The Orioles announced the crowd at 9,299, which is almost laughable if you were a witness to the scene of about 1,500 who actually came down to Oriole Park at Camden Yards last night to observe the two worst teams in Major League Baseball.
Thankfully, a picture taken during the 2nd inning at 7:20 p.m. EST is worth a thousand words so here you go:
Somewhere, Claude Brochu and the folks with Montreal Expos swag in Quebec don’t feel so lonely anymore.
The Orioles have truly become the embodiment of the Montreal Expos.
We literally had more Free The Birds people back in September 2006 than there were “real Orioles fans” last night in ballpark. For the record, I’d estimate the Free The Birds crowd last night at about 75 throughout the evening at Phillips Harborplace.
It was alarming for many of the folks who don’t come downtown very often to see how desolate and deserted the downtown streets are before and after the games.
There is no traffic. There are no street vendors. There are no traffic cops. It’s like there’s no game being played at all.
Here’s a video of my evening at Camden Yards last night:
Over the last six years, since I moved downtown, I have often referred to it as a civic tragedy.
And, while the stadium and the city are empty, Peter G. Angelos and his ownership group are getting the last laugh. They’re putting tens of millions of dollars into their pockets, gutting the payroll, shedding expenses and the team is 12-27 on the field and continuing to lie, cheat attendance numbers and use their television network and media intimidation tactics as tools to feed Baltimore propaganda about the “bright future” of the organization.
So, in an effort to be brief today, I want to pose one question: What happens now?
The Orioles have been home for more than a week and still haven’t legitimately drawn 75,000 downtown – or roughly the number that one Ravens home game will draw in September.
The downtown business community refuses to speak out. The Mayor is nowhere to be found on this issue. None of the local business leaders will say a word.
Am I the ONLY person in Baltimore who thinks that the disgrace that this franchise has become should be a civic “talking point” circa 2010?
And what’s left of the once-rabid fan base is left scratching their heads every night wondering why they still care about a baseball team that has time and time again displayed that they really don’t have any regard for their customers – going as far as to punish them for a convenience fee when they actually walk up to the ballpark on a wet, cold night and want to buy a ticket to watch this garbage.
The saddest part for me is seeing the helplessness that most old-school fans have felt during this destruction of the Orioles franchise and a full civic center on summer nights, a deterioration of the local economy that goes far beyond downtown and the Inner Harbor.
I’ve opined for years on the topic. I attempted to put together a credible voice last night.
Clearly, much like the Orioles on the field, I failed miserably with Free The Birds 2010.
I hate admitting that Drew Forrester was right. But I learned my lesson last night.
No one cares about the Orioles.
It’s really “over” — this love affair between Baltimore and the Orioles.
It’s eerily similar to the situation with the Colts circa 1981. The team was awful. The owner was awful. The experience of rooting for the team was awful. The way everyone got treated was bush league.
And, ultimately, Baltimore sports fans aren’t THAT dumb – they showed their displeasure by staying away. It cost Bob Irsay money and he left for Indianapolis in March 1984.
But this is an altogether different situation. Angelos, via his sweetheart deal with MASN and MLB, is printing money that only he gets to see. Any person with a calculator can add up the profits and see that he easily made $40 million in profit last year while the team won 64 games.
Hell, having more fans at the ballpark would almost be an inconvenience at this point, a nuisance that really isn’t making him anymore money.
So, what happens now?
What will become of the Orioles?
Will anyone else ever speak out the way I have?