On a side note, I heard something interesting on the radio prior to Tuesday night’s Baltimore Orioles game. I was flipping channel’s, and I heard MASN analyst Phil Wood hosting a live call-in program during a rain delay at that evening’s Washington Nationals’ game. First off, let me preface this by saying that I respect Phil Wood, and he’s one of the most knowledgeable baseball people in the Baltimore/Washington area. Anyone that’s every listened to him on the radio or seen him on television knows that he has a deep love and respect for the game, it’s storied past, etc. He’s cut from the same cloth as Baltimore’s Tom Davis; both of them have been around a long time and are synonymous with local baseball.
On this night it was fairly obvious that Wood was trying to fill time during a rain delay, and I’m very sympathetic to that type of thing. You never really know when a storm is going to spring up, and it kind of catches everyone (including radio programmers) off guard. However when I turned on the game I heard Wood talking about how this season really shows the vitality of the Washington fan base in terms of the fans showing up to see a team that’s struggled mightily all season long. Wood went on to say that it was almost the opposite effect in Baltimore, where the Orioles have only averaged in the 26K range for attendance this year.
First off let’s be honest; Washington’s attendance (which Wood stated was averaging in the 33K range) is based squarely off of their playoff run last year. They claimed that their season ticket subscriptions sky rocketed last off season, so I would submit that many of those tickets were already sold. (It’s fair to say that some are walk up sales as well.) However I just found it interesting that Wood opted to call out the Orioles and the Oriole fan base. Anyone that lives in this region knows that there’s tension between the two franchises, however…is it really worth bringing the Orioles into that discussion?
I do believe that most people would agree that there are a lot of intangibles that go into attendance, weather being one of them. What’s going on in the community is another; remember last year’s series against the ChiSox in the heat of the pennant race that drew 10K fans per game? Many in the national media wanted to jump on the Baltimore fan base for that, however what everyone failed to mention was that the city was preparing for the Baltimore Gran Prix at the time. There were street closures and traffic snarl ups that never seemed to finish in the downtown area, forcing many people to opt not to attend the games.
With that said, I just felt that it was unnecessary for the Orioles and indirectly the Orioles fans to be brought into a discussion into which they had no business being a part. Granted piling on the Orioles is something to which Nationals fans will probably always be ready to do, but I’m not sure that was the time or place. It’s also worth saying that the per capita income in the DC region is more than it is in Baltimore. That makes a difference in the sense that people have more expendable income to spend on going to games. Not to mention lobbyists and corporations that own tickets at Nationals Park; Camden Yards crowds are generally blue collar.
Ultimately I feel that the cities’ attendance are mutually exclusive. MLB goes to great lengths to schedule home dates for both teams at different times so as to prop up both teams’ attendances. I suppose that people are free to think what they’re going to think about either side, but I just felt that it was in somewhat poor taste for Phil Wood to bring that up given that the only thing it stood to do was rile up another fan base that already seems to invent reasons to hate on the Orioles.