Of all the days that separate the two professional sports teams in Baltimore, today is the one that stands out the most.
No games get played.
No one wins. No one loses.
No players signed. No money spent.
Today is the day that tells you everything you need to know about the Ravens — and at the same time, reminds you of what you already knew about the Orioles.
Some might also consider that today shows why one of the teams is a perennial winner and the other isn’t.
This morning at 10:00 am, the football team will hold its annual “State of the Ravens” press conference at their facility in Owings Mills. They don’t do this occasionally. They don’t do it only after a successful season. Since Steve Bisciotti assumed full control of the team, they’ve hosted this event every year a week or two after the season concludes.
It’s called, in a word, “accountability”.
The Ravens ooze it.
The Orioles need a transfusion of it.
The only person who faces the media regularly for the Orioles is Buck Showalter, and that’s typically only in pre-game or post-game form. Buck hasn’t had any sort of pre-season en-masse sitdown with the Baltimore media since he took the job and, likewise, hasn’t had a post-season presser for the media in town to pepper him with questions about the season. That said, I bet you anything you want that Showalter would gladly sit down with the media if presented the option of doing so without the natural interference provided by the stuffed suits at OPACY.
Dan Duquette hasn’t had a press conference – other than when he was hired – in…well…ummm…forever.
Repeat this to yourself at least once to completely absorb the amazing lack of responsibility on behalf of Orioles management: Dan Duquette is entering his third season with the Orioles and he’s never, once, faced the Baltimore press corps for a “bring it on” press conference where we’re all allowed to ask questions about the way the baseball franchise is run.
Go ahead, read that again. Unreal. Right?
This, of course, is in direct contrast to the Ravens, who will welcome any and all media members into their house today and allow questions to be thrown at Bisciotti, Team President Dick Cass, General Manager Ozzie Newsome and Head Coach John Harbaugh.
None of the questions will be dodged, unless some goof in the room says something like, “Yeah, this is for Ozzie. Are you guys interested in trading for Justin Blackmon of the Jaguars? He’s really good you know.” Ozzie, of course, can’t answer any question about a player currently under contract with another team. But he’ll answer any other REAL questions thrown his way today.
There’s no list of “off-limits-topics” distributed beforehand. And, unlike the Orioles, who specialize in not allowing their critics to question them, the Ravens don’t “hand-pick” who is allowed in the room and who asks questions and who doesn’t.
The Orioles are so afraid of their critics they take away their press credentials and display a picture of the suspect at the main entrance behind home plate the same way the FBI posts pictures of their Most Wanted List in post offices.
The Ravens say, “Come on in, everyone, and ask whatever you want.”
The Orioles say, “You — you, right there. You can come in. You, though, you can’t come in.”
Accountability. It’s what fuels today’s “State of the Ravens” gathering.
As long time Ravens P.R. Vice President Kevin Byrne said to me once, “We like this sort of review. We appreciate the questions and the challenges. We constantly evaluate ourselves. We’re not worried about having people ask us why we do what we do.”
After the press conference, all four of the men will routinely hang around for some “off-the-record” discussions in the event you wanted to press an issue that was touched upon during the “open” portion of the event.
Yes, it’s true. Steve Bisciotti simply stands in the corner and you ask him whatever you want. One year, I asked him, simply, “How much money did the team make this past season?” And, he stood right there and answered it.
Can you imagine asking Peter Angelos that question?
Wait — can you imagine Peter making himself AVAILABLE, first of all? Then, what if that question got posed to him? You can only imagine the result.
(Please see next page)