Tap-In Question: Which fan base has it worse right now, Orioles or Nationals? - BaltimoreBaseball.com
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Tap-In Question: Which fan base has it worse right now, Orioles or Nationals?

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

I had a weekend to contemplate my entry for the Tap Room today, and, well, I couldn’t quite get beyond what happened in the baseball postseason.

Somehow, the Washington Nationals got through the Stephen Strasburg controversy, won Game 4 at Wrigley Field and then still lost the National League Division Series to the Chicago Cubs at home.

And the pesky New York Yankees, who are supposed to be a year or two away, knocked off the invincible Cleveland Indians and are in the American League Championship Series against the pre-ordained champion/sentimental favorite Houston Astros.

I love baseball. Just love it.

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No professional playoffs are as much fun to watch — maybe the NHL’s, but hockey doesn’t really pick up steam for me until the Stanley Cup finals.

Anyway, while following this week’s baseball action, I was stunned by the aftermath in Washington involving Nationals fans. Watching several video pieces, it just seemed like they aren’t bitter that their exceptionally fine team exited the playoffs early again, the way Orioles fans seem to be at the end of every season.

No, it just seems like Nats fans are now numb to it. They are now expecting for the worst to happen and resigned to heartbreak – and that’s a bad place to live.

Consider that the Nationals have won 95 or more games and the National League East in four of the past six seasons, and have never won a playoff series in their history.

The Orioles haven’t had close to that kind of in-season success recently, but they’ve at least advanced to the ALCS once in the last few years (2014).

In their 13 seasons of existence, the Nationals have only had two years in which they have had a worse record than the Orioles – in 2008 and 2009. Those years, the Nats were the worst in baseball, had the top pick in the following draft and landed Strasburg and Bryce Harper, twice-in-a-lifetime talents.

And yet they’ve never won a playoff series, and have lost three of four in the final game. It made me wonder whether it’s more difficult to be a Nationals fan than an O’s fan these days.

Certainly, the Nationals are better set up for the immediate future, even though they’ll potentially lose Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Gio Gonzalez after the 2018 season. But they have stars such as Max Scherzer, Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon and Strasburg locked up for several more seasons.

The Orioles’ future is a little cloudier after the 2018 season – heck, even the 2018 season is a bit murky until the front office figures out what to do with a sketchy rotation. So, it’s not all cookies and cream for Orioles fans either, obviously. And let’s not forget that the Orioles finished in last in the AL East while the Nats won the NL East.

Still, the question seems appropriate: Which fan base has it worse at this moment?

The one that is basically assured a good team for the next few years, but seemingly has a black cloud around it or the one that has made the playoffs every other year in the past six but hasn’t made the World Series since 1983?

I’d say the Nationals are in a better spot to win in the future, but, at this moment, Nats fans are in a worse situation because their team – and all of the city’s sports’ franchises – are viewed as underachievers.

I’ll be interested to read what you have to say in the Tap Room today, since most people here are O’s fans, but many are jaded, too.

So, have at it.

Tap-In Question: Which fan base has it worse right now: O’s or Nats?

39 Comments

39 Comments

  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    October 16, 2017 at 7:21 am

    Personally, I don’t think the Nats fans have had the necessary time to really, really fall in love and be totally vested in their team. Unless you’re under the age of 15, I can’t see how this team could ever be naturally ingrained in anyone’s heart at this point. I talk with Nat fans everyday at work in NoVa, and although they seem disappointed, they don’t seem despondent. Instead, they seem to be moving onto their natural love…the Skins.

    So … my two cents have the O’s fans being in a worse spot. Although frankly, I don’t think it’s all that bad.
    Go O’s!!

    • Creatively_19

      October 16, 2017 at 9:00 am

      So what you’re essentially saying is that the Nat’s fans have it better than us O’s fans because they don’t care as much as we do? Anyway, Nationals/Skins fans just moving on from one heartbreak to the next.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        October 16, 2017 at 10:10 am

        That IS indeed what I’m saying. I still can’t understand the guys that dumped the O’s the minute the Nats showed up. My only explanation is that they weren’t truly fans to begin with.

        When that Nats 1st came to DC (I live in NoVa) I told myself “OK they’ll be my NL team”. I even went to more than a few games (but only on my employer’s dime). Ya know what? I tried … but it’s just not there. There can be only one true love.

    • Dan Connolly

      October 16, 2017 at 9:19 am

      One heartbreak to the next. Although I’d argue Nats heartbreak — and even more, the Caps — is worse than the Skins’. Cuz the Redskins fans I know expect the worst from the first kickoff. Caps and Nats fans understandably expect a lot until the end approaches.

  2. Marshall

    October 16, 2017 at 8:12 am

    I’m with Boog on this one. I know a handful of fans that truly love the team. I know far more folks that are casual fans, might watch a game, keep up online somewhat. The Nationals are like the front row seats of a basketball game: Every night people show up that are visiting DC, here for veteran events, attending the early in career events. My own company does it monthly. Orioles fans are much more into…the Orioles.

    That all said, I still think we have it worse. The Nationals drop cash like it’s raining. That have incredible pitching. Farm system has been excellent. They didn’t have a backend of the bullpen…they went out and got ’em. They’re not cheap and their ownership fights for the team. If they wore the black and orange, we’d all be singing differently.

    • Dan Connolly

      October 16, 2017 at 9:20 am

      Drink chip, Marshall. Exactly why I posed this question. Really two sides of it. Nicely explained.

  3. Mau

    October 16, 2017 at 8:14 am

    O’s fans. No starting pitching in the foreseeable future. No Manny in a year. DD unwilling to use trade chips to better the team. Looks like another year of bandaids. Peter Angelos should be commemorated with a statue of an albatross around the neck of Baltimore.

    • Dan Connolly

      October 16, 2017 at 9:21 am

      There is all that in Balmer.

      • Mau

        October 16, 2017 at 6:48 pm

        Hey Dan. I’ve never gotten a drink chip. What gives? I’m thirsty dude.

  4. orioles678

    October 16, 2017 at 8:30 am

    This is a tough question. The Nats’ fans, right now, are hating life. They should have done better, and so many of their key players (Gonzalez, Zim, Bryce the Baseball God) came up very small in the playoff. Only Michael A. Taylor really stepped up. And poor Wieters had “the worst defensive inning of (his) life” at exactly the wrong time.

    I remember in ’12, when no one expected anything of the O’s, and we beat the Rangers, then battled the Spankees hard for five games. I was sad they lost, but that was a very satisfying season. Nats’ fans can’t be thinking that.

    Going forward, the Nats are facing big decisions, including whether to pay Bryce the Baseball God the GDP of Delaware to play for them for a decade. O’s are not going to be that team, but they will be watchable. I hope.

    Anyway, right now, the Nats’ fans are much unhappier than us O’s fans.

    • Dan Connolly

      October 16, 2017 at 9:22 am

      I guess it’s like two different relationship breakups. They both sting. The one that stings worse is the most recent, perhaps? Os fans have had weeks to get back out there — some may argue a year-plus.

    • Jbiglen49

      October 16, 2017 at 2:36 pm

      How fortunate the orioles were to let wieters go. Unfortunately his career looks like it’s going to be on of those what ifs. What if he had reached his full potential? Unfortunately that day will never come. Back on topic, I think the orioles fans have it worse. The Nats are set up better from a baseball standpoint. They may/likely lose Harper and Murphy but they have some exciting young guys on the way too to combine with turner, rendon, scherzer/stras. Arguably the best prospect in baseball, victor robles on the way up. They’ll be easy favorites In the East again next year which is far more than the orioles can say. I agree with the guys above saying the orioles fans are more passionate about their team at this point in time. Many more life long fans with the Nats being a relatively new franchise. Heartbreaks suck but their window hasn’t closed yet.

  5. Creatively_19

    October 16, 2017 at 8:56 am

    Serves those carpet-bagging Ex-Oriole fans now Nationals fans right. Don’t forget their fan base used to be our fan base. Peter Angelos should welcome them all back with a free hat or jersey if you turn in your nationals gear.

    I did call the Nats collapsing in that series in your “Who will win the World Series?” Tap Room column if you forgive my confusing the NLDS with the NLCS – I knew they’d take it to the last game and lose in heart-breaking fashion. Maybe that’s what was so sad, was that it was entirely too predictable. Somebody told me yesterday that if you start believing in the curse of DC Sports teams than you’re bound to live it. I believe it, only because the total failure of all DC sports teams in the playoffs is seemingly inevitable, and there’s really no rational explanation for it.

    As for the topic on hand, I think the O’s fans have it better. A great easily accessible ballpark, affordable tickets, and great players to watch who are good humans too. We may not have great pitching, but the Orioles did lead the league in Home Runs in August – that wasn’t all that long ago. Plus Orioles fans have the unique position in the league as being black-listed by MLB against hosting the All Star game. I wouldn’t trade my gear to be a Nationals fan – too much heartache. I like being the underdog, and as Buck says – “I like our guys.” – yeah, even the pitchers.

    • Dan Connolly

      October 16, 2017 at 9:38 am

      Interesting take 19. Equal parts rationalization and venom. Drink chip.

  6. Orial

    October 16, 2017 at 9:04 am

    Good question. Boog’s opening comment may say it all “Nat fans not having enough time to be fully invested”. O’s fans have a tough go on multiple fronts. Team never seems to have the money to be a big player,farm system always lacks,and play in a division with Boston,NYY all problems the Nats either don’t have or have overcome. Fan base has probably shrunk their(Nats) arrival. In a nutshell I’ll say O’s fans have it tougher.

    • Dan Connolly

      October 16, 2017 at 9:39 am

      Makes sense. Tho I’m always fighting against the idea they don’t have the money or won’t spend it. 10th in payroll is plenty to compete if spent well.

  7. Schwarzstop

    October 16, 2017 at 9:14 am

    I think the O’s fan base has it worse… we have many issues right now keeping us from being serious World Series contenders. I currently consider us serious wild card contenders, but beyond that gets questionable… not impossible, but questionable. So we’ve got lots of issues and no easy fixes for those issues. The Nats have the team to be World Series contenders for the foreseeable future if they can defeat the curse, the karma, the mojo, the baseball gods that is keeping them from getting out of the NLDS. While knowing you can get there and not making it is painful, I think knowing you can’t even get there puts the O’s fan base in the worse spot.

    • Dan Connolly

      October 16, 2017 at 9:40 am

      Interesting. It’s a fine line, I suppose. I mean, Os actually have reached further in past 3 years. But a lot is about the future.

  8. Bancells Moustache

    October 16, 2017 at 9:21 am

    I stayed up later than I should have last night, and my reward was watching yet another Orioles castoff turn into Ted Williams. I feel this conversation should be tabled for at least a few days.

    • Dan Connolly

      October 16, 2017 at 9:41 am

      Look on the bright side: He was a castoff by many. Drink chip to be used only for tomato juice. If I can find it way back under the bar.

      • Bancells Moustache

        October 16, 2017 at 9:59 am

        Yeah, no one on Earth could have predicted the lightning in a bottle that has been Justin Turner’s sudden ascendence. Even still, a 2017 infield of Schoop at 2nd, Machado at Short and Turner at 3rd, man…

        • Birdman

          October 16, 2017 at 10:30 am

          yes, that would have been quite an infield, … but with terrible starting pitching, and Davis and Trumbo striking out about 40% of the time, they still would have been lucky to be a .500 team

  9. Mustang21

    October 16, 2017 at 10:40 am

    Right now I’d say the Nats fans have it worse. Why? Because they have the money, the farm system, trade for bullpen help and still can’t get over the hump. Sure as an O’s fan I’m frustrated with the team after the start they had and the track record over the last few years. Maybe the last 30 years have got me ready, but if my team got to the playoffs every year and did nothing it would be harder.

    I remember going to the Orioles – Nationals game in May in DC. There was a lady who was wearing a “Our Bullpen Makes Me Drink” shirt. All the DC fans around us wanted to know where to get one. They knew they could win games, but their bullpen would give up games like the night before. Personally I need a “Our Starters Make me Drink” shirt.

    • Dan Connolly

      October 16, 2017 at 10:51 am

      Hmmm. An “O’s Rotation Makes me Drink” Tap Room/ BaltimoreBaseball.com shirt has possibilities.

  10. sjm5131

    October 16, 2017 at 11:01 am

    From a purely competitive standpoint, the Nats are in a better position.

    The Nats’ baseball operations (scouting, player development, ability to sign free agents) is superior, and while their weak division makes the regular season less compelling, they have a much easier path to the playoffs.

    But as a VA/DC native and lifelong resident who has remained an O’s fan, I wouldn’t trade places.

    Camden Yards is not only a better atmosphere for a game, tickets/parking are significantly cheaper. I can go to more Orioles games, sit in better seats at Oriole Park, and watch the O’s take on hated rivals like the Yankees and Red Sox (the Nats’ rivalries with Philly and the Mets just don’t have the same gravitas for me).

    Our TV announcers are also much better, making the experience of following the team day to day more enjoyable.

    Above all, I think O’s fans are more passionate and knowledgeable (i.e. more fun to watch a game with).

    • Dan Connolly

      October 16, 2017 at 3:27 pm

      All valid points. Especially with you on the TV and stadium ends.

    • PA Bird Lover

      October 16, 2017 at 3:51 pm

      I 100% agree with this writer. The only thing I’ll add is, I’m happy DC sports are underachievers. Can’t stand the Deadskins, despise Harper and their hockey team is one complete cry baby bunch. Having them have their sports world upside down is perfect. They aren’t doing well political either.

  11. GSISDANNO

    October 16, 2017 at 11:37 am

    After watching another post-season of misery, I would have to say Nationals fans have it worse. Since 2012, they have been one if the best teams in MLB. What do they have to show for It? No playoff series wins when they should have gone to the WS a few times. This franchise is snakebit. I am not a Nationals fan but I couldn’t take it in Game 5. They get a 4-1 lead and go through one of the most bizarre innings ever – the 5th. I had never seen a catcher have a worse inning than Matt Wieters. And he is a good glove catcher!! Even after the Cubs went ahead, the Nats had many chances to win the game. They had 14 hits! Meanwhile, the Cubs were 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position. Who ever won a series hitting like that in the decisive game?
    Of course, Dusty Baker made some questionable moves (like using up his challenge on the first batter of the game and leaving Gio Gonzalez out there to help the Cubs cut into their 4-1 deficit.) So, now Nationals fans go into the 2018 with the same attitude. Are we going to blow it in the playoffs again?

    • Dan Connolly

      October 16, 2017 at 3:29 pm

      Agreed. Painful to watch. Even as a neutral observer. I feel for the Nats fans.

  12. garyintheloo

    October 16, 2017 at 3:03 pm

    I’m from DC and the Nats and the Caps for that matter will always have the “next year’s champion” tag that hobbled the Blue Jays, Cowboys, Broncos, Indians, Red Sox, etc. until they actually do it. At least the mountaintop is in sight rather than the underbrush that the Os are trying to get through with a lot of “ifs.” Just like Boog I still love my Orioles. They are like a bad girlfriend you just can’t forgive until the next time whereas the Nats always leave you at the altar.

    • Dan Connolly

      October 16, 2017 at 3:32 pm

      Yeah. Neither situation is ideal, for sure

  13. bv22

    October 16, 2017 at 3:35 pm

    I’d say O’s fans have it worse. The team has been a winner, but any hope of landing an impact player to put it over the top (i.e., win a championship or at least get to the World Series) is nonexistent. It’s a problem when everybody knows what is holding the team back (pitching) and we’re talking about signing has-beens (Sabathia) or lower-tier pitchers (Lynn or Cobb) to fix the problem rather than legitimate game changers (Darvish or Arrieta). The Nats don’t have this problem- they go out and sign the big free agent (Scherzer) or at least try to sign the big free agent to put them over the top. The Nats also draft and develop talent better, which allows them to trade for better players or to back-fill positions when players leave or get injured. The O’s don’t seem to have that luxury year in and year out. I’ll admit, Mancini was a pleasant surprise this year, and Hays and Sisco may be the pleasant surprise next year, but who’s filling in the holes in the pitching rotation? We can’t even consider trading players to fill that roster hole since we don’t have the prospects to do so. We’re all concerned about Machado leaving, but DC has the same problem with Harper but there’s at least hope that something may be worked out down there since the owner has a cozy relationship with Harper’s agent and because money hasn’t been a problem in the past. The O’s can’t say the same thing. I’d also say that Nats leadership is considerably more astute than O’s leadership since they seem to consistently make smart investments in the team which can lead to many winning seasons; I can’t say the same for O’s leadership and am scared for what is going to happen to the O’s onfield performance after 2018.

    • Dan Connolly

      October 16, 2017 at 3:43 pm

      All fair observations. Drink chip.

  14. Ben1

    October 16, 2017 at 6:09 pm

    Nats fans had a rough series. Os had it rough all September

  15. ComeBack2Camden

    October 16, 2017 at 8:03 pm

    The Walgreens’ fan base — if there is such a thing — is probably suffering more now, but our group may be more worried. And probably with justification.
    I fear an outright collapse to the pre-Buck days will follow the inevitable departure of the free agent group. I hope I’m wrong.
    The Walgreens are in better long-term shape because of the farm system. But they will still be an ill gotten team supported by lobbyists and clueless louts.
    Has anybody seen Bryce Harper’s ring?

    • Dan Connolly

      October 16, 2017 at 8:08 pm

      Oof. Camden isn’t pulling punches.

  16. cowhand214

    October 16, 2017 at 9:04 pm

    I don’t think there’s a concrete answer, to be honest, though I do think the question is interesting. What’s a comment section for but rampant speculation?

    It seems to me the difference is in the acute vs chronic nature of the two situations. The Nationals fans pain is acute just at the moment. It’s intense but will be (somewhat) short lived. The Orioles fans pain is of the chronic type. And as with many chronic conditions there doesn’t seem to be a particular end in sight. The 2018 rotation is a mess, one of the best players in my lifetime will likely leave/be traded in the near future, the farm system (while improving) is not at the level desired, few trade chips, and so on and on. The problems are well known.

    The Nats don’t have these same problems (or at least not to the same degree). The Harper/Machado situation is somewhat analogous but the team around Harper is stronger and can probably better withstand his likely departure. So once this acute pain passes the Nationals fan can look to their immediate future for cheering up which is a comfort denied to Orioles fans.

  17. ComeBack2Camden

    October 17, 2017 at 3:09 pm

    Dan: When the topic is the Walgreens, rhetorical punches must be thrown. There are reasons beyond those I have enumerated here.

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