I loved Tom Boswell's March 31 Sports column that suggested a boycott of the Orioles. I only wish he had suggested this a couple of months ago when tickets went on sale.
Clearly, the Orioles will draw fewer fans if they perform as badly as they have in the past few years. This team lost 28 of its last 32 games last season, and it is fielding the same players this season. A boycott would send a message and might help return Major League Baseball to the District, which has more than enough fans and money to support a team.
Because of Orioles owner Peter Angelos, Baltimore has become a minor league town, and the District has no team. And just when you think the Orioles have hit bottom, Mr. Angelos takes out a shovel and starts digging. As Mr. Boswell has pointed out, in the past few years the Orioles have gotten rid of their star players, such as Mike Mussina, and fielded a low-budget team with no stars. It seems as though Mr. Angelos actually wants attendance to go down so he can block a D.C. team or at least extract money from a new D.C. owner.
As a result, both Orioles fans and the potential "Nats" fans suffer. And those of us who would be fans of both the American League Orioles and the National League Nats suffer twice as much. (Wouldn't a Baltimore-Washington Parkway series be heaven?)
I have heard the argument that a boycott would reinforce Mr. Angelos's claim that a D.C. team will hurt Orioles attendance, but Mr. Angelos already has said he will do everything in his power to block a D.C. team, so what do fans in the Washington area have to lose?
Mr. Boswell said Mr. Angelos is stabbing D.C. fans in the back. I disagree. Before this season, Mr. Angelos was stabbing us in the back. Now he is stabbing us in the heart.
Peter Angelos claims that a team in the District would put the Orioles out of business, yet football fans point to the geographic proximity of the Ravens and the Redskins as a perfect example of a shared market, and D.C. baseball fans want their own teams.
The solution is simple: Renovate RFK Stadium and have Mr. Angelos agree to a split season, with 50 percent of Orioles games played in the District. If baseball turns out to be financially viable, the groups interested in relocating a team to the Washington area will have the numbers to prove it.
In the interim, with the money saved by not financing a stadium, perhaps the Orioles can invest in human resources and turn the team around.
Tom Boswell suggests Washingtonians boycott the Orioles because he thinks the team's owner is fielding a bad team to discourage attendance and create an economic hardship that would block a team from being moved to Washington. But shouldn't Washingtonians who agree with Mr. Boswell go to Camden Yards in droves if they want to defeat the low-attendance strategy?
The global gene pool can't produce a sufficient number of decent players to field all the teams we've got, so I'd say no team for the District until Major League Baseball slims down and offers a good-quality product. I stopped cheering for the Orioles because they stink, and, having moved to New York a few years back, I offer another choice to D.C.-area baseball fans -- the Yankees! Come to New York and see a real baseball team.
Tom Boswell says Peter Angelos is trying to field what he calls an "unwatchable" Orioles team for the sole purpose of keeping a team out of Washington.
But the person urging Washington area fans to boycott the Orioles has faithfully renewed his own season tickets at Camden Yards for 2003.
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