The Ravens laid an egg on Friday not, not just on the field, but with the fans as well. There have been plenty of occasions over the last several years to point out the differences between the ways that the Orioles and Ravens do business, and usually it’s the Ravens who serve as the example of how to run a successful and fan friendly franchise, and the Orioles who illustrate the other side of that coin. That however doesn’t mean that the Ravens always do things right or that the Orioles always do things wrong. On Friday night, some of the pettiness that we can typically ascribe to the Orioles was on full (yet subtle) display by the Ravens.
How is it that fans who chose to make use of a ticket for which they paid full freight, fans who braved downtown traffic and paid for parking and overpriced beer and concessions, fans who had already been bilked for every dollar that the football team could have conceivably squeezed from them, were then made to pretend that out of town preseason football games were more important than the game that the Orioles were playing in Detroit? Throughout the game the scoreboard rotated through every other meaningless out of town non-football football contest, even one that had been played the previous day, but not once did the good folks in charge of the Ravens see fit to show us the score of the Orioles game.
Is this what it feels like to be a child of parents who hate each other?
The Ravens and Orioles may not have time for one another, but it’s time that they both learned that we have plenty of time, interest and passion for both. The Ravens are our team, in our city, and on Friday fans already forced to endure regular season prices for a less than compelling contest were also forced to drain whatever battery life they had in their phones in an effort to keep up with the action of our other team’s game, in a stadium by the way, that gets slightly worse cell phone reception than a concrete encased elevator shaft.
I don’t care if the Ravens and Orioles don’t like one another, I don’t care if they compete to the death with one another in an effort to squeeze every conceivable dollar this town might have earmarked for sports entertainment. I do however care when one or the other of those franchises fails to try to comprehend the mindset of their fans, fans of both teams. Most Orioles fans are Ravens fans, and most Ravens fans are Orioles fans. Even if the teams don’t like each other, they need to recognize that we like (or love) them both. Trying to pretend otherwise, or to convince us that shouldn’t be the case is beyond senseless; it’s insulting.
Maybe as the fair haired boys of the Baltimore sports scene the Ravens have forgotten about, or de-prioritized the need to understand their fans and to make their experiences with the team positive. They play in a cushy and near rent free stadium at the expense of the tax payers of this state, yet didn’t seem to think twice about closing the doors to training camp in the name of cost cutting and ease. Who cares that fans unable to pay the extortion rate prices for PSLs and season tickets looked to training camp as their only way to connect with their team first hand? If the NFL has proven anything to its fans over the last 2 off-seasons, it’s proven that it’s beholden to the bottom line and little else. Still, it felt like the Ravens were different. It felt like the Ravens and Steve Bisciotti were in tune with the pulse of their fans and made every effort to prove it. Maybe that’s no longer the case.
Were the Ravens afraid that if they showed us a baseball score we’d flock en masse to the exits, off to the nearest sports bar or home to catch what apparently was an exciting albeit frustrating episode of meaningful Orioles baseball? Would it have mattered if we did? As I mentioned, those who showed up had already been squeezed. Even those who didn’t were squeezed for the ticket price, but those who did also paid for parking and those wonderful $9 beers to boot.
Maybe it’s the $9 beers (and the boots) that really have me upset. That’s because in the 3rd quarter I had one kicked over, out of the cup holder affixed to my seat for the purpose of keeping it upright, by a SAFE Management employee. Not only did I lose that $9 beer; but was also treated extremely rudely by the man who kicked it over. He didn’t pick up the spilled can, didn’t offer to replace it, he didn’t even offer an apology. He simply kept on walking.