Nov 1, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals owner Ted Lerner looks on during the press conference at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Are the Washington Nationals the Orioles’ Biggest Rival?


My how this rivalry has grown. The hate, the vitriol, the bad blood, the competition all getting more intense and sour as each year passes.

Orioles fans resent the Nationals’ very existence, angered by their so-called traitorous friends from northern Virginia, D.C., or southern Maryland that jumped ship when the new team came to town.

Nationals fans despise the uneven MASN television rights deal, lamenting the years they were forced to watch a mediocre team that they didn’t feel was truly their own.

The battle for the D.C.-Baltimore area continues to be fought at the box office, over the airwaves, and nearly in the courtroom, but this week, the two teams will take the fight between the lines for a highly anticipated four-game series.

The Orioles will visit Nationals Park on Monday and Tuesday, while the Birds will host the Nationals at Camden Yards on Wednesday and Thursday.

The annual clash between the O’s and Nats has become an important battle for bragging rights and the atmosphere at these games has been electric at both parks.

However, in the last few years, each team has emerged as contenders in their division, placing even more focus on the interleague series. This year, the Orioles (48-40) come into D.C. in first place in the AL East and the Nationals (48-39) trail the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves by a half game.

While most Orioles fans will argue that Baltimore’s biggest rivals remain in their own division in the form of Boston, New York, Tampa Bay, and Toronto, few of those games ever seem to carry the same intensity in the bleachers as Orioles vs. Nationals.

The complicated relationship between the two teams is unlike any other in baseball and is a major point of contention between each team’s ownership. Orioles’ owner Peter Angelos’ opposition to bringing a team to Washington and the deal struck to compensate the Orioles for the financial losses caused by the Nationals’ move to D.C. in 2006 seems to have trickled into the minds of the players and fans on each side.

Even the Orioles’ nasty series with Oakland that earned Manny Machado a five-game suspension or the bad blood between the O’s and Rays (specifically Dr. Koko Eaton and Grant Balfour) shouldn’t compare to the intensity of these upcoming games.

Games against division rivals may carry more weight in the standings, but sports has always been a venture that’s fueled by money. When two teams within 40 miles of each other compete for many of the same fans, the battle with a regional rival for the almighty dollar can mean more for the future of the franchise than other division games.

I’m not ready to place more importance on this game than a game against the second-place Blue Jays, for instance, but the Orioles maintaining a piece of the D.C. market is essential to their financial success.

Winning these games helps the Orioles do exactly that. Orioles pride needs to be alive and well in the D.C. market despite the growth of “Natitude” in the area.

If the Orioles continue to win, they have a good chance of remaining a force and continuing to connect with fans in the D.C. area, leading to more money and more potential for success in the future.

The biggest battles between the Orioles and Nationals have yet to be completely resolved, but this week’s series is yet another important skirmish in the war between two enemies living in all-too-close quarters.

Tags: Baltimore Orioles Featured Popular

  • Snowmeo

    As an O’s fan let me say, I dislike the Nats and their fan base. Just like every other DC sports team fan base, there are more bandwagon fans in that city pound for pound than any other place. (I’m a Capitals fan, believe me, I know it all too well). It’s hard to have a real rivalry with any team that has such a flaky fan base. It’s fun going there and out cheering their fans.. (like I will tonight), but it isn’t normally a hard thing to do. Philly Phans take over that plain as plain vanilla can be park on a routine basis. Hell, I bet Mets and Braves fans do too. Until the Nats put together a couple years of really good baseball seasons (as in making the playoffs), their bandwagon fan base won’t be worth the time of day to think of. Once they do make the playoffs, maybe then their fans will actually attend games and will be worth having a rivalry with, until then, bring on the Bosux and Stankees!

    • Brad Welch

      Average attendance for Washington Nationals home games: 31,087
      Average attendance for Baltimore Orioles home games: 29,017

      • daniel1154

        Unfortunately, only about half of the Nats home attendance roots for the Nats when attending the games. The rest are transients rooting for their hometown teams; the Phillies, Mets, Cubs, Braves.
        For the two Orioles/Nats games in DC, the crowd will be 70% O’s fans. It will sound like the O’s are at home for all 4 games.

        • Maryb889

          Seriously? Have you been to a Nats game recently? Based on your fake statistics, I’d say NO.

          From the article:
          “I’m not ready to place more importance on this game than a game against the second-place Blue Jays, for instance, but the Orioles maintaining a piece of the D.C. market is essential to their financial success.
          “Winning these games helps the Orioles do exactly that. Orioles pride needs to be alive and well in the D.C. market despite the growth of “Natitude” in the area.”

          Too bad the Orioles need the DC market (and Peter Angelos’ deal with the devil) to maintain their financial success. Trust me, as the years go on, the MASN deal is severed, and “Natitude” takes over DC, the Orioles will have to actually find their revenue stream in their own neighborhood. Nats fans have long since stopped letting visitors take over their park. So keep your “Os” to yourself … long may “Natitude” reign!!!

          • daniel1154

            The Orioles play in the major leagues, not the National League East. They do battle with the most storied, wealthy and successful franchises in baseball, not the likes of the Marlins, Phillies and Braves. It’s unfortunate that MLB made the mistake of dividing the Orioles territory just so some transients in the DC area could see their home town teams more conveniently. Retaining as much of the Baltimore/Washington market as possible is critical to assure the revenue stream necessary to compete with real major league franchises given the economics of the game today.

            Fortunately the Orioles retain considerable support in the DC area since many baseball fans want to see baseball played at it’s highest level. That will continue to be the case since baseball loyalty is built on success and tradition, which the Orioles have had much of, while the Nationals never have and never will. The Orioles retained their fan base in the DC area even during the worst period in the franchise. You can expect it to deepen and grow going forward given the quality and success of the current team, and prospects for the long term.

            No I have not been to a Nationals game lately. I went to the first game ever played at the park. I found it to be an underwhelming experience; other ballparks look almost identical to Nats park but they are in more interesting neighborhoods. People I know who have attended tell me it’s a very sterile experience, and most of the people there know little about baseball and are only there for something to do, or to watch the team from the town they came from.

          • daniel1154

            Baltimore does, and your’s too. It’s not Baltimore’s fault that MLB allowed the Nats to encroach on the Orioles territory for a lark and a novelty. DC should not have a baseball team, and has no right to one. Probably won’t have one 10 years from now, for the third time.

          • Brad Welch

            If DC is in Orioles territory, then Baltimore is in Wizards territory and Capitals territory.

            Why can’t Baltimore support its team with fans from their own area? Why do they have to rely on DC fans to succeed financially?

          • daniel1154

            Who cares about pro basketball or hockey? You have to be a sports idiot with no life to care.

            Baltimore does support it’s franchises. It’s just that the Nats have taken O’s revenue by infringing on their territory; namely DC. That revenue would help greatly in competing with New York and Boston in the AL East. Fortunately the O’s have the MASN deal which helps, and mitigates the damage that was done. In 10 years or so the Nats will be packing to move somewhere else and things will be right again.

          • daniel1154

            The deal is in place for perpetuity. In terms you would understand, that means it will never run out.

        • Brad Welch

          When Rendon hit that home run in the 6th, it was clear that your 70% number was wrong.

          • daniel1154

            Really? The crowd threw the ball back onto the field.

          • Brad Welch

            Not the crowd. One Orioles fan.

          • daniel1154

            The crowd sure erupted when Davis and Hardy went back to back in the 11th. Sounded like a home crowd for the Orioles, and by the end of the 11th is was a home crowd, since all the Nats fans left.

            Crowd was about 50/50. Orange all over the place. When the Nats play in Baltimore though, there will be about 7 Nats fans in attendance. They just don’t have much of a fan base.

            That was great when that Nats home run got thrown back onto the field in the Nats own stadium. You have to admit it.

          • Brad Welch

            This is interesting. Take a look at road attendance.
            Washington: 31,031
            Baltimore: 27,958
            How do you explain that?

          • daniel1154

            One possible explanation is that people feel like their team is going to win when they play Washington, but don’t feel that confident when they play Baltimore.

            Another is that the Nats have played more games in high attendance venues to date than the Orioles at this point.

            I don’t know that road attendance means much at all. I don’t even think home attendance tells the whole story in any given year. Look at Toronto, which has had the biggest drop off of any team in home attendance this year with the team being in first place a good part of it.

          • Snowmeo

            Too bad you weren’t at the game.. along with other “loyal” Nats fans. O’s fans RULED that park last night! 70% is probably about right! The few times Nats fans started a chant they were drowned out and stopped by O’s fans! It was hilarious!! You should have been then, but then most Nats “fans” don’t actually go to games except maybe on the weekend and maybe if the other team has a player they want to see.

          • Brad Welch

            I will be at Camden Yards for the Wednesday night game.

    • Brad Welch

      The Nationals have a loyal core of fans that have attended from the beginning in 2005 and even during their worst years (2008 and 2009).

    • daniel1154

      Why would anyone be stupid enough to be a hockey fan anyway?

      • daniel1154

        Johnny. Stop being a sports idiot and get a life. There’s a world out there. Important things to do and learn. Don’t waste your life on meaningless things.

    • Domenic Vadala

      I’m going to tell you this once – under NO CIRCUMSTANCES are you welcome to post on Birds Watcher any longer. Your language was bad enough, but…really, you’re going to wish someone to get struck by lightning? Real classy; I’m sure the good fans of the Washington Nationals are standing and applauding at your efforts on here today. – Domenic A. Vadala, Senior Editor, http://www.BirdsWatcher.com.

  • doncro2

    I think this is hogwash {no pun intended Skins fans} and that you’re sensationalizing the issue in a mere effort to stir the pot to get attention—- which I understand is only doing your {media} job! Sure there’s “vitriol”, but it’s primarily between owners, not the fans. I say this as a lifelong O’s fan who has worked in both BAL and DC my entire life and has many colleagues and friends who are Nationals and/or Os fans. I’m unaware of any hatred, resentment, or vitriol. We may share some ill feelings about the Os owner, but not each other or our respective teams. ;>)

    • http://www.birdswatcher.com Scott

      doncro2, Thanks for the read. I am a lifelong O’s fan who has lived and worked in the D.C. area my entire life. I think we’ve just had different experiences in this instance. I go to Nats Park several times a year and have certainly overheard some ill-will towards O’s fans. I’ve heard similar comments about folks wearing a Nationals hats to Camden Yards. There are many who maintain a level head and can root for both teams, but I think that number is shrinking. The more attention the dispute between owners gets, the more fans will realize how important the battle for our money is, and the more fans will choose a definitive side. It’s getting harder and harder to walk the line in this area.

      • doncro2

        I hear you, but respectfully continue to disagree. Sure there are some older fans that continue to carry a grudge, but I just don’t see it as the prevailing attitude at the game or work. I see the normal desire to beat the opposition, albeit with a little more positive excitement and respect because we’re neighbors. The atmosphere and mindset is nothing like when we play our Eastern Division rivals, especially the Yankees and the Red Sox. I respect your position and believe it is exactly what the media is striving to fuel and

        exploit. I suspect it’s also one both owners silently support, given they stand to profit as well. I prefer to focus on the game. Enjoy the season!

  • justAguy

    I really don’t agree with the message in this article. Sure loyalty means picking a side, but I don’t see why this has to be a ‘hated rivalry’ i mean these teams aren’t even in the same league. I was 12 years old when the Nationals got to DC, but my first major league memories were from Camden Yards. When i really started getting into baseball the Nationals were already established and I became a fan mostly because I live closer to DC and it’s way easier for me to get to their games. I still head to Baltimore from time to time to see the O’s because i always liked them, and to me there’s no doubt that Camden Yards is the better park. If there is any team i want to see win the world series if not the nationals, it’s the Orioles. This doesn’t have to be hostile..

    • Johnny Pagliocchini

      Do your homework on way the Nats should hate the Baltimoron’so !

    • http://www.birdswatcher.com Scott

      justAguy, Thanks for the read. There are a lot of people who share this attitude promoting peaceful co-existence and even dual-fanhood, but there are also a lot of people who don’t. The people who don’t tend to be a little louder and send the rivalry down the path I feel it is on. As an Orioles fan, I see most of the Nats fans around here as money that could be going in the Orioles’ pockets and helping my team, while I’m sure Nats fans feel the same way about O’s fans. “Hostile” is a strong word here, and really so are “hate” and “vitriol,” but the two teams compete with each other for the same market, and each fanbase resents that. Here’s some proof from the D.C. side of things: http://washington.cbslocal.com/2014/04/15/this-orioles-billboard-is-less-than-7-miles-from-nationals-park/

  • Don Mandel

    Biggest Rival?
    I think you must be on Crack!
    We aren’t even in the Same Division, the same League, or the Same City…

    • Domenic Vadala

      We welcome your opinion, however please try to keep your commentary civil. Thank you. – Domenic A. Vadala, Senior Editor, http://www.birdswatcher.com.

    • http://www.birdswatcher.com Scott

      Thanks for the read, Don. Here’s a clip from my article in response:

      “Games against division rivals may carry more weight in the standings, but sports has always been a venture that’s fueled by money. When two teams within 40 miles of each other compete for many of the same fans, the battle with a regional rival for the almighty dollar can mean more for the future of the franchise than other division games.

      I’m not ready to place more importance on this game than a game against the second-place Blue Jays, for instance, but the Orioles maintaining a piece of the D.C. market is essential to their financial success.”

      It’s because of the money and the Orioles’ future stake in Washington that make this game important and make O’s/Nats a rivalry. The Orioles and Nationals may not be in the same division, league, or city, but they are competing for the same market and the same dollars.

  • Domenic Vadala

    With all due respect, please keep your language or veiled references to language off of this site. We welcome your opinion, however we do try to keep it clean. Thank you. – Domenic A. Vadala, Senior Editor, http://www.birdswatcher.com.