When Edwin Jackson takes the mound today against the St. Louis Cardinals and throws the first playoff pitch in Washington, DC, since 1933, things will be different. Maybe you saw the atmosphere during those first few Phillies games in May, when it still wasn’t apparent the Phils would tank the season; you may have been part of the celebration when the Nationals officially clinched the division; maybe you even ducked out of work to see Teddy win his first race.
But this is playoff baseball, and there’s nothing like it. Here’s what you can expect and how you should conduct yourself as the Nats try to take their first-ever playoff series.
Dress warmly: It’s no coincidence the temperature plummeted the second the playoffs started—they don’t call the World Series the Fall Classic for nothing. With two afternoon games scheduled and the forecast looking pretty clear, it looks like the Nats will avoid the hellishness Orioles fans had to face Sunday and Monday, including constant rain and sub-50-degree temperatures. But if the Nats make a deep run, you won’t be getting a tan at the park. Bring more clothes than you think necessary—that means gloves, hats, maybe even blankets.
Say “So long” to family-friendliness and common decency: This is the playoffs—there’s no time for indifference. Washington isn’t as rough around the edges as Baltimore, but at the Orioles’ first two home playoff games in 15 years, there were plenty of explicit chants, wasted fans, and booing. And trust me, you don’t want it any other way. It creates a college-football-like atmosphere—so come ready to stand. No yelling “Down in front” here: Most of the crowd will (or should) be standing during any critical moments. Stand and cheer with them.
Time to do your best true fan impression: That means no starting the wave or leaving early. And try to get there by first pitch. No suits and ties. Wear your Nats garb. Scream as loud as you can. High-five and hug strangers when Bryce Harper does something incredible or Jackson gets an inning-ending strikeout with runners in scoring position. And though important, the winner of the Presidents Race is still secondary to the winner of the game.
Lines galore: The concession lines at Nats Park can get to be unbearable during a run-of-the-mill weekday game. With all of the games sold out, an extra couple thousand standing-room-only tickets sold, and the special occasionness of the whole thing leading people to booze a bit more than usual, expect to stand in line FOREVER for the beer and bathroom lines. And don’t even think about Shake Shack.
Have a blast: This is what we’ve been waiting so long for. This is why baseball came to DC. Enjoy the ride and proudly show your Natitude.