Hard to watch…

September 25, 2008 | Drew Forrester

It’s nearly over now.

Another year of baseball in the books here in Baltimore and by the looks of things, it hasn’t been well received by area fans.

I went out to OPACY last night, joining Glenn and Nestor for one final night of Orioles fun before the building goes dark this time next week. We bought the $1 tickets and sat in the right field lower-something seats…I have no idea what they cost but I’d give you $12 for that seat and nothing more.

Anyway, it was an interesting evening at the ballpark. They announced 13,600 and there were probably just about 50% of that number actually at the stadium. I guessed 6,500 were in their seats at 8pm, an hour into another September choke job by the Orange birds.

Of those 6,500, I’d say there were probably 2,000 people there for the same reasons as us…”just to see one more game before the season ends”. There were 2,000 there because their company had tickets and it looks good to the boss if you’re there with your orange hat on cheering for the team. There were 1,000 “kids” like Glenn and Barry (Nestor’s son) who were there mainly to see if any hot girls were in attendance. There were 200 young women there – like WNST listeners Sandy and Nina who showed up – trying to get one final glimpse of Brian Roberts in case this is his final week in an Orioles’ uniform. And I guess there were 1,300 people there who LOVE the franchise and don’t care that they stink beyond words – they’re with ’em, through thick and thin.

It was an odd array of customers last night, that’s for sure. No one really watched the pitch-by-pitch, play-by-play of the game, except those 1,300 souls who still think there’s nothing wrong with losing 95 games a year since 1998. The Orioles scored a run in the 2nd inning and I didn’t even realize it. I looked up at the scoreboard for the pickle race or whatever the hell that thing is and said, “Wait, when did the O’s go up 6-0?”

It was a lifeless, uninteresting night at the stadium.

I probably wrote this right about the same time last year and I’ll write it again today.

The people I feel the most sorry for in this whole thing? The players who have been here and suffered through it.

Brian Roberts, Nick Markakis (and this is only his 3rd year of futility), Melvin Mora…those three guys have endured more torture than any athlete should ever have to deal with…and they’ve all done it with relative grace and professionalism that probably goes unappreciated in these parts because we’re too busy sulking about the sorry team we’ve been watching since June.

Roberts doesn’t deserve this anymore. I wish I was his agent. I’d make him sign something in blood, right now, demanding a trade and issuing an ultimatum – “ship me out or I’ll go into modeling full-time.”

Markakis deserves better, mainly because great talent shouldn’t go to waste no matter what the sport or who the team.

Mora has been a terrific community addition in Baltimore and has NEVER gone through the motions here, even though the team is annually eliminated before the surf temperature reaches 72 degrees in Ocean City.

I watched Roberts and Markakis last night (Mora didn’t play) and I never saw either of those guys give anything less than 100% out there.

The fans, however, are no longer giving 100%. It’s a toss-up who puts in more of an effort these days – the fans or Ramon Hernandez.

For all the promise of May and June, the realities of the situation have crystalized over the last six weeks. The team is awful. Are there worthwhile components? Absolutely. But on the whole, right now, this team is the 2nd or 3rd worst club in all of baseball. And it won’t get better in the off-season unless they spend money. Period.

So the fans have stopped coming, as this week’s attendance figures have once again established. Three games (one was a doubleheader) and a grand total of 20,000 warm, living, breathing bodies crammed their way in to OPACY — and that’s 20k TOTAL for the three games.

Progress this year?

The fans must not think so. Of course, the team hasn’t given them much reason to come out since Labor Day. They’re 5-26 over the last 5 weeks and the only real marketing coup they had to wave around was Matt Wieters, but the team decided against playing him in September because they didn’t want to start his “service time clock”.

Nice guys, eh? Wieters’ playing in September would have at least given the fans reason to follow SOMETHING about the club during this September episode of “The Orange Titantic, part 11”.

The fans look at their watch around 4pm and say, “why would I go down there tonight and watch them lose again?”

The players look around and ask themselves, “what the hell am I doing here?”

Come November, the O’s will have ample opportunity to open their checkbook and prove to everyone they ARE interested in winning.

Money talks and “you-know-what” walks.

We’ll sit back as we’ve done for the last 11 years now and watch the other teams play October baseball and think to ourselves, “when will that ever happen in Baltimore, again?”

I sure hope it’s soon.

But I’m betting it won’t be.