Is May the new February for Baltimore sports fans?

May 07, 2009 |

May is said to be a month rife with possibility for the fan of spectator sport. May is the anti-February, or so the theory goes. During the post-Super Bowl period in February, football is over and meaniingful baseball is still a long way off. May, on the other hand, brings us professional playoffs, regular season baseball, and so much more.

Yet, here in the two sport town of Baltimore, I’m not sure that May is exactly a sporting fan’s paradise.

There were officially ten thousand fans at Oriole Park Wednesday night. It looked like there were about 200 by the time the game ended its third rain delay at 10:45 on their way to a rain-soaked 5 inning abbreviated victory.

With the Orioles currently suffering through a twelfth season of futility, many believe that Baltimore is now a one sport town. But May isn’t exactly a big month for Ravens fans. The increasingly bombastic NFL draft took place in April. Since then, the Ravens have invited a few cast-off receivers to camp and signed a back-up quarterback. Is this what gets us excited about professional sports in Baltimore this time of year?

I’m not trying to mock anyone’s choice of spectatorship; I’m really asking. With the Orioles season likely destined for another sub .500 finish, is this a good time for sports in Baltimore or a bad time?

Sure, nationally there are the NBA playoffs and the playoffs of some ice-based Canadian sport (seen in gruesome detail here). But the Bullets are long gone and the NHL isn’t looking to expand, and now that The Sun no longer has a sports media critic, I have no idea how healthy the ratings for NBA and NHL are here in Charm City. I imagine the Caps are a draw.

The NBA is a league of “stars.” If you love the big names in the playoffs this year, then the NBA’s second season, err I mean playoff season, is full of star power. Kobe. Superman. LeBron. Some goateed dude in a suit.

If the pro basketball game is your bag, baby, then by all means enjoy.

Pro boxing garnered some much-needed attention last Saturday, as Manny Pacquiao pummeled Ricky Hatton with 127 punches in under six minutes. Pacquiao landed 73 of those 127 punches. Over 1.6 million people paid to see Pacquiao disembowel Hatton, but only a fraction of those people were in Baltimore.

Another old-time-y sport, horse racing, has some local flavor. The 134th running of the Preakness will take place next Saturday at Pimlico. Now that’s a Baltimore tradition that belongs to the month of May.

Mine That Bird will try to repeat his surprise victory at the Kentucky Derby on May 2nd. And while Kentucky had its nice underdog story, 95% of the thoroughbred-related news in Baltimore has little to do with thoroughbreds at all.

The horse racing industry is on its last legs, and the state’s premier racing event is in dire trouble. How dire? Some industry experts are looking to Peter Angelos for help.

This can’t possibly end well.

As the fate of horse racing in Maryland becomes bleaker by the day, this year’s Preakness will have a new look to it. The infield, previously known as the biggest college party of the year, will have an oddly unfamiliar feel to it this year as event planners looking to increase profit, oops, I mean safety, are no longer allowing fans to bring their own alcohol to the event. Instead, the track will charge $3 dollars for a domestic brew, which is a fair enough price, but hurling a plastic cup of beer just isn’t the same as tossing an unopened can.

ZZ Top will perform, though, and nothing says college party like ZZ Top…right?

As for dem O’s, there are fans who are anxiously awaiting the arrival of Matt Wieters, Nolan Reimold, and any of a host of young pitchers. There is reason to enjoy the 2009 baseball if only from a scouting perspective. But from a fan’s perspective, the fan who wants to pull for a winner, is May a great month for sports in Baltimore or a long breather before NFL spring training?

Are you watching horse racing and boxing, like you did with grandpa when you were a kid? Are you rooting for NBA and NHL teams in distant (and not-so-distant) cities? Or are you, like me, one of the dwindling number of fans watching, and waiting, for the Orioles to make a move?

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