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Dawn of a new rivalry

Battle over Beltway isn't the only Orioles, Nats debate

Posted: Tuesday April 19, 2005 11:40AM; Updated: Wednesday April 20, 2005 9:56AM
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Esteban Loaiza
Pitcher Esteban Loaiza was one of the Nationals' many offseason acquisitions.
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As of Tuesday, the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles had identical records (8-5), nearly identical home-attendance averages (the Nats led by a small caucus, 38,667 to 38,604), undefeated records in one-run games (3-0 and 2-0, respectively), nearly identical slugging percentages (.473 to .472) and a whole summer ahead in which they'll be watching one another from the corner of their eye. For two weeks, anyway, nowhere was baseball hotter than the 40-mile stretch along the mid-Atlantic seaboard.

The two teams don't play each other this year. (The Expos' sometimes iffy move to Washington was completed long after the interleague schedule was arranged.) But the rivalry is definitely on.

Before you start dreaming of a Parkway Series, however, a word of caution: There are 24 weeks remaining in the season. Nationals manager Frank Robinson said before the season his club would win more than 83 games. With decent pitching, the Orioles figure to be living in the same neighborhood. For now, it's a toss-up as to who will win the most games between the two of them. As for most everything else, however, let's settle the arguments right now. Who gets the edges in the head-to-head matchup? Read on.

Category Winner Breakdown
Offense They have the most potent lineup in baseball.
Pitching Livan Hernandez is an underappreciated workhorse. Former No. 1 John Patterson could be ready for a breakout year.
Defense In its first 12 games, Washington committed six errors and allowed only one unearned run. Cristian Guzman has played solid at shortstop, though he'd have to be Ozzie Smith and Omar Vizquel rolled into one to justify his pathetic offense.
Ballpark Camden Yards set the standard in the modern ballpark building boom, and nobody has topped it yet. There's hope for Washington, though: The city is thinking about a palace that incorporates D.C.'s famous white stone, columns, rotundas and other neoclassical and Georgian accents that define the city's architecture. Good. Enough of the red brick already.
Ballpark Food Boog's barbeque is legendary. RFK was overwhelmed at the Nats' home opener. The lines were outrageous at concession stands, which ran out of food quickly.
Monuments Washington has those famous stone and marble fixtures. Baltimore has Rafael Palmeiro playing first base.
Uniforms Baltimore's script "O's" practice hats are awful. But the Nationals have too many logos, too many looks and no consistent dominant color. They look like different teams before games, on the road and at home from one night to the next. They need a more integrated look.
Mascots The Nats' eagle has potential, but the Bird is the word.
Fans OK, they're on their honeymoon. We'll see how long it lasts. But with a much better season-ticket base than Baltimore, they might outdraw the Orioles this year. Too many Yankees fans in Baltimore and seven straight losing seasons have brought the Orioles' flock down a notch. On Monday night, with Detroit in town, Baltimore drew its smallest crowd in Camden Yards history.
Ownership TIE The Nationals have no owner. The Orioles have Peter Angelos.
World Series Baltimore has hosted 17 World Series games, with the hometown O's going 10-7. Washington has hosted 10, with the original Senators winning six of them.
Song Maryland's state song is Maryland, My Maryland. The district has no official song, though I Fought the Law and the Law Won is under consideration.
Nickname Maryland's official nickname is "The Old Line State." Whatever that means, it's got to be better than "Crime Capital of the U.S," or "Last One to Leave Turn Off the Lights."
Native Ballplayer Son It doesn't get any better than Babe Ruth -- and that includes Don Money, the only D.C. native ever to hit more than 50 homers in the big leagues.

The All-Washington Team

Major League Baseball was played continually in Washington from 1901-71, though by two franchises. The original Senators left for Minnesota in 1961 and were replaced by the expansion Senators, who left for Texas after the '71 season. Here is the all-Washington team from those 72 seasons. It wasn't easy finding a decent left-handed pitcher in that span.

Pos Player Years Comment
C Muddy Ruel 1923-30 Hit .300 three times, getting the edge over strong-armed fan favorite (but light-hitting) Paul Casanova.
1B Joe Judge 1915-31 Only teammate Sam Rice played more games and had more hits.
2B Buddy Myer 1925-37 The 1935 AL batting champ had a Washington-best .393 career OBP.
3B Eddie Yost 1944-58 Only Rice and Judge reached base more for Sens than The Walking Man.
SS Joe Cronin 1928-34 Hall of Famer hit .304 as a Senator, .318 in 1933 World Series.
OF Frank Howard 1965-71 The Capital Punisher smashed district-record 237 homers in Washington.
OF Sam Rice 1915-34 Hall of Famer posted the most games, runs, hits and RBIs with Washington.
OF Goose Goslin 1921-30, '33, '38 Hall of Famer's .379 average in 1928 and .502 career slugging are D.C. records.
RHP Walter Johnson 1907-27 Perhaps greatest RHP ever, the Big Train won 417 games on his way to Cooperstown.
LHP Case Patten 1901-08 Despite losing record (105-128), led all Washington lefties in wins and innings.