As we sit here on New Year’s Eve, it’s worth mentioning that 2015 was a lot of things for the Baltimore Orioles. Many fans will say that it was a season of unfulfilled promise among other things. Others will say it was just average – a .500 season. I have a bit of a different take.
When I think of the 2015 Orioles’ season, the record will nary be the first thing in my mind. It’ll be the few days at the end of April and beginning of May which will register most. Baltimore was a community touched by 1968-like race riots in 2015, and I dare to say that few of us will ever forget those few days.
Let me preface all of this by saying that I’m not here to discuss the reasons behind why the riots happened, or to judge the guilt or innocence of any of the folks involved. I have my views on that, and in fact some of you might even be surprised as to what they are. However one thing is for certain; what befell the city of Baltimore, it’s people, and so many local business owners (yes, including Peter Angelos) was tragic.
But in all situations like that, we see good come through. And that was very much the role that the Orioles played. We saw the likes of Adam Jones playing the role of community leader and asking people to not take to the streets. We saw Buck Showalter understanding that there were reasons for the things that were happening which he couldn’t possibly understand. We saw a lot of good happening in the wreckage, symbolizing to me at least how strong the Baltimore community can be.
Two of three games against the ChiSox were postphoned, and the third was played in an afternoon matinee – famously in front of no fans. The lasting image to me will always be the throngs of fans that gathered outside the left field gates of Camden Yards watching the game from afar. Again, that’s a symbol of Baltimore, and the pride and perseverance that it has. It’s a tough old blue collar town, that keep in mind was the first place to stand up to the Brittish bombardment during the War of 1812. We saw that same resolve this past spring.
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The O’s then continued their “homestand” by relocating that weekend’s series with Tampa – to Tampa. The O’s played as the home team at Tropicana Field, and took two-of-three from the “visiting” Tampa Rays. As I said at the time, it was far from a perfect set up. From my perspective Tampa got three extra home games – even if they wore gray and didn’t have the last at-bat. However it’s tough to criticize in a scenario that unfolded minute-by-minute.
The fact that the O’s were able to play anywhere acted as just a bit of respite for the community. People were able to watch the games on television, or listen on the radio. And in a place like Baltimore that means something. It’s also worth mentioning that by the decree of owner Peter Angelos, the O’s paid all of their stadium employees, vendors, gameday staff, etc. for all six of the games that were affected. Certainly those people shouldn’t have to suffer because the games were unable to be played or were altered. That’s class.
At the end of the day, the Baltimore riots of 2015 shook this community at it’s core. However we also saw the good in this community, and that charge was led by the O’s. You notice that there’s very little baseball analysis in this “memory of the 2015 season.” And that’s how it should be. Some events rock the world, and thus overstep the game in terms of their importance. This was one of them.