Have the Orioles become Baltimore’s “other franchise”?
With the end of football season, Baltimore sports fans are now looking toward the spring. Baltimore has a reputation for being a very electric sports town with two major professional sports teams. The Baltimore Ravens recently put up a great fight in the AFC Championship but came up short to the New England Patriots. Less than two weeks following yet another Ravens playoff loss, Baltimore’s “other franchise” begins to pick up news coverage.
A new general manager and free agency, now it’s O’s Fanfest and spring training is right around the corner. In a town now leaning much more toward football, does the start of Orioles baseball still excite Baltimore the way baseball once did? Since the last baseball playoff game in Charm City, the Ravens have had eight playoff appearances including three divisional titles, a Super Bowl win and two other AFC championship games. During that time, loyal Orioles fans have had considerably less to cheer for.
The fact is the Orioles haven’t been close enough to smell the postseason in longer than a decade. While the Orioles ticket sales peak on opening day and plummit through the season, the Baltimore football team sells out its last game of the year in 14 minutes. Today, the Orioles struggle to fill Camden Yards, but it wasn’t always like that. For the better part of the ’90s, the Orioles put 47,000 in the stands. Can that kind of excitement be revived in Baltimore?
As a lifelong Baltimore resident, I would certainly like to think so. Us Baltimore fans want to believe. It’s sometimes hard on fans when they see a handful of teams reach out and scoop up the top free agents year after year. We are tired of signing free agents (who we should have signed five years ago) that are far past their primes. I’m talking about the Albert Belles, the Sammy Sosas, the Vlad Guerreros who are supposed to put butts in the seats more than win games. Should I dare say we are tired of the Orioles front office trying to sell us that the Birds are doing great? Don’t air a commercial featuring a Matt Wieters home run and play the heck out of it when we, in fact, got swept that series.
Thankfully, the Orioles have a chance to start again. I love the beginning of the season because it’s an opportunity. Stats show the Orioles will not win, but at the beginning of the season, every team is in first. Henry Ford said that “failure is merely the opportunity to start again … this time more intelligently.”