant will keep some of these in the seats till the end, probably not.
    Most of these people aren’t hard core fans and I’m okay with that. I’d rather have them there for 6 innings than 0. Many of them have a long commute either by car or public transportation. They want to beat the crowds. Or they have kids that need to be in bed. Or 3 hours is 1 hour too much.
    I don’t think it has much effect on the players. It’s not like they stop playing hard. They’ve had plenty of come back wins on the road with little to no fans cheering for them.
    Harper was just frustrated with the loss. He couldn’t call out his teammates so he called out the fans.
    He could have called out himself, but he’s allowed to have a bad game with the numbers he’s producing.

    Let’s all have a group hug and get the win tonight.

    • Doc - Sep 8, 2015 at 10:57 AM

      Sounds good!

      Hard to be a fan and be pissed off at the bullpen at the same time. For the record, I left my computer MTV.com game about the same time the real game fans checked out..

      Let’s try again to-night guys.. I’ll be doing my claps and yahoos on schedule, Bryce!

      Goooooooooooooo Harps! Gooooooooooooooooo Nats!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. natsfansince62 - Sep 8, 2015 at 10:54 AM

    OK Bryce I have nothing but respect for the incredible season that you are having, but there was no call to trash the fans. If you didn’t play on a team that was the most overrated and under performing team in baseball then maybe the fans wouldn’t be giving up, and maybe you would have a point. But why shouldn’t we give up when the team is, frankly, a total joking dog team in the clutch. I hate to say those words, but sometimes the truth hurts.

  8. stoatva - Sep 8, 2015 at 10:54 AM

    Washington baseball crowds are more like a concert audience or a tennis or golf gallery than, say, a football crowd. They sit and watch, pretty attentively for the most part, and reward good play with applause and grumble quietly among themselves (rather than boo lustily) when things go amiss for the home nine. It’s unusual for them to take it upon themselves to try and rally the troops. I’ve made my peace with this.

    I stayed til the end because a) that’s what I do, and b) my seats were shady and relatively cool. But after watching the Nats cough up yet another 5-3 lead and turn it into an 8-5 deficit, managing only a single base runner after the game was tied, I have little quarrel with those sweltering in the sun, surrounded by gleeful Mets fans, who decided maybe they could salvage something enjoyable from what was left of their holiday.

    Bryce, the ball club checked out before the fans did. You guys just aren’t allowed to go home. After a “brutal” loss, our intrepid skipper always tells us “That’s baseball, dude. We will just forget about this one and move along to the next game.” The same is true of us fans. We will be back tonight. Make sure you and your teammates are.

    • micksback1 - Sep 8, 2015 at 10:55 AM

      POTD!!!!

      excellent post

    • Reverendp - Sep 8, 2015 at 12:02 PM

      Well said Stoatva

    • pchuck69 - Sep 8, 2015 at 12:57 PM

      Exactly.

      They were sat down 1-2-3 in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. After Werth’s hit in the 9th (the first since the 5th inning), the 2, 3 and 4 hitters all struck out, including Bryce strikiing out one more time as a going away gift for the fans who stayed til the end.

      Unbelievable.

  9. Section 222 - Sep 8, 2015 at 10:58 AM

    Lots of comments on this in previous threads. I just want to repeat that Pap was joking around the other night. Having fun after a victory. Pumping people up and getting them excited for what seemed like a possible stretch run for the ages. He was not calling out the fans the way Harper was. Harper is just wrong on this and I hope the reaction on Twitter helps him recognize it.

    Let me set out a few reasons that someone might leave his or her seat after the top of the 7th:

    1. For a day game, it is scorching hot on the first base side, or really, anywhere in the sun. What Chase saw from the pressbox was no coincidence. Some of us changed our seats to a shaded part of the park after the first few years. Others weren’t so lucky. Bryce has no right to insiste that people be uncomfortable or risk their health to watch him play.

    2. Some fans bring kids to the ballpark, especially for days games. Kids love Bryce Harper, some even come just to see him. Their parents buy Bryce Harper T-Shirts and jerseys. But they are still children. It might come as a surprise to Bryce that it’s stretching it for some kids to make it even that far in a game. And when they need to leave, their parents do too. (Perhaps Bryce can offer to provide and pay for child care so parents can stay until the 9th inning?)

    3. Some fans travel from long distances to see the Nats play in person. Beating the traffic, or just getting home a bit earlier when the game seems out of reach is a calculation people who spend a lot of money to come to the park are entitled to make.

    4. Some fans have things going on in their lives that Bryce Harper knows nothing about — a sick parent, a child at home who needs help with homework, dinner to get on the table for the family, work that has been put off but needs to be addressed before the next day. Walk a mile in their shoes Bryce before you insult them.

    5. Some fans were disgusted by the play of the team and the decisions of the manager in this game. Most of us stayed around to watch Bryce K in the 9th, along with Rendon and Zim, but I can’t blame those who didn’t.

    The bottom line is that paying customers are entitled to leave the ballpark whenever they want to for whatever reason, including poor performance from the millionaires whose salaries we pay. Bryce needs to grow up.

    • micksback1 - Sep 8, 2015 at 11:01 AM

      for the most part, you have some valid pints, however I take exception to:

      9th inning?)

      3. Some fans travel from long distances to see the Nats play in person. Beating the traffic, or just getting home a bit earlier when the game seems out of reach is a calculation people who spend a lot of money to come to the park are entitled to make.

      4. Some fans have things going on in their lives that Bryce Harper knows nothing about — a sick parent, a child at home who needs help with homework, dinner to get on the table for the family, work that has been put off but needs to be addressed before the next day. Walk a mile in their shoes Bryce before you insult them.

      O’s. Red Sox, Yankees, LA and Cub fans also travel long distances and also have sick parents, etc…

      • Section 222 - Sep 8, 2015 at 11:03 AM

        You don’t think the fans of those teams also leave early? Come on. Heck, LA fans are legendary for getting to the game in the 3rd and leaving in the 6th.

      • pchuck69 - Sep 8, 2015 at 12:46 PM

        Yeah, that explains why you can turn to YES and watch a Yankees game at new Yankees Stadium and see it less than half full.

      • Dave - Sep 8, 2015 at 1:35 PM

        During the playoffs last year, I was watching the Fox / TBS (can’t remember which) TV broadcast of a Cards/Giants game while listening to Jon Miller’s call on SF radio (using the DVR/AtBat pause trick).

        The Cardinals were trailing by a run going into the 9th. Miller commented on the fact that about a third of the Best Fans in Baseball appeared to have gone home. A later camera shot of the seats confirmed this.

        Heck yes, it happens in other cities. Happens in CitiField all the time. What’s that you say? They’re in a pennant race this year? I don’t care. If they’re “real fans” they should stay until the end, according to the ideology expressed the last 24 hours.

        I don’t blame anybody for leaving. The team quit in about the 7th inning. And yes, I stayed until the end. I was the last person to vacate section 313, in fact, getting my sad scorebook up to date.

    • unkyd59 - Sep 8, 2015 at 12:52 PM

      +1, Deuces… In a couple of years, Bryce will have polished his media routine, and won’t spout off without considering his words. Til then, he’ll react like a 22 year old, wound up tight as a drum, disappointed in himself and his team…

  10. Another_Sam - Sep 8, 2015 at 11:00 AM

    My $0.02, FWIW: Harper’s comment is off the cuff and benign — no harm no foul there. It didn’t register with me at all. [And even so, with the year he’s having, he can say anything he wants to say. haha.]

    Pap’s comment on the other had, was overt. He’s gotta do a lot more for this team before he’s entitled to say stuff like that.

    Play ball. Need a win tonight.

  11. wvpastorphil - Sep 8, 2015 at 11:03 AM

    My Dad was born in 1924…..the last year this team won a world series. I was born in 1949 and have been a fan all my life. We have been through years and years of disappointments and losing seasons. We endured 32 years without a team at all. We try to attend at least one game a year together. ( I don’t live near DC anymore.) And no, we do not leave the game until it is over. But Brice, please have some mercy on us fans. Some of us can’t take the heat, at 91 and 66 years old. And some, not my Dad and I, do give up. I am sorry for those, but you do have some hard core, long term fans. We love you guys!!!

    • Section 222 - Sep 8, 2015 at 11:08 AM

      Kudos to you for making the trip, and especially to your Dad. That’s pretty cool. Or hot as the case may be.

  12. IsawTeddywin - Sep 8, 2015 at 11:11 AM

    My guess is that Harper was just depressed thinking fans had given up. Me, I’ve seen as big an exodus in the seventh inning of tied games. Some fans are more concerned with getting home than seeing it to the end.
    However, Bryce, if you think watching fans leave was brutal, think how brutal it was for those of us that stayed to watch 7 strikeouts in those last 10 at bats.

    • stoatva - Sep 8, 2015 at 11:52 AM

      think how brutal it was for those of us that stayed to watch 7 strikeouts in those last 10 at bats.

      Perzactly.

    • stoatva - Sep 8, 2015 at 11:55 AM

      Worst ever, in my opinion, was the sea of humanity streaming for the exits when Strasburg was removed after seven innings in his debut. Rules of the blog prevent my from repeating what I said about them then. But rhymes with “far chucker.”

  13. mythicalmonkey - Sep 8, 2015 at 11:13 AM

    I stopped worrying about what 22 year olds think when I turned 23.

    • mwstatsguy - Sep 8, 2015 at 1:58 PM

      +1 Perhaps if he paid to be there instead of being paid, he’d understand. Of course, perhaps some of them left to look for Bryce’ ring!

  14. alexva6 - Sep 8, 2015 at 11:36 AM

    if there is anyone who deserves to be cut some slack it’s Harper. get over it people

    I don’t get to many games so I should not be critical of those that do but I heard the crowds at Citi Field during the last series. the difference is night and day

    • stoatva - Sep 8, 2015 at 12:02 PM

      I don’t expect Harper to be booed or for this to do any long-term damage to his standing in this town (as it would in some of those cities with a ‘more spirited’ fan base).

      I don’t expect he looks into these kinds of threads (he’d be a fool to do so, as would any player) but hopefully some word will get back to him about the understandably hurt feelings among the real fan base.

      What he did, however offhandedly, was exactly like the preacher who harangues the choir and the handful of the assembled faithful about the non-attendance of… those not in attendance.

  15. sillsfan - Sep 8, 2015 at 11:37 AM

    A frustrating game and a frustrating season that’s for sure. But I side with Harp on this. I’m a recovering Cubs fan, so I know the pain of bad baseball and heartbreak.
    Having said that, Cubs fans are loyal,- to a fault. I sat through double headers in July in the Wrigley Field bleachers in blazing heat during those brutal 70’s years, so I don’t understand the complaining that its too hot at NATS Park in September. So hot that it forces fan to leave while their team is still hanging on to playoff hopes.

    With regards to leaving early to take the kids home… what???!!! Isn’t that why you take them? So they get to experience all the excitement of a game from start to (sometimes) painful finish?

    I was listening to the game. Was I hearing tepid applause for Ramos at his next AB after after his grand slam? Please tell me I heard that wrong. The NATS fans should have been out their mind excited. Honestly the fans all this year haven’t seemed all that into it, at least compared to other years.

    • Section 222 - Sep 8, 2015 at 12:13 PM

      Yes, you heard that wrong sills. Ramos got a huge ovation after his slam, a curtain call, and at his next AB. I basically should ignore your comment since you were listening on the radio from the comfort of wherever rather than sitting in the heat with those of us who went to the game. But I have to ask, have you ever taken a 5 year old to a baseball game in 90 plus degree heat?

      • stoatva - Sep 8, 2015 at 12:18 PM

        that’s gonna leave a mark.

      • sillsfan - Sep 8, 2015 at 12:32 PM

        I don’t live in DC, so I listen on the radio, so whats your point?
        And yes, I have taken kids to ball games in hot weather. Next question?

      • Section 222 - Sep 8, 2015 at 12:56 PM

        My point is that you have no idea what it was like out there or the individual physical condition of the fans or their children. And if you have taken kids to ball games you know that their stamina varies greatly. I assume you never forced them to stay for nine innings in the sun if they were in great discomfort. If you did, then your comments has even less weight than I thought originally.

      • mythicalmonkey - Sep 8, 2015 at 12:51 PM

        When I was five, my parents rode me like a rented mule ten miles to the ballpark in 120 degree heat. Uphill. Both ways! And we stayed for the doubleheader!

      • Section 222 - Sep 8, 2015 at 12:57 PM

        haha mythical. yeah, mine made me walk 6 miles to the game in the snow. oh wait, wrong season… 🙂

    • pchuck69 - Sep 8, 2015 at 12:44 PM

      You know, I hear that about Cubs fans and am absolutely “surprised” when I turn to a Cubs game at Wrigley and see the stands half full or full of fans from the other team.

      The Cubs? Give me a break.

      • sillsfan - Sep 8, 2015 at 1:15 PM

        I’m talking about baseball fans that attend Cubs games, not the casual fans who are more interested in hitting the bars as soon as they can. I will say that attending Cubs games changed a great deal after 1989. After that, it became a tourist attraction, and that’s how they market it. Until recently, the product on the field didn’t seem to be taken seriously. I haven’t been back to Wrigley since 2003 when I moved out of the area and when I became a NATS fan.
        Maybe the big league fans everywhere have changed and they are not as focused and hard core as they were. I do know the minor league games seem to keep the majority of fans butts in their seats. At least the games I’ve attended.

      • stoatva - Sep 8, 2015 at 1:15 PM

        And, like Red Sox games, a goodly portion of those at Cubs games are there primarily to make a pilgrimage to the ballpark.

      • Dave - Sep 8, 2015 at 1:39 PM

        People seem to forget that there is television. We can see a half-empty Wrigley Field or CitiField on our televisions now. MLB Network shows it every day.

        If the stands are half-empty in one of those “legendary” ballparks, it’s no longer a secret.

  16. jpbnats - Sep 8, 2015 at 11:46 AM

    Bryce is right. It was brutal to see all of those fans leave early in a very important game. I don’t have an issue with Bryce voicing his opinion about that. I was there and it was hotter than hell and I stayed until the bitter end.

    Let me voice my opinion about what else is brutal:

    *Watching Casey Janssen pitch
    *Watching our $210 ace throw batting practice
    *Watching Escobar loaf across the infield to try and cut off a throw
    *Watching our manager make so many poor decisions that you want to scream
    *Watch our 2/3/4 hitters strike out to end the game; our most important half inning of the season
    *The price of a bottle of water ($4.50). Do the math, that’s $108 for a case of water that probably costs the team $3.00. Why is that? Total B.S. To make it worse, the lines for the fountains were 20 to 30 people deep trying to get a drink and fill their bottles so they don’t have to spend another $4.50. Ridiculous.

    Maybe Bryce would have been better off to thank the fans that did stay in the 90 plus degree heat and 85 percent humidity, and maybe Bryce can get the Lerners to offer free water bottles when it’s that hot, or let the fans bring in more water, or install more water fountains.

    • wadelefler556 - Sep 8, 2015 at 2:55 PM

      “Maybe Bryce would have been better off to thank the fans that did stay in the 90 plus degree heat and 85 percent humidity, and maybe Bryce can get the Lerners to offer free water bottles when it’s that hot, or let the fans bring in more water, or install more water fountains.”

      Amen Brother!
      WL

  17. philipd763 - Sep 8, 2015 at 11:54 AM

    For starters, a crowd of 34,000 ( 8,000 empty seats) on a weather perfect day for probably the most important game of the season speaks volumes. It says Nats fans have given up on the team’s chances of passing the Mets. Sadly, the way the team played yesterday sort of confirms the fans are right.

    • Another_Sam - Sep 8, 2015 at 12:01 PM

      I was one of the fans not in one of the empty seats. Call it irrational exuberance over in inflated expectations or whatever, but I’ve not been to as many games this year as I sometimes have. I think that’s due to the mostly ho-hum performance so far this year. Come on, guys – snap out of it.

    • NatsLady - Sep 8, 2015 at 2:11 PM

      I was surprised at that. Charlie and Dave kept talking like it was a going to be a sellout, that all three games were going to have great attendance. Yet I kept seeing empty seats, and then after the game I heard it was only 34K.

      (1) A lot of local people–Nats fans–are not in town on Labor Day weekend.
      (2) If they are in town, and are from Virginia, Labor Day is the last opportunity to get ready for the first day of school.
      (3) Walking into the Park, I overheard two groups of people who had never been to Nats Park before. These are not Nats fans, they are tourists or people who are on a 30-games-in-30-ballparks run. They are not going to stay the entire game in the heat.
      (4) The crowd was electric when Max got out of the first inning and when Ramos hit the Grand Slam. After that, there wasn’t much to cheer about. But Werth got a nice cheer for his 9th inning single. Even then the crowd was still hoping. The hope got extinguished fast by Anthony and Bryce.

  18. jfmii - Sep 8, 2015 at 12:09 PM

    I do know I was very disappointed in both of Bryce’s strikeouts. The first because he would have forced Collins to go again to his bullpen, or risk letting Zim hit against the lefty. He swung at ball 4. The second because of all his wonderful patience at the plate when an RBI would have been more preferable–yet here, when getting a hit meant nothing but getting on base meant everything–he again flailed at ball 4.

    His comments about the fans makes me feel ok to be critical of him.

  19. jd - Sep 8, 2015 at 12:14 PM

    You know what? this is all nonsense. Of a crowd of 35,000 there are maybe 10,000 hard core fans and that’s true pretty much everywhere. I’ve been to plenty of games at Yankee stadium when I’ve left early (because I don’t really care about the result) and there is always a large stream of fans leaving starting around the 7th inning. You pay for your ticket and you can do whatever you want.

    Players would be better served concentrating on the game rather than worrying about who is leaving the stadium.

    • kkpp3 - Sep 8, 2015 at 6:18 PM

      Exactly: there is a core of fans that hangs on till the end no matter what, some real fans who for whatever reason leave early and listen to the rest of the game on the radio, and then a big contingent of “fans” who are there for the socializing, usually come late, are in and out of their seats, and leave early. I suspect it’s the same everywhere. I was at the first game of the Doger series in LA, the one game the Nats won in LA and SF. There was a mass exodus by the seventh. For me, Harper’s comment is one more example of how he’s a 22 year old who too often acts like he’s a spoiled twelve year old.

  20. mrnat7 - Sep 8, 2015 at 12:22 PM

    One of the problems is the flow of baseball today. Our games last an hour longer than they did years ago! We have to have our hitters take alot of pitches and state it is a quality at bat! Bull pen pitches can only pitch one inning or to one batter. Starting pitchers can only go 6 innings! What ever happened to pitchers who could throw a 135 or 140 pitches a game? Pitchers could throw around 300 innings a year! Baseball is shooting itself in the foot with over 3 hour games. Society today, wants things to be quicker. The way things are today baseball should go to a 7 inning game. Pitchers could now throw complete games and we would not need an average of 6 or 7 pitchers per game. Add the opponent and we now use 12-14 pitchers per game. This is unreal! We have to many copy cat managers! Give me the good old days when baseball moved more quickley. The way baseball is played today is the reason soccer will take over in the future! Baseball is becoming boring for todays generation!

    • philipd763 - Sep 8, 2015 at 12:36 PM

      You make a good point about how slow MLB games have become but soccer??? Who wants to watch a soccer game for two or three hours and see one goal? Me, I’d rather watch paint dry or grass grow!

    • unkyd59 - Sep 8, 2015 at 1:01 PM

      I think mrnat7 could use a nap…

    • sunshinebobby - Sep 8, 2015 at 1:23 PM

      You had me, until you mentioned soccer.

  21. pchuck69 - Sep 8, 2015 at 12:29 PM

    My problem was not that Bryce commented on the fans leaving (or his perception that they’d left) but he didn’t reflect on how poorly he played. He was 0 for 4 with 3 strikeouts but that was unremarked on. He also didn’t remark on how poorly the rest of the team played, the bullpen in that 7th inning before the “exodus”, Max Scherzer’s entire start, the offense from the sixth inning on…he said nothing.

    But the fans, he was more than willing to throw them under the bus.

  22. Eugene in Oregon - Sep 8, 2015 at 12:54 PM

    Nats are averaging 33k per game (80% of stadium capacity), which puts them 10th in MLB and 5th in the NL. That, over the course of a disappointing season in which the team has often failed to show up (figuratively, not literally), is nothing to complain about. If some of the fans who purchase tickets opt to leave a game early, so be it. They may miss a great comeback or they may miss another frustrating end-fo-game series of stike outs. It’s their choice. And while I almost never left a Nats game early when I had a piece of a season ticket (2005-2008) — despite some pretty awful, one-sided games — I’m not going to pass judgment on those fans. Nor should Mr. Harper.

    • pchuck69 - Sep 8, 2015 at 12:58 PM

      FYI, it was the strikeouts that they missed.

    • Section 222 - Sep 8, 2015 at 12:58 PM

      Well said Eugene.

  23. natsfan1a - Sep 8, 2015 at 12:57 PM

    Eh, controversy, shmontroversy. Just play to win, whether there are butts in the seats or not. (Disclaimer: I have not read gamer or comments, nor did I witness the game in person or remotely.)

    Not being in the lower 48 at present. I didn’t see or hear the game. Was heading out on a Resurrection Bay cruise yesterday and kept checking the score on my not-so-smart phone until we got far enough out that I had no signal. That was after the Mets caught up and then went ahead. Will also not be able to follow today’s or tomorrow’s game, but am hoping for better results. Howza bout resurrecting your winning ways, boys? Oh, and Bryce might want to ask Ryan about how many butts were in the seats when he played at home over the last 10 years or so. (Oh, no I didn’t.)

  24. tcostant - Sep 8, 2015 at 1:23 PM

    I have two free tickets for tonights game (Sec 140), but they are hard tickets and would need to be picked up in Herndon, VA. If you want them email me at tcostant@hotmail.com (tcostant at hotmail dot com). If you want to give me one of the mini-scorecards for the tickets, that would be great but not required.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 8, 2015 at 2:03 PM

      Oh dear. I hope that’s a burner address.

      Spam flood in 3 … 2 … 1 …

  25. sunshinebobby - Sep 8, 2015 at 1:24 PM

    You can hardly blame the fans for checking out after the 7th inning. After all, the team checked out after the 4th.

  26. nats106 - Sep 8, 2015 at 1:38 PM

    I couldn’t be at the game (or any games this weekend). I was at another warm event (VMI Keydets taking their oaths at New Market). However, I’ve seen Harper play enough to say this:

    I like passion in a ballplayer. I also like the fact that if he is passionate, then those who call themselves followers, fans, band wagoneers , etc maybe he expects them to show passion as well. I sit in 106 on many of these days and yes, I know it’s hot. Frankly to devote a whole segment on players calling out fans is downright silly. You paid for the seat, you can sit in it as long as you want. Then you can come and go as you please. But since there was a point made on this, I felt compelled to once again throw in my 2 cents.

    YOU GO HARPER!!!! While I’m not offended by anything you said, I’ll really forgive you if you sign a 10 year deal today. We desperately need other players to show this kind of attitude. Oh, and I really don’t give a hang if you went oh for…..you’ve had a helluva year and deserve to say what’s on your mind.

    We’ve turned into a bunch of namby pamby self righteous hypocrites that are more focused on being politically correct that anything else. S$(*&( that.

    Oh, and while you’re at it, tell your lazy ass teammates to get off their respective duffs and win tonight. I’ll be there and I don’t want some Mets fan telling me how much we suck.

    Thanks in advance

  27. tcostant - Sep 8, 2015 at 1:49 PM

    Where was Harper when we all paid to see him at NatsFest and he was a big, giant no show?

    • Section 222 - Sep 8, 2015 at 2:20 PM

      Touche’! I believe he was sitting at home counting the millions he would make by using his appearance as a bargainging chip in contract negotiations. At least he didn’t show up, but leave early. That would have been inexcusable!

  28. Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 8, 2015 at 2:05 PM

    The departure of so many fans was noticeable from the pressbox in large part due to its symmetry. One third or so of the stadium was nearly empty during the eighth and ninth innings, while the rest of it was packed.

    That would be asymmetry. Just saying.

  29. mrnat7 - Sep 8, 2015 at 2:16 PM

    I don’t need a nap and also hate soccer but that’s the sport parents (especially Molthers) are putting their kids into. They like to see continuance action and everyone can play it. Just look at the crowds attending the world games. These are the fans of tomorrow! I maybe older but you are the ones who will live through this in the future. You have to appeal to kids when they are young! T Ball and etc have to many players on a team. They should be using no more than 6-7 kids per team. Kids when they are young like to keep moving and not stand around gazing at the sky. I have been a baseball coach for over 50 years and have seen the change. We are losing the generations and if it were not for the foreign players MLB would be in alot worse position! You people need to wake up and start thinking outside the box!

    • nats106 - Sep 8, 2015 at 2:20 PM

      I got 3 letters for you – LAX.

  30. Nats Fan Zee - Sep 8, 2015 at 2:42 PM

    Chase, You wrote:

    “This is the first pennant race not only for the Nationals, but for generations of sports fans who call Washington, D.C. home. A major league pennant race is its own, unique thing.”

    Until I made the conversion 5 years ago, I was a life long Met fan. Pennant races were generational! But 32 years ago today, I was at Shea with my brother. When I bought the tickets in April that year, he questioned my judgement about a game in September against the Cubs. He said “they will both be out of it by then!” … that was before they played a game in the 1984 season. Anyway, they were good seats in the Lodge behind 3rd base (approx 2nd base club seats at Nats park).

    That night, the Cubs were in 1st place, 7 games up on the Mets and a 19 year old rookie named Dwight Gooden threw a 1 hitter (ask Ray Knight why he held the ball and did not throw it off line … an error would have made it a no hitter). Struck out 11. There were over 40,000 in Shea and honest to God, the floor was moving it go so loud! Ya know what, nobody left …. nobody wanted to leave! A pennant race with a phenom on the mound throwing a one hitter:

    http://www.nytimes.com/1984/09/08/sports/gooden-pitches-1-hitter-and-strikes-out-11-cubs.html

    Compare that to yesterdays performance …. really …. REALLY!

    Oh, one thing I forgot to mention. During one of the “conga line” relief changes yesterday I turned to look at the monitor (can’t see the main scoreboard from Section 140) and when the Image of Matt Williams flashed up there was a general “Boooo” from the crowd. Wonder what that was all about?

    • Nats Fan Zee - Sep 8, 2015 at 2:44 PM

      Correction … 31 years ago .. I clearly can’t count (or cant wait until next year).

    • Section 222 - Sep 8, 2015 at 4:50 PM

      Must have been a really fun day, and very memorable. I would love to have seen Doc Gooden pitch in his rookie season.

      Luckily for the fans in attendance, the high that day at Shea was a balmy 70 degrees:
      http://farmersalmanac.com/weather-history/search-results/
      (Zip code for Shea is 11368.)

    • Nats Fan Zee - Sep 8, 2015 at 5:51 PM

      Matt is from Baltimore I believe. If so, riddle me this …. In 2014 both the Nationals and the Orioles won their respective divisions. The old, established, handed down from farther to son Orioles drew 2,464,463 and those poorly supported Nationals drew 2,579,389. Need more data points? 2012 – O’s 2,102,240. Nats – 2,370,794.

      The guy is full of it. By his own rationalization, Baltimore is not only a lousy baseball town, they were “abandoned” by football too. Of course, neither is true but this guy is way out of line.

      • Nats Fan Zee - Sep 8, 2015 at 5:53 PM

        Auto correct … Should be Matz.

      • chaz11963 - Sep 8, 2015 at 6:24 PM

        Excellent points! I just copied your text and sent it to him on Twitter- what a knucklehead putting that crap on the ESPN website.

  31. natsdog - Sep 8, 2015 at 4:28 PM

    As far as I am concerned Bryce and his teammates need to give fans something to cheer about. Fans pay a lot of money to attend games and let’s be honest, the Nats have continuously lets their fan base down in “big” games. There are plenty of good reasons to leave a game but trust me, no one would have left if they felt the team could pull off a win. I think it is more of a problem with his teammates than the fans.

    One thing I have noticed is baseball is not what it used to be. I grew up in the 80’s and going to a baseball game was a different experience than what it is now. I grew up a Red Sox fan and I remember going to Fenway Park early to watch batting practice and to get autographs. The Nationals do not have batting practice open to the public (at least I have not seen it) and the only player who is willing to sign autographs is Ian Desmond. At the rate baseball is going, it will be dead in 20 years. I do not know of many kids that are interested in baseball. You almost have to drag them to the games.

    So how about giving back to the fans Bryce? Sign some autographs and have your teammates join you. It is not that hard and it would make a world of difference to building a fan base in DC. Just saying. Just imagine how excited you would make kids if they met you and you actually autographed something. You and the Nationals would have a fan for life.

  32. wskyrnr21 - Sep 8, 2015 at 6:08 PM

    Is this same guy failed to make an appearance at FanFest?

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