On Wednesday afternoon, Ravens safety Ed Reed meandered across the locker room with a black and orange Orioles hat sitting slightly tilted atop his head. He is not the first Ravens player to rock an O’s cap, as we have seen Anquan Boldin, Ray Rice and others do it before. But for the first time since 52 of the guys on the roster arrived here -- veteran linebacker Ray Lewis is the lone exception -- the Orioles are in first place in September.
It had been 14 years of losing and irrelevancy for the Orioles before they became out-of-nowhere contenders this summer. The O's last had a winning season and last made the playoffs in 1997, the year after the Ravens (and Lewis) came to town. Since then, the Ravens have established themselves as a winning organization.
Baltimore is buzzing about the Birds right now, but even if some fans are focused more on the pennant race than “Monday Night Football,” Ravens players believe there is plenty of room in the spotlight for both teams.
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“I absolutely think so, because Baltimore is such a great sports town,” punter Sam Koch said Wednesday. “The fans are always wanting to support their teams. Regardless of when we play, there is always going to be fans at both places. They’re just happy the baseball team is here and they’re happy that we’re starting up.”
Several Ravens players have thrown out the first pitch at Orioles games in recent years, including Reed, wide receiver Torrey Smith and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata earlier this year. Players often tweet about the Orioles after their games or when they attend games at Camden Yards in person. Defensive end Arthur Jones is one of them, especially now that he is getting to know Orioles closer native Jim Johnson, who also hails from Endicott, N.Y.
“We’re from the same hometown and we’re just now really connecting,” Jones said. “We’ve got the same friends, same teachers in high school. This [year] we’re really becoming close, becoming friends. It’s cool. He’s going to be at our game Monday night. It’s going to be a good time and I’m trying to put a show on for him.”
This is Ed Dickson’s third season in Baltimore. In his first two years here, the Orioles averaged 67.5 wins and were out of the playoff hunt by the start of training camp. But this year, he can feel the buzz around the city with the O's tied atop the AL East.
“I love that this city gets to root for the Orioles and the Ravens,” the Ravens tight end and California native said. “I wasn’t really a baseball fan before he came here, but I have picked up the traditions of the Orioles and kind of become an Orioles fan a little bit. I’m rooting for those guys. I hope they win the World Series and I’m going to be supporting them. And I hope they can support us to with this championship that we’re building over here.”