Oriole fans struggle with Nationals question; former Orioles featured in Braves-Cards series - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Oriole fans struggle with Nationals question; former Orioles featured in Braves-Cards series

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

As this desultory Orioles season ended, many of their fans turned their attention away from baseball and on to the Ravens. Others keep watching baseball in October.

Last week, one of our readers asked on Twitter which team I was rooting for in the postseason, and wanted to know if it was acceptable to root for the Nationals.

Oriole fans are predictably divided about the Nationals. Some think that since they’re in the National League and play the Orioles just a handful of times a year, it’s fine to root for them.

Others despise all sports things Washington and can’t stand the Nationals, some finding the MASN lawsuit enough reason to shudder at the thought of cheering for a team in D.C.

Many others simply ignore the Nationals, and don’t care whether they win or lose.

In the years before the Nationals arrived in 2005, attendance at Orioles games was far higher than it is now. The first seven of the 14 straight losing seasons the Orioles endured from 1998-2011 occurred when there wasn’t another team less than 40 miles south.

There can be no doubt that the Nationals have hurt the Orioles economically. In 2004, the season before the Expos moved from Montreal to Washington, the Orioles drew 2.74 million with a team that went 78-84.

In 2014 when the Orioles won the American League East, their attendance was 2.46 million, nearly 300,000 lower than 10 years before when the Baltimore-Washington area had just one team.

Baseball in Washington has been a huge success, economically and artistically.


The Nationals have drawn more than 2 million in each of their last eight seasons. They’ve had winning records in all those seasons, and qualified for the postseason in five seasons.

While it was nice to have huge crowds at Oriole Park early in this century, it’s great to have a team in Washington. The Orioles-Nationals games are fun, particularly when both teams were winning from 2012-16.

Bryce Harper, Adam Jones, Manny Machado and Ryan Zimmerman spiced up the games with spirited performances.

With Monday night’s win over the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Nationals tied their National League Division Series at 2-2. The fifth game will be played at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday, and if the Nats win they’ll advance to the National League Championship Series for the first time.

In 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2017, they lost the Division Series each time.

Nationals Park is hardly one of my favorite places to watch a game. The ballpark doesn’t have much that’s distinctive, and I liked the President’s Race better when Teddy lost each time.

I always thought that the designers wanted to make sure they didn’t construct Camden Yards south, knowing that they couldn’t duplicate what Baltimore already had.

Because they went the other way, they came up with a perfectly functional stadium that’s not special.

Nationals fans and Orioles fans who enjoy postseason baseball must settle for watching a team with excellent players that’s just a game away from playing for the National League championship.

Former Orioles playing big parts in other NL series: The Nationals-Dodgers series doesn’t feature any prominent former Orioles. Those looking for old friends have only to watch the other NL Division Series, which is also tied at 2.

The Atlanta Braves feature longtime favorites Nick Markakis and Darren O’Day.

Markakis, whom the Orioles foolishly declined to re-sign in 2014, thinking he wouldn’t hold up for four more seasons, continues to play an excellent right field, and occasionally left, for the Braves.

O’Day, who was traded to Atlanta in the Kevin Gausman deal on July 31, 2018, didn’t pitch for the Braves until September 7 because of a forearm injury.

He showed manager Brian Snitker enough so that he was included on the postseason roster and hasn’t allowed a run in three appearances in the Division Series.

The St. Louis Cardinals have longtime Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, who made his first appearance in the series in Monday’s fourth game as a pinch-hitter.

Wieters, who played for the Nationals in the previous two seasons, is Yadier Molina’s backup. Molina’s understudy plays about as often as Wieters’ backup did during his prime years.

The Cardinals also have Andrew Miller, who was dominating as an Orioles reliever after he was acquired at the July trading deadline in 2014.

Sadly, Miller has been reduced to an inconsistent middle reliever with St. Louis.

In Miller’s best days, he had WHIPs well under 1.000 from 2014-17 with the Red Sox, Orioles, Yankees and Indians, but in the last two years, he’s had ERAs of 4.24 and 4.45.

Some Orioles fans rooted for the Minnesota Twins, whose season ended when the New York Yankees swept them in three straight games in the American League Division Series.

The Twins had Nelson Cruz, who had a terrific Orioles season in 2014, and whose personality and leadership abilities fit perfectly with that wonderful team.

In that season, Cruz mentored Jonathan Schoop, who was his teammate on the Twins this season. For the second straight postseason, Schoop was a nonfactor, not starting any of the three games for Minnesota.

For most Orioles fans, pulling for the Yankees is anathema, even if Zack Britton, who had the best season of any Orioles reliever in 2016, has a key role in their bullpen.

The Yankees face the winner of the series between the Houston Astros and Tampa Bay Rays. The Astros, who lost 10-3 to the Rays on Monday, will attempt to end the series today at Tropicana Field.

Pitchers Wade Miley (Houston), Oliver Drake and Chaz Roe (Tampa Bay) played bit roles on the Orioles.

For me, the best part of watching the series is the enlightened commentary of former Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who could transition back to managing the Chicago Cubs or New York Mets over the next few weeks.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB



  1. Orial

    October 8, 2019 at 8:46 am

    I despise everything about the Nationals. Despise how they’ve relegated the O’s to a small market after lucrative years of being one of baseball’s big boys. Despise how MLB is totally siding with them. Yes Mr Angelos himself had a lot to do with the slow demise of the present O’s(along with the city’s crumbling)but his fight to protect the “Gold Mine” the O’s were was answered with a flat out NO and an asking price of an additional $100 million. Disgusting. Yes-I despise the Nats.

    • Bancells Moustache

      October 8, 2019 at 9:37 am

      Come on now, there was no way the richest and most powerful region in the country was going to be denied their own team if they wanted it. The Orioles got fat off a market that would eventually go away. And I’m sorry, but the O’s failure to generate interest locally falls squarely on their own shoulders. If I own a steakhouse on the corner, and another steakhouse opens across town, I can’t just sit and say it’s unfair that the town has another steakhouse. I need to get to work having a better steakhouse.

      • Rich Dubroff

        October 8, 2019 at 9:39 am

        Bancells, does your steakhouse serve better food than Dubroff’s Diner?

        • Bancells Moustache

          October 8, 2019 at 10:58 am

          Probably about the same. You’ve had one imaginary dish, you’ve had them all.

  2. Bancells Moustache

    October 8, 2019 at 8:50 am

    I feel toward the Nats the same way I feel towards the Reds or Padres; just a National League team. I have found myself pulling for them every playoff game I’ve watched though, I suppose because I do have a lot of friends down there and the post-Harper resurgence story is pretty good. I’ll more than likely abandon them if they advance however, since I’m all in on my man Markakis getting a ring.

  3. Boog Robinson Robinson

    October 8, 2019 at 8:57 am

    I live in NoVa. Haven’t watched a minute of the Nats playoff games. Probably would if they got to the Series, since no matter who’s in the Series I’d watch. If the Nats were to win, I’d be happy for my neighbors, otherwise I could not care less.

    There can be only one. Frankly, I tried to make the Nats my “National League” team back when they came to town, but the old heart was just never into it. There’s room for only one in that space and it was claimed back in ’69.

    • Raymo

      October 8, 2019 at 11:51 am

      Word for word, from NoVa to ‘69, my story completely aligns with what Boog said, except I have watched some of the games this year.

      I find that I don’t hate the Nats so much now that Harper is gone. I could never stand that overrated blowhard.

      If they advance I’ll be happy for my many friends who are fans. One friend said that the Nats would welcome me as a fan. I told him it ain’t gonna happen, not this year, not any year.

    • Camden Brooks

      October 8, 2019 at 4:15 pm

      Gotta agree…while I don’t dislike the Nats, it bothers me that people who used to be O’s fans are now Nats fans. For whatever reason, I can’t get on board with folks changing teams.

  4. NormOs

    October 8, 2019 at 9:41 am

    The last team I’d root for is the Gnats. Well, actually it’s a tie with the Red Sux. What Baltimore guy would root for either of these teams unless it’s for them to lose? Rich, is that all you got, talking about the Senators!? Go O’s! Oh yes, one more thing, I would like to see them stop the stupid inter league games which means pitchers hit and that adds nothing to the games.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 8, 2019 at 9:54 am

      Norm, that’s all I’ve got for today. Tomorrow, we’ll talk about something else.

  5. Hallbe62

    October 8, 2019 at 10:48 am

    Screw the Gnats ! They signed an agreement, because they knew they couldn’t relocate without doing so, then try and renig !

    Angelos should have stuck to his guns. Again….SCREW THE GNATS

    • ClayDal

      October 8, 2019 at 12:16 pm

      Actually that’s not true. The original agreement said that after 2011, the Nationals could negotiate for a fair market value for television rights from MASN (Orioles). If they couldn’t reach agreement,MLB would set a figure. That is what came to pass, and it was the Orioles, not the Nationals, who have tried to alter the terms of the original agreement. The original agreement prohibited the Nationals from selling their television rights to another regional sports network. It protected them by allowing them to go to arbitration to get a fair market value for their television rights.

      • Hallbe62

        October 8, 2019 at 6:57 pm

        That certainly does not reconcile with what I’ve read concerning the MASN dispute. Kindly provide a reference for the above.

    • ClayDal

      October 8, 2019 at 8:00 pm

      The original agreement allowed MASN to pay the Nationals below market value until 2011, when the Nationals could negotiate a “fair market value for the television rights” After 2011, MASN ( 80%owned by the Orioles) and Nationals could not agree on fair compensation. Per the agreement, MLB would set up an arbitration panel to determine the amount owed the Nationals. Both the Orioles and Nationals agreed to arbitration. However, the dispute centers around the formula the MLB arbitration panel used to determine the figure. The original award was vacated when the Orioles argued that one of the arbitrators was biased since he once worked for the Nationals. MLB formed a new arbitration panel which awarded the Nats 297 million (197 million of that has already been paid). So the Nationals aren’t trying to change the terms of the original contract. Eventually the Orioles will have to settle

      • Hallbe62

        October 9, 2019 at 9:28 am

        That’s basically a repeat of your first statement.

        Again it does not jive with what I’ve read through the years about this dispute.

        Soooo, is this 1st hand knowledge ? Did you read it somewhere, as I have done to the form basis of my opinion regarding the dispute. ?

        If so, where did you read this ?

        There has to be something out there in print that backs up what you are saying

    • ClayDal

      October 9, 2019 at 9:56 am

      GOOGLE-MASN Dispute. Plenty of articles on the subject over the years. By chance what is your source?

    • ClayDal

      October 9, 2019 at 10:03 am

      If you Google-MASN dispute, first result is NBC Sports Washington which gives a good timeline of the dispute

      • Hallbe62

        October 9, 2019 at 10:04 pm

        Forgive the tardy response. I read the NBC SportsWashington article. What you have stated is backed up by the article.

        I then re-read a few other (a little older) articles regarding the dispute. I prefer the Pressboxonline version, which highlights that the post 2011 “broadcast rights fees” could not be agreed upon by both teams.

        Which is not in conflict with what you state.

        However, MLB did a poor job shepherding this process along in that the original agreement did not contain precise language delineating between “Operational territories” and ” Broadcast territories”. Which is what left the door open for PA Sr. to “threaten” to sue.

        You are correct when you state ” a judge has ruled in the Nats favor”

        But that is for now, and the appellate process (if PA Sr. chooses) can & will drag on for a years due to the poor language in the original agreement involving “Operational territories” vs. “Broadcast territories”.

        This is far from “slam dunk settled” as you alluded too. It all of course depends on PA Sr. and his legal team. The door is wide open for an effective appeal.

        • Hallbe62

          October 9, 2019 at 10:08 pm


          “I have a sneaking suspicion that [current MLB commissioner] Rob Manfred would not have gone this route. I think that he would have likely looked at the operational territories, not the broadcast territories,” Brown said on Glenn Clark Radio Aug. 19. “… In terms of Peter saying he was going to sue the league and all this stuff, the constitution and bylaws don’t talk at all about broadcast territories. It talks about operational territories.

          “The Nationals Park location and Camden Yards … basically do not interfere in that. So I think that it was a bad decision in that sense. Hindsight, of course, is 20/20.”

          • Hallbe62

            October 9, 2019 at 10:17 pm

            The old man could of course, due to old age, decide it’s not worth the fight and pay. It’s not my money, but I hope he doesn’t. I think there’s enough ambiguity concerning the overlap of operational vs. broadcast language in the original agreement that he might be able to win.

  6. willmiranda

    October 8, 2019 at 10:48 am

    Thanks, Rich, for keeping the diner open in the off-season. Time to think about things that
    get passed over during the active season. No blockbusters here, but very informative. And I don’t mind reading things I don’t disagree with.

  7. Jbigle1

    October 8, 2019 at 11:23 am

    This post reminded me of Schoop posting another “eh” season. I would not mind seeing him come back to Baltimore. He’d be cheaper than Villar if we were to deal him. I’m sure the playing time would be enough to win Schoop over to come back at this point.

    As for the Nationals, I don’t want the team to win. I would like to see Scherzer win one though. Guy is an absolute gamer and it’d be a shame if he never won a title. I suppose the same could be said for Kershaw but Scherzer has kept his dominance going at an older age. They do have some exciting young players as well but I could never be a Nats “fan”. So yeah, I’d be happy for Scherzer if they won the title and that’s about it.

    • Bancells Moustache

      October 8, 2019 at 12:46 pm

      Problem with that is the lack of a Shortstop on the roster. Alberto can adequately fill the 2B slot, but Villar is the only guy they have that can play Short. They could put Wilkerson there, but he doesn’t look like much of big leaguer, even if I do admire his attitude and willingness to play anywhere.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        October 8, 2019 at 1:37 pm

        Wasn’t Schoop originally a Shortstop by trade?

    • CalsPals

      October 8, 2019 at 5:37 pm

      Yes he was…go O’s…

  8. Mickraut

    October 8, 2019 at 11:54 am

    I remember reading a letter to the editor in the Sun in 1979 or ’80 when I was in college down in Virginia.
    The author was a resident of the District.
    He trashed Baltimore left and right and claimed the Orioles deserved to be in a world-class city with world-class fans, namely, D.C.
    I had heard residents of the District echo that sentiment many times before.
    As a native of our beloved Baltimore, I reveled in the ritualistic thumping our Colts and Orioles would administer to their counterparts to the southwest.
    No, I could never root for any team from D.C.

  9. johninbethany

    October 8, 2019 at 2:13 pm

    I could never be a Nats fan as long as there is a team in Baltimore. I’ve been an O:s fan my entire life. if I could survive the 0-21 start in ’88, I can wait out another losing season. Not going to jump ship and root for somebody else. I’m just happy to watch a good game on TV regardless of who is playing.

    • Camden Brooks

      October 8, 2019 at 4:21 pm

      Exactly. If the smarty down the street gets a better report card than my kid, I’m not going to start cheering for my neighbor’s kid.

  10. jimcarter

    October 8, 2019 at 5:03 pm

    Despising a business or person simply because they’ve reached a certain level of success exposes significant character flaws. While constantly spewing venom online gives bored people something to do, it’s not appealing to a large number of fans.

    • Raymo

      October 8, 2019 at 6:00 pm

      I don’t sense a lot of venom in this forum. The comments tend to be reasonable and mostly respectful. I hope it stays that way.

      I also think what we’re hearing is coming from a place of loyalty to one’s lifelong team or home city more than animosity towards the new kid in the next town.

      That said, my personal dislike of Harper has everything to do with his narcissism. I felt similarly about Machado.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        October 8, 2019 at 6:28 pm

        At least Harper ran hard to 1st.

    • CalsPals

      October 9, 2019 at 7:33 am

      Are you also talking about the Yankees & Red Sox?

  11. Grand Strand Bird Fan

    October 8, 2019 at 5:17 pm

    Justin Turner played briefly for the Orioles years ago. He came over in the Ramon Hernandez trade from the Reds. He was mainly a bench player becoming a starter for the Dodgers in his early 30’s.

    I have attended several Orioles – National games over the years It’s a nice local rivalry especially when the Orioles were competitive. I know the Nationals have caused a decline in attendance at Camden Yards. It is nice to have a National League team nearby where you can see other NL teams.

  12. boss61

    October 8, 2019 at 6:41 pm

    “… [I certainly] despise all sports things Washington and can’t stand the Nationals… [I find]… the MASN lawsuit enough reason to shudder at the thought of cheering for a team in D.C….”

  13. Brother Lowe

    October 8, 2019 at 7:27 pm

    I could really care less about the Washington Expos. I grew up in Montgomery County and the Washington area has never supported its other 2 MLB teams. The failure and ineptitude of the Redskins is the only reason people attend Nats games. As soon as the Expos ,,, uh I mean Nats fall on hard times they’re support will dry up.

  14. J Guy

    October 8, 2019 at 7:58 pm

    The Nats were stolen from Montreal and given to Washington by Major League Baseball with no owner and other cities deserved a team.Washington has had two team’s prior to the stolen franchise
    They’re not a legitimate team
    Go Os
    Down with Washington b ball

  15. Bhoffman1

    October 8, 2019 at 9:47 pm

    Yes I root for the O’s but since I don’t live in Baltimore I’m not into all the politics. If the O’s ever get good again and start winning they will draw fans and make plenty of money especially once CD’s 22 mil are off the books. I would love to see the Nats beat the Dodgers. I would love to see the Rays keep it up and go for game 5 in Houston . You can’t be more small market then the Rays, they don’t even have a legitimate stadium but they have a great manager and a great front office. We can get good sooner if Elias stops saying it’s a another two more years rebuild, gets a few pitchers and goes with younger players even if they are unproven. What’s Soto on the Nats 20 years old. If he was on the O’s Elias would still have him at Bowie.

  16. 66OsFan

    October 9, 2019 at 11:20 am

    Root for the Nationals? Would be the same as rooting for the Yankees or Rex Sox, self-righteous, arrogant fans who fail to remember that Washington lost two franchises due to fan indifference, just wait til the losing seasons start rolling around. A ballpark that is nothing special at all (ranks 18th on my list, and I have only 4 more to go for all 30 current MLB parks), a Metro system that doesn’t run late until public outcry forces changes during the playoffs…. No, I’d rather cheer for a root canal than cheer for the Gnats.

  17. Frank Howard LF-1B

    October 9, 2019 at 1:08 pm

    The old Senators were my team in the 1960s. They suffered big-time, both financially and on the field, due to the presence of the magnificent Orioles glory-years franchises. Orioles were far better financed, managed and promoted, while the Senators couldn’t do anything right. The Senators’ franchise responded four ways: 1) Moved to Minneapolis in 1961 — 2) Moved to Dallas in 1971 — 3) Lost a fortune every year and stunk on the field — 4) Had no team for 35 years.

    Funny how nobody in Baltimore ever complained about having another American League franchise right down the road, 1954-1971 — certainly not Owner Jerry Hoffberger! The current Orioles franchise had one singular problem — a tyrannical, cynical, criminal owner. Now that he’s incapacitated and sons are running the show, the Orioles have made excellent franchise decisions. When they start winning again, prosperity will follow.

    I’ve been an Orioles fan since 1972 and having a new team in Washington doesn’t bother me a bit. Glad to have them! Glad they are prospering! Hope they win the World Series. Competition is better than monopoly. The current Nats make the Orioles franchise look bad, and for good reason. Improve. Play better. Work harder. In the meantime, quit complaining.

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