Summer of 2009: a small step in the revival of Baltimore sports

July 16, 2009 |

Since 1998 Baltimore has been a one sport town that has been dominated by the Ravens. After years of futility on the field and in the front office, few can blame fans for turning their backs on the Orioles. This summer looks like it might be an exciting one for the Orioles and has me wondering if Baltimore is on its way back to being a two sport town.

Many can argue that even from 1984-1996 Baltimore was still a football town despite not having any professional football outside of the Baltimore Stallions of the CFL. When the Colts left in 1984 people felt betrayed and hurt and Baltimore was left with one professional sports team, the Orioles. The O’s struggled late in the 80’s and earlyy90’s  until they built what was at the time and still is the most beautiful ballpark in the Major Leagues, Camden Yards.Because of Camden Yards there was a  baseball revival in Baltimore. However, just five short years after hosting the All-Star game, baseball was dying in Baltimore.

The reasons for the Ravens dominance of the Baltimore sports landscape are pretty simple. First, Baltimore was a starved football town that would embrace any team that came after a 12 year hiatus without an NFL franchise. Second, they won the Super Bowl in just their fifth season as a franchise. Third, Art Modell is one of the classiest men in all of professional sports and the Ravens treated their fans and community much better then the Orioles. Another reason for the Ravens dominance is the “us against the world” attitude they have had since their Super Bowl run – an attitude the fans have more then embraced. Lastly, the Ravens players are much more identifiable then the Orioles players. Even the most casual fan will recognize a second stringer like Justin Bannan more so then they would recognize Nick Markakis. Why is this?

Because of ownership, no access to players, fan treatment, poor playing and recruiting – the Orioles have been nothing more than an afterthought in this town for the last 12 years. Hopefully things are changing in the right direction.

Andy MacPhail has instilled a sense of hope in a fan base that has had nothing but despair for a decade. Hope alone will not return the Orioles back to relevance, but it is a major step. If the Orioles have a summer where they improve instead of digress then I truly believe Baltimore will be on its way back to being a two sports town.

I was born in 1983 and for my entire life outside of one or two years, Baltimore has been a “one sport” town.So for selfish reasons, more so then anything else, I want Baltimore to return to the glory days of the 60’s and 70’s. From 1984-1996, 12 of the first 13 years of my life, Baltimore was a one sport town because they only had one team – the Orioles. Enter Art Modell and the Ravens in 1996 combined with a wire-to-wire 1997 season for the Orioles; Baltimore seemed to be back on the sports map. Just a few short years after the arrival of the Ravens, the Orioles went down hill and became nothing more than a way to pass time until the start of football season.

I absolutely love the Ravens, and I support them through good times and bad, but all I have ever wanted in my life was for the Orioles to be good. When both teams are winning and relevant the city is a buzz and life is just better all around.

Baltimore sports fans have so many sports memories from the Miracles on 33rd st, the Orioles dominance of the 70’s, the Ravens arrival in Baltimore and the Lombardi trophy returning back to his rightful destination in 2001. Hopefully, under the direction of Andy MacPhail and our farm team prospects, along with some exciting wins this year, there is light at the end of tunnel.

I’m hoping to look back years from now and remember the “summer of 2009” as the rejuvenation year – the beginning of Baltimore becoming a “Two Sport Town once again” – the re-emergence of “The Magic of Orioles Baseball”

Wouldn’t that be one the greatest memory of all?