When Washington didn't have a baseball team, Baltimore was the next best thing. As a baseball fan, I thank The Washington Post for helping me to follow a team close to my home town during that period. But at long last, times have changed.

I am not asking The Washington Post to stop covering Baltimore's baseball team. I am suggesting that Baltimore's baseball team should not be presented on an equal footing as Washington's baseball team. The correct balance for The Washington Post should be providing coverage of the Baltimore Orioles at some level noticeably below the coverage given to the Washington Nationals, but noticeably above that given to any other team.

Tom Rogers, Oakton

There is a large contingent of natives in D.C. We didn't all move here yesterday. People like me saw games here in '71 and have been waiting 34 years. We hate the Orioles with a passion. Thanks mostly to that team's owners (and don't forget MLB), D.C. could have had baseball back here a lot sooner. So anytime I see that team mentioned, I usually mutter something not suitable for family hour, put down the paper or turn the channel. I've adjusted my subscription to the newspaper, and Comcast is next.

It's pretty simple: WASHINGTON Nationals, WASHINGTON Post. BALTIMORE Orioles, BALTIMORE Sun. Move that non-D.C. team to the back pages, one brief article only. Cover our team first and foremost. Sheesh, how hard is this?

Dave Martin, Arlington

In my opinion, Washington and Baltimore are two distinct, though closely related, media markets. I guarantee you that people who live in south central Pennsylvania, particularly the York area, and people who live in northeastern Maryland closer to Philadelphia than D.C., don't consider D.C. part of the greater Baltimore/D.C. media market. I'm also sure people who live in Northern Virginia, especially outside the immediate D.C. area, feel similarly about Baltimore.

It seems to me that by providing extensive coverage of the Orioles, The Post is slowing the natural process of having many D.C. area Orioles fans become Nationals fans and aiding Peter Angelos's efforts to smother the Nationals' ability to create a financially sound organization. Why become a Nationals fan if the Orioles receive the same coverage as they did before, as if the Nationals didn't exist? Why become a Nationals fan if they won't receive much more coverage in D.C. than the Orioles, implying the hometown team doesn't merit extra attention? The Post can do a lot to help cement the Nationals' place in D.C., but treating them as equals to a team located 40 miles away won't help matters.

Chip Millard, Harrisburg, Pa.

I do believe that The Post should cover both the Nats and O's. However, I can more than understand the DCites who wish not to be subjected to the O's.

I grew up in Gaithersburg as a die-hard Redskins fan. I also watched the Orioles and loved Cal Ripken. After Cal retired, I stopped caring very much about the Orioles.

Any type of disdain that I have for the Orioles is based solely on their owner. Instead of doing what he needed to do to create a good team to draw fans, he kept the market artificially clear to meet the same goal. And for that more than anything, I resent the man. Not only did he force me, as a baseball fan, to watch his team, he left me watching an inferior product.

Call me vindictive, call me petty, but I am a D.C. baseball fan. Now that D.C. has a team to call its own, it should embrace it. By covering the O's equally with the Nats, The Post is slighting D.C. baseball. By all means, continue to cover the O's, but keep it light.

Brian Beaubien, Baltimore

The analogy to "two-team" markets in Southern California, the Bay Area, New York and Chicago does not apply to Washington and Baltimore. The teams in New York and Chicago are both within their respective cities, and thus use the names of the cities. This is also essentially true in L.A. Further, the teams in those areas are part of the same Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), whereas this is not the case for Washington and Baltimore. Finally, the teams' parks in those areas are a lot closer to one another that [Oriole Park at] Camden Yards is to RFK. So a "two-team market" may exist in those places, but that's not true for Washington and Baltimore.

I would say cover the Orioles as perhaps having more interest to some fans here than say, Kansas City, but PLEASE stop the practice of covering them as a second "home" team. Thus, no more above the fold coverage of Baltimore's games and no more above the banner coverage of Baltimore's games.

Daryl J. Hollis, Annandale

I live in Maryland and find it hard to believe that most people in Montgomery County or Prince George's County are more interested in Baltimore sports than in Washington sports. I rooted for the Orioles in the past (and was part of a season ticket group at one time) only because we didn't have a team here, in the Washington area. The Orioles should get a story and notes, stats, etc., each day inside the sports section, not on the front page, unless a game is independently notable. That would give Orioles fans substantial coverage, but would not downgrade the importance of the Washington area team nor impede the efforts of this team. The Post has enormous influence, and people followed the Orioles in greater Washington only after it began to cover them like a home team. The Post should now help to support the infant team, the Nats, in the community where it is based, a team that will bring tax revenue and new business to the city where The Post resides and will help knit the area together -- if they survive long enough for the new stadium to materialize. The Post should act like a citizen of its own community.

"It is not for us to choose sides in this rivalry" was a silly statement. On the contrary, The Post makes judgments every day about how much coverage to give to news events and sports teams, and it can make -- and should make -- a judgment here to emphasize the Nationals over the Orioles. It already made a judgment by deciding to give the two teams virtually equal treatment.

James A. Barker Jr., Bethesda