The Orioles and Washington Nationals play their annual series this week, and while it’s not a “real” rivalry, it’s still a fun one for fans. Press play or read below for more.
It’s one of my favorite weeks in Birdland, where the Orioles and Nationals compete for the MASN Cup, or the “Battle of the Beltways” or whatever you want to call it. And yes, for those of you from outside the Mid-Atlantic region, it is “beltways,” plural. There are indeed two of them.
These two teams have met 60 times over the past decade in what is obviously one of the more manufactured “rivalries” in baseball. This one doesn’t have the same meaning as Giants-Dodgers or Cubs-Cardinals. It doesn’t have the history of Yankees-Red Sox, but it’s still fun in its own right.
Part of what makes the Orioles and Nationals so unique is the fact that they share a television network, and all of the controversy that surrounds MASN’s revenue. The Nats’ relocation from Montreal as the Expos in 2005 also led to a uniform change, not just for them, but the Orioles as well. In 2009, the O’s put “Baltimore” back on their road jersey for the first time in decades. I think there’s a reason for that.
The Orioles and Nationals have also followed similar paths to their relative success in the last five years. The Nats made their first-ever postseason appearance in 2012, the same season the Orioles ended a 14-year playoff drought. Each team has had high expectations over the last few years, but neither has been able to break through for a pennant. In this particular series, the O’s own a 36-24 record against the Nats and are 7-1-3 in series.
There’s also the added storyline this week of seeing Matt Wieters return to Baltimore as a member of the Nationals. Here’s hoping the fans stand and applaud before he goes 0-for-4 in each game of the series (seriously, don’t make the O’s pay, Matt).
Look, after everything the Orioles went through last week with their real division “rivals” from Boston and New York, it’s nice to have a little bit of fake rivalry to sink your teeth into this week. I for one, enjoy the manufactured rivalry, as long as the O’s continue to swat the (G)Nats the way they have in the past.