Rare August Air: O’s more compelling than Ravens – for now

August 05, 2009 | Drew Forrester

So, I received an e-mail from listener “Ed” on Monday night.  My original intention was to write this blog on Tuesday but I didn’t. 

In Ed’s e-mail, he criticized me (and the station in general) for talking “too much Orioles” and claimed the market needed a station that talks Ravens 24/7 starting in training camp.  

“Once football season begins, all talk about the baseball team should cease in my opinion,” wrote Ed.  “You and your boss (I assume he means Nestor, not my wife) spend five months crushing everything the Orioles do and then when it’s time to start talking football, you all continue to focus on the baseball team.  You even have Haney (sic) doing it.  He talks more baseball than football too.  Enough!  We want Ravens talk now.  Get with it or I’m gone.”

Ed harped on the subject that some station in town – us, he assumed – would see the sense in just talking Ravens and NFL football from sun-up to sun-down from August through February.  

I wrote Ed a response and he replied with a viperish paragraph of half-agreement, taking the time to take a few more jabs at me and the station’s coverage of the Ravens.  “Keep talking Orioles and you’ll be losing listeners every morning,” he warned.

I’m not going to cease talking about the Orioles.  I spoke my piece to Ed via my return e-mail, so this isn’t a public reply to him. It’s more of a discussion point than anything else.  You might agree, you might not, but here’s the truth of the matter as of August 5.

Right now, the Orioles are more compelling than the Ravens.

As you know – if you’re the one listener to the station that the O’s PR chief says we have – we have hourly live updates from Ravens training camp in Westminster.  If there’s a Ravens story that breaks, you’d win a lot of chinese lunches if you wager that WNST.net breaks it first.  We’re as connected to what happens in purple as anyone in town, period.  Our critics huff and puff when we brag about our successes.  Maybe they should spend more time trying to get better and less time worrying about us.  But I digress.  

Fact: We talk a lot of football now — and once September 13 rolls around, it probably switches to about 90/10 Ravens vs. Orioles.

Opinion: For now, though, the Orioles are a more interesting discussion and blogging topic.  That’s just the way it is.

The Ravens are coming off a great year.  Other than the Derrick Mason “retirement”, there really hasn’t been any rock-the-boat story to cover and discuss over the last six weeks.  Sure, one or two vets will probably get their walking papers at the end of August, but unless there’s a major injury to a starter, I can’t see much “news” coming out of Westminster/Owings Mills between now and Labor Day.  This is a football team with very few question marks.  “Can the team survive without Rex Ryan?” Answer:  We’ll see when the season starts.  “Will the club miss Bart Scott?”  Answer:  We’ll see when the season starts. “Will Demetrius Williams stay injury free and be a force at wide receiver?”  Answer:  We’ll see when the season starts.

Talking about who’s going to be the 3rd string linebacker, #5 wide-out or 4th running back just isn’t that intoxicating to me. And watching some kid from Lee’s McRae College intercept a pass in practice and spending 20 minutes talking about the 3% chance he has of making the team isn’t interesting.  Why?  Because he’s NOT going to be on the team when the games matter.

The Orioles, however, have a lot going on.  The team stinks (again) and their longest serving player just pistol-whipped the manager in front of the media.  They have a handful of young, promising pitchers on display and each of their starts is extremely noteworthy because with each outing, we just might be getting closer to actually having a decent team for the first time since Clinton was President.  And even though they lose a lot, they generally do it in some kind of engaging manner, either by blowing an early lead, running themselves into two or three outs on the basepaths or going through the motions for a weekend when they appear as if they’re on the verge of a complete meltdown. 

Oh, and they occasionally win 3 out of 5 and a few of their young players shine just enough that we can’t help but get excited about their prospects for the future.  

When you haven’t had a meaningful baseball game in your city since October of 1997, winning 3 out of 5 is akin to making the post-season.  

So, for the time being, I find the Orioles to be fascinating.  Make no mistake about it, this IS a football city still and the Ravens are clearly light years ahead in terms of fan enthusiasm and community love.  I’m not about to suggest that the Orioles are more important than the Ravens, because they’re not.  And that’s not my opinion, it’s a statistical and cosmetic fact.  70,000 people attending 10 football games a year tell me I’m right.  And so do 13,000 people in the baseball stadium 50 games a year. The Orioles have alienated more fans in this decade than the Ravens will draw in 2009.  Don’t let the silly commercials and marketing slogans fool you.  This isn’t Birdland.  This is Ravenstown.  

But until the football games really matter – and that’s September 13 at home vs. KC for those of you salivating for a game that means something – not much that goes on in August with John Harbaugh’s team is more important than, say, Brian Matusz’s first career start or the development of Chris Tillman and Nolan Reimold.  We KNOW the Ravens are going to be good.  We’re not sure when the Orioles are going to be good again, but it’s fun, and good radio, to talk about when it might happen and the how’s and why’s of their day-to-day efforts to climb back to respectability.  

It’s been a long time since the Orioles were topical in August.  Obviously, it would be great if the reason they were on the radar screen would be because of their place in the standings, but that’s just not the way it is right now.  

So, you take what you can get — and right now, the O’s are interesting because they have players with a future who might be part of a return to the baseball glory years so many of us in town long for and hope to see again in our lifetime.  If they DO get good again, we’ll have a spring and summer that will take many of us back to our youth.  If they continue to stumble and bumble their way to the AL East cellar, we’ll point out their mistakes and rattle their cage until they win again.  Of course, that’s what we’ve done at WNST for the last few years — and the result?  We’ve been blackballed by the organization.  You know what they say…the truth hurts.

This Orioles vs. Ravens debate is all about interesting subject matter and interesting radio and web content. 

The Ravens will be interesting for 16 weeks (plus playoffs) starting in five weeks or so.  

The Orioles haven’t been interesting since 1997. 

But they’re still more compelling than the Ravens — for now.

Sorry Ed.

That’s not a low blow…just a fact.