The complicated history of Beltway baseball

Ever since the Nationals made the move down to Washington, D.C., there has been obvious tension between the Nats and the Baltimore Orioles. Considering how close the teams are geographically, the rivalry is bound to occur. Adding onto that, the two teams have always been able to bring out the best in one another as well as stoke the flames for a contentious rivalry on and off the field. As much as this rivalry is something that can be overlooked in the grander scale of baseball, fans in the DMV are the ones who truly understand the importance of these battles as well as the significance of them. 

Angelos vs. Washington:

Peter Angelos has been one of the most hated figures in Nationals history. He arguably ranks higher than the likes of Pete Kozma, Cole Hamels and Bryce Harper for many fans. As the owner of the Orioles, his barriers for the Nationals to thrive have made him public enemy number one. When the MLB owners voted for the relocation of the Montreal Expos, it was decided that the Nationals were born by a vote of 29-1.  Angelos made the singular defiant vote. 

His inherent hatred of Washington baseball has not been a new revelation. For financial reasons, he has every reason to hate the Nationals. The team steals fans away from his team and attracts them to Nats Park. When the Senators left, Washingtonians were starved for baseball made the trek to Charm City. The addition of the Nationals has decreased attendance numbers for the Orioles as expected, but it has not been a massive dropoff as the Nationals were not truly competitive for the first seven years in DC. 

Angelos’ battles with the Nationals organization stretch farther than just attempting to bar them from making their home in Washington. Since relocating, the Nationals have been found on Mid Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) almost every night. This is a company that  Angelos owns. He “generously” allows the Nationals to make use of it on a nightly basis. The Nationals have brought a minority stake in it, controlling 23% of the company. Conversely, the Orioles own 77% of the network. This means that any business decisions fall at the feet of the Orioles and Angelos. The Nationals are shut out of hundreds of millions of dollars with a complex, never ending lawsuit between the teams, souring any relations. In fact, since the Nationals have moved to DC, the Orioles have not made a trade with their adversaries while making a transfer with every other team during this time. Even Angelos’ sons, now in control of the team decisions, have picked up where their father left off. 

Other battles between the teams:

These two teams are not only rivals in the courtroom, but on the diamond. Since 2005, the Orioles hold a 48-39 advantage over the Nationals. The Nats have only won the season series outright twice (2007, 2018). The contentious nature mirrored that on the field as well. In 2015, Jonathan Papelbon, then a member of the Nationals, would throw his final pitch with the team when he tried to intentionally hit Manny Machado. Papelbon later said this due to the fact that Machado admired a home run and the pitch was to send a message. The benches cleared shortly thereafter with Papelbon  ejected. 

The teams, however, are not the only ones getting into the rivalry. Like any good rivalry, the fans hold as much disdain for the opponent as the actual members of the games. Fans regularly trade barbs on social media and in the ballpark. Many Nationals fans have grown frustrated with Orioles fans emphasizing the “Oh” in the National Anthem when games are played at Nationals Park. Additionally, the growing fanbase in Washington has made a true effort in recent years to keep O’s fans out of the park when the teams meet. This is very similar to what they did with Phillies fans in the early 2010s. 


Although this rivalry currently features two bottom tier teams, the future of the rivalry looks bright. Stars like Juan Soto, Adley Rutschman, Cade Cavalli, Grayson Rodriguez and more all have fans excited for the future. Regardless, the nature of this rivalry will always be hard to gauge. The teams play at least once a year, but the games in the courtroom are ongoing. One thing is certain: neither organization will give anything to the opposition whether on or off the field.

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The complicated history of Beltway baseball