It’s no secret that Baltimore sports fans have a bit of a chip on their shoulders. Whether you root for the Orioles, or both the O’s and the Super Bowl champion Ravens, you know exactly what I’m talking about. The national media doesn’t seem to respect the Orioles in the same way as it does some other teams. Part of it could be understood after a long string of consecutive losing seasons. Then again, I’ve seen the Pittsburgh Pirates glorified in the media over the past few days as they end the longest streak of losing seasons in North American professional sports history. I’m happy for the Pirates (even as a Baltimorean), but where was that amount of love last season when the Orioles made the playoffs for the first time this century?
Perhaps it’s somewhat fitting that this is all coming about on Sept 5. The national media (and even some of the local flavor and fans) have seemed to pinpoint this day as “Orioles vs. Ravens Day” in Baltimore. At this point, the O’s aren’t just battling other baseball teams for attention, but they are also battling the championship football team in their own city.
There’s been too much blame thrown the Orioles’ way for NFL schedule-makers forcing the Ravens to open the season in Denver. A lot of hatred and venom has been thrown toward the warehouse along Eutaw Street for no reason. Some simply don’t have the education about what actually went on between the NFL and Major League Baseball. Others choose to pick a side because they feel that only the Ravens or the Orioles can be right in this situation. Most are still holding a grudge against the Orioles for losing for 14 straight seasons, and riding on the back of the football team that swooped into town and gave everyone a winner to root for.
None of it is fair, and none of it is right.
A lot of the blame for the vitriol sent toward the O’s goes to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. There’s no reason why the Ravens couldn’t have opened the season Wednesday night, just as the Cowboys and Giants did a season ago to accommodate a speech from President Obama. The excuse of not wanting to offend the Jewish community by playing on Rosh Hashanah immediately had holes in it when it was discovered that an entire Sunday schedule was played during a Jewish holiday last year.
Goodell turned the entire scheduling snafu into a battle between the two teams. I’m sure it’s a battle that he knew was already ongoing. Just take a trip back to opening day in April 2012 when the Ravens posted a photo on their official Facebook page of M&T Bank Stadium with the caption: “Raise your hand if you’d rather be cheering in THIS stadium than a baseball stadium today!” Goodell merely poked a stick in the beehive and created more friction between the two teams, and the media seemed to follow the almighty NFL along the way.
The common message months ago was that an early-September regular season game between the Orioles and White Sox was mostly meaningless. It was easy to move around for the Orioles and MLB. The game probably wouldn’t even matter because neither team would be in playoff contention.
Unfortunately for the national media (and that select group of local experts), they were wrong. Just like they were wrong about the real details of how easy it is to simply move a baseball game around. It’s just like they were wrong about how the Orioles refused to bend for the NFL. The Orioles are in striking distance of a wild card spot. The action on the field may not be as positive as some would like over the past few weeks, but a second straight playoff berth is in reach for Baltimore’s baseball team. There’s no reason why Baltimore can’t have two winners, and there’s no reason why they both can’t get along.
As a sports town, Baltimore has always had a bit of a chip on its shoulder. It’s that blue-collar nature that comes with being a little smaller and sitting along that Interstate 95 corridor with New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. That inferiority complex is part of what makes being an Orioles fan so challenging at times. It’s also that much sweeter when the team shocks the nation and makes a playoff run like in 2012. The trick to get the attention of everyone is to do it again.
Andrew Stetka blogs about the Orioles for Eutaw Street Report. His thoughts on the O’s appear here as part of MASNsports.com’s continuing commitment to welcome guest bloggers to our little corner of cyberspace. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.