Baltimore Orioles: How Peter Angelos Can Bring Fans Back to Camden Yards
It's been 14 years since the Baltimore Orioles had a winning season and twice that long since they've won the World Series. Since 1997, the most hated man in Baltimore seems to be Peter Angelos.
While kudos is given to Mr. Angelos for buying his hometown Orioles in a 1993 bankruptcy court hearing, it only seem he owns the team just to say it's his and no one else's.
Orioles fans seem to be more frustrated that the front office won't cough up more money in free agency, and the only time Angelos and company react is when someone tries to take money from their wallet (i.e. the Washington Nationals).
We know Angelos, GM Andy MacPhail and the front office brass will make a bigger play of going after the free agency/trade market while trying to keep with their minor league approach of "grow the arms, buy the bats." But here are four other moves the front office can use to bring back Orioles fans to the corner of West Camden and Eutaw Street.
First Base: The Revolution Has Not Been Televised
When the Montreal Expos moved to Washington D.C and were re-christened the Nationals, O's fans felt they gained a new rival; Angelos saw it as losing money.
Since the early 1980's, the O's television market stretched from Pennsylvania to North Carolina, and the Orioles' owner saw the relocation as an abrupt takeover.
So in 2005, the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) was incorporated to broadcast select sporting events in the aforementioned territories, including Orioles and Nationals contests. While initially there was an alleged Oriole bias—the hiring of ESPN broadcaster Gary Thorne calling Oriole games being one example—that all seems to have died down.
But by 2011, with programs such as "The John Riggins Show," (a radio simulcast with the Hall of Fame Redskins running back and classic Big East games) it's seems that Orioles games—along with their pre- and postgame shows—are virtually the only Baltimore-related programs.
It would be nice to see some other Orioles broadcasting, such as more classic games or specials dealing in the lives of former Orioles players.
Second Base: Stop Raven Mad
For some reason, it seems every time the Ravens make the headlines, the O's front office somehow must feel like stealing the spotlight. While everyone knows Baltimore is a hard-nosed, blue-collar football town, there's still passion with our national pastime. Hell, Babe Ruth's house is only a few blocks away from the ballpark.
However, it seems our autobahn attorney doesn't like the Ravens too much. Despite many Ravens players throwing the first pitch at Orioles games, there has been very little cross-promotion. The Ravens' entire 2010 preseason was even dropped from MASN, mere weeks before it got underway.
Then in January 2011, the Ravens announced they wouldn't raise ticket prices for the 2011 season. On that same day, the Orioles increased their ticket prices by as much as $7.
Speaking of which...
Third Base: Elminate the Game-Day Sales
The last time the Orioles reached 3,000,000 fans in a season was 2001 when Cal Ripken retired from the Orioles. It's been four years since 2,000,000 people attended an O's game in a season.
In 2010, the O's front office turned fans' temper tantrums went up a notch with the introduction of "Game Day Prices."
This idea comes to fans as a face palm. If you buy your tickets in advance, that's not much of a problem. However, within 24 hours of a game day, you'll be coughing up $5 at maximum.
If this was Angelos' idea of preventing Red Sox and Yankee fans from snatching tickets, he's dead wrong.
That leads me to a play at the plate...
Home Plate: Stop Catering to Massachusetts and Others
Besides passion and a nice getaway, what's the main reason Yankee and Red Sox fans flock to Camden Yards? Cheaper tickets.
Fans from the Bronx and Beantown won't refuse O's tickets knowing that back home their tickets are double, sometimes triple, the price.
Though there are fans from each squad Baltimore rooters can't stand, it's pretty cool to invite fans of the enemy into the stadium for war of words and watch some good baseball, but that doesn't mean you make them feel at home.
Now, I'm not saying dump a bucket of beer every time you see someone with a Kevin Youkilis jersey or have an usher curse out a couple fans from Staten Island.
Instead, prohibit the sales of Yankees merchandise on stadium grounds and don't put up the score of the Bruins-Canadiens game for the Red Sox fans in the stadium, like back in late April.
Let them know this isn't Fenway South or another Yankee Stadium haven; this is Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Not just a stop to collect tourism dollars.
The Bottom Line
If Peter Angelos wants O's fans to come back in droves, he must make bigger club transactions and invoke more Orioles lore.
Plugging in more cross-promotion, cutting out the ridiculous "Game Day" fee and catering to Baltimore fans will definitely make Camden Yards a bountiful Birdland.