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Orioles-Nationals dispute cancels Naval Academy Baseball Classic

The U.S. Naval Academy mascot joins the Washington Nationals' presidential mascots in the between-innings race at the Naval Academy Classic at Annapolis, Md., April 1, 2017.

JOE GROMELSKI/STARS AND STRIPES

By BILL WAGNER | The Capital (Tribune News Service) | Published: October 31, 2017

Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk confirmed on Tuesday that a territorial dispute between the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals has brought a premature end to the Naval Academy Baseball Classic.

Gladchuk said the Nationals will not play exhibition games at Max Bishop Stadium on the Naval Academy campus as scheduled in 2018 and 2019.

“It is disappointing because this year’s game went extremely well and we were hoping to keep it going,” Gladchuk said.

Gladchuk cited as accurate all the basic details of a Washington Post report on why the event was abruptly canceled. Major League Baseball considers Anne Arundel County as Baltimore Orioles territory and an exhibition in Annapolis involving the Washington Nationals violates that designation.

“I guess Major League Baseball has to draw a line somewhere and it decided that Annapolis and Anne Arundel fall within the domain of the Orioles,” Gladchuk said. “From what I understand, the Orioles filed a complaint about the Nationals playing at the Naval Academy and MLB had to issue a ruling.”

The Major League Baseball Constitution was amended in 2005 when the Nationals moved to the District of Columbia. MLB ruled that every county in the state of Maryland fell into the territory of the Baltimore Orioles. Meanwhile, the Washington Nationals were granted the territory of D.C., Arlington, Fairfax and Prince William counties along with “all independent cities bordering such counties in Virginia.”

“Rules are rules and it seems in this case the decision was pretty clear-cut,” Gladchuk said.

A sellout crowd of more than 1,000 spectators crammed into Max Bishop Stadium on April 1 for the inaugural Naval Academy Baseball Classic, which saw the Nationals play the Boston Red Sox to a 4-4 tie. An estimated 800 members from the Brigade of Midshipmen were in attendance to watch the first MLB exhibition game played at the facility since May 4, 1987 when the Houston Astros played against the Naval Academy.

“We rolled out the blue and gold carpet and both the Nationals and Red Sox really enjoyed the experience,” Gladchuk said.

Prior to the exhibition game, Nationals players ate breakfast at King Hall with the Brigade of Midshipmen then joined the Red Sox for a tour of the Naval Academy campus.

Gladchuk said the Naval Academy Athletic Association and the Washington Nationals initially agreed to a three-year deal for the event. However, the Orioles quickly objected and pointed out that a Nationals exhibition in Annapolis violated the MLB Constitution.

Baltimore could have asked MLB to cancel last spring’s game at the Naval Academy, but allowed it to be played as scheduled because of the military theme.

“Basically, the Orioles agreed to a one-off,” Gladchuk said.

Gladchuk said the Naval Academy Athletic Association reached out to the Orioles about possibly playing an exhibition game at Max Bishop Stadium, but the organization was either unable or unwilling to make it happen.

Not all is lost as the Navy baseball team will play the Nationals in an exhibition game at the organization’s spring training complex in West Palm Beach, Florida. Naval Academy athletics spokesman Scott Strasemeier said there is no set date for that game and that Navy has an open invitation to play the Nationals as the schedule allows.

This is just the latest spat between the Orioles and Nationals, who became reluctant neighbors when the franchise formerly known as the Montreal Expos relocated to D.C. Baltimore and Washington have been embroiled in a bitter dispute over television revenue from the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network since the National League team arrived in the area 13 seasons ago.

©2017 The Capital (Annapolis, Md.)
Visit The Capital at www.hometownannapolis.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

2016 American League Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello of the Boston Red Sox talks with U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen before the Naval Academy Classic at Annapolis, Md., April 1, 2017.
JOE GROMELSKI/STARS AND STRIPES

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