Baltimore Orioles: You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby


Aug 28, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones (10) talks with manager Buck Showalter (26) prior to a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

For Orioles fans that also follow the NFL, before 2012 the start of the football season brought a sweet relief.

It signified the end of of the baseball season that had been slowly dragging to a disappointing conclusion since April. It gave us a distraction from the losses, the speculation about who would be the next manager, and the conjecture regarding what it would actually take to turn Baltimore’s beleaguered baseball franchise around.

The Orioles didn’t finish above .500 from 1998 to 2011. The team shuffled through six managers in that time frame, none of whom lasted more than three years until Buck Showalter. The revolving door took in and spit out the likes of Ray Miller, Mike Hargrove, Lee Mazzilli, Sam Perlozzo, and Dave Trembley.

Baltimore was also more like a stop-over on a cross-country flight than a permanent job for several head baseball executives. Frank Wren, Syd Thrift, Jim Beattie, Jim Duquette, Mike Flanagan, and Andy MacPhail all held the Orioles’ head job during the 13-year struggle.

The instability bred losing and fan dissatisfaction, with the team steadily trending downward in attendance (with a slight bump in 2004 and 2005) since 1997. The team reached a franchise-low since the opening of Oriole Park at Camden Yards in 2010 and 2011, drawing fewer than 1.8 million fans in each season.

But today’s Orioles are different.

Attendance has improved since 2012 along with the team’s record. With the Orioles still standing 8.5 games ahead of the New York Yankees and on-pace to win the first AL East title since 1997, today it’s pleasant, if not down-right exhilarating to think about the future of this team.

We no longer need the distraction of football. For some, today’s NFL games will be an added bonus to what has been an incredible sports year already.

Here’s hoping that your NFL team wins today, but if not, at least there’s the Orioles. For too long, it was the other way around.