I find it interesting to see people’s reactions nationwide regarding major sports stories. In the Baltimore area people seem to think that teams tend to get forgotten or even disrespected. People love to point at Baltimore and talk about the “inferiority complex” and so forth. However that aside, I feel as if over time there have been sports stories that have garnered national followings to the point that people nationwide were rooting for that team, player, etc.
The 2004 Boston Red Sox are an excellent example of this. I almost felt badly for the St. Louis Cardinals (their opponent in the World Series that year), because I don’t think anyone in American outside of their fan base was rooting for them. Boston breaking the “curse of the bambino” was such a compelling story, and naturally people jumped on board. Prior to his apparent involvement in PED’s, Lance Armstrong was in that same category. When he was winning the Tour de France titles he was a great story as a result of the fact that he was a cancer survivor (and the fact that he stuck it to the French didn’t hurt either). Michael Jordan leading his team to the NBA title with a the flu and a 102 degree fever would be in that category, as would be Brett Favre having the game of his life the night after his father passed away.
So I suppose my point here is that one might submit that the Baltimore Orioles should be in this category as well. Let’s be frank; it’s up to each person what they want to like or dislike. However it’s probably worth mentioning that the plight of a franchise such as Boston was replayed over and over by certain networks. Therefore when they finally won that was a story that was already of interest. It seems to me that a story such as that of the Orioles might at least be on the radar. A franchise with such a rich history and with such great players the likes of the Robinsons, Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray, and of course the great Cal Ripken Jr that fell on hard times for 14 years…only to come out of it’s slumber in 2012 and is continuing that trend in 2013? To me that’s a great story.
Instead I feel like many folks almost overlooked the Orioles’ success in 2012, and those who did agnowledge it seemed to indicate that it was merely a fluke. Regardless of where the 2013 O’s end up, I don’t think it was a fluke. It’s merely the culmination of many things that came together at the right time. Adam Jones came to the O’s, they began drafting well (Wieters, Machado, Bundy, Gausman, et al), they got a decent manager, they aquired guys such as Chris Davis, and many other smaller things. This team has now come together as one team and one organization and is a contender.
I keep coming back to the 2004 Red Sox because I think there is a bit of a parrallel there. If the O’s keep winnng and if they keep dominating their division, I suspect we’ll start hearing more about the old Orioles again. That will only be part of the story however; then we’ll hear about how the franchise puttered along for 14 years, and how now the likes of Showalter, Jones, Davis, Markakis, Wieters, and Machado are overseeing the return to glory of that once-great team. Having said all of this, the question was whether or not fans are rooting for the O’s; if their road attendance and the number of Orioles fans in visiting ballparks is any indication, I think they’re getting their support.
The Birds open up a three-game set with Toronto tonight at Rogers Centre. Jason Hammel will take to the mound for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by knuckleballer R.A. Dickey of Toronto. The O’s have defeated Dickey twice this year already, and the key has been to get to him early and knock him out. Hammel of course missed his last start due to a flu bug that ravaged him, and the Orioles hope he shows no lingering effects or signs of rust.