Wouldn’t it be nice?

June 12, 2007 | Drew Forrester

How cool would it be if this week’s “Battle of the Beltway” actually meant something?

Sure, it would be nice if ANY Orioles’ series – against anyone – actually meant something, but wouldn’t a mid-week interleague series with our neighbors to the south be an awesome early-summer treat if the O’s (and even the Nats) were worth a hoot and fans from both cities engaged in an “our team is better” show of support?

Just think about it:  This is going to be awfully hard for you to imagine given our Decade of Despair – but close your eyes and dream with me.  It’s June 11.  The O’s are 1.5 games behind Boston in the American League East with a fine 37-24 record.  They’re coming off of a 3-game trip to the Bronx where they beat the Yankees 2 out of 3, including an 11-4 romp on Sunday afternoon in which Jay Gibbons hit 2 home runs and Aubrey Huff added a 3-run shot in the 8th inning to put the stamp on a great weekend.  The Nationals are in town, and while they’re not great, they’d love to play the role of spoiler this week in Baltimore.

Erik Bedard is the starting pitcher in the series opener on Tuesday and he spouts off in Monday’s paper: “We need to send these guys back down to Northern Virginia with their tail between their legs and then get ready to get back to real baseball when the Red Sox come to town this weekend.”  Just what this mid-week series needs, some more fuel to the fire.

And YOU have tickets!  Yep, your boss held a drawing for the tickets to Tuesday’s O’s/Nats game and you won four lower box seats(that’s the only way you can get O’s home tickets now…seats are at a premium and some companies resort to a lottery to distribute tix to their employees).

Boston, by the way, plays at Detroit over the next three nights, so while the O’s are busy beating the Nats, a couple of Red Sox losses might mean this weekend’s home series against the BoSox could be for first place. 

What a scene it would be at Camden Yards if that were really the case this week, huh?

Great weather, Boog’s barbeque in the air, a couple of cold drinks of choice in your belly and baseball that means something.

Alas, that’s not the case this week and it’s a damn shame.

First, who really cares about how the Nats are doing?  I don’t.  They could be on a 19-game losing streak and that wouldn’t bother me, although it wouldn’t really bother me if they were on a 19-game winning streak either.  I just don’t care about them. 

But I DO care about how the O’s are doing and this 2007 act is starting to get old.  Yeah, I know, there’s a hundred or so games left, but this thing is NOT getting any better.  Players are still looking uninspired, several guys are vastly underperforming and every time the club wins 2 in a row or 4 of 5, they immediately drop 5-of-8 to remind us all they’re really the Orioles and not, say, the much-improved Milwaukee Brewers.

It would be really cool if this week’s O’s-Nats series meant something.  Honestly, when is the last SERIES in Baltimore that really, really held some importance?  Honestly?  Think about it and get back to me when you’ve traced back to 1997 or so.  Yep, it’s been that long, believe it or not.

The next four series’ decide this team’s season, I believe.  You have the Nats and Diamondbacks in Baltimore, then a trip out west to face the Padres and Diamondbacks next week. 

Then the Yankees and Angels stroll into Baltimore at the end of June.

Don’t worry, one way or the other, you’re going to have a full grip on things within the next three weeks, trust me.

The O’s will either scratch and scrape their way to a close-to-.500 record by the end of June or they’ll be a dozen games under .500 after the Angels leave town – putting them at least 18 games behind Boston by that point – and you can break out the purple gear and get ready for Westminster.

It’s too bad.  A Baltimore-Washington series SHOULD be a big deal.  But as the 60,000 or so (announced) who show up on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday night will attest, it’s not a big deal anymore.