The Orioles rolled into the Southeast on Friday night to begin a three game set against the Nationals just a few days after a mention in the Post raised the issue of the paper’s coverage of the Orioles. The lack of coverage is something that has stumped me for years. I grew up a devout Orioles fan in Silver Spring, and remain one to this day. Like many Washingtonians my age, I grew up idolizing Cal Ripken, Jr., and spent an inordinate amount of time trying to collect all the versions of Billy Ripken’s notorious 1989 Fleer baseball card while falling asleep to Jon Miller’s voice on the radio. I suffered through 0-21 and the sad slow demise of the “Oriole Way” with some brief flashes of success along the way with the “Why Not” Orioles of 1989 and a few playoff appearances in the ‘90s.
I’ve lived in D.C. for eight years now and I’m always getting asked why I’m not a Nats fan. I like the Nats and hope they do well, but you can’t live 28 years of your life and suddenly change your team...unless of course you are The Washington Post. For years the Post covered the Orioles as their hometown team. They gave them front page coverage, assigned a beat writer, and columnists regularly wrote about them. Then the Nats came to town, and like an aging first wife, they were shown the door. Obviously the Nats were going to get the bulk of the coverage, and with the state of newspapers, with fewer resources I understood that Orioles coverage would naturally decrease. However the coverage has gone from near saturation to a reprint of a brief write-up from the Baltimore Sun (usually not even the full article). I’m sure that gives the folks at the ever parochial Sun no small measure of joy.
I went to two games this weekend proudly wearing my Orioles hat (my completely unscientific estimates placed the crowd at about 30 percent Orioles fans), joined Nats and Orioles fans alike as we booed in unison the Madden brothers of Good Charlotte (one twin was conveniently wearing a Nats jersey and one an Orioles jersey while proving the point that if you are a sellout in the music industry you are just as likely to be a sellout as a fan) and yelled “O” at the appropriate time during the National Anthem (note to Nats fans, the proper response to that is not to boo over it, you sound like you are booing the National Anthem). Thankfully no Orioles fans tried to sing a rendition of “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” during the seventh inning stretch. While neither of the two teams are in playoff contention, I look forward to the day when Wieters, Britton and Machado can battle Zimmerman(ns), Strasburg and Harper as they compete for a championship. Maybe then the Post will finally pay attention to the Orioles.