If you see people streaming for the exits in the middle of the eighth inning, it's not because they're bad fans.
Television viewers watching the Nationals take on the Dodgers in Game 5 of the NLDS on Thursday night might notice an unusually large number of fans heading for the exits before the completion of the game.
You might be wondering how a "real fan" could leave a playoff elimination game before it's over, but please hold your judgment. These Nationals fans are just trying to get home.
First pitch of Thursday's game is scheduled for 8:08 p.m. ET. The D.C. Metro closes around midnight, and the previous four games of the series have taken an average of three hours and 54 minutes to complete. So unless Max Scherzer and Rich Hill mow through their opposing lineups in record time, the game is unlikely to finish before the green-line Metro stops at Navy Yard at 11:39 p.m., the last train that allows fans to transfer to other lines.
Requests for the Metro to stay open late were denied. When asked how Nationals fans should get home after the game, Mayor Muriel Bowser replied, "Nats fans are creative."
I don't doubt the creativity of Nats fans—which they have displayed with the hashtag #NatsRide they've been using to coordinate rides to and from the park—but even Metro board chairman Jack Evans said “it’s going to look foolish if 15,000 people have to get up and leave the game.” Metro GM Paul Wiedefeld, however, hasn't budged.
Scherzer himself expressed his dismay at the Metro leadership's unwillingness to make an exception for the playoffs in an interview on 106.7 The Fan.
“God, I would hope to believe that playoff games here in D.C. would mean more than shutting down the lines for a couple hours,” he said. “I mean, isn’t it a supply-and-demand issue? We have a supply of people that demand to use the line to go to the park. Why wouldn’t you want to meet that?”
Wiedefeld doesn't want to start down the slippery slope of granting exceptions, meaning thousands of fans who rely on the form of transportation will likely be forced from their seats before they get to see their team celebrate victory or mourn defeat.
So cut the people you see prematurely ditching the game some slack. Because no matter how dedicated of a Nationals fan you are, I don't think I would elect to sleep in the park either.