A Beltway Series? It Could Happen… - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

A Beltway Series? It Could Happen…

Dreams might soon come true for baseball fans across the Mid-Atlantic.

The Orioles in the World Series? Even Baltimore’s most faithful hasn’t believed since 1997, when names like Roberto Alomar and Brady Anderson occupied the O’s lineup.

The Nationals in the World Series? It’s been eight years since professional ball returned to Washington, and summer after summer, meaningful fall games in D.C. have been an afterthought.

Just two years ago, both teams sank to the bottom of their respected divisions; the Orioles lost 96 games, the Nationals dropped 93.

But in 2012, the two clubs and their fans have enjoyed charmed campaigns—neither faction wants the ride to end anytime soon.

The Nationals, under the steady leadership of former O’s manger Davey Johnson, powered their way to the best record in all of baseball. They won 98 games, with young stars Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Gio Gonzalez, and Ryan Zimmerman leading the way.

The Orioles, though, battled all season, tangling with veteran teams like the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East, then outlasting the Rays and Los Angeles Angels in the race for a Wild Card playoff berth.

Then, on Friday night, the O’s were in Arlington, Texas, facing the two-time defending league champion Rangers in a win-or-go-home scenario. After 162 regular-season games, Baltimore needed another win to advance to the League Division Series.

Orioles vs. Nats in the Series. Now that would be cool. (Photos by Erik Hoffman)

After a thrilling 5-1 victory over Texas, the Orioles and their fans will get exactly what they’ve waited so long for: playoff baseball in Downtown Baltimore.

On the first full weekend of October, both the Nationals and the Orioles find themselves seven wins away from an appearance in the Fall Classic.

So, can it happen? Can the teams meet in a Beltway Series?

Of course it can, but it won’t be easy for either club.

The Nationals are the top seed in the National League, but under the new playoff format, they’ll travel to St. Louis for two games against the defending World Series Champion Cardinals before returning to Washington for three games, if necessary.

They’ll need to take three out of five against the playoff-tested Cardinals, who, like the Orioles, are riding high after a Wild Card elimination-game win over the Atlanta Braves on Friday.

The Cincinnati Reds or the San Francisco Giants, the 2010 World Series champs, would await the Nationals in the National League Championship Series.

And, of course, they’ll have to win without Strasburg, as the team opted to rest the 24-year-old power pitcher rather than risk overextending him so early in his career.

For the Orioles, they’ll play before what’s sure to be a raucous Oriole Park at Camden Yards this weekend, opening against everyone’s favorite New York Yankees.

Because it’s the Yankees, because it’s the end of a 15-year playoff drought for the Orioles, because it’s a rivalry renewed, this is the glamour first-round playoff matchup.

And even if Buck Showalter, Adam Jones, Matt Wieters and Co. can overcome October regulars like Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, and C.C. Sabathia, the Orioles will have to contend with the Detroit Tigers or the Oakland A’s in the American League Championship Series.

So yes, a lot has to happen before an Orioles-Nationals World Series Games 1 at Nationals Park on Oct. 24.

But both teams have come this far, who says each can’t keep its run going? And the fact that it’s a possibility has baseball fans across the region—and the country—buzzing.

If you wondered (and haven’t checked yet), the teams met six times during the regular season, a three-game series in Washington in May, and another in Baltimore in June. The Orioles won four of the six meetings; all four of Baltimore’s wins were by one run.

There is one guaranteed Beltway Battle on the calendar: The Ravens will meet the Redskins at FedEx Field on Dec. 9.

But before they focus on football, for the first time in years, Baltimore and Washington fans will fill their fall with playoff baseball.

Enjoy the ride.

About the author

Andrew Cannarsa

Andrew Cannarsa has been writing professionally for almost 10 years, first as a crime and safety reporter at a community daily newspaper outside Philadelphia, and then as a business reporter at Baltimore Examiner. He graduated with a journalism degree from Boston University in 2005. Follow him on Twitter @cannarsa. Contact the author.

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