Something strange is happening in Baltimore these days.
The baseball team – in September – is actually playing outstanding baseball. They’re beating REALLY GOOD teams. They’re outpitching them. They’re outhitting them. They’re outfielding them. They’re outmanaging them.
It’s a shame THIS Orioles team didn’t show up in April. Or May. Or June. Or July.
But it’s certainly a pleasure to watch the local nine play these days and see a competitive team in September going toe-to-toe with the big boys and not only holding their own, but putting another notch ot two on their orange belt.
Something else is strange in Baltimore these days.
The baseball team is winning and playing great baseball and no one seems to care.
It’s ONLY a small sample size, of course. It’s only 35 games of “Buck Ball” and the Birds are 21-14, but they’ve clearly turned things around. Six weeks ago, a 100-loss season was a rock-solid, slam-dunk bet. Now, unless they collapse in the last three weeks, they’re actually going to avoid losing 100 games.
Why, then, does no one in town care?
Let me re-phrase that: There are people – like me – who have cared all year. I’ve watched about 90% of the games. There are lots and lots of folks (how many? I don’t know…maybe 5,000) who have followed the team all season and care about the team’s recent return to their glorious winning ways.
But as I go out and about and talk with folks in Baltimore…and gauge interest from callers on The Morning Reaction…and read various local web sites dedicated to sports and/or the Orioles — I don’t feel ANY kind of fever-pitch-reaction for the baseball team and their Hot September Nights.
Then there’s the attendance issue. Tampa Bay and Boston were both recently in town and none of the crowds were all that impressive, save for a gathering of 28,000 for Sunday’s series finale with the Rays. The Fenway faithful – with their team on the outside looking in this year - didn’t seem that interested in invading Baltimore last week and artificially sweetening the attendance figures as they’ve done for the last decade.
With “Show-Ball” finally bringing energy and high-quality baseball to town, I really thought there would be a spike in folks buying tickets and enjoying – finally – a good late-season product. Fall baseball, to me, is the best time of year to watch a game. It’s better, naturally, when your team is decent, but a visit to the ballpark in September is as good as it gets.
So where is everyone? Where’s the enthusiasm? Where’s the passion for this revamped baseball team of ours?
It’s one thing if people like me – the Apologists, as I like to call them – follow every single game and revel in this 35-game rebound from Showalter and Company. We’d be watching every game and following every inning if they were en-route to a 110 loss season.
It’s the OTHER people in town — the ones that the Orioles have said forever “they will ALL come back when we win” — who aren’t apparently interested in the team’s rebound.
I don’t hear, read or feel ANY heat at all for the Orioles in the community.
The Apologists like me still care.
But no one else seems to.
And that’s a shame.
Why is it that way?
Well, that’s a blog for another day, but it has something to do with thousands and thousands and thousands of people in this market and the surrounding areas giving up on the team after years of dismal play on the field and shoddy treatment of the fans off the field.
It’s obviously going to take more than a 35-game hot streak to bring those folks back.
A lot more, I suppose.
And that’s a shame, because anyone not going out to the ballpark this month is missing good baseball and a good time.