(Originally published as a prelude to the “Free The Birds” walkout in Sept. 2006, this is Part 15 of a 19 Chapter Series on How baseball and the Orioles created WNST.net. Please follow @FreeTheBirds12 on Twitter and save April 5, 2012 for an action event and an awakening of local Orioles fans.)
This is the part in story where it all gets kinda fuzzy, these last 13 years.
And because I absolutely promised myself that I wasn’t going to get too negative about Peter Angelos is this series — we all have our reasons for wanting to participate in The Rally on Sept. 21, but I don’t feel the need to itemize and analyze everything AGAIN, after spending year after year on the radio dissecting all the whys and wherefores — I’m going to temper the tone of this chapter a bit, but there are PLENTY of reasons for the “disconnect” between the Orioles and community.
And that’s what I believe it is, a “disconnect,” because people don’t WANT to stay away from the ballpark and they don’t WANT to stay away from the Orioles or baseball because this community LOVES baseball.
I can break the bad things into a couple of categories but I think I can sum it all up in one simple statement, with a gargantuan underlying current:
“The Ravens came to town!”
I’ll just call it “The Ravens Effect.”
I’m sure this will be a controversial blanket statement in many ways, but I believe it’s at the heart of the problems with the Orioles and their perception in this community. Basically, everything the Modells heard and took to heart in what they were hearing from this community from the minute they got here in early 1996, somehow, the Angelos group lost or misinterpreted in translation.
Or resented. Or fought. Or just plain ignored.
Peter Angelos ALWAYS wanted to be the owner of the Baltimore NFL franchise — ALWAYS! He was upset when the Browns came, he “shined” Art Modell (and perhaps more importantly, Art’s wife, former Hollywood actress Pat Modell) at a function early on and, as Richard Dawson might have said: “Let’s play the feud!”
But, knowing the Modells as I do, I always thought they believed it very sad and strange, the way they were treated by the Orioles and the Angelos ownership group. But again, this ownership group has treated most everyone like manure, which is how the stadium has gotten so empty and how the community has become totally indifferent when Red Sox and Yankees fans take over the stadium as they did last week.
The Modells loved baseball, they loved community, they clearly saw themselves as the “outsiders” who just wanted peace, especially in light of the incredibly envious situation the Orioles were in. Truth be told: the Ravens were ALWAYS playing from WAAAAY behind in the beginning, in every single way imaginable — from fans to revenue to television to radio to media coverage to sponsorship money to stadium money to image to just flat-out, old-fashioned tradition.
The Ravens would never be the Colts, and the mere notion of a carpet bagging owner doing the same thing to Cleveland that was done to our community 12 years earlier was bothersome to everyone it seemed (other than me and then-governor Parris Glendening, who damn-near taunted Cleveland the day Modell showed up in the parking lot downtown). And maybe John Moag also had no conscience about it because his job wouldn’t allow it.
But that was IT.
There’s no nice way to put it: the Ravens were considered the scum of the earth by everyone