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Battle of the Beltways Excites Baseball Fans in D.C. Beyond

Anthony Amobi | , Special to Informer | 5/27/2012, 8:52 p.m.

In a region where fans of both teams often overlap, seeing both franchises doing remarkably well is a welcome sight; however, for some Nationals fans, the "Battle of the Beltways" rivalry has some added significance as they strongly have a dislike for Baltimore Orioles owner, Peter Angelos.

Angelos - a successful trial attorney who made the bulk of his vast fortune from asbestos litigation - bought the franchise with a group of investors in 1993.

The franchise had some success early under his tenure with playoff appearances in 1996 and 1997; however, they have not had a winning season since then.

Many Nationals fans have an issue with the Orioles - notably Angelos - tried to prevent them from coming into the region after the 2004 season. The other 29 owners in the sport approved the move of the franchise - known as the Montreal Expos at the time - and only Angelos dissented.

In the end, the Nationals moved into to the region for the start of the 2005 season only after Major League Baseball insisted that the city of Washington D.C. pay for a new ballpark.

In addition, Angelos got compensation for potential losses - the franchise cannot be sold for less than $375 million, he and his group bought them for $173 million - and the creation of a sports network, titled heavily to the benefit of the Orioles.

All those elements have added to the much of the hatred towards the Orioles that had fueled the "Battle of the Beltway" rivalry in Washington.

Dave Nichols of Alexandria, VA., who runs the District Sports Page - a local, online sports outlet - spoke about not only the rivalry with the Orioles, but its added importance this year.

"It's great that this rivalry means something this season. The last few years, with both teams at the bottom of their divisions, it was hard to find the elements of a rivalry, except for those in D.C. that continue to harbor ill will for Peter Angelos. But even then, those folks still had compatriots in Baltimore as well."

For now, the baseball rivalry between Washington and Baltimore does not have the blood lust that encompasses other places. There were some fans over the weekend that wore both Nationals and Orioles gear, plus fans of both teams came together as couples, a family, or in a group of friends.

The crowd at the Nationals Park was a bipartisan one and fans of both franchises seemed to be rooting on their teams with equal passion. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, and overall, most fans just wanted to see some decent, competitive baseball.

In the end, only time and a tradition of winning of will build the "Battle of the Beltways" rivalry that can be one day be measured to what has happened annually in the New York area with the Mets and Yankees.