Battle of the Beltways: Blurring the lines of Nats, O's fandom

Where do Nationals and Orioles fans reside? (Map image: New York Times)

WASHINGTON (WJLA) -- Several years ago when the Washington Nationals were more or less lousy and the Philadelphia Phillies were quite good, travel-ready fans of the latter team – based on apparel and behavior -- often seemed to out-number fans of the former during games at Nats Park.

Hard to get all hot and bothered if you were a Nationals adherent. After all, Philadelphia fans – no matter the sport -- are notoriously, well, obnoxious. Shrug it off and get a nice chance to knowingly grin a little if the home team somehow wins and thereby shuts up the interlopers.

There was little question where fans of either team lived.

Entirely different, though -- in tone, substance and suspense – was Monday night’s extra-innings game at Nationals Park between Washington and the Baltimore Orioles, won 8-2 by the O’s in the 11th with a barrage of home runs. Both teams are quite good and both teams, especially in Washington’s case, share something of a wacky fan base inasmuch that the teams are separated by about 60 miles and many Washingtonians adopted the Orioles as their “home” team before the Montreal franchise relocated here in 2005.

So in this case, there was a huge question of where fans of either team lived.

Afterward, Nats fans had no choice but to exit quietly and O’s fans had no choice but to loudly rejoice and, of course, gloat, in the first of a four-game series that continues Tuesday night before moving to Camden Yards for the final two in what an intriguing New York Times interactive piece dubs “The Line of Potomac Aggression.”

Basically, it helps explain where Monday night's attendees call home.

It’s based on Facebook “likes,’’ and a further, cumulative examination by the Times of zip codes thereof. Many – but not all -- of those happy Orioles fans who left Nats Park Monday night likely headed up I-95 toward Baltimore, that much is clear.

But there also, not surprisingly, is the fuzziness of where strong Nats-or-Orioles allegiances begin and end based on geography and the whole “likes” thing.

Data shows that suburban D.C. on the Maryland side support the Nats – to a point. Obviously not as much as in the District and not as much as the Northern Virginia zip codes.

Here’s a link to the main piece and the Nats-O’s comparison .