This city has reacted angrily to Oriole owner Edward Bennett Williams' published statements that this season is "a trial year for Baltimore attendance, and the trial is just about to begin."
"I'm tired of these threats from Williams about Baltimore supporting the Orioles or else," said Linda Goetz. "If he wants to move the team, he should just go on and do it. Threatening the people of this city isn't going to put anymore people into Memorial Stadium."
"Didn't this team draw 1.7 million people last year?" asked Pikesville's Larry Ruben. "So what's Williams complaining about? People come from all over Maryland and from Pennsylvania to see the Orioles. They ain't gonna drive to Washington, or even Columbia, that's for sure.
"The thing that bothers me more than that is him saying we're on trial. Is this supposed to be one of his law cases or something?"
In a wide-ranging interview in Wednesday's Washington Post, Williams, the Washington-based attorney, said he is prepared to investigate "all my options" if Baltimore does not, in his opinion, sufficiently support the Orioles by its attendance and TV-radio revenues.
His remarks elicted a wave of response -- mostely negative -- from the Baltimore news media. All three newspapers made reference to Williams' comments on the front page of Thursday's editions. The sport pages and radio talk shows in Baltimore were full of speculation and comment.
"Williams Serves Notice" was the headline of the lead editorial in Thursday's Sun. The paper accused him of "deliberately holding the door slightly ajar in the event he wished to someday move the team to a greener ballpark . . . He still avoids filling in the blanks."
The editorial said that Williams is trying to exploit the Washington-Baltimore market (the fourth largest in the nation) and numerous TV-radio outlets stretching from southern Pennsylvania to northern Virginia.
"To carry it to an extreme threatens to damage the city that now hosts the Oriole franchise . . . and there would be better results without threats from Williams."
Williams has had a rather nebulous relationship with Baltimore since purchasing the team from Jerold C. Hoffberger last August and there has been constant discussion among fans, players and media representatives about his building a new stadium or moving the team -- possible to Washington.
"Part of the problem is that the only time Williams spends in Baltimore is at baseball games," said Evening Sun writer Jim Henneman.
"If, from time to time, he would sit down with the media and talk about specifics, his relationship with the city would be better. Maybe he doesn't want to spell it out," Henneman continued. "I don't blame the fans for resenting the remarks he made. If there's going to be a report card on this franchise, then he should be specific.
"He still never said what 'adequate support' is. When he says something like that I think he wants people in Washington to read it one way and the people in Baltimore to read it another. I fully understand Williams' concern about money. He'd be crazy not be be."
Williams seemed surprised by the strong reaction from Baltimore writers and Oriole employes when he entered the press box before Wednesday night's game against Chicago.
Williams said he didn't say anthing different in the Post interview than he did any time previously and that the commotion was overblown.
"Maybe 95 percent of what he said was the same." Henneman said. "But that 5 percent about the city being on trial and him needing great attendance, not just good -- that upset a lot of people around here.
"If he looked at the size, display and the strength of that story, then he could have predicted this type of reaction," Henneman added. "If not, he's still a rookie owner."