Oh, we could go on. References to baseball movies like "Field of Dreams" or "The Natural" are big, too. And there's usually a few jokes about how baseball relates to the politics of the day or maybe a famous quote or two. Like how Harry Truman once presciently warned the owner of the Washington
But we're going to mercifully dispense with the baseball pseudo-philosophy (or leave it to George Will, its leading purveyor) to raise a more pressing opening day question: Has Baltimore fallen back in love with the Orioles?
Last fall was a thrill ride, a joyous return of meaningful
Perhaps it's impossible to maintain that level of fan excitement, particularly at the start of baseball's endurance-taxing 162-game schedule, or maybe we are still catching our collective breath from the Ravens Super Bowl win (or distracted by so much off-season turnover in the Ravens roster), but the fan base seems in a pretty ho-hum mood to us.
That's not to suggest it's not a distinct improvement from a year ago. The team reports that sales of both tickets and Orioles-related gear are up this season after last season's record increase. But team officials have been cautious in their assessment. After opening day has come and gone, average attendance for home games is unlikely to hit the kind of numbers (30,000 or more per game) of a decade ago.
Could it be a matter of low expectations? The Orioles may have been the biggest surprise of last season, but it appears that sportswriters are ready to be surprised again. Few predict a return to the playoffs, even fewer that the team will win the
Forty miles to the South, the D.C. fan base is contemplating a
Still, we can't help but get the feeling that Baltimore and the Orioles had some really good dates together but just aren't certain whether to make a commitment quite yet. Oh, we care. Absolutely. Love the Orioles. But treat them like the champion Ravens, fly those flags, wear those jerseys, buy those tickets, scream at the television, track player batting averages and earned run averages obsessively and really take the plunge?
Let's talk in June or July. You doing anything around the All-Star break?
This is, of course, what so many years of cellar-dwelling in the American League East has wrought. The Orioles still fly under the radar even in Birdland. That the manager of the
We don't know what kind of team the Orioles will be this year. Last year might have been a fluke or it might have been a rebirth. But finding out is bound to be fun for the fans willing to embrace a pretty lovable bunch of ballplayers. Or, as Roy Hobbs once told Ray Kinsella at a