The latest round of friction between the Orioles and their regional rival, the Washington Nationals, involves a boundary war that will prevent the Nationals from continuing to play a preseason exhibition at the Naval Academy in Annapolis.
The Nationals hosted the Boston Red Sox at Navy’s Max Bishop Stadium on April 1, a game played in front of mostly midshipmen at the academy’s modest 1,500-seat stadium, and planned to play the exhibition annually through 2019.
But that won’t happen, as the series has been discontinued because the game was being played in Orioles territory.
When the Nationals franchise moved to Washington from Montreal in 2005, the Major League Baseball Constitution was amended to adjust territorial areas. The Orioles’ territory was designated as Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County and Anne Arundel County, where the Naval Academy is located.
The Nationals have no Maryland counties in their territory, according to the constitution, holding the District of Columbia, three Virginia counties and the independent cities that border them. Maryland counties that border the District – such as Prince George’s County and Montgomery County — aren’t listed as in either team’s territory.
Because of the territorial issue, it was agreed upon that the 2017 game would be a one-time event, according to an industry source, but MLB has not ruled out the possibility of holding other games at the academy in the future.
Before the Nationals played there last season, the Naval Academy has hosted MLB teams 11 previous times, but not since 1987, when the Houston Astros played the Navy baseball team in 1987. The Orioles were among those teams that played in Annapolis, but others — including the New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers and Red Sox — also did, all without incident arising from the territorial rules that have been in effect since the MLB Constitution was written in 1921.
The Orioles’ ceding of some of their mid-Atlantic territory allowed the Nationals to relocate from Montreal, and with it, the club-owned Mid-Atlantic Sports Network was created and televises both teams’ games. The Orioles and Nationals are in litigation regarding revenue rights that were negotiated before the Nationals arrived 13 years ago.