Summer Activities in D.C. 2013: A Social Butterfly's Guide to Nats Baseball

Here we are once again, with the eagerly awaited next installment of, “Things to do if you’re stranded for the summer in the swampland masquerading as our nation’s capital.”  This week: your guide to attending Nationals games.

First of all, don’t call them that. You’re going to a Nats game. This should be easy to remember, as you probably have between 20 and 30 gnats swarming around your head and up your nose at all times in this marsh of a city. The stadium is beautiful and right on the Anacostia River, though, so if you face the right direction and have a strong imagination you’ll catch a river breeze and a sweet respite from the summer heat. If you are not a person of great imagination, I suggest just heading over to the Dippin' Dots stand instead.

Secondly, you’re probably going to protest that baseball is a very boring sport.  You are mostly right, but therein lies its beauty as a social gathering. You see, with baseball, you’re stuck in your seats for hours on end, with nothing really to distract you from the game as it inches forward at a glacial pace — nothing except each other, that is. Unlike going to, say, a movie where everyone is engrossed with the drama unfolding before them, at baseball games, most people are eager to let you chat their ears off for a few hours. I’ve tried this at the movies in the past. Generally speaking, it has not been greeted with enthusiasm. 

Every once in awhile, you’ll be ambushed by an actual baseball fan, who is intent on following the “action” on the field. Initially, this can be alarming, but if handled correctly it can turn into quite a bit of fun. Genuine baseball fans pose a challenge to people attending games for social reasons, so it’s all the more gratifying when you get them to talk.

Based on games I’ve attended with my dad, I’ve devised a method of engaging and distracting true-blue baseball fans and transforming them into well-adjusted, sociable human beings. My dad is a huge Nats fan. I’m actually a San Francisco Giants fan, so I don’t know that much about the Nationals, but I’m always sure to know just enough facts to get the conversation going. 

First you lull the unsuspecting baseball fan into a false sense of security by asking relevant questions. Good questions for a Nats fan include, “So how to you think Stephen Strasburg is recovering from elbow surgery?” Another great way to build street cred is to memorize some obscure facts about a different team. For example, I can recite the lineup of the Giants’ 2002 World Series team. People are usually impressed and overlook the fact that I only follow sports during the playoffs.  he idea is  that your naïve, baseball-loving friend will assume you have the breadth to match your depth of sports trivia knowledge. 

Once you’ve got your friend convinced you’re a serious student of baseball, you can move into the related but less relevant questions, such as, “So, how do you feel about the addition of Taft to the presidential race?” and then follow it up with a statement, “Rumors state he once got stuck in a bathtub, though historians have found no conclusive evidence.” 

Finally you get to our last stage, tangentially relating the game to what you actually want to talk about. This goes a little something like this: “Gosh, can you believe that Bryce Harper is only 20 years old? Speaking of young people in the work force, sometimes I feel under-appreciated at work. Let’s discuss this.”  And before your baseball fan can say, “Peanuts and crackerjacks,” he’s become deeply mired in your dilemma of which kind of plant you should buy to brighten up your workspace. 

And that, my friends, is how to attend a Nats game. 

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Caitlin Reilly

Cait is an independent contractor with NPR. She recently graduated with a degree in history and literature from Harvard. In her free time she enjoys taking rec league soccer too seriously, watching embarrassing television, and correcting other people's grammar on facebook.

MORE FROM

‘Game of Thrones’ Season 7, Episode 2 Trailer: New alliances may form in “Stormborn”

Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen may have an unexpected intermediary.

Tyler, the Creator is still a “walking paradox” on the rumor-baiting ‘Flower Boy’

Is he queer? Maybe. Does he know how to use the speculation to further his art? Definitely.

Note to Ryan Murphy: ‘American Horror Story’ reveals don’t need to be a scavenger hunt

The title and premiere date of the seventh season of 'American Horror Story' were revealed Thursday.

‘Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later’ proves sometimes it’s OK to skip the reunion

If you're looking to trim down your Netflix consumption, start by avoiding this pointless sequel series.

Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington was open about his pain. That doesn’t make his death less shocking.

“If it wasn’t for music, I’d be dead,” Bennington once said. “One hundred percent.”

Please stop hating on ‘The Dark Knight Rises’

Christopher Nolan's final Batman film is simply not as bad as some fans think.

‘Game of Thrones’ Season 7, Episode 2 Trailer: New alliances may form in “Stormborn”

Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen may have an unexpected intermediary.

Tyler, the Creator is still a “walking paradox” on the rumor-baiting ‘Flower Boy’

Is he queer? Maybe. Does he know how to use the speculation to further his art? Definitely.

Note to Ryan Murphy: ‘American Horror Story’ reveals don’t need to be a scavenger hunt

The title and premiere date of the seventh season of 'American Horror Story' were revealed Thursday.

‘Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later’ proves sometimes it’s OK to skip the reunion

If you're looking to trim down your Netflix consumption, start by avoiding this pointless sequel series.

Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington was open about his pain. That doesn’t make his death less shocking.

“If it wasn’t for music, I’d be dead,” Bennington once said. “One hundred percent.”

Please stop hating on ‘The Dark Knight Rises’

Christopher Nolan's final Batman film is simply not as bad as some fans think.