Friday, May 18, 2007

The Battle of the Beltway -- A Much Ado About Nothing...

Well, the two baseball teams of the Mid-Atlantic region meet up this weekend in Washington D.C., as the Nationals take on the Orioles at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium. With both teams going through attendance woes due to the play on the field, and the lack of promotion of this series; to be quite honest, I don’t see much to this rivalry at the moment.

From what I can see living in covering both teams and living in the cross-hairs of Washington and Baltimore, it generates some exctiment, but it’s not a ‘must-see’. With the Nats playing good baseball this week, and the Orioles tanking and stumbling at the moment, no one knows what to expect. With the exception of Ryan Zimmerman and Miguel Tejada (to a lesser extent Nick Markakis and Brian Roberts), there’s not much star power at all to drive the rivalry to another level.

If anything, fans from Baltimore who come to Washington D.C. get to take an inexpensive road trip, and Washington fans who go up to Baltimore get to see a game in a newer ballpark.

For example, most Orioles fans are indifferent to the Nationals; however, most Nationals fans dislike the Orioles because of Peter Angelos.

In fact, both teams share the same sentiment for Peter Angelos. It’s something to be a man hated in two cities…

The rivalry is friendly, and there are quite a few Nationals supporters (like myself) who still hold quite a fondness for the Orioles.

It’s nice to see two teams who I see often and have an emotional attachment play one another, but I am not going to feed into the incessant hype. In fact, I have not heard much promotion about the series from either team this season, unlike in 2006.

This rivalry for the most part, lacks the history and emotional attachment for many fans that the Yankees-Mets, Giants-Dodgers or White Sox-Cubs seem to have. It’ll be a great weekend for Orioles and Nationals to root back and forth for their favorite teams, then perhaps get a beer afterwards, analyze the game or talk about the good old days. For me the annual interleague meeting between the two teams allows me to take pictures and note how the fanbase of the two teams interact.

For example, in my family, I root for both teams, while my younger brother is a Nationals fan, and my father roots loudly for the Birds.

Perhaps when the Orioles and Nationals meet in the World Series, or if something notable happens like a miracle comeback by one of the teams, or perhaps an ugly incident happens, then we can pump up the volume when the two teams meet.

Overall, it will just be a fun weekend to see baseball if the weather cooperates.

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