Are the Baltimore Orioles over-zealously marketing themselves?


Baltimore’s 105.7 WJZ (“the fan”) tweeted out an article this afternoon (courtesy of their CBS counterpart in DC, 106.7 “the fan,” WJFK) regarding a Baltimore Orioles advertisement on a billboard. Here’s the catch; the billboard is less than ten miles away from Nationals Park. Now granted, the article points out that the billboard is physically in the state of Maryland. However it’s obviously a part of Maryland that’s more “Washingtonian” than “Baltimorean.” Furthermore, I’m not so sure that “Nationals fans” are the ones who are raising a stink about this, as much as it is the radio station; WJFK is the flagship station on the Nationals’ radio network.

However regardless of who’s truly taking issue with this, I suppose that it is curious to note that an MLB team is advertising itself so close

Courtesy of Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

to another MLB team. (Withstanding situations such as NY and Chicago, which are cities with two teams.) However, a quick internet search provided me with another article, this one regarding MLB Territorial Rights. In effect, the entire mid-Atlantic region is BOTH the territory of the Orioles AND the Nationals. This means that both teams can claim “home team” TV/Radio rights in both cities and surrounding areas, as well marketing initiatives and so forth. In a nutshell, the New York Yankees couldn’t market themselves by opening a team store or purchasing advertising space in the Baltimore/Washington area.

So the point here is that the Orioles are within their rights to market themselves on that billboard. Furthermore, the Nationals would be well within their rights to market themselves in a similar manner close to Camden Yards. So those billboards on Russell St. or on I-95 in Baltimore? The day might come when an image of Bryce Harper or Ryan Zimmerman are staring back at drivers when they pass by there. Heck, the Nationals would be within their rights to open up an official team store someplace in the Baltimore area. They own the territorial rights there as much as the Orioles do, just as the Orioles own the territorial rights closer to DC as much as the Nats.

I suppose that the question is how likely the owner of those billboards in Baltimore would be to sell their advertising space to a non-
Baltimore team. However that aside, it’s obvious that at least one billboard owner in Washington was willing to take the Orioles’ money and put their image on his sign. So if Nats fans (or their flagship station) is angry at anyone, they should be angry at whomever owns this particular billboard. Incidentally, Glenn Younces of WJZ radio penned a response to the original article – one that I feel is spot on for the record.

And for the record, I’m going to go on the assumption that this is a “controversy” drummed up by WJFK radio more than anything else.
Perhaps there are Nats fans out there who are “outraged” at this and so forth, and I suppose I can at the very least understand their feelings on the matter. However the Orioles haven’t done anything outside of the rules by renting out space on this billboard, nor are they doing anything wrong by having a DC radio affiliate, or having their games shown in the DC market. The only way that changes is if the territorial rights are redrawn someday. However keep in mind that the world is becoming a smaller and smaller place – not the other way around.