Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sitting with the Away Fans

There are few things better in sports than cheering for the visiting team. I like it better in England when they call it sitting with the "away fans". It's great to be in that minority of fans, cheering on your team in unfamiliar, sometimes unfriendly, confines. I got to do that tonight in Washington DC (my new place of residence) to cheer on our Milwaukee Brewers. And I hate to disappoint you, but it was rather underwhelming and it is much more to do than the atmosphere than the game we threw away (literally).

My previous away fan experiences are not vast, but they have all been pretty great - Brewers at Wrigley, Brewers at Phillies, Bucks at Sixers (ok not that great), Rufus King at Vincent and maybe Nicolet, and a few English soccer games. Sadly not the Badgers yet. Hopefully I'll rectify that soon. Now English soccer games ( I won't call it football because I don't want to sound too pretentious) are on another whole level. They actually have to segregate the fans to prevent large amounts of violence. It makes everything more intense and you have a true sense of ownership with your team, a great us vs. them attitude. I want to somehow make this happen at Miller Park for Cubs game, but that is another story. Wherever you are, the "away fans" are always the best fans. They travel for their team or cheer on the team of their youth and always face the wrath of the home team. It shows true loyalty, no band wagon fans here. You have that solidarity when you see another fan in your colors, you give a high-five and are instantly great friends. Great stuff.

So back to tonight's experience at Nationals Park. I expected a weak crowd and lots of Brewers fans, but the place was totally dead. It's a cool stadium and it was a beautiful day, but there weren't many people there period. I know a place like DC will have trouble building a true fan base and the team isn't great, but you can do better than this. Also, the Brewers fans, not that awesome, sorry to say. At the 7th Inning Stretch, after "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" and "That's the way I like it" (yes, that's what they play in DC), I of course sang a rousing rendition of "Roll Out the Barrel" or "Beer Barrel Polka" as I do at every Brewers away game, and only like two of the 20 or so Brewers fans in my section joined me in singing. Really? By this time in the game the crowd was like 50/50 Brewers to Nationals fans. And the worst part, I didn't even get booed by the home crowd. I just received a few puzzled stares. C'mon Nationals, protect your house! Again, I guess none of this is too unexpected considering the location and we know there is not a huge Brewers/Nationals rivalry, but still I was left wanting more.

The game itself had a strong possibility of being the worst game I had seen in a long time until Rickie Weeks' double and Carlos Gomez' RBI in the 9th. That at least made it a fun, exciting game. The Brewers gave this one to the Nationals, with one bad inning by Naverson, walking in two runs, and then horrible defense in the 10th - Werth safe on and error, gets to second, steals 3rd uncontested with 1 out, WTF?, poor throw by Fielder for the play at the plate. End result is a frustrating 4-3 loss.

A few other random notes:

- the President's Race is lame

- Nationals Park has the best ushers ever! Really. I was there in a huge leg brace due to my recent ACL surgery and the usher didn't care that I didn't sit in my assigned seat. Not only that, he wiped down the seats for me and my friends with a towel before we sat down. Another usher asked if I needed any assistance with my crutches. Another danced to songs between the late innings and took pictures with fans. Well done DC Ushers.

-If you didn't see the game, in the 10th inning with 1 out and Jason Werth on 3rd, the Brewers played a 5 man infield/2 man out field. Ryan Braun was in the shortstop position. Now I've seen a lot of baseball, but I don't ever recall seeing this happen. I guess Werth is fast and maybe LaRoche at the plate is a goundball hitter, but still, two outfielders? It turned out to be the right play as the ball was hit directly to where Prince Fielder was, but his throw was off the mark.

- Sorry I don't have any poor cell phone pics. As we were sitting in right field, all you would have seen was Erick Almonte's bald spot, Erick Almonte eating lots of sunflower seeds, and Erick Almonte pretending to catch ghost fly balls. I love sports!

- Bucky Channel POTG - Rickie Weeks (I hope I have this authority)

- A huge exception to my early statements that away fans are the best fans would have to be any away fans sitting in the student section at Camp Randall. It's good to go to away games, but why would you sit in the student section? I'm looking at you in the Gophers sweatshirt. It is even worse if you are old and even worser if you are old and bring a child under the age of 12. Think about it.

Please feel free share your own "away fans" stories.

We still got this series 2-1. No worries.


Anonymous said...

So you've never been to an away Packer or Badger game and you blog on a sports site? Where does Winks find these guys?

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why that'd be a requirement. Good article.

Winks said...

I liked this article as well. Trying to think of my away experiences...

Packers at Rams - December game, 70 percent Packers fans, very awesome atmosphere. Packer fans took over St. Louis. However, we had high seats next to speakers, and I swear to god that the Edward Jones Dome pumped in fake noise.

Packers at Browns - Another game with a ton of Packers fans. Pack killed them. Browns fans are assholes. Did like how they changed "Go Pack Go" into "Go Back Home"

Packers at Patriots - The last loss this franchise had. Awesome game. Love Matt Flynn. Way more away fans there than Pats fans expected. Kind of dicks, some were very friendly, some were very lame. Imagine we'd be murdered if the Pack won.

Packers at Titans - Pack lost in OT. Titans fans are just happy to have you, like they all work for the Nashville Tourism Board or something. Super nice.

Brewers at Twins - I do not like the Twins, I hate them. Chicks wearing Mauer jersey shirts are hot though. Seriously, my buddy called Juan Rincon "steroid boy" and the mom in front of us scolded him - NOT IN FRONT OF MY KIDS she said. Lame. If the Brewers were in the AL, the Twins would be my most hated team. Hoping to get to Target Field soon though. The Dome sucked.

Brewers at Cubs - The thing about the Cubs is they are an awesome fan base. Dedicated, hardcore. Queers, yes. But dedicated. Wasn't too bad for me at the game.

Bucks at Grizzlies - Only Bucks fan there, and I sat in the media row (thanks brother!). Grizzlies have dedicated fans, although few of them. Rooting for them in the playoffs for sure.

Winks said...

Tony, are you going to the doubleheader tomorrow?

Tony Brown said...

One of the best things about Wisconsin sports fans, and what makes them so special, is that we are primarily working class people. Road trips are not common. It really shows something when we use our few vacation days and a bit of our savings to follow our teams.

Winks, I hope to make it there tomorrow. I love the Nationals response to a rain out. Double header the next day, anyone with a ticket to either game can come. And there is still no way the place will be close to full.
I do hear they sold out every game where Strasburg pitched.

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