Rick Snider: Nats get no points for fixing rainout policy

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Sports,MLB,Nationals,Rick Snider

Rainouts are the worst. Greedy team officials are second.

Sitting in Memorial Stadium as a young lad on the rare occasion dad took me to a Baltimore Orioles game, we'd wait for the official cancellation during rain hoping for a miracle. The ticket stubs were only good for the next day, and we lived too far to return.

Bummer.

The Washington Nationals wanted fans to return quickly or eat their ticket costs, too. The Nats told fans who went to Tuesday's rained out game to attend Thursday's matinee or lose their money if the tickets weren't part of some season ticket plan. The difference is while my dad forfeited our luxurious $2 bleacher seats, fans nowadays can lose hundreds of dollars.

(I used to say, "Dad, why can't we sit closer to the field?" He'd say, "Those seats are no better." Translation: cheap. Flash forward 40 years and my kids say, "Dad, why can't we sit closer to the field?" I say, "Those seats are no better," while now sitting in $5 seats. Hey, it's a legacy thing. Yeah, that's it -- legacy.)

After a public shaming of their scrooge-like rain policy, the Nats rescinded it Wednesday. The team tried to dress up the announcement, but let's be honest - only a public relations fiasco forced the change and not some change of heart by officials. So, the Nats get no points for the reversal because it was poor judgment to start.

The Nats used to let fans exchange cancelled tickets for future games based on availability. That was only fair and good business all around. Fans didn't lose tickets and the team didn't lose hungry customers who spent money inside the park.

But the team is now supposedly a World Series contender and those nights of half-filled stadiums are over for now. It's not so easy to exchange 30,000 or so tickets. But, we know it's possible over the season.

Welcome to the cost of a winner.

The Nats needed to return to their old policy. It can't afford to burn customers. The crowds are growing for now, but angering fans risks long-term ramifications. Any time clouds gather, fans would have been reluctant to buy tickets for fear of being burned.

Ticket costs make attending games an event like concerts. When a coming play in town was recently cancelled, my money was refunded. It should be the same for sports.

Baseball plays 81 games annually. There's always room for more, especially during the chilly spring weeknights and blistering summer matinees. Fans might not get the games they really want, but at least they'd get something so the tickets aren't wasted.

Fans have been generous since the Nats returned. Attendance was solid during those awful seasons and quite good after finally building a winner. Nats ballcaps are now seen regularly as Washington proves it's a baseball town.

That loyalty shouldn't be erased by rain . . . or greedy team officials.

Examiner columnist Rick Snider has covered local sports since 1978. Read more on Twitter @Snide_Remarks or email rsnider@washingtonexaminer.com.

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