Jul 07

Battle of the Beltway: The Nationals Perspective

BattleBeltway The Battle of the Beltway is slowly becoming one of the most competitive interleague rivalries. With 38 miles separating their stadiums the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals have sparked one of the new exciting rivalries in major league baseball and when you throw in the team’s recent success this is one of the most intriguing matchups in baseball.

The series name is taken from the two beltway highways, the Baltimore Beltway and the Capital Beltway, that run through Baltimore and Washington D.C. With this new found rivalry brewing in the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area the DMV area has started to become a major market in all three of the big sports, in football, basketball and now baseball.
With the rivalry being very new when it is put up against a classic rivalry like the Red Sox and Yankees the Beltway rivalry is more of a friendly one and does not have the sparks like the afore mention rivalry does. However the rivalry started brewing even before the first pitch was thrown in 2005 for the Washington Nationals.

While this rivalry is new there are still some sour grapes that Nationals fans have towards Orioles owner, Peter Angelos, for his strong opposition of the Montreal Expos move to Washington D.C. Angelos was strongly against it in that he felt that it would harm the Orioles financially which in the first four seasons proved to be true as the Nationals become more popular than the Orioles as they were able to draw 9,127,252 fans to the ballpark while the Orioles only drew 8,892,951.

Angelos opposition of the move was ended just before the start of the 2005 season as the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network started and both of the Nationals and Orioles games would be broadcasted on that channel to the folks in the local DMV area. Since 2005 the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) has progressed into a very popular channel in the area for both the Orioles and the Nationals.

One thing that a lot of fans enjoy about the Battle of the Beltway is the way MASN handles it in that both of the Nationals and Orioles commentators switch off every inning of the game as well as mix and matching commentators from both teams at the same time to really provided a unique feel to the game.

The Nationals broadcast team is led by play by play announcer Bob Carpenter and his color analyst F.P. Santangelo. With Carpenter’s classic tag line of “See…you… later!” for a homerun and F.P.’s experience as a MLB player for six seasons MASN has a dynamic duo in the both for the Nationals.

The Nationals history is not very long when it is compared to a historic team like the Orioles as they have only been around since 2005 and has only one the division one time in the span. However the early struggles for the Nationals have paid in the recent history as they hold two future stars on their team in the form of right-handed pitcher Stephen Strasburg and the young phenom Bryce Harper. The Nationals were not able to retain these players if it wasn’t for the team’s struggles in their early history as both were number 1 overall picks.

With other young players such as Wilson Ramos, Ian Desmond and possible All-Star Anthony Rendon to pair with veterans such as Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche the Nationals have one of the most balanced lineups in baseball if they are healthy.

But what makes the Nationals so successful and so intriguing is their outstanding pitching staff lead by five pitchers that can all shut down any lineup they face. With current All Star Jordan Zimmerman and Stephen Strasburg leading the way along with Gio Gonzalez and Doug Fister and the surprise of the team Tanner Roark the Nationals bring one of the most dominant pitching staffs in baseball to the table.

One thing about the Battle of the Beltway that is so intriguing is the completely different styles of the two teams as the Nationals rely on timely hitting and outstanding pitching to get the job done the Orioles employ the use of their lineup dangerous power to put up some unheard of numbers in the homerun department.

To add even more to the drama to the Battle of the Beltway series the new Nationals manager, Matt Williams, has a special relationship with current Orioles manager Buck Showalter as he was mentored by Buck when they were both with the Diamondbacks organization.

With the Orioles holding the edge in the beltway series 26-20 the Nationals look to rely on the impact of Bryce Harper who has just returned from off the DL a week ago.

With young stars on both sides on the diamond in Manny Machado and Bryce Harper this battle of the beltway appears to becoming one of the best series in baseball and with both teams success this season that could mean possibly meeting once again however that time could be far more important and mean a whole lot more.

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