Beltway Blah: The Battle for Bragging Rights (and Nothing More)

brian clothierContributor IMay 22, 2009

Whatever you do, stay away from MASN (Peter Angelos owned Orioles/Nationals television affiliate).  Friday is the beginning of the not-so highly contested “Battle of the Beltways.”  This menagerie of mediocrity pits not one, but two fifth-place teams against each other for a geographical grudge match.

The Baltimore Orioles (16-25, 5-14 on the road) just finished up a three day visit to New York by giving it up like a horny prom date.  The Yankees won the three games 9-1, 11-4, and 7-4.  The Orioles last win?  May 16th, a 3-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals.

What’s worse than being in fifth place in the AL East? Being fifth place in the NL East and owning baseball’s worst record. 

The Nats (12-28, with an identical 6-14 record at home and away) take a one-game winning streak (I know it’s not technically a streak, I’m bringing levity to this sad situation) back home to host the lowly Birds. The Nationals were able to put away a 5-4 winner last night versus the paltry Pittsburgh Pirates (16-22). 

It was a come from behind victory no less, as the Teddy Roosevelts (more popular than “Screech” the eagle) were down by a run going into the eighth inning. I wonder how many fans actually stuck around to see the finish.

But, if you think it’s only the fans that are feeling frustration over the futility of these two also-rans, take a look at what Nick Markakis had to say to Orioles dot com.

"It's tough," said Markakis, who snapped a three-game hitless streak. "You can only do so much as a hitter, and the rest is out of your hands. I thought we did a good job—not necessarily me—but we hit the ball well as a team this series. Twelve hits today, 10 hits yesterday. ...Like I said, there's only so much you can do."

Orioles pitching is ranked 29th (the offense is ranked 13) in the majors with a team ERA of 5.25.  They’ve given up a league leading 63 (Orioles batters have 46) home runs (not that they’ll be in any REAL danger in DC) to 255 strikeouts.  The Uh-O’s are 7-12 in save situations.

But who is No. 30, you ask?

The Washington Nationals (ranked No. 6 offensively) have a league worst 5.75 team ERA and have allowed for 44 (Nats hitters have 47) homers to 237 strikeouts.  In 19 save opportunities, they’ve been lucky enough to cash in on seven.

So you see, there’s plenty of bad news to go around.  And though there are a plethora of potentially prodigious hitters to watch for (on both teams), the perpetually pathetic pitching will be enough to make you weep in your potato salad.

Sure, Markakis and Jones and Huff will do their part.  Zimmerman (Ryan, probably not Jordan) and Guzman and Johnson will try to help out as well.  But at some point, the hitter showcase has to end in someone’s heartache.  The good news is neither team can sink any lower (is there anything lower than “rock bottom”?).

I have a feeling that watching this weekend’s match-up of cross-town rivals will be much like witnessing a public execution or watching old people making love.  It will turn your stomach.  And, that would ruin a perfectly good cookout.



Retrieved May 22, 2009,  from the Baltimore Orioles team site.

Retrieved May 22, 2009,  from the Washington Nationals team site.

Retrieved May 22, 2009,  from