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Watching Nats Nation through the eyes of lifelong O’s fan

washington nationalsWatching last night’s deciding Game 5 of the National League Division Series between the Washington Nationals and LA Dodgers gave me – a life-long, bleed orange-and-black Baltimore Oriole fan – a lesson on how we in Oriole Nation have the ability to grasp for the thinnest of straws to connect ourselves to Major League Baseball on its grandest stage, the postseason playoffs.

The Orioles and I did get a taste of the postseason this year. In late September I watched the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate their seventh straight National League West crown on the field at Camden Yards with a win over my Orioles.

On the postgame radio show Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said it was a “learning experience” for his young team.

One day, hopefully in my lifetime, Hyde would love to be in the mix of the playoff race, and have a quality pitching staff like LA or Washington, but for now Baltimore has to be content on stockpiling high draft selections with the hopes that a percentage will actually make it to “the show” and maybe – just maybe – an even smaller percentage will develop into the next superstar.

But for now as an Oriole fan I can only watch and hope.

Baseball is such a wonderful game. And Major League Baseball, despite its many warts – four-hour games, juiced baseballs, defensive shifts, people that complain about defensive shifts – is still a wonderful way to spend a long summer evening, even in the midst of watching your team suffer through another 100-plus-loss season.

As an Orioles fan, it is my responsibility to hate the New York Yankees, (and I do), make fun of Red Sox fans (it’s the way they talk). But for some unexplained reason I have had a completely neutral feeling about the Nationals.

I hate the Redskins, and don’t care enough or understand hockey to have any emotions regarding the Capitals.

Watching the Nationals and their incredible come-from-behind series win over the Dodgers reminded me of just how much I love the sport.

I should have just as much dislike for Washington as I do for, say, the Yankees or the Red Sox. After all, until about a decade ago, all those National fans were probably Orioles followers.

Heck even today the Orioles radio network includes one of D.C’s top-rated sports talk stations.

The drive from Nationals Park to Camden Yards can be done in a hour. (OK maybe at 3 a.m. in the morning – just maybe)

The Nationals have a team of unassuming, laid-back, avoid-the-spotlight type players. Kind of reminds me of the glory days of Orioles baseball – Brooks Robinson (sorry, Anthony Rendon), the greatest third basemen ever, Frank Robinson, The Iron-Man. Blue collar baseball.

While no one will ever confuse the two cities, Baltimore and Washington, this years Nationals team, while very much playing in a wine-and-cheese city, plays the game very much button-down, blue collar.

Last night I officially became a Nationals fan. I will never wear a “curly W,” I will probably not attend any games in Nationals Park, but unless they are playing my team, I will follow them and actually hope they win, unless it’s one of those silly interleague games against Baltimore.

Hopefully one day those silly interleague games will go away, and then I may actually have two favorite teams all season long.

Go Nats!

Column by Scott German

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