The Orioles renew their supposed rivalry with the Nationals on Friday, assuming they don’t get gridlocked on the Beltway on the way down to Washington. The Orioles took two of three against their neighbors to the south on Preakness weekend, but that series was as compelling as the cornhole tournament at InfieldFest.
The most heated this so-called rivalry gets is when the MASN guys -- a split squad of Orioles and Nationals announcers -- talk over each other (that problem can be solved if you’re fancy and have a radio and a TV).
The Orioles have won 18 of the 33 meetings since the “Beltway Series” debuted in 2006, but both teams have been cellar-dwellers for several years. Interleague games are rarely meaningful -- right, Jim Leyland? -- and these biannual rendezvous won’t resemble a rivalry until the teams need to win these games for their division races. Some fans might get fired up for this weekend, but it’s just another series for the players.
(Ditto for when the Ravens play the Redskins in the NFL.)
Still, it’s fun to fantasize about what the Beltway Series can become if the Orioles and the Nationals are simultaneously successful in their rebuilding plans (or it is still a building plan in the Nationals’ case?). We got a brief taste of it last week when Orioles first-round draft pick Dylan Bundy said he would drill Nationals phenom Bryce Harper “all four at-bats” if Harper blew him a kiss after a homer.
Maybe by the time Harper and Bundy arrive in the major leagues -- Harper should get there before Bundy -- these teams will be good enough and these matchups will be important enough for Orioles-Nationals to be considered a real, relevant rivalry.
Until then, it most certainly isn’t, at least from my perspective.
Your turn: Will Orioles-Nationals ever be a real rivalry?