Baltimore Orioles: Media musings on the Battle of the Beltways


With Baltimore Orioles in Washington, DC for one more game tonight before opening a two-game set with Washington at home, the mix of media surrounding these series’ is a bit fascinating. (I’m looking at these games as two different two-game sets, but some folks want to look at it as one four-game series.) For starters, MASN is the home network for both teams, and for the upteenth year in a row area fans watching on TV are getting to see a “mixed booth.” Orioles’ color commentator Mike Bordick and Washington’s color man F.P. Santangelo broadcast the entire game, and they alternate between Orioles’ play-by-play man Jim Hunter and Washington’s Bob Carpenter. It’s certainly different and it has it’s rough spots, but…

Courtesy of Ted S. Warren

…I think it’s a good set-up for fans. On one hand you have fans on both sides complaining that they have to listen to “those horrible [insert team] announcers.” It’s almost comical; both sets of fans claim the other side’s broadcasters are shameless homers. However I feel that the split booth serves it’s purpose very well. There’s a part of every fan that probably wants to hear his or her hometown announcers -and only them –  broadcasting the games. However I do believe that from a fan’s perspective there’s something to be gained from hearing the game called from the opposite perspective, or even just hearing another analyst’s opinion on the team. That might not always go well in the sense that fans may interpret one side as being overly critical whereas if the same opinion was coming from that team’s broadcaster it would be viewed as the truth. However again, I feel that hearing someone else’s take might not be a bad thing. At the very least it adds a bit of spice to the run-of-the-mill game-watching experience.

I also find it interesting to hear the reception the Orioles get in the DC media. WTEM in Washington is a full-fledged Orioles radio affiliate. With that said, their everyday programming is Nats-centric (with regard to baseball that is), which should be the case given that they’re the true home team. WJFK is the other sports station in town, and they’re the flagship station of the Washingon Nationals. In listening to that station after yesterday’s game, I found it interesting that the host immediately following the game coverage initially said that Oriole bats bludgeoned the Nats. After that comment, he threw in “…HOWEVER, many of the hits the O’s got were softly hit, such as the broken bat RBI-single…”  I wouldn’t say that the O’s “bludgeoned” Washington’s pitching. However if you’re going to say that, it doesn’t have anywhere near the implication that you want it to have if you throw in the bit about softly hit balls.

In fact, it almost goes so far as to say that the Orioles were bordering on lucky. The couple of Nationals fans that I know have made it plainly clear to me that in the past when the O’s have beaten the Nats it’s been either luck or Washington’s lack of execution. As a writer, I shudder to think that any team in any sport could win by luck. Especially in a game like baseball where you play so many games, and the game itself is in effect based on failure. If the hitters fail to hit the ball, the pitcher wins. If the pitcher fails to hit his spot the hitter hits the ball a long way and he wins. On a basic level, that’s baseball.

However my point is not to beat up on Washington, their fans, or their media. In the series at Camden Yards, I think that the Baltimore media will treat the Nationals like any other visiting team that comes in to play the Orioles. That’s how it’s been in the past at least, and I have no reason to believe that 2013 will be any different. So you have one city’s media and fans that are saying that the other city’s team is lucky, while the other city’s media treats the other team as if they barely exist. I’m not saying that one way is wrong or that the other is right (although again, you don’t win games by luck), however the contrast itself is just interesting.

On a side note, I wish that the league hadn’t put a stop to the home-and-home series’ between regional rivals. I always felt that the three-game series’ over a weekend in each park was a great bonus for fans of both teams. It made for a close enough road trip without even having to in theory leave home. If they were going to have two different two-game series’, I’m glad however that they had one of the games on Memorial Day. Obviously it’s an important holiday, and it was in effect a weekend game. But having one game in DC and two in Baltimore on weeknights makes it tough for people to attend the games. I know that not everyone has a regional rival, and there were even some teams that didn’t want to play these regional series’ moving forward, so this was the compromise. However I feel that Baltimore and Washington are perfect for this kind of thing, especially over a weekend. Going to one of the “road games” isn’t as easy as taking a different subway line, but you don’t need to go far. Orioles fans might like to hang out in Georgetown for an evening, while Washington fans might enjoy a trip to the Inner Harbor. But this is the “new normal” in baseball I guess; we might as well deal with it.