As I was sampling Starbucks’ new blonde roast yesterday it came to my attention that Orioles’ second baseman Brian Roberts would not be attending next Saturday’s Oriole FanFest due to his concussion(s). In gauging the response of Oriole fans on twitter and on message boards, I’d say that the majority of the people seem to be leaning in the direction that this is a bit weak on Roberts’ part. FanFest isn’t really something that takes a toll on the body of an athlete, or on anyone involved. As I’ll discuss next week in the lead up to FanFest, it’s kind of a carnival atmosphere combined with a meet-and-greet with players and coaches. In effect, it’s the pomp and circumstance involved in going to an Oriole game without the actual game.
At first they just said that he wouldn’t be attending the event. However later on in the day we found out that his absence would be the result of doctor’s orders. On the advice of Dr. Michael Collins (a concussion specialist), Roberts will not attend FanFest due to the fact that noise and bright lights can negatively affect concussion victims. Here’s the thing; I’m never going to criticize someone for heeding the suggestion of a doctor. Furthermore, I think that the medical field has a pretty firm grasp on many things with regard to the human body and how it reacts in various situations. The exception to this is the brain; there’s so much we just don’t know. Brian Roberts still has to live the rest of his life after baseball, and in fairness to him I have no issue with him listening to his doctors and erring on the side of caution.
Having said this, I also respect the opposing viewpoint which is that Roberts has played a total of 98 games over the past two seasons with back problems and now concussions. The Orioles are on the hook for the remainder of his contract, and in the eyes of some his appearance at an event such as FanFest is the very least he can do. In fact, asking a question such as if Roberts can’t participate in FanFest how’s he supposed to play baseball? might be legitimate. Furthermore, the Orioles charge fans admission to FanFest, as well as for the right to stand in autograph lines. (I have no issue with people having to pay $10 to get into FanFest, however paying to get autographs is another story – although I will say that the money goes to charity.) The lines involving Brian Roberts are sold out; should the O’s not offer those fans something? Perhaps a gift card for merchandise, or something like that?
Here’s the other thing…this is the first FanFest Roberts has missed since he’s been on the Orioles. Having attended a few of them in the past (and I’ll be there next week as well), I know that it’s an event that means a lot to him. As well it should, because it’s an Oriole tradition and it means a lot to the fans of Baltimore. However I think that most reasonable people would rather have Roberts be on the field for Opening Day rather than at FanFest. That point in itself is very much in doubt as well, however you get the idea. While it is a disappointment, I would hope that most people would give Roberts somewhat of a pass on this given the nature of concussions. However we’re all entitled to our opinions.
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