History Lesson: 1997 vs. 2012

September 01, 2012 | Marty Mossa

This is professor Marty Mossa with another dose of linking sports and history. My two passions in life are sports and history. It is well documentmented and duly noted that the Baltimore Orioles haven’t had a winning season since the summer of 1997. The birds went wire to wire winning the American League East by 2 games going 98-64 in that year. Dave Johnson was the manager who was forced out by King Peter Angelos at season’s end.

The Orioles went on to the American League Championship Series losing in six to the Cleveland Indians. Since the season of 1997; the Orioles have seen eight managers come and go. They have had 14 straight losing seasons. Going into the 2012 season, the birds record was 990 – 1276 (.436) between 1998 and 2011.

In 1997, the average cost of a house was $124,000, average individual income was $37,000, and cars cost $16,900 on average. Gasoline cost $1.22 a gallon, a loaf of bread was $1.17 and a movie ticket was $4.49. (http://www.thepeoplehistory.com/1997.html)

In 1997 Bill Clinton was enjoying his first summer after decisively being re-elected. This was before Monicagate and impeachment. Two presidents have taken the oath of office since 1997. Three governors have occupied the Governor’s Mansion in Annapolis and Kurt Schmoke was mayor of Baltimore with three others to follow.

Today the cost of a home in 2012 is $263,000 (www.census.gov/construction/nrs/pdf/newressales.pdf). The price of gas today is about $3.50 – $3.75. Today Barack Obama is our President, and Martin O’Malley is the Governor.

In 1997, the Orioles ruled the region. The Ravens were more of an afterthought in 1997. They were a horrible team going 4-12 in their inaugural season, and 6-9-1 in the second year. The Orioles attendance in 1997 was 3,711,132 averaging 45,816 fans per game. They were 2nd in attendance in 1997, trailing only the Colorado Rockies. (http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/MLB/1997-misc.shtml) In their last losing season 2011, the attendance dipped to 1,755,461 averaging 21,943 per game. They were ranked number 26th among the 30 teams in attendance. (www.espn.go.com/mlb/attendance/_/year/2011) My what a difference 15 years make.

Unfortunately the Orioles attendance is 1,644,855 and averaging only 24,922 per game through 66 games. WFT? They rank 23rd in MLB. Is the poor attendance the result of aftershocks of 14 straight losing seasons? Is it because people hate sweet Pete? The Ravens have taken over? Who knows, but that would be another blog for another time.