What does baseball mean to you? Do you care about the game, the Orioles or the future anymore?
After a decade of terrible baseball in Baltimore, I’m going to go out on a very short limb here and say that the majority of you could care less about it. I’m basing that statement on the fact that there might have been 2,000 fans in the ballpark last night. I’m also basing it on the fact that we had approximately 100 fans with us for Free The Birds 2 last night. And if you decided, for whatever reasons, not to join us last night, here’s what you missed: FUN.
It was fun to chant names, slogans, etc. It was fun to meet many of you who did join us. It was fun to be at a meaningless baseball game in September in Baltimore (is there any other kind?). It was fun to make our voices heard, fun to watch the Orioles’ management attempt to bully and coerce the Fox 45 news crew that came up to Section 378 to film the gathering, fun to watch the surliest usher at Camden Yards look for any reason to tell us to quiet down, fun to count the people in the entire upper deck (one gentleman told me he counted 238), fun to continue to publicly remind Peter Angelos & Sons what a joke and a disgrace the franchise has become under their reign of error.
I also was honored to play the role of the late Wild Bill and lead our crew in a couple of O-R-I-O-L-E-S cheers. Now that was really fun!
All in all, FTB 2, to use the worst saying in life, "was what it was". It was truly a gathering of those of us who, as Drew so aptly put it, "still get it". Those who refuse to continue to buy what the Birds are selling. Those who really loved baseball and all the great things about the game that make it so fun. Those who understand that this current ownership doesn’t give a damn about the proud history of the franchise. Those who know that the ONLY solution to the current misery is for the team to be sold.
I know there are many NST bashers on message boards who are crowing about how small the group was last night. These are the anonymous "tough guys" who think we’re the ones with the problem. But as I sat there and looked around last night, it dawned on me that all those people probably weren’t there. Hell, barely anyone was! But those "tough guys" will certainly be there for FanFest ’08, right? Because they consider themselves "true fans". Here’s a memo to all of you bashers: The TRUE FANS were in Section 378 last night, chanting for B-Rob and Jay Payton, enjoying a gorgeous late September evening, and awakening the echoes of the Birds’ glory years (which NEVER occured during PGA’s time!). So before you start posting your snarky comments and hating on NST’s "publicity stunt", ask yourself why you weren’t there last night. Drew even went on-air with an invitation to all of them to come join us and yell at us last night. Strangely, nobody did. But I don’t find that surprising in the least. Cowards behind keyboards.
As for me, I’ll continue to go to every Free The Birds event that Nestor plans. I believe that next year, we should go to at least one game a month. Let’s pick the random Tuesday night game against Tampa Bay or Seattle. Let’s cheer, make signs and join together. Let’s not give up the mission of engineering an ownership change. Let’s let them know that we’re still here, we haven’t forgotten, we won’t forgive them and we want respect! Let’s see the team do better on and off the field.
There were plenty of interesting moments that I took away from last night. The Rent-A-Cop who tried playing the heavy outside the stadium, telling us "The Orioles don’t want you out here". The usher who asked me for a Free The Birds sign as I passed through the turnstile. (He did ask very quietly, poor guy). The girl at the concession stand who asked for some signs. And of course, the World’s Surliest Usher, right there in 378. Seriously, you’ve gotta SEE this guy to believe it! NO WONDER people hate the Orioles! They hire people who HATE YOU RIGHT BACK! What a miserable bastard!
If you’ve ever listened to my show on Saturdays on NST, then you know how much I love reggae music. As I drove home last night, happy and satisfied and glad, I thought of all the cool people I met and chatted with. What a pleasure to know that there are still some like-minded die hards like Nestor, Emily, Rex, Drew, Thyrl and me. So I popped in one of my favorite Bob Marley CDs and put on the song whose words best defined my feelings.
"Get up, Stand up, Stand up for your rights, Get up, Stand up, Don’t give up the fight!"
No, sir, I’ll never give up the fight!
Thanks to EVERYONE who attended. It was a pleasure to meet you and get to know you a little through baseball. Someday, I hope we can reconvene for a meaningful September game and reminisce about "the bad old days under the PREVIOUS ownership group". Now that would be wonderful! Thanks for being there and staying strong!
DON’T GIVE UP THE FIGHT!
FREE THE BIRDS!