Baltimore Orioles: Conflict of interest

Back in February I mentioned in this column that the Baltimore Orioles would be finding themselves in a bit of a quagmire on September 5th. On that Thursday night, the NFL season should open with a prime time game featuring the defending Super Bowl champions. However the O’s are scheduled to play the first game of four against the Chicago White Sox that night at Camden Yards. In that February 6th column, I advocated the Orioles finding some way to alter their schedule so that the Ravens could have their moment in the sun. There’s no doubt that they earned it. However is that really the right thing to do…for the Orioles?

On Monday this turned into a quasi-national debate when the NFL (note: the NFL, not the Ravens) announced that they wouldn’t consider moving the date of the game to Wednesday September 4th due to the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashana. Furthermore, they also said that they were considering potentially having to feature the Ravens as the road team in that game if no settlement was reached. Make no mistake about it folks…this is a PR stunt on the part of the NFL. They’re trying to shame the Orioles into relenting on the date so that they can get their way. With all due respect to the Jewish religion, the NFL seemed to have no issue opening on Rosh Hashana last year. Furthermore they routinely play on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day without any regard to Christian beliefs. (For the NFL to throw Rosh Hashana out there as an excuse is in fact borderline disrespectful to Jewish people.) Basically it’s Thursday night, and apparently it’s up to the Orioles and MLB if it’s in Baltimore or not.

Courtesy of the Baltimore Sun

The NFL knows that the majority of people are probably going to be on their side because…they’re the NFL. Furthermore, even though the Orioles are birds of a different feather as opposed to what they were for 14 years, they also know that Peter Angelos is a less-than-popular person in Baltimore. So all people are hearing is that unless the Orioles (insert Peter Angelos)  relents, the NFL (who’s the voice of justice as opposed to Angelos’ ill) will have their hand forced to schedule the game elsewhere. The Orioles aren’t commenting publically on this, which of course is causing more people to take the NFL’s side so far as I can see from reading and listening to people around the area.

Again, I kind of advocated getting a compromise done back in February for the good of both sides. However there are other things involved here. In order for a game time to be changed by more than 30 minutes, both teams (in this case the Orioles and the White Sox) would need to agree, as would the MLBPA. Good luck with that. Perhaps more importantly, both teams involved play games in other cities the night before. (The O’s play at Cleveland and Chicago at NY, both at 7 PM.) That means that assuming both games end at normal times, neither team will be getting into Baltimore until well after midnight (nevermind what happens if extra innings or a rain delay are involved). So to ask these teams to agree to play an afternoon game would be asking a lot. Combine all of that with the fact that one or both teams might be in a pennant race at that point, and you can understand why it would be such a huge sacrifice. And even if both teams agreed to it, odds are the MLBPA would step in and say that the late games combined with the travel and quick turnaround is not condusive for their players’ health, safety, etc. (Certainly player safety is something that the NFL wouldn’t want to jeapordize, right?)

However again, the NFL is backing the Orioles into a corner by saying that the Baltimore fans could lose the game that the Ravens earned. That’s something that should not sit well with Baltimore fans. That said, if I were the Orioles I’d simply state that the game with Chicago will be played as scheduled. This is the NFL’s problem, not the Orioles’. Furthermore and once again, for them to use Rosh Hashana as an excuse is borderline shameful. I highly doubt that the Ravens’ coaches and players, or the Baltimore fans will care if the game is Wednesday or Thursday. Their attitude is going to be “tell us when to show up and we’ll be there.” It’s the NFL that insists that it has to be Thursday, without any regard to at who’s expense it comes (because Thursday is considered a bigger ratings night for TV than Wednesday).

Again folks, this is a power grab. The NFL thinks that they can impose their will on anyone, and I say that as both a baseball writer and a huge NFL fan. In fact, the Orioles and MLB should be applauded by reasonable people nationwide for sticking to their guns and not allowing someone else to impose their will. I suspect that if the NFL decides to make the Ravens the road team in the game, there will be a group that blames the Orioles 100% (even given that it’s not really their decision). If not for the baseball game the Ravens would get their home game, right? No, that’s not even close to being true. If not for the NFL’s unwillingness to work with an event that was already scheduled at that site, the Ravens would have gotten their home game. With all of this said, I applaud both the Orioles and MLB for something else in this mess. The NFL has decided to take to the media to throw mud on the Orioles and MLB for “causing this situation.” The Orioles and MLB are remaining silent on the matter as opposed to joining in the fray. To me, that’s standing above acting like a child that doesn’t get their way. Ultimately, this is an NFL problem…the NFL needs to find a solution, not MLB.

Tags: Baltimore Orioles Peter Angelos

  • Madison Levin-Epstein

    The games at 1 PM(as well as the 4 PM mountain/west coast games) were largely unaffected. I feel that’s what keeps getting misrepresented in all of this. Jewish holidays begin and end at sundown. In fact this game got moved for this reason (

    Also, teams with large Jewish fanbases and/or owners (Dolphins, Giants, Jets, Ravens, Redskins, etc) will typically ask the NFL not to play at home that day and if they do play at a time where there’s little conflict with holiday.

    In terms of the Christmas argument, whenever it falls on a Sunday, the NFL plays almost all their games on Saturday (and during the day – not sure if that’s better than night, but just pointing that out). They have usually one game that is actually on the Christmas and that’s at night.
    I guess the big difference between major Jewish holidays and major Christian holidays is this country is predominantly Christian. Juadaism is more prominent in some areas than others. Places like Kansas City and Green Bay are not going to be as affected as Miami and Baltimore.

    • Domenic Vadala

      Actually Christian holidays follow the same pattern in that they begin and end at sundown, as in the ancient Roman traditions that was considered “the day.” However the real point here is that the NFL has had no issue playing on holidays such as Rosh Hashana or Yom Kippur in the past, as recently as last season. This is obviously a ploy to get their way, and that’s something that should not sit well with any religious Americans (myself included as a Catholic). Let’s put it this way; out of context, saying you don’t want to play on Rosh Hashana might well be a legitimate point (if not for them having done it before). But the point still is that the onus is still on the NFL to work around the Orioles/MLB given their previously scheduled event. If the NFL cares so much about Rosh Hashana and they want to give the Ravens the home game they earned, they should do it on Tuesday. Either that, or if they’re so bent on having one Baltimore team in the afternoon and the other at night, let the Ravens play at 1 PM on Saturday afternoon. None of those ideas is acceptable to the NFL and Roger Goodell, because “gosh darn it, the game has to be Thursday night and that’s all there is to it.” The sad thing is that with the goodwill built up between the franchises in the recent past, I think the Orioles might have been willing to try to get the other entities involved to come to a mutually beneficial agreement. However with Goodell coming out in the media the way he did the other day, I think the incentive to help out is probably gone. Thanks for reading!

      • Madison Levin-Epstein

        Well clearly I’m not a religious scholar. Your explanation is the reason the NFL doesn’t generally play on Christmas Eve night and during the day on Christmas but will play at night on the holiday?

        I think what your missing though is the NFL tries NOT to play in heavily Jewish markets on the Jewish high holy days. And they’ve moved games in the past that have conflicted like the Dolphins game I linked. If it was Green Bay that had won the SB, I doubt there be a conflict since there isn’t much of a Jewish population there. Obviously like everything else, they do it for business reasons. The same reason they play NBA games on Christmas, those generally get the highest regular season ratings.
        The answer is simple to what you are saying why the NFL doesn’t want to play on Tuesday night — the ratings aren’t as good as Wednesday. It’s a unique case since the NFL has for the last decade opened with the home team. If this was your typical game, the solution would be easy — schedule the Ravens at home another week.
        Ravens aren’t playing on Saturday 1 PM, pretty sure they can’t with their anti-trust exemption so not to conflict with college football.
        FYI, I completely agree with you on the parity of Christmas/major Jewish holidays. If you are going to play on Christmas, Jewish high holy days are fair game.

        • Domenic Vadala

          They may not have done it last year or the year before, but in the past the NFL’s played on Christmas Eve night and during the day or Christmas. But they’ve also played on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur in the past. In this case Rosh Hashana makes it a very convenient discussion for them. If you look at the schedule the Orioles are home that entire weekend and into the next week, so quite frankly if the Ravens are going to open at home it would either have to be Tuesday, Wednesday, or Sunday nights. The Ravens/NFL give the Orioles/MLB dates they’d like to hold whereby the Orioles would be out of town, and they didn’t “protect” these dates so MLB scheduled them. Ultimately it wouldn’t surprise me if the next time the lease comes up the MSA put a clause in both contracts with veto power if a conflict like this comes up again.