In the four seasons before that, the Orioles averaged 33,612 fans; in the eight since, the average is 25,488. For the first time since 2007, the Orioles drew more than 2 million fans this season, as manager Buck Showalter and Co. won 93 games en route to capturing one of the American League’s two wild-card spots.
Along with sharing postseason billing, the Nationals and Orioles share air on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, which is owned by Mr. Angelos. That Orioles games are always on television in the D.C. area, which helps fans stay connected even though the drive to Baltimore can seem like a distance.
“They’re really a second home team as far as I’m concerned,” Mr. Domen said, “just because there’s a fan base and it’s so easy to follow them.”
Not as easy as before, though. There used to be an Orioles store in Farragut Square, but it closed in 2006 after a 20-year run.
“For Washington fans, the Orioles store on Farragut Square is a symbol, an emblem of all the years that we had no team and the Orioles did all they could to keep it that way,” Colin Mills, president of the Nats Fan Club, told The Baltimore Sun at the time. “It’s as if the British, after losing the revolution, had kept a royal office open in downtown Boston.”
Not enemy territory
Not everyone feels the Nationals have completely taken over Washington from the Orioles. Mr. Krauss expressed frustration over the difficulty of getting bars to tune into MASN broadcasts, but Orioles games are shown almost as often as Nationals games.
“We’ve been really lucky; [Nationals third baseman] Ryan Zimmerman used to come here a lot, so we have a tiny little connection to the baseball at our bar in particular,” Mr. Fernandez said. “I myself personally have been a die-hard O’s fan my whole entire life. Right now, I’m on the Nationals‘ bandwagon only because it’s so exciting being right here.”
There is no consensus among local Orioles fans as to whether this is Nationals territory. Mr. Scott feels that way, obviously more comfortable when he is taking a trip to Baltimore “where everyone is wearing orange and a cartoon bird hat.” Mr. Krauss said it’s not like Boston, New York or Philadelphia, where everyone has a team and seems to be hard-core about it.
“I feel like it’s kind of a mixed zone, really,” Mr. Domen said. “We’re all kind of mingled and mixed together at this point. Yeah, some teams will cheer for both or at least make one team their second-favorite team. And as long as they’re not playing each other, they’re fine with both teams succeeding.”
Janet Wilson, 56, of Centreville, is one of those people. Originally a New York Yankees fan who attended Mets games because of how hard it was to get to the Bronx, she moved to the D.C. area 27 years ago and doesn’t see a problem with split allegiances.
“In my mind, there is no competition for me being a fan of both as they represent two different leagues, so I didn’t understand the reticence of Baltimore to allow a team in D.C.,” she said. “There are so many sports fans in this area, Baltimore is very close by, so most Nats fans are O’s fans as well.”
Fans who converted from the Orioles to the Nationals cited various reasons, including identification with Washington over Baltimore, a disdain for Mr. Angelos and a connection to the old Senators franchise.
Bleeding black and orange