Pleased, thankful and skeptical

June 01, 2008 | Drew Forrester

Perhaps their on-going effort to torment the fans is finally slowing down.

With last night’s report from The Sun that the Orioles have filed the paperwork with MLB to return “BALTIMORE” to the team’s away uniforms for 2009, we can only assume that the club has started to realize that embracing the fans is far more productive than fighting them.

Now, obviously, I’m the happiest Orioles fan there is today, if, in fact, this news about the return of BALTIMORE to the away jerseys is legitimate.  Jeff Zrebiec of The Sun is an excellent beat reporter with a plethora of contacts and I am quite certain Jeff wouldn’t attach his name to this story unless he had been assured by someone in The Warehouse that it was a done deal.

That said, I had two people “in the know” last April tell me it was a done deal and then, suddenly (*ahem* -oddly), it didn’t happen. 

This time around, though, it appears as if it’s been signed off on by the powers-that-be.  We’d know for sure if the O’s didn’t offer that always-exciting “no comment” last night when asked about the situation.  That’s one of the great mysteries about P.R. I never quite figured out — leak a story to the newspaper, then say “no comment” in the story you just leaked. 

Anyway…Zrebiec is the key here.  I know he heard it from someone he trusts, so that makes me feel good.

However, it’s also well within the Orioles standard operating procedure to NOT follow through on everything as it might originally appear they intended to do.  It wouldn’t shock me at all if they have the “BALTIMORE” jersey as a road “alternate” shirt next year (a la their Friday night home black shirts they wear now).  I could see them announcing next winter that they’ll wear the new “BALTIMORE” jersey on Sunday afternoon away games (about 15 of those exist) and they’ll still wear the traditional gray shirt with the Orioles script for all other games.  I’m not saying that’s GOING to happen — I’m just saying it wouldn’t surprise me if it does happen. 

If that does occur, they could always say, “hey, we never announced our intentions anyway…The Sun wrote the story last May and we said ‘no comment’ at the time because we weren’t sure what direction we intended to go…”

So, while we all have the right to be overjoyed with this news, just keep in mind the team still has the ability to make any decision they want with regard to the away jersey in ’09.

It’s important to note that the club hasn’t “officially” announced the news.  They let someone else do it for them.  There’s speculation that Peter Angelos himself endorsed and authorized the change.  I applaud him for that if, in fact, it’s true.  However, again, until I hear HIM say that, I’ll reserve making final judgement.

You and I know the right thing to do is for the team to wear “BALTIMORE” on their away jersey for all 81 road games.

You and I know it.  I’m not 100% sure THEY know it.

We’ll see.

In the meantime, I’m thankful that the club has apparently finally come to grips with the fact that their shoddy P.R. and Community Relations has been costing them fans and revenue. 

When you see your own home ballpark overflowing with fans of the opposing team, it really cements in your mind how many backwards steps the team has taken over the last half dozen years or so. 

These forward steps — better P.R. being a major one — will eventually help restore the sense of pride we all used to have for our baseball franchise before the team started french kissing everyone in Lancaster, PA, Fairfax, VA, Cumberland, MD and Dover, DE. 

At some point, I also assume they’ll soften their stance on a few of the archaic media relations policies they’ve established and they just might let guys like Jeremy Guthrie, Brian Roberts and Jamie Walker appear on local radio and TV to tell everyone in Baltimore about the special things they have going on that are good for our community and the fans of the team.

Hey, one step at a time, right?

It took them 15 years to get the uniform thing right, let’s soak that up for a while before we start pressing them to do EVERYTHING right.

I’d end this by saying I’ll be the first guy to buy a new “BALTIMORE” away jersey in time for next year, but I’ve had one of the “old school” gray jerseys with Baltimore across the front for the last three years. 

I wouldn’t wear anything else.