I receive plenty of ridiculous messages via Facebook, Twitter, email, text, phone and here at WNST.net every week. I have a soft spot in my heart for those many messages and those who send them.
On Sunday, one of the more ridiculous messages I’ve seen was brought to my attention on Twitter.
“bet ur pissed Os are 3-0 and ur boycott isnt working”
I won’t say who sent me the note because I have no idea if they’re an actual listener/reader or just a troll who was sent my way during my brief spat with Baltimore Orioles OF Adam Jones last week. There’s no particular reason to allow this person any attention anyway.
The statement here is so ridiculous that I will need a minute to address it. I’ll start with the notion that I’d be “pissed” about the O’s starting the season with a sweep of the Minnesota Twins. The note implies one of two things-either I’m not a fan of the Birds at all or I’m a fan who for some reason doesn’t want to see them win.
I’ll start with the notion that I’m somehow “not an Orioles fan”. Here’s a picture from Chase Field in 2007 when the Orioles visited the Arizona Diamondbacks and I was working at The Fan 1060 (KDUS) in Phoenix…
I looked almost exactly like that all weekend. I could probably post about 1,000 more pictures here-but you can check my personal Facebook page for your own proof. As Nestor Aparicio knows all too well, somehow asking for a team to get better translates into “not a fan” in the minds of folks who likely also believe their favorite band WANTS to be known as a sellout. I’m a Baltimore Orioles fan, plain and simple.
The next thought would be that I for some reason don’t want the team to win. This is an all-too-often misconception related to WNST’s “Free The Birds” campaign that I have openly supported since its’ inception in 2006. I’d like to come back to this in a second.
The final part of the statement “your boycott isn’t working” reflects an absolute lack of knowledge about “Free The Birds” in general. To some, it is incomprehensible that I can both believe a current regime is incapable of creating a quality product but yet appreciate the product when it shows to be of quality.
Before heading in to see the Birds open the season against the Twinkies Friday at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, I wandered across Pratt Street to chat with fellow fans at Luna Del Sea. I had a great time hanging out, talking baseball and promoting FTB. Two listeners in particular approached me to say “thank you” for defending those who believe in our cry (and also the cries of groups like “Occupy Eutaw Street”) on my show last Thursday. I engaged in a great back and forth in which I reiterated a statement that I feel must be repeated.
“Free The Birds to me has only ever been about one thing-making the team better. It’s not anything personal about players, managers, general managers or even (wait for it) owners. If the Orioles can get better and baseball can become relevant in Charm City again with Peter Angelos as owner I will owe a debt of gratitude to the man. I just don’t really believe it will happen.”
Free The Birds isn’t a “boycott”. Free The Birds is ABSOLUTELY not a statement that we don’t support the Baltimore Orioles when they take the field. Those misconceptions will exist in the minds of some forever, but it won’t make them true. Free The Birds (for me) is simply a belief and statement that losing is NOT okay.
That concept alone is apparently not even enough for all to agree. That’s fine. Not every fan has to demand quality from the entity they support. The fact that Bon Jovi has managed to sell plenty of concert tickets over the course of the last decade is living proof of that.
The fact is, I want quality from the Baltimore Orioles and I don’t believe it will happen with Peter Angelos as owner. But my belief/expectation will never be cause for me to “hope” or “root” against such an occurrence. As many of you are aware, I don’t pick the Baltimore Ravens to win every football game they play. There hasn’t been one time in my life however that I wasn’t rooting for them to show me just how little I know.
I root against my own belief that the Orioles will fail to succeed under the control of Peter Angelos. I OPENLY root against it.
Like many years during what I’ve called “The Rock Bottom Era” here in Baltimore, the Birds got off to a hot start this weekend. Pitchers Jake Arrieta, Tommy Hunter and Jason Hammel combined to allow ONE run over 22 innings pitched. That number seems so impossible I’ve actually quadruple-checked it.
After an Opening Day sellout, another crowd of 30,000 plus took in Saturday night’s game (there was even a buzz about it at Power Plant Live as I was leaving the Alabama Shakes show at Rams Head Live). Sunday’s crowd looked all too “Baltimorean”, but the Easter holiday clearly had something to do with it.
(Oh and I didn’t even mention the awesomeness of the orange uniforms Saturday night. The last time I’ve wanted an article of clothing so badly was the first time Stone Cold Steve Austin donned a knee brace.)
It was an awesome weekend that left the city buzzing. It makes Monday a happier day to be in the state of Maryland than it would have been otherwise.
It doesn’t mean things have changed with the Orioles organization. It doesn’t mean the Birds will be 6-0 when the New York Yankees leave town. It absolutely doesn’t mean the AL East should be on notice. It means we’ve had way more fun as fans for three days than we would have otherwise.
Of course, maybe I’m wrong.
Maybe this weekend marked an official turnaround for the Orioles. Maybe the excitement of eliminating the Boston Red Sox last September truly carried over and this type of baseball will be a reality for the Birds all season.
Maybe the Orioles truly are better despite an offseason that made us believe they might be worse.
Let me repeat that. Maybe this weekend was a sign that the Orioles really are better. I don’t believe it, but I’d love to be wrong.
If they are, Free The Birds is a success. This is all we’ve ever wanted.