last December is very much public record.
But there was NO ONE — and I mean NO ONE — who did more for this city who ever wore an Orioles uniform than No. 44. And the team’s treatment of him — and the players on the team’s treatment of him — is and will always be disgraceful.
And of course, speaking of disgraceful there were the “other” guys who I never figured out –why millionaires playing a boys’ game could be so sour, so bitter, so mean-spirited, so self-absorbed and so anti-fan on a consistent basis?
I can’t tell you how many times I heard the fans referred to as “flies” over the years, which, because I’m a fan, would also give me a pause to pass judgment on how players could accept the millions of dollars they’ve made and not acknowledge that it’s the “flies” who enabled them the financial means to live quite comfortably for the rest of their lives.
And all because, like me as a little boy in Dundalk, they loved baseball, too! The difference is they were LIVING the dream that you and I didn’t have the physical ability to make a reality.
The guys like Albert Belle, Rafael Palmeiro, Scott Erickson, Sammy Sosa, Sidney Ponson, etc. were — to my knowledge — never, ever “pulled up” by management for being gruff, non-existent, distant and/or abrasive with the fans or the media.
But, again, what can you expect when the team’s policy from ownership on down is to treat the media and the fans with the evil eye or with the paranoia of withholding all information, education or passion for and about the game?
But, as many of the photos that have accompanied ALL of these stories online will attest, I’ve had some very good times, too. I’ve lived a dream, even if some elements of it have taken on a nightmarish quality.
Look at the pictures that accompany these chapters: I’m smiling in almost every one of them and I really want to use The Rally to focus on the good times I’ve had around the Orioles in spite of how their some of their players and most of their ownership and front office has treated me — and most everyone else I know — over the years.
But like the Colts in the mid 1980′s, they’re simply GONE from my life right now, and have been since May 2004.
And I KNOW that I won’t go back unless the team is sold.
And, based on what I’ve seen while I’ve watched this situation slide over the past decade — I honestly don’t expect this ownership group to ever change the way its goes about things.
I’ve watched about as much Orioles baseball in the past 28 months as I did of the Indianapolis Colts in 1985, which isn’t much. And it doesn’t appear that I’m missing a whole lot.
And as for my “Oriole Bird super soaker incident” — despite many urban myths and legends and internet rumors, it’s really ancient history to me at this point — if they didn’t see how wrong they were then and how mean they were to me and to many others with incidents over the years, then what other choice did any of us have but to stay away.
Brooks Robinson isn’t around. Cal Ripken isn’t really around. Jon Miller never looked back. Frank Robinson has been gone for more than a decade. If those guys aren’t significant, what shot do you and I have, right?
Even though I wanted to be loyal and understanding and patient, enough gets to be enough.
Everyone wants to feel appreciated and respected, especially when you know in your heart that you have the best of intentions and only want good things for the team, the players and the city.
And on the flipside, even if I were say, like Jim Hunter and on their payroll