Game one against the Denver Broncos was predictably a disaster for the Baltimore Ravens, not just because the game was on the road or because Dennis Pitta was lost for a significant portion of the season. The fact is that Denver came into the game after suffering what many considered to be the worst loss in not just Bronco football history, but Denver sports history.
The Broncos came into the game angry, fired up, motivated by their fans, and ready to play. Baltimore came in looking like they had just woken up from a nap – at least based on their inconsistent play in the first half, and horrible play in the second half.
Yet, from the media coverage of the game, one would think that the sole reason the Ravens lost was that the Orioles refused to move their home game against the Chicago White Sox to another time or date and that the Orioles were the sole evil party in that regard.
Commentators Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels continuously sounded this refrain both in the long pregame (due to a lightning storm) and the early stages of the game.
The only thing that seemed to get lost in the shuffle of this was the whole truth. As the facts now show, the Orioles made a significant effort to find a solution to what was the NFL essentially dictating what had to be done.
Many options were explored – but league rules – involving MLB (through Commissioner Bud Selig), the MLB Players Association, and the Chicago White Sox (not to mention TV networks) could not be overcome to accommodate a time change that would allow for parking lots to be utilized and somehow cope with afternoon rush hour traffic, the remnants of the Baltimore Grand Prix, and two teams both arriving late from out-of-town games.
One move would have been to put the game on Rosh Hashanah but this would have disenfranchised observant Jews – plus reports that likely home game opponent New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft (who is Jewish) was adamant against playing on the holiday.
So, if moving the game up wasn’t an option because of traffic and parking, and especially if the game went into extra innings, and it couldn’t be moved to Wednesday, what about swapping a game with the ChiSox? Apparently this was discussed but the White Sox did not wish to give up their July 4 home game, and the Orioles did not want to give up a home game off their schedule – despite compensation promises from the Ravens and NFL.
So, how was this the Orioles’ fault?
The answer is, “It wasn’t!”
The Orioles were under no obligation to move their game. They refused to take a goodwill action and move their game in the heat of a playoff race. Who can really blame them? It was really the fault of poor communication between the NFL and MLB when it came to making a schedule.
The end result was that the Ravens were put on the trash tray in the second half by the Broncos and placed squarely in the dumpster at the end of Thursday night, humiliated, out-coached, out-played, out-everything-ed by the Broncos.
It was infuriating to fans who expected a far better performance from their Super Bowl champs and their coach whose own staff took a huge play off in missing a game-changing replay challenge.
It was still just one game. The broadcasters at NBC got it right in one aspect – the game should have been played at home.
But to say this was just because of the Orioles is just not the whole story.