Baltimore Orioles: House of the Rising Sun


There’s little parallel between what’s happened in the city of Baltimore this week, the Baltimore Orioles, and the Animals’ 1964 hit, House of the Rising Sun. That song is of course about the state of things in the city of New Orleans. However the fact of the matter is that the current state of things in Baltimore has been the ruin of many a poor boy – and God I know I’m one. 

Thankfully for the people of the city and Orioles fans, the team returns to play this afternoon. The Orioles are scheduled to send Ubaldo Jimenez to the mound tonight, and he’s to be opposed by Jeff Smardzija. However the game will be played under a constant reminder of what’s happened in Baltimore, as it’s closed to the public. That means no fans; only players, umpires, league officials, and media will be in Camden Yards during the game, which starts at 2 PM. (It will be televised on MASN and aired across the Orioles’ radio network.) Needless to say, it’ll just be a bizarre scene for everyone involved. 

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Baltimore is a special place for me, specifcally for familial ties. I deeply resent the actions of the people who have aimed to destroy a place I love so much this week. However I’m also proud of how the city has started to rally together. That’s the Baltimore that I know and love. I need not remind folks that this is the city that withstood the bombardment of the Brittish during the War of 1812 – among other things. The city’s seen it’s share of strife and gotten through it; just as it will this time.

Courtesy of Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

The Orioles now find themselves in a unique position. I’m reminded of how the New Orleans Saints effectively “owned” the situation in their city following Hurricane Katrina. While they had to play games away from New Orleans for some time, the city rallied around it’s football team, and the Saints were very much the faces of the city. That’s a trend that continues to this day.

One could also draw a bit of a parallel with the Boston Red Sox in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. The Red Sox players were instrumental in lifting the city when such a thing was needed most. In “owning” that situation in a civic sense, they joined the Saints in becoming the faces of their city.

There are other examples of this, including the NFL as a whole picking up the nation after 9/11. But the fact is that the O’s are now poised to have the same uplifting effect in the city of Baltimore. The fact that the O’s will take to the field this afternoon is something that should have an effect. Granted the game will be played in front of zero people, however the fact is that the game will be played and it’ll count towards the standings.

And the same is true for this weekend’s “home series” in Tampa. (Eerily similar to the Saints “hosting” the Giants at the Meadowlands in the wake of Katrina.) Yes none of this is a perfect solution. But I would submit that we can’t be overly critical of the decision-making of MLB and the O’s in this case; this is far from a precedented situation. All parties involved did the best they could.

However I digress; the good news is that the Orioles will be on the field playing ball. That means that the games will be shown on television, heard on the radio, and thus followed in homes and bars across the region. That in and of itself brings a state of normalcy to the city, it’s people, and the situation. And that certainly played a role in ensuring that all of these games weren’t rescheduled for a later date.

So the Orioles aren’t just competing for themselves or for the standings for the foreseeable future; they’re representing the city. And we all know that it’s a great city at that. Whereas the past few days the nation has seen incredibly disturbing footage of Baltimore, now they’ll see the city through it’s Orioles. That might not sound like a lot, but in reality it is.

More importantly, watching the games will give respite to the city’s people who now find themselves in a vanquished state. Having the option of seeing the very best that Baltimore has to offer to the world competing on the field will give Orioles fans a few hours of clarity to the madness that’s befallen us. It won’t fix the burned out buildings, looted businesses, and frazzeled nerves, but seeing the O’s play will make the city’s people stronger. And perhaps that will strengthen their resolve to go on.

So mothers, tell your children…that we must never forget the past few days, nor what they’ve done to the city of Baltimore. However as I said, it’s a resilient place, that’s re-built before, and will have to do so again. But nothing is more normal and thus more American than baseball. And that’s where the O’s come in. They have the hopes and dreams of a entire community on their backs, and the fact that they’re taking the field at all means they’ve already succeeded.

The aforementioned song, House of the Rising Sun, bears little relevance to any of this. But there’s a reason why I’ve wraped this column around that motif. Everyday is a new day, and perhaps that’s an attitude that Baltimore needs to hear right now.

Keep in mind that when the sun rises, we see shades of orange on the horizon of the black night sky. This aurora, signaling that rising sun represents the coming dawn – before which the night is always darkest. And perhaps the Orioles themselves will be a part of that dawn given the role they play in the community. This folks, is the Oriole Way.

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