Would you let the Birds fly away?

September 21, 2007 | Drew Forrester

I stumbled upon a very interesting “concept question” yesterday during the final minutes of The Comcast Morning Show.  We have a caller named “Murton from Indianapolis” who takes great pride in calling my show every couple of weeks and stirring the pot with his anti-Baltimore rhetoric and swipes at Charm City sports legends like John Unitas, Bert Jones and Lydell Mitchell.  Yesterday, he said, “Shooooottt, you guys don’t like that baseball team in Baltimore, why don’t you send them out here to Indy-a-nap-o-lis (as he says it…not quite sure that’s a midwestern accent…”if you know what I mean”) and we’ll make them a winner here ‘cuz you all can’t make them a winner in Baltimore.”

I let out a belly laugh and said, “You think you can make THIS team a winner?  Take ’em.  Good freakin’ luck, pal.”

And that got me to thinking.

Would we let the Orioles “fly the coop” if we were guaranteed an expansion franchise in five years by Major League Baseball – with two qualifications:  1) A new ownership group — and 2) We retain the Orioles name, colors, etc.

Now, first off.  I absolutely KNOW this can’t happen.  The lease is ironclad, the Angelos family is making money so fast they can’t even box it up quick enough and the team is NOT going anywhere.

But that’s not what I asked.

I just asked “would you?”.

Are you so fed up, so despondent, so obviously sure that this “thing” isn’t getting any better in the near future that you’d be willing to go without baseball in Baltimore for the next five summers if, in the spring of 2013, the “new Orioles” trotted back out onto the field at OPACY with Steve Geppi, Cal Ripken Jr., Ed Hale, Chip Mason, et al comprising a new and improved O’s ownership group?

Think hard on this one.  This November 2, Major League Baseball announces that the Baltimore franchise and the current ownership and front office is moving to Portland, Oregon and will be renamed the “Lumberjacks” and begin play in 2008 with the current roster of Orioles’ players.  In return for Baltimore losing its team, MLB has entered into a written agreement with the state of Maryland that ensures a new, expansion franchise will be granted to Baltimore and will begin play in 2013 as…the “Baltimore Orioles”.

Would you vote “yes” on that if it came down to a civic ballot?

I talked about it briefly on Thursday and again, briefly, during Friday’s Comcast Morning Show.  I have 31 e-mails in my inbox from listeners who have chimed in on the question.  25 say “yes”.  5 say “no”.  One funny guy wrote, “I’d vote yes if it meant you (Drew) went with the team to Portland.”  I’ll count him as a “no”.  I’m not going to Portland.  Been there…not impressed.

Bob Haynie and I talked about it today off the air and I heard Bob mention the question during the outset of his show today.  He said he’d consider it if it would be two years instead of five years that we’d have to do without a team.  Coming from Bob, whom I assumed wouldn’t want to go two MONTHS without a team, that’s a pretty telling statement.

Would you take a 5-year break from baseball in Baltimore if it could be guaranteed we’d have a new franchise with a new ownership group in 2013?

I think I’d have to pull the “yes” lever on this one.

13 years was a long time to live without football here, but a big part of that empty feeling came as a result of never really knowing if football – NFL style – would return to Baltimore in our lifetime.  This would be different.  We’d know for sure baseball would be back in 2013.

If the plan was in place and we were guaranteed a team in 5 years…a new team…with a new ownership group…I’d have to really give some serious consideration to agreeing to that.  And, by the way, from a selfish standpoint, losing our baseball team could affect WNST, even though we really don’t have a relationship with the baseball club anymore because they’ve basically black-balled us and, in addition, the diminished attendance at OPACY has led to fewer and fewer phone calls and general fan interest in the O’s.  But still, we’d have to be kidding ourselves if we think that losing the team for five years wouldn’t hurt our radio station a little bit.  Then again, the team hasn’t been worth a hoot in 10 years and the club has essentially shut us out in terms of player communications, front office interviews, etc., and WNST is on pace to generate more revenue in 2007 than ever before.  Maybe it wouldn’t hurt.  Who knows?

But to have 31 people respond – very informally mind you – and have 25 say “yes, move the team if it means getting a new owner in 5 years”…wow…what does THAT say about baseball in Baltimore in 2007?

Now, I again stress the very obvious…the team isn’t going to Portland.  It’s not going anywhere.  This “concept question” is just that.  A question to sit around and debate…talk about…write about.

Maybe qualification #3 should be…the 2013 Orioles get placed in any division BUT the American League East.

#1 – MLB guarantees a new expansion team in Baltimore for 2013 under a new ownership group comprised of Baltimore business leaders like Steve Geppi, Ed Hale, Chip Mason, etc.  #2 – The 2013 franchise will have full ownership of the Orioles name, logo, history, etc.  #3 – The team will not play in the American League East.

That would be the deal.

Well?  How do YOU vote?

Anyone know if Southwest Airlines flies to Portland?  I might want to check out a game or two next summer just to stay interested.