By Ryan Connors
Twenty-fourteen was a season unlike any in recent memory for Orioles and Nationals fans; and yet, it still ended with bitter disappointment for fans of both teams. When the regular season ended, the Nationals had the best record in the National League and the Orioles had the second best record in the American League. When the playoffs started on Sept. 30, the two teams seemed destined to meet in the World Series. The Battle of the Beltway, they called it. But it simply wasn’t meant to be. Two weeks later, the two teams were both eliminated. The Kansas City Royals swept the Orioles, and the San Francisco Giants beat the Nats three games to one game.
“The magic just ran out,” said sophomore business student and Orioles fan Tony Starego. “But it’s definitely disappointing. Coming into the last series I felt like this team could have gone all the way.”
“It’s hard to complain about this season,” said sophomore computer science major and Nationals fan Brian Tran-Dac. “I mean, they could have done better, sure. But this season was still an improvement over anything we’ve seen from the Nats so far.”
This was just the Nationals’ second playoff appearance since moving to Washington, D.C., in 2004. However, Starego and Tran-Dac maintain that the future is bright for both teams. The Orioles are coming off of three consecutive winning seasons for the first time since after the 1994 season.
“If we get Manny Machado and Matt Wieters back, then this team could have an even more potent offense,” Starego said of the Orioles, who had the eighth-ranked offense in baseball despite missing two of their best hitters for long portions of the season.
The Nationals also have a bright future ahead of them, Tran-Dac said. He pointed out the emergence of second-baseman Anthony Rendon as one particular bright spot on a team of “unspectacular but overachieving players.”
A promising statistic: Attendance for both teams can be lacking, but fans of both teams have been packing the stadiums more this year than in the past. Both teams have filled their stadiums at rates this year that are fifteen percent higher than they were in the 2011 season. This should only increase after they both made the playoffs, and the extra ticket sales could allow both teams to spend more on free agents in the offseason.