I’m sorry, but when I hear the term the “Battle of the Beltway,” I immediately think of the O’s and Nats. However I suppose that the football version is really the same thing in that it’s Baltimore against Washington. While the Ravens and Redskins matchup is something that has happened since 1996, the Nationals and Orioles play six times a year and share a network in MASN. So personally I think that’s a bigger rivalry so to speak, although tell that to Baltimore fans that haven’t forgotten that Jack Kent Cooke tried to block Baltimore from getting a team for quite awhile. (At one point his plan was to build what we now know as FedEx Field in Laurel, which would have effectively ended Baltimore’s quest for the NFL.) That also sounds familiar in that Peter Angelos tried to block Washington from getting baseball for the same reason, which ultimately resulted in him owning the TV rights to the Nationals through MASN.
I suppose my point to all sides of this is that people shouldn’t forget that the real villains at hand will always be Robert Irsay and Bob Short. Those are the guys that hijacked the rich tradition of the Baltimore Colts and Washington Senators and took it with them to other places. For what it’s worth, it’s been my experience (being in and around both cities) that Irsay is probably loathed more in Baltimore than Short is in Washington (today). After each team left it’s respective city, the remaining team tried to suck in the fans in the other city as their own. And if you think about it, that was probably a smart business decision. There were litte subtleties such as the Redskins being televised in the Baltimore market on a frequent basis, and the Orioles taking BALTIMORE off of their road jerseys until just recently. The fact was that if Baltimore fans wanted to see a live football game, their best option was to head down to RFK, and if DC fans wanted to see a live baseball game they would make the drive up to Memorial Stadium and eventually Camden Yards. There’s no doubt that Angelos and Cooke tried to keep their respective sports out of the other city. But as an entrepeneur, wouldn’t you try to protect what yourself from losing people that you deem your customers? With that said I do understand the wrath of Ravens and Nationals fans. However I suppose that my point is what’s done is done. Justifiably, both cities now have both sports.
So will any of that angst be in the air on Saturday night when the Ravens travel to FedEx Field? Perhaps, however I would hope that fans of both teams will be coming out to see how their team looks against good competition in preseason game two, and leave it at that. Both teams are 1-0 in preseason…whoopdie do! The Skins looked impressive against a team in the Buffalo Bills who might be lucky to win a game this season based upon how they played. The Ravens looked a bit vanilla against the Panthers, however the game was played in a torrential rain (not to mention that the two teams will face each other in week three of te regula season, so odds are the coaches didn’t want to show anything). I would expect the starters on both sides to play well into the second quarter on Saturday night, giving both fan bases the opprotunity to see more of what they’ll hope to see come September. However odds are it’ll still be third and fourth stringers that’ll decide who actually wins the game, so neither side should claim bragging rights. One way or the other, these two teams aren’t rivals other than the fact that they play so close. The Ravens should worry about the Steelers and Browns, while the Skins take care of the Cowboys and Eagles. The Ravens will still carry their weight in their division, and the Redskins look much improved over last year…let’s be happy that we have two local NFL teams headed in the right direction.