A few years ago we were approached about building an Orioles-centric website shaped much like our Ravens site, then called Ravens24x7.com (now RussellStreetReport.com).
The ebbs and flows of football I thought, fit our style better. Play on Sunday, critique the game for a few days and then begin looking ahead to the next game.
Baseball I believed required a different rhythm and I wasn’t sure we could be as successful.
Eventually I caved in and we built EutawStreetReport.com. We couldn’t be happier with our inaugural season and we look forward to many more.
I’m sure there are some out there who will label us “bandwagoners”, jumping on board while the Orioles are competitive. And I can’t deny that the success certainly help persuade me. The team became relevant again. After all those losing seasons, apathy crept in and I didn’t care enough.
Buck Showalter changed that for me.
I also noticed that younger fans, my son’s demographic for instance (he just turned 21), began to notice The Birds. An entire generation had never really embraced baseball because of the management style of the Angelos regime. The increasing popularity of lacrosse in the area is at least in part indebted to the mishandling of the Orioles.
Kids didn’t want to play baseball. It was slow and boring and they had no point of reference in the Major Leagues – no team to look up to and admire and aspire to emulate the way I did with Brooks, Frank, Boog, et al.
Buck changed all of that too.
So now there’s Manny, Crush, Nick and AJ. Baltimore has fallen in love again.
Yet while the affection is there and in many ways rivals that of the town’s affinity for the Ravens, following and covering a baseball team is different than a football team.
A football team plays 16 regular season games while baseball plays 162. Each game in the NFL is more meaningful. A 3 game losing streak for the Ravens could kill a season but for the Orioles, it’s just a bump in the long road.
Yet somehow, the emotions are similar. Just as we hang on to each Joe Flacco pass, we sit on edge for each Adam Jones at bat, wincing in agony with each swing and a miss after a slider in the dirt.
But should those emotions be similar?
What’s more tragic, a missed Justin Tucker field goal for the win or a blown save by Jim Johnson?
Clearly the missed field goal yet the levels of pain for each “disaster” are at least in the same ballpark. And they shouldn’t be! Each NFL team plays 90% fewer games than their MLB counterparts.
But here in Baltimore, it seems as though we’ve forgotten how to be baseball fans. We are essentially football fans rooting for a baseball team instead of being pure baseball fans. There’s a difference.
Now to those of you who are pure baseball fans, please accept my apologies. Many need to learn from you. I see your posts on our Orioles Facebook Page and you are a calming influence. And therein, at least in part, lies one of the major differences between covering the Ravens and Orioles – a major difference between football fans and baseball fans.
If Joe Flacco throws 4 interceptions in a game, we should lose our minds and demand to know what is going on and what the team will do to mend their ways. But if Matt Wieters wears the Golden Sombrero on a Monday night (as he did last night) do we call for Taylor Teagarden?
What if Wieters drives in the game winner tonight – was the short-term irrational venting justified?
Closer Jim Johnson is certainly squarely in the crosshairs of the angst of Baltimore area sports fans. Yet the more seasoned baseball fan understands and patiently waits for JJ to work out his issues knowing that he’s the best long-term solution on the roster.
They aren’t calling for Tommy Hunter or Darren O’Day or Kevin Gausman to take his spot because they understand the ebbs and flows of baseball and they realize such moves still weaken the team.
Football is different. There’s more desperation. There has to be.
It’s been said that a football season is a marathon. No it isn’t! Football is a series of sprints. BASEBALL is a marathon!
The pain you feel after a Ravens loss, lasts a week – longer if there’s a bye. It takes longer to get back on the field and redeem yourself.
In baseball, it only takes a day.
The demons tied to last night’s Orioles loss are exorcised by tonight’s victory.
The sooner fans realize that, the sooner they can more deeply appreciate what Showalter & Co is building.
This is the ebb and flow of baseball.
Relax and enjoy the tide.