But instead of a rocking playoff atmosphere in this important inning in a division race, Nationals Park was relatively empty. Not relatively empty compared to years past, but relatively empty compared to earlier in the game when the ballpark erupted after Strasburg struck out all 3 batters in the 5th inning.
One of the factors that led people to leave early included the fact that the game had almost an hour of rain delay. The other factor was the fact that the game was in Washington DC and not Philadelphia, Boston, or New York.
Starting around the 4th inning, the people began to flow out of the park. After each inning the continuous mass of people grew wider and thicker until around the 8th inning when it was just a massive super-amoeba headed down half street towards the metro.
It was as if people would see the amoeba grow and think, "we'd better leave or the metro will be packed". So the amoeba grew like a chain reaction, picking up all people who crossed its path. More people would see it, and more people would decide they had to leave.
Meanwhile, back on the field, a very important game was being played, and the crowd, had waned, and the "home field advantage" had shrunk immensely.
The next day beat writers and Radio DJs were applauding the large Tuesday night attendance. They were proud that the crowd had "stuck it out" through the hellish 51 minute rain delay (oh my! 51 minutes!) 34,000 people! What a crowd!
But the stadium never had that many people in it. Just as the last fans were arriving in the 4th inning the first fans were leaving. By the end of the game the number left in their seats was nowhere close to 34,000. The important part of the game, where fans were needed the most, and the Park was the most empty it had been for the entire game.
If Tyler Clippard pitches out of a huge jam to get a save in a huge divisional game late in the season, and no one is there to see it, did it happen? Yes, thankfully.
If you ask fans, they will have their excuses. The kids have school tomorrow. The metro line is too long. I'm sleepy. But this is baseball. There's no crying in baseball. There's no excuses in baseball. At least not for the #1 team baseball.
I know. It's still August. But the playoffs are coming soon. The games will start later. Fans will have to stay up later. The temperature will get colder. It may be wet and rainy. The metro may not run. The question is, "Will Nationals fans suck it up, or will the amoeba return?"