There are people in the Baltimore sports scene who would like you to believe that being a fan of the Orioles or Ravens should supersede your fandom of the other. I have never understood this logic, but it grew in strength as the Orioles’ 14-year losing streak dragged on… and on.
Think back and consider how absurd it was to hear people howl that the Orioles called Manny Machado to the majors in a spiteful attempt to pull focus from a Ravens preseason game. Yes, it sounds even more ridiculous now, when you look back and realize that this phenom in the making was promoted to shore up a pathetic third base corps (Mark Reynolds and Wilson Betemit), and that he made meaningful contributions to the Birds’ playoff run.
In 2013, those same people will tell you that you have to pick a side in this NFL kickoff fiasco. Why is it that arguments like “Angelos should bend to the will of the Ravens” or “Goodell should stop bullying MLB” are taken seriously? Granted, following professional sports comes with its fair share of stupidity, but this is off the charts.
Personally, I think the solution should have been handled in-house by the NFL. With fewer moving parts (and by that, I mean dollars up for grab), it would have been easier to do what was right for Baltimore fans. The NFL chose ad revenue of Thursday night over moving to Wednesday under the shameful veil of Rosh Hashanah. The Ravens, for their part, were offered the Sunday night game at home, but chose the competitive advantage of a longer break between Week 1 and Week 2 over the chance to celebrate a Super Bowl Championship with their fans.
Yes, Major League Baseball, the Orioles, the White Sox, and the MLBPA could have made concessions to allow the football game to be played on Thursday night in Baltimore. But you’re asking a lot of groups with no skin in the game to act against their own best interests. It’s a much harder path.
The bottom line is that no one did “the right thing” for the fans, and it is the fans of Baltimore who have had to endure the following indecencies:
- The Ravens will open up on the road after their Superbowl victory. The fans have been robbed of the opportunity to throw one hell of a party. Instead, they’ll have to wait until Week 2 (which risks that they’ll limp back into town at 0-1). The fan base with a national media chip permanently on its shoulder will have to deal with another example of “lack of respect” from the media and the NFL.
- The Orioles 2013 season opened with a ceremonial “no pitch” to honor Earl Weaver. But it wasn’t intended that way. The Orioles reached out to the Ravens to have someone from the organization make the first pitch. That would have given the fans the opportunity to celebrate both teams. Can you imagine the sight of Ray Lewis, hoisting the Lombardi Trophy, running down the orange carpet as ‘Seven Nation Army’ blasted? Instead, members of the Ravens organization found themselves with “scheduling conflicts,” and declined the invitation.
- Fans have been barraged with the false narrative that they have to pick between the two – to take a side. There is nothing wrong with Orioles fans who are so excited about the start of football season that they skip the Orioles game to throw a party and watch the Ravens. In the same light, there’s nothing wrong with O’s fans who head down to Camden Yards on September 5th, and go home to their DVR and don their purple jerseys.
Baltimore, don’t fall into this trap. The business of professional sports screwed the pooch on this one. Baltimore fans are being done a disservice because no one wants to step back and make a little bit less money. Or lose face. Don’t reward that kind of behavior by adding another layer of stupid on top. Don’t take to the message boards and decry Angelos as the villain. Or Goodell as a bully. Who cares? There are two games to watch on September 5th, and there is no wrong answer. Watch one. Watch both. Watch neither.