WASHINGTON — The Nationals open up the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday evening, and those associated with the team really, really want fans in the seats.
On Wednesday, Nationals play-by-play announcer Charlie Slowes offered advice for Nationals fans planning to attend Games 1 and 2: “Come early. Stay late. Be loud. And don’t count on the Metro.”
That’s good advice, considering Metro won’t be extending its operating hours in order to accommodate Nationals fans attending the games, which Max Scherzer called “really weak.”
On Thursday, Nationals reliever Shawn Kelley joined Grant and Danny on 106.7 The Fan to discuss several topics — among them, his preseason prediction that Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson would win the Heisman Trophy — and he pleaded with fans to show up to the games and not waste the hard-earned home-field advantage Washington secured late in the season.
“Shawn, what’s your message to fans about getting the atmosphere up during the playoffs to being something that nationally people look to D.C. and they go, ‘Wow, Nats fans really brought it,'” host Grant Paulsen asked. “You’ve been in New York, you’ve been in Seattle, you’ve been in other markets, you’ve seen what it looks like. What would you tell fans about the chance they have to impact Games 1 and 2 here in D.C.?”
“Just get out, just be there,” Kelley responded. “If they show up and they’ve got energy and they’re loud and they’re in on the game, we feel that energy as players. Home-field advantage is a big deal, there’s a reason we fought for it — so we could be here, be in our own beds, be in our time zone, have our own fans screaming and yelling and doing the “Nats Nats Nats woo!” thing. We feel that, we hear it, we get vibes from that.
“In other sports they talk about it: In basketball it’s the sixth man, it’s the 12th man in the NFL. [The fans] really are an extension of us. If they have that energy and that passion, we feel that, we feed off that, and it gives us a little bit more to dig a little bit deeper and try to get these games taken care of.”
The Nationals finished with the 14th-most fans per game (30,641) in MLB during the 2016 regular season, per ESPN.com. Of the 10 teams that made the playoffs, seven had more fans show up than the Nationals did — the Cleveland Indians (19,650, 28th in the league) and Baltimore Orioles (26,819, 20th in the league) had fewer.
Those numbers are imperfect, as they only measure the paid attendance for a given game, not the actual fans in the stadium, and they don’t measure how many opposing fans show up. They also don’t measure how loud or enthusiastic the fans in the stadium are.
For the sake of Shawn Kelley, Charlie Slowes, F.P. Santangelo, Max Scherzer and everybody else, please, D.C., show up to support the home team on Friday and Saturday, and throughout the postseason.