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I'm not sure that a lot of let's say younger Washington Nationals fans are aware of this, but there's actually history of Major League Baseball in Washington with the Washington Senators. That goes back to the early 1900s, or even further back then that that lasted up until the original Senators left for Minneapolis in the early 1960s. To when Washington was rewarded another MLB franchise in the early 1960s.
Let's call the new Senators, Senators Two, that were basically counted on to finish last every year until they left for Dallas after the 1971 season. So before the Montreal Expose relocated to Washington after the 2004 season, MLB already had a long history in Washington and the Senators even won a World Series in 1924 and at least one other American League championship as well.
The Senators did play in the American League as well in the same league as the Orioles. Where the Washington-Baltimore regional rivalry could've started in the 1950s or 1960s. Instead just in the last few years as both franchises have struggled to become contenders and finally reached that status in 2012. With the state of both the Nationals and Orioles franchises and the fact they play in separate leagues. But play each in two series a year every year and into the indefinite future. With both clubs young and very talented and poised to be contenders for a very long time.
The Orioles-Nationals, rivalry is not only going to be real, but a rivalry between two very good teams. Making baseball in the Washington-Baltimore region very good for a long time. And something fans of both franchises will look forward to every year.
The Senators, were like the Pittsburgh Steelers before the early 1970s when the Steelers finally became really good under Chuck Noll. The Senators, even though they actually had plenty of very good and great players, similar to the Steelers in the 1950s and 60s, were expected to and generally obliged to finish in last place in the American League.
And again similar to the Steelers, the Senators from time to time would come up with a good team and have a winning season and perhaps even contend in the American League. But the Senators were always underfunded, because their ownership under Calvin Griffith and Later Bob Short, were always very cheap and had a hard time drawing fans to their games. But Washington, like most other big sports markets, tend to need good teams to watch in order to turn out for their teams.
The Senators, weren't losers because Washington was bad baseball city and market. They were losers, because they put a lot of bad teams on the field on an annual basis. Or wouldn't have the right manager, or coaching staff, or a combination of all of those factors.
The Senators, wouldn't have left Washington either in 1960, or in 1971, had they simply been managed well and gave their fans reasons for coming to their games.
Washington, was not the same city and market in 1971 that it is today. It's much larger today, but as the Redskins have shown when their teams commit to winning, their fans commit to them and turn out for the games.
The Nationals of today, have a great ballpark and very good team, because their management is committed to winning and their fans are committed to them. The Senators, could have had that as well and still be here today.