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Buck Showalter talks about Orioles fans taking over Nationals Park

By Alejandro Zuniga

The Baltimore Sun

7:30 AM EDT, July 9, 2014

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WASHINGTON -- The Orioles were playing at Nationals Park on Monday, but it sounded like they were hosting a game at Camden Yards.

When the Orioles escaped a ninth-inning jam to send the game into extra innings, a "Let's go O's" chant echoed through the home of the Washington Nationals.

Afterward, Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg bemoaned the divided crowd, saying, “Well, maybe someday it’ll be different,” in a video posted by MASN.

On Tuesday afternoon, Orioles manager Buck Showalter fanned the fire that is the burgeoning rivalry between the two clubs.

“You realize how big an area this was for the Orioles before our owner was kind enough to let them have a team here,” Showalter said. “I understand that a lot of people that are here are people who used to come over to Baltimore. Now, it’s just a little shorter trip for them.”

After initially opposing the Nationals’ move from Montreal in 2005, Orioles majority owner Peter G. Angelos struck a deal that granted his franchise a portion of the television rights from Washington’s new club.

The move helped lessen the financial ramifications of adding a new team into what had previously been their market. But it didn’t prevent plenty of Orioles fans from converting into supporters of their new, more local ballclub.

Seeing a split crowd isn’t new for Showalter, though. Monday’s scene reminded him of taking over a struggling Orioles team in 2010 and having to grow accustomed to opposing fans filling the seats at Camden Yards.

“I’m sure it’s a lot like what the Yankees and Red Sox got in years past at our place,” Showalter said. “We’ve done a better job of keeping that down. I noticed last year and the year before.”

The Orioles will face the Nationals on Wednesday and Thursday at Camden Yards, and the Battle of the Beltways will finish Aug. 4 at Nationals Park in a makeup of Tuesday’s rainout.

Because the teams only play a few times each year, a rivalry might not make it on its own. But if the fans continue to voice their enthusiasm, Showalter said it can make each game between the clubs feel a little more important.

“I think a lot of it feeds off of what the fans think of it,” Showalter said. “It’s kind of like the Red Sox and Yankees. … A lot of that emotion you feel in the park when you play. You hear some of the banter back and forth in BP, and you see the red and the orange.”

alzuniga@baltsun.com

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