Successful scalping has rules, and Steve Petric knows them all.

With today’s Nationals’ opening day game against the Philadelphia Phillies down to Standing Room Only tickets, he’s turned to the informal economy for the two tickets he needs.

The atmosphere around the scalpers outside Navy Yard is cheerfully illicit, with sidelong looks taken as an invitation to approach and deal. Petric ignores the pros, though. He’s looking for fans who happen to have an extra two tickets—folks who “just want to get rid of ’em and get inside.” Minutes later, Petric has his tickets.

Petric might have had trouble buying tickets because of the crowds of Phillies supporters at the game. Phillies fan Jamie Flannery woke up at 6 a.m. to drive to Washington with his friends, looking forward to tailgating and a crushing performance by new Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay. When they arrived, though, disaster! There was no place to drink their cooler of beer.

“There’s nothing much of a parking lot here,” Flannery says. Tailgate-less, Flannery and his friends resorted to drinking on a sidewalk outside the stadium.

Phillies fans and booze just don’t mix for high school art teacher Chris Kelly. Kelly wanted to see the game too, but he left after seeing the crowds. He counts long lines at the metal detector and drunken Phillies fans as reasons he bailed on opening day.

“I guess I’m a baby,” he says.

Photo by Will Sommer