I hypothetically asked the question a few weeks ago on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net.
“If the Baltimore Orioles are able to remain in the postseason hunt into September, will it have any impact at all on how you watch/support the Baltimore Ravens in September?”
I pointed out at the time that the two teams did not have games scheduled at the same time at all during September. (The Ravens’ Week 1 Monday night and Week 4 Thursday night primetime home games come on scheduled off days for the Birds. The Week 2 game at Philadelphia is scheduled for 1pm while the O’s are scheduled to play after 4 in Oakland. The Ravens’ Week 3 game also happens in primetime while the Birds take the field in Boston at 1pm.) There would be no direct conflict unless there is a weather related reschedule, or possibly if the Orioles were to make the postseason.
The truth is that there is no basis for comparison when it comes to how Charm City sports fans would treat this short crossover period. The Orioles’ last run to the postseason came in 1997, before the Ravens had captured the collective imaginations, hearts and back accounts of the Mid-Atlantic region’s sports fans. If we date back to the time when the Baltimore Colts and Orioles shared the city; mass media consumption, television coverage and big business of sports were incomparable to 2012.
Reaction to the question was quite varied. Some fans said they wouldn’t change any priorities related to the Ravens because football simply had become more significant to them. Other fans said they couldn’t imagine making any early season football game a priority while the Orioles were in pursuit of their first playoff appearance in a decade and a half. Still others thought it impossible to think that they would have to alter the way they paid attention to or supported either franchise, stating that other cities (namely Boston and New York) have never appeared to struggle with the same problem.
For many, the topic remains the elephant in the room. It might actually happen, they just don’t want to talk about it. They’d rather say things like “let’s just see if the Orioles can hold up their end of the bargain.” The Orioles however took the opportunity Wednesday to remind you that not only does the elephant exist, it’s an actual f*cking elephant.
Perhaps the Baltimore Orioles’ decision to purchase the contract of Bowie Baysox INF (and former first round pick) Manny Machado and allow him to make his MLB debut Thursday night has nothing to do with the fact that the Ravens are opening the preseason against the Falcons in Atlanta.
Of course, perhaps the correlation is absolutely purposeful.
Perhaps the Orioles wanted to take a strike against the pro sports team in town whose success has relegated them to “orange-headed stepchild” status 364 days a year (yes, I’m giving the Birds Opening Day. Nothing more.)
Perhaps members of the Orioles organization had a conversation this week about the lackluster attendance figures at Oriole Park at Camden Yards for the three games against the Seattle Mariners and said “this is probably going to be worse Thursday since fans will want to stay home and watch the football game. Let’s try to combat that somehow.”
Perhaps Peter Angelos (well…probably not Old Man Angelos but someone he allows to advise him and/or make decisions) is still pissed off about the Ravens’ Facebook jab from Opening Day and decided they wanted to put a dent in the football team’s television ratings-which will likely already be hurt by the fact that the game had to be moved from WBAL to WMAR and will be going up against the NBC affiliate’s continued Olympics coverage.
Perhaps there’s still bitterness for how the teams’ MASN-fueled relationship fell apart in 2010 and the Orioles wanted to flex their muscles a little bit to remind the Ravens they’re now working a network (Comcast SportsNet) that has clearly made the Washington Redskins a greater priority over the last two seasons.
Perhaps the Orioles are hoping they can play off the small bit of fan angst created when the Ravens ended their Westminster Training Camp tradition and win the hearts of young sports fans who are angry they can’t get autographs at McDaniel College. Perhaps they’re hoping to steal back part of an already small market that has partially abandoned the Orange and Black.