Joy in Mudville: Baseball’s Race from the Bottom Heats Up

Bored by the

top of the baseball standings

? There’s still some

drama lurking in the basement

. On June 3, Thomas Boswell of the

Washington Post published a

gloating column

about the Baltimore Orioles, the Washington Nationals, and the two teams’ apparently divergent fates. The Nationals were a healthy 26-27 and were about to bring up unhittable rookie pitcher Stephen

Strasburg; the Orioles were a horrifying 15-38.

Boswell had crusaded for years for Major League Baseball to bring a franchise to a city that never wanted one, and he blamed the

neighboring Orioles for blocking Washington D.C. from stealing a team sooner. So their records were a sign of cosmic justice:

Since the Nats came to town, they’ve wrestled with the O’s for undecided voters, especially in wealthy suburbs in Maryland between the two ballparks. This season has finally done the trick.


For many, this state of affairs evokes no ambivalence. The pure Nats fan is glad to laugh – at the Birds or anybody else who has been snickering. The O’s? They’re just the team whose owner fought so long to keep baseball out of D.C. No forgetting, no forgiving.

No forgiving, indeed. Since Boswell put on his red Nationals spikes to tap-dance on the Orioles’ grave, Baltimore has gone 45-52, while

Washington has gone 36-61. Strasburg won 5 games before being shut down for major elbow surgery.

Since August 2, when the Orioles installed Buck Showalter as their new manager, Baltimore is 28-17 and Washington is 15-28.

Last night, the Nationals fell apart late and lost their fourth game in a row; the Orioles rallied to beat the Red Sox. With 12 games

remaining apiece, the O’s are 90-60 and the Nats are 92-58. After a long, bleak summer, I am eagerly scoreboard-watching again. The

championship of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway hangs in the balance with every pitch.