Volume 13, Issue 15 ~ April 14 - 20, 2005
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    No Nats in Naptown
    by M.E. Travaglini

    I’ve got bad news and good news for Annapolis-area Washington Nationals fans. First, the good: You can listen to games broadcast on radio station WWZZ (The Wizz) at 104.1 FM. Happily, that signal comes through on my car and home radios.

    The bad news: Telecasts said to be available on Washington’s Channel 20 (WDCA-TV) are not. They’re not on Comcast, nor on Digital TV. And at none of the so-called sports bars I visited in hopes of catching the historic season — nay, era — opener.

    Spurred on by the Sunday exhibition game at Washington’s RFK stadium, I looked forward to watching the Game of the Century on television.
    One problem: the listings in The Washington Post, the Annapolis Capital and the Baltimore Sun showed no entry that corresponded to the Annapolis Comcast lineup. Neither Comcast franchise — Anne Arundel County nor Annapolis City Cable — offers WDCA.

    Hadn’t those listings been compiled before the 11th-hour agreement Major League Baseball (the Nats’ owners of record, for now) had struck with Peter Angelos, the Orioles’ owner? I asked myself, Surely such an historic occasion — the first major league game involving a Washington, D.C., team in 34 years — would be broadcast on some channel.

    Not in and around Annapolis. Not at any of the seven venues I visited.

    I called on Riordan’s Saloon first, figuring that with a genuine sports figure for an owner (that’s Mike Riordan, former Knickerbocker and Bullet) they’d surely have all bases covered, figuratively speaking.

    They thought they’d be showing the game, they assured me when I called, but when I got there I found their Channel 20 wasn’t WDCA-TV.

    Next I tried Acme, but they, too, couldn’t summon up the proper station.

    During the short trip to Heroes, I discovered that my car radio could get the play-by-play on 104.1 FM. Better still, by the time I parked at Heroes, the Nats were up by a score of 1-0. That’s the closest I came to the game in West Annapolis.

    At Griffin’s West on West Street, the Orioles’ game loomed large on the TV behind the bar. The bartender tried to switch to the Nats, but a few moments later, it was back to the car.

    On the radio, former Bullets broadcaster Charlie Slowes informed us listeners that the Nats were now down 2-1 at the top of the second inning.

    Next I headed for the Greene Turtle in Edgewater. I’d barely walked in when I got the thumbs down from a fellow sporting a Nationals’ cap just like mine, the blue, away version.

    By now the game was in the fourth inning, according to the crawl at the bottom of one TV showing an ESPN baseball telecast of still another game, the Reds v. the Mets.

    I’d heard the nearby Original Steak House and Sports Theatre had lots of TVs as well as satellite service. TVs they’ve got, big ones and lots of them. The Nationals’ game, however, wasn’t one of the games they could pull in. No WDCA-TV here, either.

    In the face of such adversity, even Lance Armstrong might hang it up. Not me, listening on my car radio (now the Nat’s trailed 7-1). I returned to the Maritime Republic of Eastport. There I set out on foot to Davis’ Pub, where no Nats were on TV. At least the bartender knew the cold truth and said so. What the heck. A beer or two later, I was enjoying the Orioles putting away the Oakland A’s in Baltimore’s home opener.

    The lessons? Comcast is missing an opportunity. So are the various purveyors of sports and spirits hereabouts. Nearby Prince George’s County sports pubs like Glory Days (where I caught Saturday’s Nats v. Marlins game) will surely exploit their WDCA-TV advantage. But of more significance was my serendipitous realization that the radio broadcast transported me back to my youth, when listening to a game on the radio was the only way to ‘see’ the team I wanted to follow. I suppose I owe that much to Peter Angelos.

    This is Nats’ fan Mark Travaglini’s first appearance in Bay Weekly.

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