I’m not at all surprised the Ravens are going to forgo their annual 24-day pilgrimage to Westminster and instead hold training camp within the confines of their own fences in Owings Mills.
It makes all the sense in the world.
Especially to a football franchise completely and overwhelmingly dedicated to winning.
The decision to stay in Owings Mills for training camp 2012 is rooted in just that: Winning. The Ravens believe they have a better chance of being better prepared — yes, I meant to write it that way — by staying home in August rather than moving their entire operation 35 minutes away.
And they’re right, most likely.
After all, NO ONE in the organization wanted to be in Westminster for training camp. NO ONE. Nothing against McDaniel College or any of the other folks who were associated with training camp in Carroll County. Frankly, those people made having training camp in Westminster somewhat tolerable.
And this past August the Ravens saw first-hand how comfortable their players and staff were when training camp was forced out of McDaniel and was instead held at their own home — the facility in Owings Mills. There’s a reason why free agents make one trip to the Castle and say, “Where do I sign?” That place is Malibu with a football field.
Having seen what camp at Owings Mills is like — and comparing it to what’s offered at McDaniel — it just made zero sense to move OUT of Owings Mills and have training camp elsewhere. Nothing good – from a football standpoint – happened at McDaniel College. It was an out-dated concept for the Ravens and by pulling the plug on it today, they showed once again they’re more dedicated to winning than any of us can possibly imagine.
And if you’re really looking for someone to slap the blame on, make sure you take a dig at the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which has greatly reduced the amount of off-season interaction the teams are allowed to have with their employees, otherwise known as “players”. In the past, the club ran training camp. Now, starting in 2012, the players will basically run it and the club will just go with the flow and try their best to be ready for opening day. Reduced practice sessions, less contact, more time off, etc. That’s another reason why training camp is better served at Owings Mills than Westminster.
Will it leave a hole in summer plans for Ravens fans? Sure. It was a cool experience to head out to Westminster and watch the club practice. Some people who either can’t afford NFL tickets or just can’t enjoy the regular season gameday experience at M&T Bank Stadium have used the open practices at McDaniel to get their purple-fix.
Those folks need to be kept in mind as the Ravens decide how they’re going to “make good” — for lack of a better team — to those they’ve disappointed with today’s decision to stay in Owings Mills.
I’ve already seen Twitter filings and read e-mails from people yelping about this as if it’s akin to something the Orioles would do. First of all, we should all be so lucky – the 1,524 of us who are still Orioles die-hards, that is – to have the baseball team in town put as much stock in winning as the football team does. The baseball team hasn’t REALLY cared about winning here since Bill Clinton was the President. It’s all the Ravens EVER care about, which is why they’re staying in Owings Mills.
And the Ravens will — and I’d bet my golf clubs and tickets to a Springsteen concert on this — come out with a detailed plan sometime next spring that outlines how the fans will be allowed to get up close and personal with the players next summer during training camp.
A source within the organization tells me the decision ultimately was placed on the desk of owner Steve Bisciotti, but with everyone in the building voting to stay in Owings Mills, even the owner of the team saw he was fighting a losing battle