By now you’ve probably heard: the Orioles put a billboard up on 295, just seven miles north of Nationals Park. There are apparently some Nats fans who are pretty annoyed by it. Let’s put this in the category of things that are not a big deal.
This is not a case of the Orioles flexing their muscles within the shared media territory, nor is it an attempt to steal away fans from the Nats in order to deck them in orange and black. This is a made-up story that some of the Washington media threw together to drive some cheap clicks and retweets. If Nats fans are crying about it, it’s because they’ve allowed themselves to buy into a stupid premise.
In fairness, let’s put the shoe on the other foot: how would Orioles’ fans feel if they saw a Nationals advertisement. Yeah, there would by whining. And the local radio stations would eat it up. But let’s face it: there’s really no excuse for a reaction any stronger than a roll of the eyes.
Putting aside the baggage of Peter Angelos working so hard to keep a team out of the nation’s capital, the two teams now share a media market, and have equal rights to market themselves there within. There are thousands of Orioles fans in the DC area (including Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, the District, and Northern Virginia). Why wouldn’t the Birds take advantage of cheap advertising – like a billboard – to remind those fans to buy their season tickets? Similarly, the Nats should be doing the same where it makes sense – Southern Maryland, Howard and Anne Arundel counties. There are plenty of Nats fans there. And here’s an even less popular fact: some baseball fans in this area follow both teams.
There is actual baseball to talk about, you know. And two pretty good teams for each fan base to follow. Why do we have to worry about who puts flags where? Orioles fans should realize that this became a story so that someone could have a story to talk about. Nats fans should view an Orioles billboard as nothing more than a minor annoyance. Anything else is trying too hard to force a real rivalry between two close organizations who have failed to provide it themselves.
Photo Credit: washington.cbslocal.com