Sunday, January 30, 2005

Your Daily Boz

Yet another Boswell column; talks about Sosa trade, internet message boards

But not our DC baseball blog community:

As one fan moaned on an Orioles Internet site, "Sammy Sosa? I just want a starting pitcher. Is that so wrong?"

So we know Boswell reads baseball-related sites. But maybe not 1) Nationals ones, or 2) the ones that point out occasions when he speaks optimistically of guys who were traded by the Nationals months ago.

One more passage of note here:

Be happy. Be entertained. Sammy, at 36, drags a caravan of baseball baggage behind him. He's no in-his-prime Delgado, but he's vastly better than nothing. At least if you tell your friends you kept your Orioles tickets, they won't laugh in your face now.

He's joking right?

Look, Baltimore gets ripped a ton by DC baseball boosters and nascent Nats fans. I understand it; I've done it myself---or at least I've ripped Angelos and the lemmings who actually interpret his "negotiating" strategy as literal truth. And this is a Nats blog, so expect some boosterism here.

Then again, I'm an admirer of the sabermetric, analytical approach to baseball, and in its core definition is the word "objective." And objectively-speaking, Baltimore is an excellent baseball town. It has intelligent and loyal fans, and those fans come out to Camden Yards.

Let's put this in perspective: The last time the Orioles posted a winning record was 1997, back when Monica Lewinsky was merely a dutiful White House intern. Princess Diana was still alive. Rick Pitino was steppin' out on his new basketball project, the Boston Celtics. ESPN's website was something called "The SportsZone." Rob Neyer was a fantasy columnist. Baseball Prospectus was still in its infancy. Ryan Leaf was a hot young quarterback prospect, respected for both his arm and his poise at Wazzu. Hanson and the Spice Girls were big; swing music had to wait another summer to get big, as did Britney Spears and the wussy boy bands. Anyone operating a "Countdown to the Olsen twins' legality" website would have been arrested and prosecuted as a sicko. It was some time ago.

And yet the Orioles have never dipped below fifth in the AL (out of 14 teams) in
attendance. Their attendance per/game actually went up by 3,500 fans last season, probably because it was a more interesting team---flawed and still pretty bad, but interesting and pretty good at times. (I'll also acknowledge that league-wide attendance went up, too.) And their "new park boost" occurred well before this period.

Sure, Sosa's arrival will no doubt spark some interest; after all, he's a big name. But the Orioles don't just draw well when the Yankees and Red Sox come to town (though it is an aid, certainly, and it's hilarious to see Angelos fight the Nats' arrival while justifying contuining rivalries with teams that routinely top his team by 25-30 games in the standings). The notion that going to an Orioles game is some sort of joke among Balti-morons is just that: a joke.

Or, put it another way: I was dead set for DC baseball. And, obviously, I am a big fan of the Nationals; heck, I even started my own blog. Yet, the Orioles were one of my two favorite teams growing up (the other was the Phillies). Cal Ripken, Jr. was one of two players I idolized as a kid. (The other, Michael Jack Schmidt, will always be my favorite player.) I am still an Orioles fan. How on earth can I reconcile the two?

Because they're two different markets, of course---which is exactly what DC baseball supporters have been saying. The Orioles don't need DC. Baltimore fans will do their job, as they have during seven consecutive years of losing. Now, you do your job, Mr. Angelos.

And, for pete's sake, don't listen to Tom Boswell. He might convince you to sign a player who has already died.


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