(pic taken from Summer Of Dreams)
The overachieving Orioles beat the White Sox today, 5-3, in front of ten thousand or so witnesses at Camden Yards earlier. The Baltimore Sun’s Peter Schmuck is quick to point out preparations for the Grand Prix Of Baltimore have created traffic issues in the neighborhood, but that aside, “the tiny crowds are just another symptom of a fan malaise that is going to take more than one exciting season to cure.”
Even though the Orioles have raised their national stature and are on track to have their first winning season since 1997, they obviously have a lot more work to do to get fans back in the habit of coming to the ballpark. Getting to the playoffs for the first time in this century would help a lot, but it might take another year or more of winning baseball to put a big dent in the hard-earned cynicism of Birdland’s silent majority.
If the Orioles continue to win, they will most certainly come, but never in the numbers that passed through the turnstiles of the ballpark when it was still an architectural revelation in the late 1990s. The opening of M&T Bank Stadium took a lot of entertainment revenue out of the market, and the arrival of the Nationals drew away a significant number of Washington area O’s fans. And, with the way the Orioles played over the past 14 years, it wasn’t too hard to convince them to go elsewhere.