Ravens winning secret is O’s biggest shortcoming

December 30, 2008 | Drew Forrester

File this Ravens season under the category: Good things happen to good people.

It’s that simple, almost.

Steve Bisciotti – Good people.

Dick Cass – Good people.

Ozzie Newsome, Eric DeCosta, George Kokinis, Pat Moriarty – All good people.

Kevin Byrne – Good people.  His staff – good people.  So many to name, I won’t…’cuz if I leave someone out, it looks bad.  They’re all good eggs.  Hard workers.  Very professional.

John Harbaugh – Good people.  His coaching staff – all good.  Thorough.  Friendly.  Winners.

Toni Lekas (receptionist and front door greeter) – Good people.

In other words, from the top to the bottom, the Ravens are engineered by good people.

Walk through the halls of 1 Winning Drive and meet the staff members.  You’d be hard pressed to meet someone who’s not nice…and human…and willing to help.  They might have a few employees who need to eat their Nice Vitamins more often, but they’re literally few and far between.  

Larry Rosen – Good people.

Melane LeGrande – Good people.

Baker Koppleman and the ticketing people.  All good.  

Should I start rattling off the names of guys in the locker room who I deem “good people”?  It would be MUCH, MUCH easier to just tell you the few who aren’t…and perhaps I just caught them on a bad day once or twice.  In that locker room, they’re just about all good guys.  

Maybe that’s one reason why they won this year.

Good things happen to good people.

Sure, the Lions are 0-16 and “good things” aren’t happening to them — and I’m sure they have plenty of “good people” in their organization.  The Ravens had a lot of good folks in their organization last year, too, but they didn’t win.  Every team can’t win every year.  It doesn’t work that way.

But, I strongly believe that good things DO happen to good people and when I deal with people in that organization, there’s almost never even a sliver of unprofessionalism.

Even last year, when the team lost, everyone did their best to stay even-keeled and carry on as if they were winning.

I don’t agree with everything that goes on in Owings Mills, either.  

There have been some things that happened this season that I didn’t approve of (and still don’t) and I said as much on the air or wrote it at WNST.net.  Some were internal issues dealing with coach/staff access and some were player/personnel matters.

But I did my job, said/wrote what I felt was fair, and I’ve never been mistreated on any occasion.

I can’t speak for every member of the media, naturally, but from my vantage point, dealing with the Ravens and watching their daily routine only further cements in my mind how gloriously unfair the Orioles have become.  

The Orioles DO have some good people in their organization.  I know a few of them quite well.  Some, I’ve known for a long time.  They were good people when I first met them and they’re still good people. They haven’t changed.  But, for comparison sake, I can estimate that I know 20 people that work in the Ravens organization, plus a bunch of the players.  I know less than half of that number at The Warehouse and only one player is even remotely considered “contactable” – and that’s more through golf than it is baseball.  Naturally, it’s kind of hard to get to know any of the players when the team kicks you out of the stadium.  

For the uninitiated, there’s a stark difference in the way I’m treated by both of the organizations.  The Ravens welcome me and everyone else with open arms and go out of their way to be accomodating. The Orioles asked me last May not to come back in the press box and a team official offered, quote, “as far as we’re concerned, everyone at your radio station can stop talking about us and we’d be fine with that…” That’s one way to get the media on your side, I guess.

The Orioles have perfected the art of the “disembrace” (if such a word exists, which, I don’t believe it does). The Ravens have perfected the “embrace” – the Orioles have dibs on the “disembrace”.

I’m not really sure why the O’s are so mean-spirited.  For some reason, they want to fight with everyone when no one is really looking for a fight with them.  We’re all just trying to do our job(s) and figure out when they’re going to get their organization straightened out.  Occasionally, as their struggles continue, we’re forced to write or report on things in a critical manner.  That’s a no-no with the Birds.  Then, the fighting begins.

They’re not just that way to me and/or WNST.  There are countless members of the media who sing the same song I’m writing right now – “Why do they go out of their way to be so difficult?” — if I’ve heard one media member say it, I’ve heard 10 say it.  

I don’t know how it gets fixed. The simple answer might very well be this:  Be nice to people.  If they operated with that mantra in mind, a lot of the fighting might diminish.

I think if they took 30 minutes to sit down and talk to people (media) about what they like and dislike about the organization, they’d get a repair manual to follow that would bridge the gap with members of the press and, at the same time, help curry favor with people who have the power via the pen, keyboard or microphone, to make a difference in the public perception of the club. 

Believe me, there’s no one in the media who enjoys the frosty, stand-offish, uncomfortable relationship that permeates from The Warehouse when you have to call, e-mail or talk in person with certain key members of the organization.  Generally, they just don’t return your communication or inquiry, so there really isn’t a whole lot of talking that goes on with them.  I guess that’s their way of avoiding confrontation.  Oddly enough, if they tried the OTHER way – actually being human and talking to people – they might find that mechanism to be an easier way to generate positive feedback and beneficial public relations.

The Ravens use that approach and it works wonders.  There have been countless occasions when I’ve called the football team with a question about something in their organization.  Sometimes I get the reply I’m looking for and other times I’ll get the professional, “Drew, we can’t give you that information…”.  But I’ve never once NOT received a return phone call or a reply.  It’s just not the way professionals conduct business with people who are in position to help them.

And, in case you didn’t notice, I haven’t mentioned one O’s staffer by name.  I don’t need to — the group of malcontents at OPACY know who they are.  And it’s up to them to change.  

Maybe these three elements don’t have anything to do with one another but here I go with a wild-hair thought:

The Ravens are nice to people.  They win.  Their games are sold out.  

Good things happen to good people.

And it truly IS good to see the Ravens have this success in 2008.  – it’s a pleasure to witness those folks reaping the benefit of their hard work and their kind ways.  

And we all wish the Orioles would enjoy a similar amount of success in 2009.  Lord knows it would be better for everyone involved if the baseball team finally straightened themselves out and started winning and putting people back in the seats.  There would be a lot less tension in the air.  

But — you have to earn that success.

And you can’t do it being mean to people.

If you want to toss these 1300 words aside and say, “There goes Drew again, b*tching about the Orioles” go right ahead and do that.  But, I know I’m right.  

The Ravens are successful and they treat people with respect.

The Orioles won’t be successful until they start doing the same thing.

I’d wager anything on that.

And I’d win.