The Inaccurately Named Beltway Battle

bwcorridorThis week, your Washington Redskins travel the 65 highway miles from Ashburn, VA to M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. (Up to two hours in traffic according to Google Maps, thanks to what Forbes Magazine names the Most Congested Road System of 2008!)

Whenever this happens, people start making reference to things like “the Battle of the Beltway” or the Beltway Battle. (The same thing apparently happens when the Nationals play the Orioles, but I never noticed, because it’s the Nationals and the Orioles.) Burger King and ESPN980 are even having some sort of contest focusing around the name, so it seems safe to say it’s a pretty widespread usage.

But here’s the thing: both of those names are completely nonsensical for Baltimore/Washington matchups.


A quick geography lesson, for those of you outside the Baltimore/Washington corridor: on the map above (click on it for a larger image), the circular road in the upper right hand corner with the interstate number 695 is the Baltimore Beltway. In the lower left, with the interstate number 495, is Washington, D.C.’s Capital Beltway. As with most roads designated “beltways,” each of these is an example of what city planners apparently refer to as an “orbital distributor road” — that is, highway that orbits a city and distributes traffic along various intracity routes.

So, yes, both Baltimore and Washington HAVE beltways, but so do literally dozens of cities worldwide, and if the Brazilian National Team were to face off against the Kansas City Brigade in some sort of bizarre soccer/Arena Football hybrid game, no one is going to call it “the Battle of the Beltway”.

The Washington and Baltimore beltways both intersect with I-95, but that seems an awfully tenous basis for naming a football game. Besides, if you were going to use a road connecting the two cities as your basis for the name, wouldn’t you use state road 295 as your choice? It’s called the Baltimore/Washington Parkway, after all, and you could go with something like “Parkway Party” or “Prize Fight on the Parkway” or something. (The logo of Stet Sports Blog uses the BW Parkway road sign to generate a similar effect.)

Anyhow, I realize that this is largely an issue of semantics, and it’s quite possible that no one on Earth besides me cares, but I asked around to see if anyone could offer a better alternative. Some of the suggestions were terrible, and others were clever but inaccurate. (“Friction at the Mason/Dixon,” for example, works great for a Pennsylvania/Maryland matchup, but not as well for two teams who are both located in what used to be Dixie.)

large_r200a-n-battle-beltway-teeShawn Springs, who grew up in the Maryland suburbs of D.C., went with the basics: “Battle of I-95, I guess,” he said. “Makes more sense to me.” It makes sense, yes, but it lacks that certain punchiness that T-shirt slogans generally require.

Director of Sports Medicine Bubba Tyer took a similar route: “Battle of the BeltwayS,” he said. “695 and 495.” Which does work, and would certainly be easier on Burger King and the other people who would need to change materials over, but which wasn’t quite the dramatic revision I had hoped for.

“Technically speaking, if you want to get technical,” Todd Yoder said, “it could be the Battle of Maryland. Because our home stadium is in Maryland.”

But the training facility is in Virginia, and the team’s name and affiliation are with D.C., I pointed out.

“Doesn’t matter,” said Yoder.

Chris Samuels suggested “Battle of the Tri-State,” and Yoder shrugged.

“I’m cool with that, but I’m just saying, we both play home games in Maryland. You could bring it back to the ‘Battle of the Home Game in Maryland’, I guess.”

As far as Samuels’s suggestion, there are two major problems: first, it’s a bit non-specific. There are 62 places in America where three (and only three) states meet, almost all of which are referred to with some for of “tri-state area”. And, second, there’s the minor issue of D.C.’s statehood (or lack thereof) to consider.

“Battle of the DMV,” Devin Thomas offered, confidently. I initially thought he was referring to Virginia’s Department of Motor Vehicles, which doesn’t work for a whole variety of reasons, not least because Maryland’s version of the DMV is referred to as the MVA. Someone pointed out that he probably meant D.C./Maryland/Virginia, but that it was a term used to refer mostly to the D.C./Northern Virginia corridor in the go-go music community and didn’t usually encompass Baltimore. Still, nice effort.

Then Fred Smoot showed up, which usually is how stories like this end. Smoot gives one of his trademark witty answers, everyone laughs, and the problem is resolved. So I asked him.

“That’s a good question,” Smoot said. He paused.

You have to understand, Fred Smoot does not ordinarily pause. No matter what question is put to him, dumb or clever, ordinary or off-beat, whatever Fred Smoot answer you read, it was probably delivered almost instantly, off-the-cuff, and with impeccable comic timing. So this came as a bit of a shock.

“Let me think about it for a bit,” he said, and walked away.

I turned to Carlos Rogers, who thought for a few seconds and shook his head. “If Smoot didn’t have anything to say, that’s a tough one.”

Casey Rabach offered up “Crosstown Rivals,” and then the floodgates opened from people walking by. Suggestions included “Static in the Mid-Atlantic,” “Fracas for Fort Meade” (roughly the midpoint between the two), the “Tussle for 295,” a few I-95 puns including “95 Theses” and “95 Problems…” (the latter clearly requiring a follow-up clause, which no one could come up with).

Head Athletic Trainer John Burrell came directly to the point and ended the discussion (at least for now): “It’s the ‘Battle of the Game We’d Better [Freakin’] Win’,” he said.

Fair point. But it’s not necessarily going to work on T-shirts for future rematches. I’ll keep asking around; surely someone can come up with something that’s both accurate and punchy, right?

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42 Responses

  1. Could be another “Battle of the Bay”, refering the Cheseapeake Bay?

  2. WHAT?!?!!?

  3. how about…. Battle for Old Bay Seasoning?

  4. Juventus F.C is from Italy, not Brazil.

  5. It should be the Redskins return to their old hunting grounds looking for Raven Feathers! Lets pluck those birds!!!!

  6. I’m a Marylander and god, do I love Maryland. how about “Battle for Maryland’s TRUE team” (Not some impostor Cleveland Browns under the name Ravens)

  7. PW: You are absolutely correct, of course. Artifact of revision, now corrected. Nice catch!

  8. This aint Scranton Battle

  9. I guess it all depends on if other cities refer to their beltways as a proper noun. In both DC and Baltimore, 495 and 695 are both called the Beltway. I honestly don’t know if that’s true elsewhere but if not, it would validate the Battle of the Beltway to some extent.

    Also, neither Maryland nor DC were part of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. Washington remained on the border with the CSA. While Maryland was a slave-holding state before the war, Lincoln suspended the sate legislature and forced the state to remain with the Union to keep Washington free and the federal government in place. It was also vital to keep the Chesapeake under federal control, etc etc.

    At any rate, I have no good suggestion for a new name for the game.

  10. “BATTLE OF THE BELTWAYS”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. I like something related to the Parkway – maybe the Parkway punchout.

    Other possibilities could be:
    *) The B/W Blowout or
    *) The “C”-City Battle. (Charm City vs. Capital City)

    Greg

  12. The Battle of the Murder Capitals

  13. I personally liked Burrell’s: “It’s the ‘Battle of the Game We’d Better [Freakin’] Win’,”, cuz that’s how the Skins had better take it.

  14. As someone who lives near Fort Meade (and is a skins fan) I can tell you Meade is WAY closer to Baltimore than it is to Virginia.

    I’m all about the Parkway idea, and I agree with Yoder that it should be between Baltimore and Landover, otherwise you’d have to consider that the Ravens camp is in Owings Mills.

    Howabout the “Punishment for the Parkway” ?

  15. How about the day Jason Cambell lost his job.

  16. I hate to say that this is dumb, but… The United States may have 62 beltways, but when people say The Beltway everyone is talking about the one circling DC, as in a “Beltway Insider.” So it is called the Battle of The Beltway, it is talking about The Beltway not any random beltway, because of the proximity to The Beltway.

  17. “War in the Middle East”

  18. How ’bout the “battleof our passing game better step up or Colt Brennan will be the starting quarterback”?

  19. (Middle East Atlantic)

  20. Tha Battle of the Brothers Landry

  21. battle of the bay is really really good. the athletic trainers comment is hilarious. and true. we better freagin win

  22. The Barbell Battle. Since you got the Capitol Beltway on one end, the Baltimore Beltway on the other endu, that is connected by I-95. Therefore you have a barbell.

  23. Check that. I’ll call it The Barbell Bowl

  24. Im a huge skins fan i go on every blog/site that has info concerning them everyday and read about them but they will lose this game.
    I really hate to say it and be a downer but come on now, we just got our asses handed to us in a home rival game. We cant score field goals since are kicker sucks and thats really what the game is gonna come down to, field goals. Its gonna be a field position game which doesnt help cuz our punter also is terrible.
    Our defense and Portis have been the only consistent force for us. Teams now know to stack the box and let campbell throw us to another loss. The only way we win this is a pick 6 from Hall (who woulda had that last game if it wasnt for springs) and 2 good TD passes from Campbell (hopefully one to Cooley who hasnt gotten much action this year in the redzone.) A sellers running TD would be nice too but i think our D can hold them to 17 considering there rookie QB.
    The point im trying to make here is it doesnt matter the name of the game because it will be an embarrissing loss that will eliminate our playoffs hopes. Hopefully Synder drafts an O Line this year.

  25. Rookie QB, usually blitz them, right?

  26. Just to correct you on your facts….. If your goin from stadium to stadium it should be Landover MD to Baltimore MD so in reality its a 35 to 40 minute drive instead….

  27. you know the ravens will win…dont bitch about the name of the game, you are just drawing attention to the fact that you have no chance

  28. exatly “yeah” u basically said what i said in a much shorter way

  29. 95 Problems.. but a ring ain’t one!

  30. How about a Battle of the Non-Existent Rivalry?

  31. THE COMMUTER CUP

  32. Battle? Rivalry? there’s no such thing. they had like 3 meetings in a regular season…

    “THE BATTLE OF THE SKINS NEED TO WIN BAD TO SAVE THEIR SEASON PERIOD”

  33. The Old Bay Bowl.

    The Chesapeake Clash.

  34. The Battle of who really has the worst offense with a good defense.

  35. MD’s TD-less kicker fest

  36. “The Battle of who really has the worst offense with a good defense”

    Yes! And Im afraid that might be us at this point in the season.

  37. I am glad to see at least someone gave some attention in history class. I live in VA and no one here would ever, ever consider any part of MD “Dixie.” The capital of the Union was DC, Maryland was a border state, totally undecided and torn between both sides. Richmond was the capital of the CSA, and fact is, the further south you go, the less decided they are about even VA being “Dixie”. Anyways, As far as the name goes, Elan hit the nail on the head. You say beltway, people think DC. Lets quit trying to find something stupid to talk about and get a real job reporting something worthwhile – like, what the ‘Skins plan to do against another good D.

  38. I vote for:

    “The Quarrel for Laurel”

  39. ” THE 35-MILE RIVAL ”

    Or

    ” I DON’T GIVE A CRAP NAME, REDSKINS NEED TO WIN THIS GAME! “

  40. white collar vs white trash

  41. The Skins need to bench Jansen.

    If Stephon Heyer is not ready to play, put sellers in. . . he will at least attempt to block someone.

  42. ****FOR THOSE WHO WANT BRENNAN TO BE QB , YOU ARE TRIPPIN, WY WOULD YOU PUT ROKKIE A$$ COLT BRENNAN AND START ALL OVER, LIKE WHEN J-CAM WAS A ROOK. THINK ABOUT OUR O-LINE HAS BEEN LACKING WITH THEIR BLOCKS AND OUR RECIEVERS HAVE BEEN DROPPING PASSES. YOU CANNOT SIMPLY BLAME GAMES WE LOST ON JACAM…HE HS WON SOME GAMES FOR US..AND IF YOU LOOK AT OUR SEASON NAME ONE GAME JASON HAS LOST FOR US..REALLY HAS THEIR BEEN ONE? OR IS IT OUR RECIVERS HAVENT BEEN CONSISTEN ON THRID SAN LONG/SHORT OR OUR LINE GETTING BEAT AND HAVIN J-CAM TO THROW THE BALL WITH NO ACCURACY OR MAY NOT EVEN GET A CHANCE TO THROW AS HES FALLIN TO HIS A$$.NOT TO MENTION HE DOING PRETTY WELL FOR A NEW OFFENSE AND **ONLY HIS SECOND YEAR AS STARTER***.C’MON COLT FOR QB NAH….NOT THIS NOT NEXT YEAR. WHY KEEP SWITCHING TO THE NEXT QB WE AS A TEAM HAVE BEEN DOING THAT FOR YEARS WHEN THINGS GO WRONG WE ARE QUICK TO GIVE A QB THE HOOK.NOW THAT WE HAVE A YOUNG QB WITH PROMISE LETS KEEP HIM.ELI WAS IN THE SAME SYSTEM FOR WHAT 5 YEARS.HIS FRST 2-3 HE WAS SOME SH^T..AFTER HE PROGRESSED AND WHAT DO YOU KNOW HE WON A SUPERBOWL AND NOW IS ON HIS WAY TO ANOTHER…SAME WITH PEYTON, THOSE TEAMS AND COACHES GAVE THEIR QB A CHANCE TO DEVELOPE AND LOOK AT THEM NOW. JASON CAMPBELL IS THE QB OF THE FUTURE….WE CAN WIN WITH HIM..

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