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Top 5 Reasons O’s/Nats Is Almost A Rivalry

We know the drill by now. Each year during interleague play, the local media shoves a contrived “Beltway Rivalry” down our throats. And each year, it’s a lackluster series between two losing ball clubs that just happen to share a cable sports network.

Well, this year the script has officially flipped. While I’m still not ready to rank this up there with O’s/Yankees, we finally have compelling, meaningful games between the two MASN mates, and here’s why:

5. Stephen Strasburg - He’s back and he’s no joke. The Nats’ rotation is instantly legitimate with him in it, even without any other quality additions like Gio Gonzalez.  Strasburg will provide a compelling challenge year in and year out for the O’s, and there are bragging rights to be had.

4. Bryce Harper - The Nationals  phenom is, in my opinion, an instantly unlikeable kid. He’s unquestionably good for the game, but he already rubs fans and players the wrong way. He hasn’t been much of a factor in this series yet, and he may not be until next year, but it’s only going to take an exaggerated fist pump or a walk-off homer for him to really get on your nerves.

3. Davey Johnson - It’s one thing to share a cable network with a team 40 minutes away, but it’s another when that team employs the manager of the last winning Orioles club. You can be damn sure he wants to beat the O’s, despite a recent half-assed mutual mea culpa from Peter Angelos and Johnson. I also think it’s fair to mention that Davey pulled out the old, “I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’” on whether or not Jake Arrieta was throwing spitballs on Friday. Sounds like sour grapes to me, DJ.

2. The Fans – There will always be a healthy back-and-forth between O’s and Nats fans and it’s about much more than baseball. However, until recently these two teams shared too many mutual fans and too much mutual respect. But with some of the recent additions to the Nats (see items 1-3), I’m sensing a growing confidence in Nats fans, and some on-the-fencers are now likely going all in. Factor in that it’s easy for either team’s fans to make the trip to the opposing stadium, and you have a recipe for some healthy chant battles in the stands.

1. Winning – Ah yes, the missing ingredient. No one was ever going to buy into a rivalry between these two teams without at least one of them being good. Suddenly, both teams are not only good, but in first place in their respective divisions. And wouldn’t you know it, this has been without a doubt the most interesting Battle of the Beltway (no snicker needed, for once) to date.

That said, it’s not quite there yet. It has to percolate. The teams have to keep winning, and there has to be an event that sparks a dislike for the other team. For now, though, fans of both teams are just happy to be finally witnessing winning baseball.

 

30 comments to Top 5 Reasons O’s/Nats Is Almost A Rivalry

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    totally agree about harper. i’d been reading about him for a while and thought the anecdotes were harmless and kind of endearing. then i saw his face/attitude. in general though, the nats are pretty hard to hate in my opinion.

  • dan the man

    That was a rough one. Oh well, sometimes you bite the bar and sometimes the bar bites you.

    At least we are now spared from the atrocity that is The Double Booth. Bring on the Sox.

  • dan the man

    If Chen is his normal self, though, we win this game. I sort of hope we get another crack at Strasburg.

  • Mike R

    To be honest, taking 2 of 3 and losing the matchup with Strasburg, is exactly how I thought this series play out. Keep winning series.

    On Harper, while most likey a douche, he plays hard. Haven’t seen him dog it on a routine grounder like some other guys do. He catches every routine flyball with two hands. He hits to all fields based on the pitch he’s thrown. He turned a bloop single into a double because of flat out hustle. If kids are watching, take notes. Gotta appreciate those things, until he does something douchey

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    @ Mike R:

    i just don’t like his face. that said, if i saw my 19 year old face i’d immediately punch it.

  • Jeffrey Duncan

    I only need one reason. #4.

    Also, I’d give it a month but the time for the preseason naysayers (myself) to own up to the fact that this is a really likeable team is almost upon us.

    I’m finding myself genuinely surprised when the birds lose.

  • Richmond 'skins

    Funny… Harper strikes me as an instantly likeable kid. He came up with a lot of hype, but seems to have been the consumate professional to this point as a major leaguer. He has played well (for a rookie) and seems to have carried himself with class. Didn’t make a big-deal out of getting beaned by Cole Hammels (a true douche), admitted he was an idiot after knocking a bat off his head, plays hard on every play. He’s avoided any of the ignorant, immature stuff he had pulled in the minors. He appears to know his place on the team and is well liked by teammates.

    Granted, I’m a Nationals fan (who occasionally keeps tabs on the Orioles), but count me in the Harper camp.

  • dan the man

    @ Richmond ‘skins:
    I’ll give you all that. I just happen to agree with BBM about his face/haircut. And I just have this feeling deep down he’s a showboater. We’ll see!

  • Andrew

    I like Harper. Wish he were an Oriole. “I thought he was cool until I saw his face” is silly, and that’s the nicest thing I can say there.

    Haters gonna hate.

  • dan the man

    @ Andrew:
    Lighten up, bud. Obviously O’s fans, myself included, would love to have a prospect like Harper – that’s part of the potential rivalry. He’s going to be a great player.

    It’s ok to have fun with baseball.

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    haha seriously. i also dislike derek jeter because of his face even though i realize he “does everything right” and “plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played” etc. like dan said, harper might be fine…we’ll see.

  • Andrew

    @ dan the man:
    Who isn’t having fun?

    Or, do we need to manufacture rivalries and lazily hate on the few opposing players who actually have both a personality and talent lest we be told by the fun police to lighten up?

    Jesus, I hate being told to lighten up. I’m already plenty light, thank you.

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    nick johnson is an abomination.

  • neal s

    @ Andrew: I mean, if you hate being told to lighten up then the thing to do might be to actually lighten up.

    I’m half kidding of course but the other half is that your initial comment was fair game for a critique. BBM was just making a joke about being 19, and for that matter Dan’s original post is just riffing on how opposing players can sometimes rub fans the wrong way with superficial stuff. Your response went straight into wet blanket territory.

    Nobody was really hating and I’m pretty sure everyone here would agree with Dan about being happy to have Harper on the Orioles. It’s just banter, man.

    Now, that said:

    It’s strange that a two-game losing streak feels strange. I gotta spend some time wrapping my head around this potentially new reality.

  • neal s

    @ Big Ben’s Motorcycle: Yeah, probably, but I’m just thankful that for the time being we have the luxury of even pointing that out. As opposed to saying, for example, “If Nick Johnson just heats up he could hold down the five hole and we might get back to .500…”

    Processing…processing…

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    also i can’t think of a thing in football that’s the same kind of annoying as a passed ball on a third strike with two outs leading to further runs scored. so fucking annoying, especially when dustin fuckin pedroia makes you pay.

  • dan the man

    @ Andrew:
    I don’t get how you took my post as lazily trying to manufacture a rivalry. I’m just noting that O’s/Nats is more interesting than it has been, finally, in no small part due to Harper being a good, young whippersnapper. I should have titled it “Top 5 Reasons O’s/Nats Doesn’t Suck Like It Usually Does”. That’s probably more what I was going for.

    Anyway.. tonight felt a little too much like 2011 for my liking. Blown lead, Gregg nibbling, etc. Hunter’s style is getting pretty old but he’s still a decent enough guy to roll with until Britton is back. It just sucks not being able to win when Buchholz was so bad. Still a good chance as anything that the O’s take the next two – we’ll see.

  • dan the man

    @ Big Ben’s Motorcycle:
    The one for me is not scoring with bases loaded, no outs. That kills me. I don’t think that happened tonight, but just saying. The worst.

  • sci

    I get very tired of watching Hunter pitch. He just LABORS out there pretty much every time. I think last night was basically all on him. Given a decent lead, he gives it right back. Gotta get Britton back, please.

    And as BBM succinctly pointed out, the Nick Johnson Experience’s time may be over. He’s really not even a ML average player out there.

    Gotta go get these next two and get the momentum back. I really hate this Red Sox team.

  • Miles

    Andrew wrote:

    Or, do we need to manufacture rivalries and lazily hate on the few opposing players who actually have both a personality and talent lest we be told by the fun police to lighten up?

    “You wanna fun-f**king-arrest me? You better get a fun-f**king-warrant! Otherwise, stay outta my… fun-f**king-face!”

    Yes, I did just quote a terrible movie. And I’m okay with that.

  • dave

    sci wrote:

    I really hate this Red Sox team.

    THIS red sox team? Baltimore hates all Red Sox teams. And I don’t even have to say why. If was actually about the players, how could anyone root for luke scott? Biggest dbag in the game, just an ignorant backwards prick, and until this year he was one of your best players.

    So please stop with you hating ‘this’ red sox team.

  • sci

    @ dave:
    No Dave, I particularly hate this Red Sox team. A thoroughly unlikeable bunch of PLAYERS and a very annoying manager. Thanks for reading my mind, though.

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    if you don’t get what makes a bobby valentine-led red sox team particularly awful, i don’t know what to tell ya.

    sincerely, ex-diehard sox fan

  • Andrew

    @ dave:
    I guess I don’t live in Baltimore, so I don’t count, but in general, I have no emotions at all towards the Red Sox good or ill. Guys like Manny Ramirez or Bobby Valentine, maybe, but in general…nah.

  • dan the man

    @ Andrew:

    Ortiz watching every home run.

    Pedroia fist pumping after any sliding play.

    Youkilis being an angry jerk in the dugout.

    Beckett being an overall jerk and blowhard.

    Just my opinion. It’s a team I love to hate, mostly because they’ve always beat us. And their fans are obnoxious.

  • dan the man

    Steve Tolleson, ladies and gentlemen! Nice little depth pickup he’s been.

  • dan the man

    dan the man wrote:

    @ Andrew:
    Ortiz watching every home run.
    Pedroia fist pumping after any sliding play.
    Youkilis being an angry jerk in the dugout.
    Beckett being an overall jerk and blowhard.
    Just my opinion. It’s a team I love to hate, mostly because they’ve always beat us. And their fans are obnoxious.

    That said, I feel like this disclaimer is necessary for some reason:

    1. Yes, I would love to have any of those aforementioned players on the Orioles.
    2. Yes, I wish the Orioles had run their organization half as well as the Red Sox have over the last decade.

  • Miles

    Hey, where’s Drew to rain on our parade?

  • dan the man

    @ Miles:
    Shh.. he’s like Beetlejuice..

    Hey how about Wilson Betemit finally breaking the Orioles’ 0-33 streak against Albers? That felt pretty good.

  • Miles

    dan the man wrote:

    @ Miles:
    Hey how about Wilson Betemit finally breaking the Orioles’ 0-33 streak against Albers? That felt pretty good.

    I screamed something very loud and vulgar regarding Mr. Albers’ weight when Wilson hit that tater. It felt good.