O’s road jersey update – please say it ain’t so…

May 30, 2007 | Drew Forrester

So late last week, within two days of one another, my “birds in the tree” both informed me the Orioles are still planning on sporting new away uniforms in 2008 – with the word “BALTIMORE” splashed across the front for the first time since 1974.

These are the same two birds – along with a 3rd very astute bird – who told me two weeks ago that the club had petitioned the league for the uniform change in 2008, only to be soundly refuted by O’s Communications Director Greg Bader.  OK, maybe it wasn’t soundly refuted, since Bader merely said “no decision has been made” instead of “we are absolutely NOT changing the away uniforms in 2008” but sources within the organization later told Roch Kubatko of The Sun that no new uniforms were in the works for ’08 and that a decision HAS been made to that affect.

I really hadn’t given the issue any more thought until mid-week last week when one of my little birdies called and said, “You know, the deadline is May 31…at some point late next week, they absolutely have to address this issue and say one way or the other, for the record what they’re doing with the away jersey next year.”  Well, as we’ve all seen over the last few years, the team doesn’t have to do anything…so while I appreciate my birdie’s detective work, I have to caution him/her that the ballclub’s position is usually evasive and dodgy.  But my nesting little bird is right.  With the deadline rapidly approaching, the time is running out on the ballclub’s silent act.  They can, of course, just offer a “no comment” on the matter.  That would be par for the course for the way they treat the fans these days, electing to keep them in the dark rather than explain their reasoning no matter what the decision.

So, when I got a second call on Friday from another one of my team-associates, my interest was again peaked.  Here’s what birdie #2 told me:  “They’re just going to wait until the winter to announce this…they’re waiting on approval from the league office, which might not come until mid-summer and then they can drag it out another 90 days if they want…which they’ll probably do…since it gives them plenty of time to make people forget about the fact that back in May they confessed no changes were planned.”

I was planning to again try and contact the team this week and see if they would be willing to give something definitive ON THE RECORD.  By definitive, I don’t mean this:  “no decision has been made”.  I mean, once May 31 arrives, it would be nice to hear/read a statement that once and for all clarifies what they plan on doing next season about the road jersey issue.

Now, it seems like I might not need to contact them after all.

A new feathered friend flew into the coop late yesterday and dropped something into my lap that probably won’t sit well with a lot of you.  This new birdie knows a lot about the O’s.  He knows people in high places.  He knows people who are perched right up near the King Bird himself.  And my new friend-of-information tells me that certain members of the organization have VERY recently been told by King Bird to rescind the away jersey request with MLB “as long as WNST continues to campaign for it.”

I laughed when my newest bird-in-a-tree told me that.  “Come on, you’re not serious, right?,” I said.  My birdie chirped back:  “Oh, yes, I’m serious, this is exactly what people in the warehouse have been told.  ‘As long as that radio station is poised to stake claim to winning this away jersey fight, we’ll make NO changes’…”

Now I have NO idea what to believe anymore.

Can an organization possibly be that viperish?  I mean, honestly, would a half-billion dollar enterprise actually NOT do the right thing because a select few at an “unimportant” local radio station have campaigned for them to do the right thing?

Say it ain’t so.

For the record, I’m certainly not looking to stake claim to any kind of responsibility for the return of BALTIMORE to the away jersey if it ever happens.  You will never hear me say anything except, “Finally…they’ve listened to the fans and given them what they want.” If, for whatever bizarre reason, they’re worried about WNST taking credit for it, they’re more paranoid than even I think they are.  We are all fans, just like each of you reading this.  We just want the team to embrace us again…it’s been so long since they’ve done that…we’d just be thrilled to get a community-hug from the franchise.

But if they’re not going to change the away uniforms in 2008 because it’s something WNST has been out-spoken about, that’s a travesty.  Bob Haynie has talked about it for a long time.  He’d like to see “BALTIMORE” on the away jerseys.  Is he a villain because of that?  I don’t think so.  He’s a Baltimore guy, like me – and you, probably – who misses that connection with HIS team…the team he grew up with.  And guys like me, Bob Haynie and you – people who have supported the club with their hard earned money over the years – are entitled to feel like the club listens to them once every 14 years.

Please understand something – I’m not 100% sure this is true.  My new feathered-friend is not like my other birdie-friends who have earned their wings over time.  Just a month ago, one of those birdies called me and said, “Joe Foss quit yesterday.”  The following day, we announced that news and birdie #1 earned a higher perch in my house because of that rock-solid information.

So my newest birdie-with-a-mouth is unproven, yet he comes from a very good bird family.  He/she knows people who know the King Bird.  And that, I know for sure, because I’ve seen him/her in the company of King Bird’s staff on numerous occasions.

But if this news IS true – that plans were/are in the works for a uniform change in ’08 and the King has shut it down because it’s a change supported/endorsed by WNST Radio, where does that leave Baltimore baseball fans?

Had I known we were going to be engaged in a high-level spite-war, I would have long ago campaigned for the uniforms to remain exactly the same as they are – “Don’t you dare put BALTIMORE on those shirts, this is the region’s team and don’t any of you forget it.”  How would that have worked out in the long run?  Should that have been our stance at WNST?

If it plays out that sometime late this week or early next week that this information IS true and BALTIMORE will not be returning to its rightful place on the front of the uniforms, I wonder how the club will handle the distribution of that information?

We’ll wait to hear from them.  Obviously, they’re never going to author a response on this to us at WNST.  Let’s hope sometime in the next week or so, they step forward and put an end to this charade, once and for all.

Is BALTIMORE going back on the away jersey or not?

Let’s cut to the chase and find out the answer to that question.  No more “no comments”…no more “sources in the warehouse say”…no more “the club hasn’t made a decision”…no more unreturned phone calls or unreplied to e-mails.

Is BALTIMORE going back on the away jersey or not?  That’s all that matters now.

Man-up and tell us the truth.

As Tom Cruise bellowed in A Few Good Men when asked, “Do you want answers?”…

“I think we’re entitled to them.”