Can Orioles thrive with tough stretch to end season?
BALTIMORE – For the last six months the debate has raged on. Whose fault is it that the Ravens are opening defense of their Super Bowl title on the road?
That debate was nowhere to be heard at Oriole Park when a crowd larger than many predicted gathered on Thursday night for the Orioles game with the Chicago White Sox.
Earlier in the season, manager Buck Showalter, an ardent Ravens fan, chided New York Jets coach Rex Ryan after he criticized the Orioles for not moving the date of the game.
Before the game, Showalter was asked his thoughts about the dispute.
“Have you got a quote from the coach of the Jets that I could go off of? Does he have a new response? Give me some kind of a tee-up,” Showalter joked.
Besides the Orioles game, there was a Keith Urban concert nearby at the Inner Harbor that drew thousands of fans.
Showalter said he had no feelings that he wanted to make public anyway, about the conflict. It turns out that it’s a critical game for the Orioles, too.
“If you’re a hometown team like we are and they are, and they’re just coming off a Super Bowl win, and they’re opening up the season in Denver…would it change if we were in first place by seven games?” Showalter asked.
“We’re just trying to get to their level consistently like they’ve been consistent, and that’s what we want to be. To critique fans, what they consider, human beings, fellow Baltimoreans, what they consider worthy of their time on a given night, for me to critique that, I’m just excited that anybody’s excited to be here.”
Would what Showalter do?
“It’s a good choice to have. Lot of good choices,” Showalter said.
A number of fans wearing Ravens apparel were in the crowd.
Matt Griffin of Baltimore, wore a Terrell Suggs jersey as he visited the ATM. He wasn’t withdrawing money to help pay for John Harbaugh’s contract extension.
Griffin had multiple reasons for being at the ballpark instead of watching the Ravens on television.
“I love the Orioles. I’ve been to a bunch of games this season and we have free tickets,” he said.
He’ll keep an eye on the Ravens, too.
“I’ll follow the game,” Griffin promised.
Susan Pritchett and David Tracey, both of Hampstead, Md., were going to the game with friends. Pritchett wore a Ravens T-shirt. Tracey wore an orange shirt and underneath, a Ravens shirt.
“They had the tickets before I realized it was Opening Day, and they were playing Peyton Manning, who I love,” Pritchett said.
“Honestly, we’re here with friends and we had the invite anyway. It doesn’t matter, we would have come,” Tracey added.
As Tracey showed off his Ravens shirt, he was high-fived by Debbi Neiss of Glen Burnie, who was wearing Ravens beads on top of her Ray Lewis jersey. She had an Orioles shirt underneath the Lewis jersey and joked about flashing it. Neiss attends a handful of Orioles and Ravens games each season. She and her daughter had plans.
““We’re going to hang here for half a game, and then we’re going to go watch the Ravens game. I wouldn’t doubt that they’re going to show the kickoff on the big screen here. I’m sure they will,” she predicted.
Then there was Rich Weitzner of Rockville, who was wearing a Joe Flacco jersey while buying a crab cake.
He was here “because I love the Orioles as well,” Weitzner said.
Didn’t he consider staying home and watching the Ravens instead.
“Some thought, but the Orioles are in the pennant race and I thought it was important to come down and support them,” he said.
Like Showalter said, lots of good choices.