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Slow-Cooked or Instant: Planting Nats' Traditions

We won't ever have a Subway Series in these parts. Not because the Nats and the O's are destined to live lives of permanent mediocrity, but because we're never going to have a subway connection between Washington and Baltimore. At best, we'll get a Mag-Lev Match-Up, and that only if the newfangled train technology somehow wins megabillions in federal aid, which isn't happening in my lifetime.

We aren't likely to have the deeply divided emotions of Chicago families split by their devotions to the Cubbies or the White Sox, divisions shaped by generations of living patterns and class identities. Despite our relative proximity, Baltimore and Washington live very separate existences. Only in the realm of Maryland politics does the rivalry really become a powerful force, and that too is a recent phenomenon and one that has not yet reached its full flowering (but it's a demographic sure shot that it will, and when it does, it's bye-bye to Baltimore's dominance over state politics.)

But the games between the Baltimore Orioles and the Washington Nationals, which started last weekend at RFK Stadium and continue next month in Bawlmer, could well develop into the friendly but meaningful rivalry of the sort enjoyed by the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A's. That will take time to develop, though the obnoxious antics of O's owner Peter Angelos is certainly helping to foment a good flow of hate up I-95 to match the longstanding jealousies the Baltimoreans have toward the District.

But will kids ever beg their parents to take them to the Battle of the Beltway? (And why would a rivalry between Washington and Baltimore teams be named for a road that doesn't connect the two cities? I know, these things generally require a certain alliteration, but isn't the Baltimore-Washington Parkway the better concrete inspiration for the matchup between the Nationals and the Orioles?)

The only possible answer is Maybe someday. But the promotions folks at RFK Stadium aren't interested in someday, so they're trying to hype the thing now. And that's their job, but if they insist on doing this, could they please try to get it right? Do not, for example, choose to put up on the big video screen in right field as your Fan of the Game, as the Nats' front office did Friday night, a guy in an Orioles cap. That's just counterproductive. (Side note to the Lerners: When you do your grand reopening of RFK in July, please replace the scoreboard operator who routinely forgets to update the lineup and who this weekend several times had Nats pitchers pitching to Nats batters.)

The Nats' promotions effort, led by the charming and wonderfully inventive Carleen Martin, this week begins a drive to create instant traditions for the one-year-old franchise. Two very funny ads, produced by the same Minneapolis ad agency that has given us several other creative spots this season, seek to inspire fans to think of their own peculiarily Nats cheers, songs, food items or between-innings entertainment. (Please, please, please can we ditch the country music on the RFK public address system and get some Chuck Brown or EU going? This is Washington, not Baltimore, not Winchester.) The sample instant traditions include a winged golf cart to bring the relievers in from the bullpen (I still pine for the days when the Yankees used a pinstriped Toyota for that purpose) and a fabulous hot dog launcher that would get me up out of my seat in a way that the T-shirt launcher never does.

The winner of the contest will win season tickets to next year's games and a place in the Nationals Fan Hall of Fame.

Watch the videos:

Video Courtesy of the Washington Nationals


Ok, fine, I love the launcher. But if you really want to get a tradition going at RFK, put Bustin' Loose on for the 7th inning stretch. WInd me up, Chuck.

By Marc Fisher |  May 24, 2006; 7:25 AM ET
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Comments

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Someone tried to call it the Battle of the Beltways, not Battle of the Beltway, since apparently Washington has one too. I enjoyed the games though. Easy to get a good seat, at least as easy as up here in Baltimore! Glad I brought my own food though.

Posted by: O's Fan | May 24, 2006 8:25 AM

No kidding about being nice to the Baltimore fans, the Nats provided way too much aid and comfort to the enemy this weekend. I'm not saying they need to put up video of Mayflower moving vans, the Pride of Baltimore sinking, Jeffrey Maier and William Donald Shafer's visit to McDonald's but really enough with trying to make O's fans feel good.

How about next time, the Nats not let Baltimore fans throw out the first pitch, sing the God Bless America or win "Fan of the Night." We don't do it for the Mets and Phillies, so why do it for the O's? After all, their owner (and Bud Selig) is responsible for the dreadful TV situation, not Comcast. The forced subsidy from the Nats to Angelo$ is already, much more than they deserve. The Nats should not suffer because Angelo$ thinks Baltimore fans can't support his poorly run team.

Posted by: WFY | May 24, 2006 8:35 AM

A true rivalry won't develop for a long time. After all, as long as you and I have the same enemy, we're friends. Oriole and Nats fans have the same enemy, and he is Peter Angelos.

Posted by: Catcher50 | May 24, 2006 9:03 AM

Why should there be animosity towards the O's Fans? The vitriol shoudl be directed at Mr Angelos. (And most O's fans wouldn't begrudge your grudge.) Is this situation really that different from when JK Cooke fought to keep a NFL team out of Baltimore because it was "his" territory?

Posted by: B'more Boy | May 24, 2006 9:21 AM

I was actually caught off guard at how much O's fans dislike Petey A. I received numerous complements from O's fans on my "Angelos Sucks DeezNats" T-shirt.

Posted by: Arlington Nats Fan | May 24, 2006 9:32 AM

Why can't we get a scoreboard operator who loves baseball?

Instead of Battle of the Beltway, how about the Pummel of the Parkway?

During the game we were calling our visitors Baltimorons. Dunno what they were calling us.

Posted by: Natsfan | May 24, 2006 10:01 AM

Until that day when the Orioles and Nats are in the same division within the same league you won't see a serious rivalry develop between the two franchises. Yeah sure, the O's and Nats will play a series every year during interleague play but that's not enough to support a rivalry.

The Ravens and the Redskins don't have a rivaly either for the same reasons.

The Cubs and White Sox isn't much of a rivalry and those teams play in the same city. There's a division of fans for each team but they don't play enough games against one another for this to be a rivalry.

Redskins/Cowboys, Yankees/Red Sox, Bears/Packers, Steelers/Browns, Giants/Dodgers those are rivalries because they play each other regularly each and every season.

Posted by: Keith | May 24, 2006 10:01 AM

The basis for all real great rivalries is envy, whether it be for the other teams success, publicity, or respect around the country.

Neither the Nats or the O's have anything to be envious of, so I don't think any rivalry between them will happen anytime soon.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 24, 2006 10:20 AM

For Friday afternoon games, "MARC to the Parks," Marc.

Posted by: Ed Delahanty | May 24, 2006 10:46 AM

Re: Natsfan and Baltimorons

My guess is that they called us "Washingmorons". They are not the brightest fans around.

Posted by: Toadstyle | May 24, 2006 10:47 AM

Dear Keith - I'm not sure what you're talking about, but the Ravens and Redskins are a huge local rivalry. They don't play every year, but the fans despise each other. Not nearly the same with O's-Nats, but that's just probably because fans are more passionate about football.

Posted by: JF | May 24, 2006 10:59 AM

Regarding the possibility of a "subway" series, I've heard talk of a Metro rail link to BWI. If so, it should connect with Balto's light rail at BWI, which goes direct to Camden Yards. Thus, the teams' stadiums will be connected by rapid (sort of) transit)!

Posted by: PB | May 24, 2006 11:16 AM

I agree with JF that at this point, the fans have a simmering rivalry with each other more than with their respective teams, much like being a Yankees fan or a Mets fan defines you as a person in NYC. There won't be a true rivalry until the two teams play when they're both in pennant races or there's a brawl.

Posted by: Miles | May 24, 2006 11:39 AM

Marc, Amen on the Chuck Brown and EU! I still don't know why they ditched "Bustin' Loose" as the 7th inning stretch after Chuck was there for last year's opener.

Posted by: Flunky | May 24, 2006 11:42 AM

Another vote for the Godfather of Go Go!

Posted by: supportin' chuck | May 24, 2006 11:46 AM

To JF:

We'll have to agree to disagree. While Ravens and Redskins fans may despise each other there is no rivalry between the two teams. I've been a Skins fan for almost 40 years now and I find the rivalries for the Redskins are with the Cowboys, Giants, and Eagles, not the Ravens. Personally I don't care one bit about the Ravens.

Posted by: Keith | May 24, 2006 11:54 AM

The Nats use an ad agency from Minneapolis? Like there aren't any good ones here?

Posted by: inquiring | May 24, 2006 12:30 PM

"My guess is that they called us 'Washingmorons.' They are not the brightest fans around."

If they're like University of Maryland fans, "Washingmorons" would be too creative; instead, they'd just spew vulgarities, most of them related to activities widely associated with Monica Lewinsky.

I would still like to see something other than the first verse of the National Anthem performed when the Nationals play Baltimore. While the booing of the silly "O" was effective, I'd rather people not need to boo during the National Anthem at all. It's disrespectful by BOTH teams' fans. Sing one of the other three verses, or sing some other patriotic song. It wouldn't be unprecedented, as there are several pro teams (the Mighty Ducks come to mind) who will not perform the first verse of the Anthem when certain opponents come to town (such as the Dallas Stars, whose fans disrupt it by bellowing "STARS" whenever the word appears in singular or plural). I must concede, though, that at least Baltimore fans yelling "O" at a baseball game in Washington makes a HECK of a lot more sense than Capitals fans yelling it at hockey games. That's just stupid.

Posted by: Rich | May 24, 2006 12:35 PM

I'm a big fan of Angelos, he has run the Os exactly as I would have for the past decade.

Go Nats, win the MASN Cup again in 2006!

Posted by: Powerboater69 | May 24, 2006 1:05 PM

What's your beef with country music? I'm not a huge country music fan myself, but Washington is closely linked to the genre. Anacostia was once a country and bluegrass music hot bed and the Birchmere still features great live country music on a regular basis. And you're a believer in diversity, that means you need to listen to things you're not really that fond of at times.

Posted by: arlingtontwb | May 24, 2006 1:57 PM

It's the Battle of the Beltway because the Washington Beltway is my team's territory, regardless of what any of you think.

Washingmorons.

Posted by: Peter Angelos | May 24, 2006 2:17 PM

If the Capital Beltway is "your team's territory," then I suggest you and your team stand out in the middle of it to try to establish your claim.

(There is no "Washington Beltway.")

Posted by: Rich | May 24, 2006 2:26 PM

It's the Battle of the Beltway because the CAPITOL Beltway is my team's territory, regardless of what any of you Washingmorons think.

Sheesh. Where's your sense of humor?

Posted by: Peter Angelos Impersonator | May 24, 2006 3:08 PM

Good point, maybe a little Danny Gatton before the game and between innings.

Posted by: Redneck Jazz | May 24, 2006 3:41 PM

I'm suprised this chat has gone on so long without mentioning Dippin' Dots.

Posted by: Natsfan | May 24, 2006 3:58 PM

JT-

You've got it wrong. The Raven's fans despise the Skins, but the Skins' fans don't care about the Ravens. That makes the Raven's fans that much angrier...

Posted by: Ravens? | May 24, 2006 4:00 PM

Things got a little heated at the Sunday afternoon game. Two O's fans held up a sign in the upperdecks on the first baseline that read: D.C. is still Orioles country! To the dismay of most Nats fans finally, 4 Nats fans stood in front of the sign then took the sign and ripped up before being seperated by security. Go Nats!

Posted by: R. Dub | May 24, 2006 4:30 PM

Hot Dog launcher better than t-shirt launcher, yes. My favorite is the burrito launcher. Which, alas, shoots a t-shirt and a coupon for a free burrito.

Posted by: Matt in St. Paul | May 24, 2006 5:07 PM

I couldn't wait for this series, because Angelos and the Orioles were the Number One Reason why we didn't have a team here for so many years. That's why we hate them. That's why we want to beat them silly. That's why there must be a rivalry -- because they tried (successfully) to keep us from having a team. Now we've got one! Die Baltimore!

Posted by: Frank Howard | May 24, 2006 5:53 PM

All very nice, Mr. Fisher, but why is the Post featuring Astros players in the Style Section? Did it run out of Orioles players to highlight? Or is this a sidelight of the Enron coverage?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 24, 2006 6:07 PM

The way the Nats organization pandered to the O's and their fans over the weekend (or at least when I was there on Friday) was insulting. Which was the home team again?

Posted by: AJ | May 24, 2006 6:45 PM

I had a sign at the Saturday game that read as follows:

Not
Angelos
Territory,
Stupid

It was greeted with apathy by all parties. Oh well.

I continue to stump for go-go (and, in particular, Chuck Brown) for Nats music. If the DC Lottery can get Chuck to do a song for their commercial, then the Nats can get Chuck to do a song just for them. An anthem, if you will. Something to replace Neil Diamond.

Posted by: Lindemann | May 24, 2006 8:13 PM

Get rid of "Sweet Caroline," please! (Could you lead a campaign, Marc?) It's inane kitsch, and worse, it's not even original -- it's a damn Boston tradition. (Which brings us to another problem; D.C. is overrun with those Ivy League wonks and New Englanders who are Red Sox crazy. We can't get rid of them, alas, but we can ask them to leave their Bosox caps and T-shirts at home when they go to RFK. It's sort of a town-gown tension, I suppose.) Chuck Brown at the 7th inning stretch would be nice, and for another D.C. touch, how about playing the first few bars of Link Wray's classic "Rumble" (recorded right here in Washington in '58 and popularized on Milt Grant's teen dance party show) when the Nats have a rally going, sort of a non-offensive version of the tomahawk chop? No one else uses it, so it would become identified with the Nats.

Posted by: Vincent | May 25, 2006 2:46 AM

Vincent,

Have you actually heard Sweet Caroline this year? It hasn't been played at any of the 7 games I've been to this year.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2006 5:17 AM

I had not heard Sweet Caroline in the first 8 games I went to, but I did hear it Sunday.

Posted by: Cosmo | May 25, 2006 9:53 AM

Just to chime in, my greatest memory of last year's opening night (next to sitting on the third base line with my best friend from high school) is screaming "gimmee da bridge" with Chuck. As an old Eddie Brinkman fan, I say - please Mr. Lerner, help me to love RFK again.

Posted by: Leb | May 25, 2006 11:49 AM

I heard "Sweet Caroline" at both games I have gone to this year. It grates mercilessly. The second game (one of the three-game tilt with the Orioles) I modified the lyrics to the following:

Orioles suck
Wooah-ooah-ooah
Yes, they really suck so hard
So hard! So hard! So hard!

This is what we call a temporary palliative.

Agree on using "Rumble" as a stadium song also. The two songs that come up most in these discussions are inevitably "Bustin' Loose" and "Rumble." I hope someone is listening.

Posted by: Lindemann | May 25, 2006 1:55 PM

Posted by: Balcoshirt.com | June 22, 2006 3:27 PM

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