The Washington Nationals sold out a total of two home games last season — and both of those were against the Philadelphia Phillies, who always bring along thousands of their fans to the nation's capital.
As of Thursday, Washington will be halfway to that total in 2012, because standing-room-only spots were all that were available for the sold-out home opener against the Cincinnati Reds.
"It's way more fun to play in a stadium packed with your fans than no fans or, even worse, fans from another town," Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth said. "I think as the team continues to win and does the things to bring the fans to the ballpark — which is, essentially, winning — I think we'll have a bigger following and a better atmosphere and the stadium will be a place people come to enjoy a game of baseball."
Last season, the Nationals averaged fewer than 25,000 fans per game, ranking 14th in the 16-team National League.
Union chief: Steroids shouldn't keep players out of Hall of Fame
Steroid use shouldn't keep baseball's best sluggers and pitchers out of the Hall of Fame, the head of the players' union said Wednesday.
Michael Weiner said he thinks the Hall "is for the best baseball players that have ever played." The executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association also said he thinks Pete Rose should be in the Hall despite Rose's history of gambling — just as team executives aren't barred for engaging in collusion against the players in the 1980s.
"It's a museum," Weiner said. "If you want to have some notation on their plaque that indicates that they were either judged to have used performance-enhancing substances or accused of having done that, so be it."
Weiner said he was speaking his personal opinion and not an official position of the union.
"From my perspective, the Hall of Fame is for the best baseball players and most influential executives that have been involved, and they should all be in," Weiner said.
■ Major League Baseball will mark the 65th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's debut by again having all players wear his No. 42 on Sunday. Robinson broke baseball's color barrier when he played for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947.
■ Ian Kinsler and the Rangers finalized a new $75 million, five-year contract Wednesday that locks up another one of their key players and makes the leadoff hitter one of the best-paid second basemen in the majors. The 29-year-old Kinsler is a two-time All-Star who twice in the past three seasons had 30 homers and 30 stolen bases.
■ Newly retired catcher Jorge Posada will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the New York Yankees' home opener Friday against the Los Angeles Angels. The five-time All-Star and five-time World Series champion retired in January after 17 major-league seasons.
■ Phillies pitcher and former Kentucky standout Joe Blanton (0-1) will make his first start of the season on Thursday.