BALTIMORE - As the Nationals travel to Baltimore for their first interleague series of the season, players still struggle to see a real rivalry between the two teams.
There are many factors why that might be the case. The two teams share a television network and a Major League Baseball designated television territory. For years, fans in Washington traveled up Interstate 95 to watch baseball until they were granted a team of their own in 2005. Moreover, both teams have yet to play a competitive season and both continue to build and develop young talent.
Rivalry? Not quite yet. Better teams and more wins could potentially take this regional battle to the next level, but not in the near future.
“I can see someday that it could be more of a rivalry than it is now,” said starter John Lannan, who is 2-1 with a 3.24 ERA in four career starts against Baltimore.
The New York native said this may never be as intense or passionate a series as the Subway Series between the New York Yankees and the New York Mets because that’s “a different beast,” but he did see parallels with the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds.
“I don’t know if they were always a rivalry, but now that they are performing better, I think that adds to it,” Lannan continued. “They are sold out for Saturday. The Indians and Reds have both struggled and the rivalry wasn’t always as potent, but now it’s two really good teams competing in their own divisions. I think that’s what it would take to get to the next level.”
Manager Jim Riggleman mentioned that the regional battles are one of the only parts of interleague play that he looks forward to, but he too believes the teams need to win in order to build more excitement for this series in the future.
“As both clubs get better, it’s got a chance to be a real good rivalry,” Riggleman said. “Great fans in Washington, great fans in Baltimore. I think both clubs are just going to have to play better and when both clubs are playing better, it’s got a chance to be a real good rivalry.”