The Arena, Camp CreamPuff and O’s Bashing

July 25, 2008 | Drew Forrester

Three lively topics for a beautiful Friday in Bawlmer.

First, the Arena. I’ll sum it all up in four words. Dont. Hold. Your. Breath.

I say all of this with no disrespect intended to Jay Brodie and everyone else involved with the Baltimore Development Corporation. In fact, frankly, I think putting the new building on the site of the current facility is the RIGHT thing to do. I think Jay and his group have done their due diligence and I applaud them for at least getting us to this step in the process.

Now, though, it’s time to talk about the only thing that REALLY matters in this endeavor. Money.

Where the hell are we going to come up with $300 million for a new facility? Answer: We aren’t.

Let me think this through for a second. No NHL team is coming here. No NBA team is coming here. No college basketball team can put 18,500 in there 15 nights/days a year in the winter.

Boy, seems like a good investment to me. I’m sure business folks all over town will be signing on the dotted line when they’ll be asked to put money in on a new building that has no major tenants.

The shame of it all is that Baltimore is in dire need of a new building. That’s the “gee, tell me something I don’t already know” statement of the day, right? As much as we like to pick on the city of Pittsburgh, they even have a new building in the works. Of course, they have a hockey team to put in there and a college (Pitt) that will fill the Arena for basketball.

Baltimore might be the only city east of the Mississippi that considers itself “big league” that doesn’t have a “big league” indoor venue. So much for being “big league”, I guess.

I hope the new arena happens. Even without the NBA or NHL, it’s still a necessity in our city. I just wonder, though, where the $300 million is coming from to build it. Until those checks are deposited, I’m still a non-believer.

On to Camp CreamPuff. Actually, Camp CreamPuff is a thing of the past. But the thought of it still exists with some people out there who have this weird rationale that not battering your players over the head with a 2×4 during summer practices somehow makes them LESS prepared during the season.

The John Harbaugh era started this morning with a full-pads contact work-out at 8:30 am. I said from the outset that I don’t like that approach. Not on day one. Guys just rolled into town. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. I think players should work up to the level of full contact. But, that’s just me. By the way, it should be noted that Brian Billick would practice the team in full pads on the first day of training camp and I didn’t really like it back then either.

My opinion on this subject has nothing to do with Camp CreamPuff (which never really existed actually…it was an urban-legend created by – oh, never mind) or Brian Billick or the manner in which he ran practices throughout training camp. My opinion is this: get the players fit, ease them into hitting and full contact and save the real “kick their ass” blood-boiling stuff for the pre-season games and then, of course, the regular season.

I put no stock in the theory that some subscribe to: “they’re football players…put those helmets out there and hit someone…we need to be tough from the very first practice of the year!”

Have you ever met a NFL football player? Have you talked to Ray Lewis? Or Gary Stills? Or Bart Scott? Or Kelly Gregg? Let me tell you something, those guys are tough as nails and they don’t need to practice in full pads on day one of training camp to make them ANY MORE TOUGH once the season begins in earnest. If you think otherwise, you’re just showing your lack of knowledge of the game of football.

I’m not saying I dislike contact in training camp. It is, after all, “training” camp, which means they’re training for the season that starts in 7 weeks. Contact and physicality are part of practice…I get that.

I just don’t like having a guy get off the plane on Wednesday, put the uniform on beginning Friday morning…and then start hitting people and going all out 30 minutes into the first practice.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint. We’re not winning any games right now.

But I also get the idea that John Harbaugh needs to assert himself from day one. And, as Quinn Sypniewski can unfortunately attest to, occasionally someone has to “take one for the team” – unnecessary or not – to put a stamp on the new attitude the coach brings to the table.

I’m hoping no one gets hurt today. It would be a bad way to kick things off, particularly when you take into account that most everything else Harbaugh as touched this off-season has been well received.

I think John Harbaugh will be an outstanding coach here in Baltimore. Someone needs to remind him that he can’t win everyone over on day one of training camp. There’s this thing called the Super Bowl that we care a lot more about than busting each other up on July 25.

Now, if Harbaugh doesn’t hold up the Lombardi Trophy within 9 years, we’ll all have reason to complain.

As for now, we’ll have to stick with Camp HardBall and hope it yields the same results over the next nine years that Camp CreamPuff did. If so, we’ll be quite pleased.

And for those of you who think I bash the Orioles too much, I’ll just add this:

You’re right.

It’s old and tiring. I agree.

I’m tired of the franchise doing the wrong things as much as you’re tired of hearing or reading me complaining about them.

There’s only one little issue. They keep on doing the wrong things.

I’ll just keep doing what I’ve been doing because that seems to be the fairest way to handle them.

When they do the RIGHT thing, I’ll give them their due.

When they do the WRONG thing, I’ll bring that up as well.

It’s their job to do more right things than wrong things.

I can’t control that.

Neither can they, it seems.