Going back to ‘Baltimore’s team’

May 17, 2007 | Drew Forrester

Without official confirmation from the Orioles (more on that below), I announced today on The Comcast Morning Show that the Orioles are going to wear NEW uniforms next season on the road…yes, for the first time since the early 1970’s, I have it from several sources that the word “BALTIMORE” will appear on the front of the away jerseys in 2008.

This whole story actually started about three weeks ago when a FORMER employee of the team alerted me that he/she was aware of paperwork that was being filed for 2008 that included a request to change the O’s away uniforms.  For the unitiated, teams must request a change with MLB and can only change their uniform and/or logo once every three years.  In other words, once you change it, you’re stuck it with it for at least three seasons.

Although the former employee who first gave me this information is a trustworthy sort, in the back of mind I had to remember that my info was coming from a FORMER employee of the club.  Still, I was intrigued enough to follow through with some inquiries to those who might be in the know.  I was able to get a hold of someone currently associated with the team last week and they told me the same thing – yes, the paperwork has been filed and, yes, the word “BALTIMORE” will be going back on the uniforms next season.  OK, one former employee and one person closely associated with the team – both of whom have avenues to gain this knowledge – are telling me the same thing, and they have no idea that the other has told me this information.  Now, I’m ready to bite on the hook.

Over the weekend, a “bird in a tree” (no pun intended) reached out to me and said, “It’s done.  The paperwork is in.  You’re getting your wish.  BALTIMORE is going back on the road jersey next season.”

At this point, I have three people – all independent of one another – telling me the same thing.  I’m as convinced as I can be that this is the truth but I still need someone in a high-level front office position to confirm ON THE RECORD (or off the record, even…if I trusted the person) that my information is correct.

So, on Wednesday I sent out a 7am e-mail to a high-ranking O’s official and spilled the beans.  Paraphrasing, I wrote, “I have it on very good authority that you’ve submitted the paperwork to Major League Baseball to put Baltimore back on the road jerseys.  Where do we go from here?  Do you want to confirm it and work with me on how we BOTH unveil this to the fans?  Or are you going to ignore me and act as if I don’t have the story?”

That e-mail went unanswered.  I then sent a text message to a high-ranking O’s official with the same subject matter.  That text message went unreturned.  Three hours later, I sent a follow-up text.  No reply.  Last night, one final attempt to get an OFFICIAL confirmation.  Ignored…again.

Now, before any of you say, “Drew, why would anyone official with the O’s respond to a text message you sent them after the way YOUR station has treated them?”, I provide you with this tidbit.  Last Tuesday, May 8, we had over 150 people attend the O’s/Tampa Bay as part of our “Reconnect with Baltimore Baseball Night”.  When we showed up at Edgars (there were probably 40-50 people there), two Orioles interns (I assume?) were there with boxes of Erik Bedard t-shirts and distributed them to all of the kids and parents who were part of our night at the ballpark.  I immediately sent a quick text message that read:  “That was a very classy gesture on your part.  It is much appreciated and shows me you’re trying to do the right thing.”  Within 30 seconds, I received a return text that read, “We’re glad to help.  Hope the kids have a great time tonight.”

When it’s beneficial for the team to return texts, e-mails and calls, they do.  When they don’t feel like returning a text, an e-mail or a call, they don’t.  They ignore you.  Sad, but true.

As I wrote last night when I hinted about this story, this is, “life with the Orioles in 2007.”

All they had to do was just e-mail me or text me back and say, “Drew, you’re right, but we’re asking you to NOT announce this right now.  We have a special announcement day planned to unveil this and we’ll work with you on how it all gets done.”

Had they replied to me with that type of request, I would have GLADLY backed off the story and worked with them to make sure the announcement was made in the fashion best suited for the fans and the promotional impact it will have.

Instead, when all of my e-mails and text messages get ignored and I receive NO reply at all, I start to think conspiracy-theory.  And with that, I close my eyes and I picture that sometime today around 4:20 pm, Miss Miami on WJFK “breaks” the story about the road uniforms.  Of course, she wouldn’t have done any research on the issue…in fact, not hailing from Baltimore, she has no idea at all why it’s so important to actually have “BALTIMORE” on the road jerseys, so the story isn’t even appealing to her from a fans standpoint, let alone from the angle of journalism.

Maybe they would have leaked the story to Roch Kutabko for one of his blogs at The Sun.  He’s essentially become a quasi-O’s employee based on the fact that he spends a considerable amount of time in the MASN studios and on CBS Radio.  In fact, I assume he’s getting PAID by MASN, which is fine, by the way.  I’ve got a baby boy on the way in July, so I’m starting to become very familiar with “additional income opportunities”…lol

Or maybe, just maybe, they hold this story for next Thursday’s edition of The PressBox and they allow Stan Charles to splash the big news on the front of his weekly publication.

In all three of those circumstances, WNST listeners and fans of the Orioles lose.

So I decided today that I wouldn’t let that happen.

Putting Baltimore on the road jerseys is one of the first steps this team needs to take to re-embrace the fans of Baltimore.  It is NOT going to guarantee them 20 more sell-outs next season.  It is NOT going to guarantee them that the 500,000 people who have stopped going to the games over the last 6 years are going to come back right away.  And it’s certainly, absolutely, without question NOT going to make them a 90-win team next year.

But it IS a big step in the right direction for this franchise.  They have shown time after time over the last 14 years that BALTIMORE does not matter to them.  Hell, they removed the word BALTIMORE from the team logo in 1995, what bigger example of disassociation do you need then that?

But re-storing BALTIMORE to the road jerseys is necessary.

And welcomed.