Friday, May 16, 2008

The Rivalry That Does Not Exist: O's vs. Nationals Play Kick Off the Annual Battle of the Beltway: The Bird & Screech Face Off...

Well, the non-existent rivalry between the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles kicks off tonight at the Yard.

What can we say -- right now, no one cares that the team formerly known as the Expos are playing the recently-down-on-their luck Orioles. The reason is simple -- aside from the few people 40 and over who were around to see the Senators and the Orioles face off (and the Senators were bad), there's no real history between the two franchises.

Lest we not forget the role of Peter Angelos in this whole affair.

Once you look at the record of Washington this season and the talent they've got, plus the Orioles' reputation -- it's east to see why no one wants to hype this up.

We need an incident or better yet, the two teams winning to create any interest.

Until that happens, the team that's in my backyard which I see often (the Nationals) are playing the team I rooted for as a youngster and to this very day (the Orioles).


Shawn Hill (0-0, 3.56) vs. Garrett Olson (2-0, 2.95)
Odalis Perez (1-3, 3.71) vs. Brian Burres (3-4, 3.59)
John Lannan (3-3, 3.40) vs. Orioles' Jeremy Guthrie (2-3, 4.18)

Well, this weekend, you'll see starting pitchers on both teams (aside from Odalis Perez) that are high on potential, but not experience or wins.

Both Washington and Baltimore are in the rebuilding stage in terms of their respective franchises. As we all know, no one expected the Orioles do be doing so well, and the Nationals are where most expected them to be with their talent base.

Baltimore's offense has been lackluster at times and have pulled together wins by grinding and taking advantage of opportunities; however, until recently, Washington's offense has been nothing short of horrible until a solid output this week in Flushing Meadows.

Ryan Zimmerman is by far their best all-around force at the plate, but he's struggled to hit around .250 for most of the season, and their high-OBP guy, Nick Johnson is on the shelf thanks to a wrist issue. Aside from Cristian Guzman, everyone in the batting lineup is struggling.

The pitching for Washington has been solid, but a few bad outings and the struggles of Matt Chico have dragged them down. Their bullpen has been rock solid, but shaky at times during the season.

Baltimore should be able to perhaps take two of three in the series. They just seem to have the much more solid team right now, and the young pitching that the Orioles have should be able to counter the Nationals just fine.

Because of the lack of offense on part of Washington, I am giving Baltimore the advantage in the series.

To hype up the series, the Washington Nationals in a PR blitz to hype up the regional series came up to Baltimore's Inner Harbor during the lunch hour and passed out promotional items as well as inform people about the franchise to the south. I am pretty much indifferent to it all, and I think most would agree that the Baltimore Orioles still have somewhat of an influence in the D.C. area through advertisements and MASN, so why can't the Nationals return the favor?

Besides, both teams are struggling with attendance at the game -- a marketing effort would not hurt to get more people through the turnstiles.

Even King Peter threw in his two cents about the affair -- he's now for the whole rivalry, even thought in 2004-05 he was against it (and profited greatly ever since).

Mr. Angelos is not dumb -- he's right -- both teams need each other to succeed in this market and they need to start winning along with build up their fan bases (more so in the Orioles case).

Finally, MASN is sort of revamping their programming this weekend to make the series more interesting, at least on the TV end.

One more note:
In conjunction with this weekend's series between the Nationals and the Orioles at Camden Yards, the Orioles' Bird will take on the Nationals' eagle mascot (Screech) in ESPN Zone's "Battle of the Birds."

This light-hearted depiction of the ever-increasing cross-town rivalry will take place Friday May 16 from 4-5pm at ESPN Zone in Baltimore.

The Bird and Screech will compete is as series of challenges including: horse races, tug-o-war, arm wrestling, basketball free-throw shooting, and an egg race. After the contests, the birds will be available for autograph signing and photographs.

Thanks to Formula PR for the notice...

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