Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Nats-Mets didn't pack 'em in. Will the Battle of the Beltways?
I didn't have the heart to tell him he's probably going to be disappointed.
Much as the two sides have tried to play up the Battle of the Beltways, there's really not much to this Baltimore-Washington rivalry yet. It doesn't help that neither franchise has posted a winning record since the Nationals arrived in town in 2005. (Come to think of it, the Orioles haven't posted a winning record since 1997. For all the ridicule the Pirates take for their 17-year losing streak, the O's aren't far behind.)
These annual interleague games do seem to draw a few more fans to the ballpark, and there probably will be a robust "O!" cheer tonight during the national anthem from the folks who make the trek down from Balmer. But this remains a tame rivalry at best, certainly not worthy of being included among baseball's best geographic tiffs (Yankees-Mets, Cubs-White Sox, Dodgers-Angels, Giants-A's). It might not even compete with second-tier rivalries like Twins-Brewers, Rangers-Astros and Cardinals-Royals.
After some surprisingly small crowds the last two days for Nats-Mets (19,384 on Wednesday, 23,612 last night) I was curious whether there's more anticipation for this weekend's series. A quick attempt to purchase tickets on the Nationals' website suggests tonight's game may not draw much more than last night's. It should pick up some the rest of the weekend. But the fact remains that until the Nats and Orioles both start winning, the Battle of the Beltways will remain a quirky, annual event that draws slightly more interest than the average weekend series in May but in no way resembles a legitimate rivalry yet.