Ravens fans forced to watch their champs from a distance

The Orioles couldn't play a 1 p.m. game because they and the White Sox were traveling to Baltimore after night games in different cities and didn't want such a quick turnaround during a pennant race. The Orioles offered to play at 4:05 p.m., but they and the Ravens agreed that would create a logistical headache at the downtown sports complex.

The Ravens considered shifting the game to Wednesday night, but ran into the start of the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. And coach John Harbaugh nixed a Sunday game, preferring a Thursday away game followed by nine days of rest before the Ravens' home opener Sept. 15 against the Cleveland Browns.

After a couple of days of discussion, the Ravens and the Orioles determined that the potential issues, including parking and traffic, were too much to overcome. Negotiations ended in a polite stalemate in late March, with the teams acknowledging each other's efforts.

Now the first Thursday after Labor Day has arrived and Baltimore football fans must face reality. Instead of a big, opening-night party at M&T Bank Stadium, they get a free concert by Grammy-winning country singer Keith Urban near the Maryland Science Center, fireworks and a light show. Most of us will do what we always do: watch the game on television.

The Orioles have been portrayed as stubbornly refusing to defer to the Ravens, leading some commentators to criticize the ownership and triggering a spirited social media debate.

"This makes Baltimore look like a second-class city," Gregory Adamo, an associate professor of communications atMorgan State University, posted on my Facebook page.

"One wins a championship once in a long while, if ever," Plato Hieronimius, a strategy consultant in Baltimore, added to that thread. "I'd expect the Ravens to accommodate the Orioles had the roles been reversed."

Katie Gore of Loch Raven Village defended the Orioles. "The O's schedule was set. The NFL could and should have moved the game. The NFL would unlikely have ever changed their end-of-season schedule had the situation been reversed."

Another Facebook comment, from Brett Prather of Owings Mills, provided a mature perspective. "I'll be at the Orioles game watching and cheering them on," he wrote. "I will have my radio with me listening to the Ravens game and cheering them on. What's the problem? I am capable of doing two things at once. I root for all Baltimore teams. It is my city."

Indeed, Baltimore sports fans get pretty uncomfortable if you ask them to choose between the Ravens and the Orioles.

"The [schedule] conflict is unfortunate," says John Eller, who lives in Otterbein, near Camden Yards, but who takes his beer on tap at the Swallow. "But I'm just glad that, here we are, after Labor Day, and the Orioles are still playing games that mean something."

Eller's plan for the evening goes like this: "My wife, sister-in-law and daughter are going to the Keith Urban concert. I'm going to make them mini-crabcake appetizers and then go up to the Swallow and watch the Ravens game."

And the Swallow has enough screens to accommodate both Orioles and Ravens fans.

Baltimore Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.


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