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SportsOrioles

O's charm is not limited to city

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Putting "Baltimore" back on the Orioles' road jerseys next season is a good thing; no one can argue that. Anything the franchise can do to cater to the core of the fan base - after all the years of alienating it in so many ways - is welcome. You don't have to be an Orioles lifer to get that.

You don't even have to be from Baltimore to get that. In fact, you can be from, say, just to pull a metropolitan area out of thin air, Washington, and still get that.

Speaking of which ...

As someone who grew up at the other end of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, I have found it interesting to hear the volume rise each year about the travesty of having the beloved Birds considered, excuse the profanity, a regional team. To have to share the team with people from, pardon the expression, Warshington. To acknowledge that anyone other than true Baltimoreans could ever have a powerful connection with the Orioles.

In light of that, this might come as unpleasant, unwelcome news, particularly to all those who believed for three decades that any ties between D.C. and the orange-and-black were illegitimate and in need of immediate dissolving:

It was our team, too.

And to deny that the Orioles were actually beloved by, taken to heart by, ingrained in the souls of Washingtonians for a significant portion of the franchise's presence in town is to deny part of your history.

Of course, it's important to include this disclaimer - we didn't demand, ask for, even hint about "Baltimore" being removed from the road jerseys back in the 1970s, or kept off by Orioles owner Peter Angelos later. Contrary to popular belief, we're not stupid. We knew what city the team and its legends belonged to. We knew whose streets we snaked through to get to Memorial Stadium, and which harbor we streamed to when Camden Yards opened.

But make no mistake. That was the team the D.C. area grew attached to, often in spite of itself, gradually and increasingly over the 33 years that spanned the Senators leaving and the Nationals arriving.

Yes, D.C. still yearned for a team of its own. That can happen when the team it loves blows out of town for no good reason and none comes to replace it for a long time. You're familiar with that feeling, no?

And you all didn't want D.C. to get that team. You didn't want that new ballpark to rise. Your owner didn't, that's for sure, but he was responding to the will of the people. It all had to do with attendance, revenue and market share being affected. In layman's terms - the franchise would be in big trouble if the Warshington folks stopped coming. Hmmmm.

Crazy as it sounds, those folks are still coming, or at least still supporting, still not ready to drop the team with whom they grew up even with a team to now call their own. Know why?

Because those magical moments regularly described in such vivid detail by those in the Orioles' hometown are also magical moments to the ones in the adopted hometown. They also endured the taunting in school after the 1979 World Series. Stuck out their chests after '83. Died a little during each game of the 0-21 start, came back to life in the "Why Not" season that followed. Roared when Eddie hit his 500th. Packed Memorial Stadium for its last game and packed Camden Yards for years afterward. Reveled in 2,130 and 2,131.

We were there with you for all of that, in mind, body and spirit, whether you want to admit it or not. For more than half of the time the Baltimore Orioles have been in existence.

And through it all, we're told in no uncertain terms that we had no claim to any of it because it wasn't our city, and the sooner the road jerseys reflected that, the better.

Yet we're the snobs.

The bottom line in of all this? No one in his or her right mind begrudges you the joy of seeing your city's name across the chests of your favorite players again.

But when you talk about finally having broken the chains that bound you to the hideous concept of the "regional" franchise, how about a little respect for the people you were chained to?

david.steele@baltsun.comListen to David Steele on Wednesdays at 9 a.m. on WNST (1570 AM).


Points after

• There were more indelible moments left by the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of the NBA Finals than in the entire San Antonio-Cleveland series last year. Paul Pierce in the wheelchair accomplished that on its own.

• On that topic, I sure wish I could find a snippet of a highlight somewhere from the Magic-Bird faceoffs from the '80s. It's been nearly 30 seconds since ... oops, nevermind.

• The Seattle Mariners have a huge payroll, high expectations, underachieving stars, the worst record in baseball going into the weekend, an enraged fan base and a manager who went off on a potty-mouthed public tirade. Good thing he never mentioned anything about race, though, or else he would really be in trouble.

• Note to aforementioned manager: I know Lee Elia, I've met Lee Elia, and you, sir, are no Lee Elia.

• Another city public high school football field - first at Poly, now at Mervo - has been renovated with a huge assist from the Ravens. Fortunately, the city's baseball fields are in such pristine shape that the Orioles don't need to do anything similar for their sport.


Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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