The Orioles Begin to Reenergize Baltimore, Horseracing…..Not So Much

June 03, 2009 | Tom Clayton



Being a fan of both the Ravens and the Orioles is a bit like being the father of Bill and Roger Clinton; one is consistently successful and makes you proud while the other has made you ashamed of being associated with them for over a decade now.  Over the last decade the Ravens have treated both the fans and media with respect while the Orioles treat people as if they have a product we can not refuse….well unfortunately for the Orioles we have shown them we can in fact refuse their product as evident by the empty stadium and general lack of interest in the team. 


For the last few years I have felt like Orioles ushers treat Orioles fans like they are the scummiest scum-bums to walk the face of the earth.  Personally I have been thrown out of more Oriole games for defending myself against Yankee and Red Sox fans then I would care to disclose.  Nothing infuriates me more than the preferential treatment New York and Boston fans get at Camden Yards, but I guess it makes sense to keep you best customers happy.  I refuse to set foot in Camden Yards when the Yankees or Red Sox are in town because much like a Lohan family reunion I know it will end in an alcohol fueled brawl that is going to need police intervention.


But with the hiring of Andy MacPhail and a new emphasis on the farm system the Orioles have begun to rebuild their fractured relationship with the people of Baltimore.  Players like Adam Jones and Brian Roberts have begun to replace the memories of Hall of Fame jerks like Albert Belle and Glen Davis.


I have seen more excitement for baseball in Baltimore over the last week then I remember in well over a decade.  Fans are flocking to the stadium and the phone lines at WNST are filled with callers who actually want to talk about……..the Orioles.  And they aren’t calling to bash ownership or complain about the product on the field; instead they have a hint of hope in their voice. 


The other sport that has really taken a hard hit locally over the last few years is horseracing.  Horseracing has become a sport much like boxing in that does a really good job of pulling in the highly coveted demographic of males eighty to dead.  Walking through Pimlico during a weekday afternoon is like navigating your way through a George Romero zombie movie.


The other major issue that is killing the horseracing industry in Maryland is Pimlico itself.  When you compare Pimlico to other sporting venues like Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium it is like putting a crack head in the middle of a George Clooney movie premiere, it doesn’t fit in and compared to who it is around it just looks sad and rundown. 


While the Orioles have done a great job of reenergizing its fan base, horseracing has done the exact opposite.  Their plan for a more family friendly midfield this year at Preakness was an economic disaster.   There is no doubt the Orioles have begun to right their sinking ship but it looks like horseracing in Maryland is sinking quicker than the Titanic.  I have no answers or solutions on how to save horseracing but it looks like it’s lifespan in Maryland is coming down the homestretch.