I had three interesting e-mails in my inbox today when I first arrived at WNST to prepare for the Comcast Morning Show. One was from a frequent contributor, Bruce, who chastised me for NOT pounding on the O’s more over the last month or so, during this historically inept portion of the ’07 season. For the uninitiated, right before Ravens training camp, with another losing baseball season on the horizon and enough aggravation since April to last me TWO seasons, I confessed that I was going to reduce my focus on the O’s and concentrate more on the Ravens and their upcoming season. Naturally, the 30-3 walloping and the home sweep to Tampa Bay kept me talking O’s baseball — and even though I really didn’t want to follow what was going on, the embarrassing crowds, half-assed efforts by some of the players and the absolute rock-bottom results left me no option but to at least MENTION the team every day. But, I’ll admit, I intentionally took it easy on them throughout August. Why? Well (and I even wrote this in a blog last month), I honestly started to feel sorry for them. There are people on that team and in that organization who do NOT deserve to be affiliated with this fiasco. And, with that in mind, I eased off the gas pedal a little bit.
And today, Bruce called me out for it. He wrote, “Drew, you’ve become the voice of the people in this city who completely understand that what has happened to this organization is an outrage. You need to be MORE vocal, not LESS vocal. You know what’s going on down at the stadium is wrong. YOU KNOW IT! Speak out on it.” There was more, but that was the general theme.
And he’s right, I guess. I just lost my energy for pointing out the obvious. And, in all reality, the team really doesn’t care what the fans think – and even though I’m on the air every day, I’m still a fan. But they don’t care what I think, or what YOU think, or what Joe in Parkville thinks, or what Tom in Lutherville thinks or what anyone else thinks. And that’s the truth.
The second e-mail I opened had a subject line of this: FINALLY.
I opened it up. It read, very simply: “Drew, last night finished me off. 18-6…Tejada and Roberts not even trying to make major league plays. A pitcher – Rocky Cherry – who has no business pitching in the majors. And a manager who disgraced his profession with that embarrassing tirade aimed at the umpires. I can’t take it anymore. I have two games left to use in my 13-game plan. I think I’ll just donate them to charity and pack it in for the season.”
And finally, Mark e-mailed me with this information: “Drew, don’t know if you’ve had the chance to read Orioles Hangout today, but there’s a thread on the site started by Dipper9 (and there was a link attached) that you really need to read and, maybe, use on the air. I’m a regular on O’s Hangout and this guy Dipper9 can’t stand you or WNST. He’s always crushing you guys about how negative you all are and how none of you really care about the organization and how you don’t speak for the fans. He always talks about how much he dislikes you. Well, read the link I’ve provided. Seems like Dipper9 might have seen the light last night at the stadium.”
So, I read the link (here it is…read it yourself…it’s the very first post of the thread) and found it so interesting that I actually talked about it on the air. Orioles Hangout is a web-site that is generally dedicated to the Orioles franchise, although there is some general baseball content on the site as well. The O’s Hangout regulars are probably the last of a dying breed in Baltimore. The O’s could lose, well, 30-3, and someone on the site would start a thread that would read: “Markakis goes 4-for-5 in 30-3 defeat” and 39 people would respond to that by commenting about how the team “ran into some bad luck tonight” or “things are going to get better real soon”, etc. You get the picture. It’s where most of the apologists gather to laud the team for the two good things they do each week and ignore the drastically diminishing attendance at OPACY, the race for last place with the Devil Rays, the club’s continued refusal to do the right thing and put BALTIMORE on the road jerseys and, overall, anything contributed by a “newbie” that is considered negative gets met with great venom by the regulars who don’t want to face the truth.
I assume, by the way, that virtually every major league sports franchise has an “O’s Hangout” type site. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with Orioles Hangout or any other team-related site that serves as a quasi promotional vehicle for any organization. In fact, the people who regularly post at O’s Hangout and still think the franchise is headed in the right direction deserve a medal of some kind from the club. Really, they do. Most of us, or at least the 500,000 or so who no longer go to the games, aren’t buying it anymore.
So Dipper9 went to last night’s game and finally saw the light. 5,000 people IN THE STANDS (15,000 announced), half the team NOT trying, a pitching staff that probaby couldn’t strike out Willie Mays Hayes from the movie Major League and a manager who has been so unfairly humiliated with this roster of rag-a-muffins he’s been given that he finally blew his top last night in one of the most shameful displays of anger we’ve seen in Baltimore in 20 years.
Three e-mails changed my morning. They each served to remind me that we at WNST have been carrying a blazing torch in Baltimore for the last few years as we try to get the team to own up to their misgivings and strive to once again give us an organization and an on-field product we can all be proud of. Steroids, a half-lunatic pitcher who throws at people anytime the going gets tough, a 27-run loss, 18 defeats in 21 games, a 10th straight losing season and – most importantly – fewer people IN THE SEATS than in any previous season at OPACY…you can be the most ardent O’s fan out there and I think, in your heart of hearts, you can’t possibly be proud of anything you’ve seen out there since opening day (Bedard and Markakis notwithstanding).
Last night, even Dipper9 had to face the stark reality that the remainder of 2007 might dawn a new O’s marketing slogan: “You really don’t wanna be here for this…”
We all deserve better. Especially the regulars at Orioles Hangout who have defended the franchise throughout this “decade of despair”.