‘BALTIMORE’ returns to The Orioles tomorrow

November 11, 2008 | Nestor Aparicio

So the Orioles are throwing another free party tomorrow that most people in Baltimore won’t know about or care to attend. The team has been throwing 81 actual paid game events every year for a decade that get ignored by most of the metropolis so it’s hard to believe that there will be a mob scene at the Inner Harbor when the team officially “fixes” its ties to its own home town by restoring the word BALTIMORE to its road jerseys.

In my opinion, they ought to concentrate on fixing the team, which went 5-26 to end the 2008 season.

But nonetheless, the word ‘BALTIMORE’ will return to the team’s road jerseys just in time for your holiday shopping. Even when they finally do the “right” thing it’s thinly veiled as another mad dash for more money. (FYI: Looks like the jerseys will retail for about $80 if mlb.com’s current store is any indication.)

So, what will the “Baltimore on the road jerseys” look like?

Will they be taupe? Or sand? Or eggshell? Or retro?

Or just…well, gray?

Will it be in script? In block letters? Fat? Skinny?

Black? Orange?

Horizontal or vertical?

Will they do some hideous version of the city’s name (see Toronto’s ugly road uniforms)?

Will they somehow screw this up by involving a bunch of Madison Avenue crooks instead of simply just restoring what Brooks Robinson and Jim Palmer wore back in our parents’ heyday in the 1960’s?

Every “leak” we’ve gotten out of The Warehouse (and they’ve been kinda numerous, actually) tell us to expect it to be quite understated. They’re expected to simply take the same jerseys they’ve been wearing for a few years with the exact same font and script and change the words from ‘Orioles’ to ‘Baltimore.’

A change they could’ve – and should’ve – made years ago and one that easily could’ve been a two-minute decision has, in the new Orioles Way, taken years or grumbling, foot-dragging and nonsense.

So, why all of the hubbub now for ‘Baltimore on the road jerseys’?

Our Drew Forrester has written tomes about why the word “Baltimore” is a substantial change of pace for the Angelos organization. This family has held the team hostage from its rightful owners – the fans – for almost 16 years now. You can only imagine the behind the scenes hand-wringing over the size of the new logo, the colors and the font. It’s taken them years to simply decide on whether to go through with this or not, even when it was apparent years ago that most D.C. people had long since given up on being Orioles fans and no one would be offended by the word “Baltimore” being associated with the Orioles.

The Orioles are a regional team that doesn’t even have a region anymore. They can’t even sell $1 tickets to Baltimoreans (although they tried two months ago).

In the end, I expect this entire “event” to be completely underwhelming.

We were going to make a big deal about it and all try to run to the Inner Harbor in our Free The Birds gear, but what’s the point? They’re going to have a hard time getting what’s left of their own hardcore fan base to take the day off and roll downtown to see what amounts to a pathetic stab at authenticity and a thinly-disguised “we care about you Ball-mer” pseudo marketing message.

Look, we’ve all had opportunities to buy black and orange shirts with the word “Baltimore” on them over the years. It’s kinda like the white-panel cartoon bird hat. The team doesn’t wear them anymore (although they should) but I can buy one for $10 and sport it and remember the good ole’ days of Rick Dempsey and Ken Singleton every time I put it on.

Nothing that happens tomorrow will change their fate on the field next season if they don’t take some of the millions of dollars they’re stealing from the public via their Wayne’s World television network and invest it back into the team and the community. And nothing that happens tomorrow will affect the franchise’s ability to recruit this community back to caring and living, eating, breathing and sleeping Orioles baseball.

And using the word “Baltimore” as a publicity stunt – and one that might not draw a hundred people tomorrow at lunchtime on a cold day in downtown Baltimore – leaves me kinda chilly as well.

And in the end, does it make you proud to wear a shirt that says “Baltimore” on it when the team has been nothing short of a civic disgrace in virtually every area since 1998?

The word “Baltimore” is nice. But, really, the pride in wearing the jersey comes when the team on the field and the organization behind it stands for something that we’re all proud of and want to participate in and energize with the passion of our fan base.

Until then, as Jerry Seinfeld once said, it’s just laundry.

WNST and wnsTV will be on the scene with a full report tomorrow afternoon.

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