Nowhere is the revulsion for Washington and all it represents stronger these days than in this city at the other end of the 35-mile-long Baltimore-Washington Parkway.
All weekend the city's newspapers have directed their venom at the nation's capital, and the screaming headlines and acerbic columns have been mild compared to the talk in the bars of Dundalk and the streets of Little Italy.
"They think we're just hicks," snarled cabbie Low Krejci last night as he gulped down a beer at Ed's Inn in North Point.
"Yeah, Washington's stuck up," growled his drinking partner, Ronald Mclellan. "Like the world owes them something."
The hatred here has nothing to do with a national malaise or with President Carter's diagnosis of Washington's ills. Here, there is only one point of contention: the Orioles.
When Washington attorney Edward Bennett Williams bought the Orioles last week for about $12 million, the entire city of Baltimore shuddered despite Williams' reassurances that the team would stay if the town "supports" it.
It is one thing for Baltimore to face the prospect of losing Earl Weaver, Jim Palmer and the rest of a team that owner Jerold C. Hossberger has been trying to sell for years. It would be another matter entirely to lose the team to those self-important dilettantes down the Parkway.
"I'd rather have somebody from Arabia buy the club than someone from Washington," Beverly Serio, a legal secretary, told the Baltimore News-American, voicing a typical reaction last week.
"Washington tries to take everything away," said cabbie Mclellan. "The Bullets, the soccer team, next it'll be the Colts."
"They already had two major league teams and they couldn't support them," groused plumber Dave Stoll, remembering the old Senators and the older Senators.
And 17-year-old Drew Civiletti said: "It's our team in the first place. Most of the fans are in Baltimore. Washington has nothing to do with baseball."
Baltimore's feelings about Washington are more complicated than simple civic rivalry, than San Francisco turning up its nose at the throbbing glamor of Los Angeles or Bostonians ranking themselves a notch above the hurly-burly of New York.
Washington is, in fact, a psychic continent away from Baltimore. It has remained that way, despite the efforts of state officials to sell the Baltimore-Washington region as a "Maryland Market place," and despite the increasing number of Washingtonians buying homes in the cheaper neighborhoods of Baltimore.
"People in Washington love to sneer at Baltimore," wrote Baltimore Sun columnist Micahel Olesker last week. "Washingtonians see themselves as the worldly, polished, cosmopolitan people on the block. Baltimoreans are seen as scruffy, hopelessly unsophisticated.
"The sneers are a mask. They mask an envy Washingtonians feel because Baltimore is a yeasty, full-blooded community and Washington is not."
Olesker's comments were restrained, compared to the headlines in the News-American, Baltimore's Hearst-owned daily. "The Orioles Belong to Us," the paper proclaimed yesterday in a front-page banner headline.
Earlier, News-American columnist Tom Coakley vied with his rival on the Sun in directing barbs at Williams and Washington. Williams, he wrote is, "a smooth professional from the high-powered D.C. martini set, a power broker from a place where French restaurants are more numerous than Polack Johnny's and where who you know is everything."
The newspapers are just reflecting the sounds of the streets on this issue. Washington, bartender Leo Kostkowski said, is an unstable place. "People are transient there; they don't associate with anybody. Baltimore's more like a small town, more community-oriented."
What rankles Baltimoreans is the fear that Williams may, like a perverse Robin Hood, take the team away from the longshoremen and give it to the GS-12s and the lobbyists of Washington just when it is playing some of its best baseball ever.
"Washington wants a baseball team back and they want ours because it's the best now," Kenneth Moroz, 20, told the News-American, in an article that quoted more than 40 Baltimoreans - almost all asking that the Birds stay in Baltimore.
Drew Civiletti, the son of the new U.S. Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti and a lifelong Oriole fan, said yesterday that the city would lose a piece of its identity if the team were taken away. "People say the Orioles and they think about Baltimore," he said.
"It makes people realize that Baltimore's here. If we lost the team, we would lose that recognition."
State Senator Harry J. McGuirk added: "After the Colts and the Orioles came along, I didn't have to explain to people where Baltimore was any more."
"I think it would definitely be a blow to the city's prestige if we lost the Orioles," said 29-year-old Baltimorean Okey Wills today as he moved through the throngs at the city's Italian festival.
If the team leaves its home at aging Memorial Stadium on 33rd Street, he said, "We son't have anything left."
Not all Baltimoreans believe the team will move. Mayor William Donaldfer got furious late last week when the News-American ran a banner headline saying "Bye-Bye Birdies."
Williams himself, as soon as he announced his purchase of the club, said "As long as the city of Baltimore supports the Orioles, I will stay in Baltimore." Schaefer and other city fathers took heart from that, but attendance at Orioles games has not always been as good as it is this year.
But this optimism is not widely shared. Sun columnist Olesker noted bitterly that Williams' reference to the city's future support of the team "is the only ransom note in history without a specific price tag."
And Fred Smith, a maintenance man at the Pimlico racecourse, reflected the generally dour view of Washington's political muscle.
"The sale is no good," he said. "I know the Orioles will be moving to Washington in two years.... All the senators and other politicians want a baseball team.
"They've had this thing figured all along." CAPTION: Picture 1, no caption, The Washington Post; Picture 2, EDWARD BENNETT WILLIAMS...open-ended ransom note?; Picture 3, MAYOR WILLIAM SCHAEFER...infuriated by headline