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HELLER: Time to stuff seats at Nationals Park

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ANALYSIS/OPINION: 

Are you a baseball fan? More to the point, are you a Nationals fan? If so, tote your tail to South Capitol Street at least once over the next three days to say hail but not farewell to the most amazing, astonishing, astounding baseball team in these parts since FDR was a rookie president. (And, no, those adjectives aren't redundant.)

In case you're historically challenged, the 1933 Washington Senators won 99 games and went to the World Series. Entering their final regular-season series, the current Nats have the mathematical possibility of matching that.

Tom Meany, the old New York sportswriter, observed in a less politically correct era that figures are boring unless they're in a chorus line. But let's consider at least one more.

A year ago, the Nats finished 80-81. Even if they lose every remaining game, they'll finish 96-66, an improvement of 141/2 games. Never mind Obama or Romney — how about Davey Johnson for president?

Considering all the thrills and chills this season, the Nats should draw capacity crowds of 41,000-plus at Nationals Park when they end the regular season Monday and Tuesday nights and Wednesday afternoon against the vanquished Phillies. And as the players toss their red-and-white jerseys into the stands at the conclusion of business Wednesday, the applause should reach all the way to Capitol Hill and beyond.

So far the Nats have averaged 24,877 at home, a gain of nearly 5,000 over last season but still only 60 percent of capacity. That's no better than 14th in the major leagues, behind even the dog-meat Cubs. Which begs the question: What do folks around here want?

I know, I know — it's expensive to buy decent tickets, parking and concessions cost too much, night games run too late and all the combat is available on cable TV. But so what?

If you call yourself a fan, Nats Park is the place to be this week.

The club's final home attendance will be somewhere around 2.4 million and figures to jump dramatically in 2013 because newfound success on the field usually hypes interest the following season. But in this case, why wait 'til next year?

I loved it last week when those fans in the City of Brotherly Hate screamed at ex-Phil Jayson Werth as if he were a latter-day Benedict Arnold. You see, they cared, if obnoxiously, and turned out in force to support their also-ran team. Numerical note: In a park of similar size, the Phils are averaging nearly 15,000 more per game than the Nats. Of course, the Phils were very good for a very long time before this season.

Although I hate the silly "Natitude" slogan, that's exactly what we should have this week. It's no trick to draw throngs for postseason games, but true fans have three more chances to show appreciation for what Davey and his talented troops have done so far.

We don't know what the Nats will accomplish in the near future, but in terms of giving thanks, let's steal a famous line from George Allen (the football coach, not the politician): "The future is now."

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