In a transient town where baseball was lost for an entire generation, the Baltimore Orioles had the region now referred to as the DMV (D.C., Maryland and Virginia) on lockdown for over 30 years.
Until the team formerly known as the Montreal Expos relocated to Washington D.C., most fans of the national pastime in the District grudgingly supported the Orioles, and the transient population remained loyal to their home teams.
However, the battle for regional supremacy is on, and here are the top five reasons that the Washington Nationals will take over the D.C. market from the Orioles.
DC Hates Angelos
Inside the beltway there is very little people can agree on. Democrats hate Republicans and that has caused gridlock on Capitol Hill. When it comes to football there are as many fans who love the Redskins as those who love the Cowboys.
However, everybody who is a fan of the Nationals hates Orioles owner Peter Angelos. In addition to a personal filibuster that kept baseball from the nation’s capital and then boldly proclaiming there are no fans of baseball in D.C., he controls the TV rights to both the Nats and O’s.
Angelos has been a polarizing owner who has underachieved as steward of a once proud franchise and is fortunate his team picked the right year to make a comeback.
More Star Power
D.C. is an international city where stars are revered and placed on pedestals that could stand on the National Mall. Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, and Ryan Zimmerman are bigger than just baseball stars—they are bordering on iconic status in the community.
They have transcended sports and become celebrities that give the Nationals prominence in the national media. Now that they are winning and could be poised for a long postseason run, some enterprising soul will have to add decks to the bandwagon so it will look like those tourist buses that take visitors to see the national landmarks around the city.
Just ask Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco and Rafael Palmeiro, Congress loves baseball almost to a fault. For years America’s elected officials had to travel 30 miles up the road to Baltimore for a glimpse at the national pastime.
Now, with Nationals Park in the shadows of Capitol Hill, the annual Congressional Baseball Game is in walking distance from the office. The next time they want to hold unnecessary hearings, no need to waste time in committee, just head over to South Capitol Street.
When a Senator is looking for a boost in the polls, it will only help to be seen at the Nats game representing for the hometown team.
With high stakes negotiations for a new regional television deal on the horizon, the prospects for the Nationals leaving the umbrella of the Mid Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) are at least 50-50.
In the battle for local sports audience, the fans in Baltimore have felt slighted by Comcast SportsNet. CSN Washington would dearly love to have the Nationals opposite the Orioles every night. However, the Nationals are a media cash cow for Angelos, and one of the stipulations in order for him to sign off on baseball in D.C. was to give him control over the television rights.
After the merger with NBC Universal, there has been a new emphasis on sports at CSN. So, for the right annual price, Angelos may relent and reduce the Orioles presence on the major regional cable outlet in the area.
While the Orioles seem to have caught lighting in a bottle with nearly every break going their way, the Nationals ascent to the best record in baseball was methodically executed and bodes well for the long haul.
Washington has built a franchise with quality young talent from a deep farm system and fortified it with several key acquisitions by the front office. The Nats core is young and their minor league system is light years ahead of the Orioles when it comes to pitching.
The Nationals will be a contender for the next decade, and the same can’t be said for the Orioles just yet. As long as Washington is winning, Baltimore’s relevance in the District will fade.