The Orioles and fan website Orioles Hangout fully engaged in an ugly, public spat is about as confusing as Heinz ketchup going to war with tomato growers or Tropicana getting into a dispute with orange growers.
It doesn’t make any sense.
That’s exactly what has happened though, as the baseball team and the uber-Orioles-can-do-no-wrong website have called a halt to their relationship in the midst of a disagreement over a reduced advertising buy by the Birds and a back-and-forth exchange that saw the Orioles Hangout head honcho disable the account of Orioles Director of Communications, Greg Bader.
As my old friend Charley Eckman would say: “It’s better than movies!”
I have to repeat it to myself to digest it all: The Orioles have now alienated the one group of fans in town who have supported them through thick and thin. When the Birds didn’t make Mark Teixeira a real offer and he headed up to New York, the apologists at OH shouted “We didn’t want that guy anyway.” When Andy MacPhail came on board, they were the ones to say, “Now we’re on the rebound!” In the winter of 2010-2011 when the Birds signed aging fossils like Vlad Guerrero and Derrek Lee, the gang at the Hangout chronicled those moves as “Reasonable and financially sound”.
The Orioles could sign Scott Erickson tomorrow and somehow, the folks at Orioles Hangout would give it a thumbs up.
Until this week’s break-up, that is.
You have to hand it to the Orioles. Nothing gets in the way of a dollar.
This, of course, is the same organization that handed Justin Duchscherer a free check for $700,000 last March. And he never pitched ONE inning for them.
According to Bader and a message he posted on OH earlier this week, the club has contributed approximately $50,000 in cash – plus other goodies and discounts – to the website over some period of (undetermined) time.
Let’s pretend it’s over the last five years.
I went to Glen Burnie High School and math wasn’t exactly my specialty, but I’ll take a stab at this one. That’s $10,000 a year, if you divide $50,000 by 5 years. (That math does work, right?)
So…here’s a club that gave a free agent pitcher $700k just to show up and smile and they’re fighting with their ace-in-the-hole fan website over $10,000 in advertising money?
Don’t worry, Orioles Hangout isn’t blameless here, and I’ll get back to that in a little while. But for now…this relationship fracture deserves more scrutiny.
One element of the scrap that had me thinking “Now you know how we feel” was the disclosure by a OH representative who claimed that e-mails and phone calls placed to the Orioles went unreturned. For years, I’ve been on the bad end of that very action, including roughly three weeks ago when I reached out to the O’s about credentials for spring training. No return e-mail. Nothing. I sent another e-mail requesting information. Again, nothing in return. So it warms my heart – in an odd way, admittedly – to see someone else get the silent treatment. It reminds me that it isn’t actually JUST me – or WNST – who gets treated unprofessionally. It’s anyone and everyone who might have a difference of opinion with the Orioles who suddenly gets cast aside.
In general, this story about a fight with Orioles Hangout is another example of why the organization in Baltimore stinks.
Fighting with the fans is unacceptable. Even if you just have to give that website a free $10,000 a year, just do it. It’s $10,000…
The Orioles just gave some 17 year old kid from Korea $550,000. Think about that. They handed a guy who doesn’t shave yet $550,000 (and they weren’t really allowed to do that, but that’s another story) but are reducing their spending with a local website dedicated to their team.
On second thought, don’t think about it. It’s that kind of stuff that drives you mad about the Orioles.
Now, in all fairness to the Orioles, they’ve been AWFULLY nice to the Orioles Hangout over the years. They’ve not only compensated them, they’ve spoon-fed them confidential information to help squelch rumors and provided them with either free or discounted tickets as a means of helping the website generate revenue and keep the site going. They’ve also allowed “Orioles Hangout” to call themselves just that, even though the team in no way controls any of the daily content or message board forums.
So, to paint the broad, fair picture, the Orioles have been more than kind to the folks at Orioles Hangout over the years.
Until this week.
(Please see next page)