Hopefully, nobody wasted 6-7 hours of their weekend watching the Orioles lose their last three games by a combined 38-8, falling down into 4th place in the AL East, and well on their way to becoming cellar dwellers.
Indeed, what was once Orioles Magic has turned Orioles Tragic, and the fringe fans Peter Angelos had hoped he could win over to fill those empty seats (or at least a few of the several thousand) have now turned about face with a hand covering their snickering faces.
I’ll save the Orioles’ doom & gloom for our brethren over at Eutaw Street Report, but in this Baltimore sports fan’s opinion? We’re about to witness a mass exodus of fan favorites to the trade market as a predecessor to the oncoming dark days, as Dan Duquette’s shown he’s no Ozzie Newsome when it comes to dumpster diving, nor does he/the Orioles franchise understand how to properly negotiate a reasonable contract based on potential future performance instead of past (ahem, Chris Davis).
But with all the doom & gloom surrounding the Yard Birds & OPACY, what does this mean for the Ravens?
I’ll tell ya what it means: an early, E
agle Raven eye on the season.
In recent years, the Orioles have gone into late August still within shot of the playoffs, which has had many Baltimore sports fans still locked in with baseball front and center, while the Ravens took a back seat. After all, it’s just OTA’s, and just training camp, and just preseason games. Nobody cares until the regular season anyway.
At least in 2017.
Instead, I’m already seeing more Ravens hats around town than O’s caps. More black and purple tees than bright orange Machado jerseys. I’m hearing more water cooler talk about the upcoming Ravens season instead of the usual focus on the boys of summer at the Yard. More folks interested in attending the Ravens events occurring over the summer – the recent Lardarius Webb charity softball game, the training camp events at M&T Bank Stadium open to the public, the practice at the Naval Academy – as opposed to planned trips to Camden Yards to catch an Orioles game.
I’ve even heard chatter about the preseason home games.
FANS ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO PRESEASON FOOTBALL… IN JUNE!
The added focus could be both a blessing and a curse for the Ravens franchise, depending on how things shake out in the next few months.
While I’m sure neither franchise wants to see the other falter – we’d all benefit from having both franchises as perennial championship contenders – the Orioles current look screams train wreck, and has a Ravens team that has been heavily scrutinized over the past few seasons looking much more appealing.
The Orioles are essentially the 2AM beer goggles for the Ravens.
While both teams have their issues, confidence in the Ravens moving forward is an easier pill to swallow than it is for the O’s. After all, Newsome’s ability to turn around a team in the matter of a single season is proven (he has never had consecutive seasons .500 or under), while the Orioles current outlook beyond 2017 is bleak with a weak roster, discarded draft picks over the years, and a minor league system that’s lacking talent. It could take the Yard Birds years to recover from some of the personnel decisions they’ve made in recent years.
On the flip side, the Ravens extra focus means every move from this point on will be heavily scrutinized, and any wrong turn could blow up in their faces quick than a 1st inning by [insert any O’s starting pitcher not named Dylan Bundy].
As we sit here on Monday morning, we patiently await good news on the wide receiver front – will Jeremy Maclin choose Baltimore over Buffalo? Will Eric Decker make his way to the Ravens via trade/extension/renegotiated deal, or free agency? If neither land, will the Ravens pursue Anquan Boldin? What about the tight end void in the absence of Dennis Pitta?
(For what it’s worth, I’m still begging for Gary Barnidge)
If the Ravens fail to land either of the big name wide receivers who would seamlessly fit the slot void the Ravens have, Baltimore sports fans will certainly raise their voices.
The injury front will also get a heavy focus now. With Tavon Young (ACL) & Pitta (hip) both out of the Ravens 2017 plan (and beyond for Pitta), another major injury to a starter would start to raise eyebrows. With the Ravens commitment to health and conditioning after a collective 35 player on the injured reserve in the past two seasons, two men down in voluntary OTA’s is not a good look at all.
While I continue to cross my fingers for the Orioles to break out of this prolonged slump that has PECOTA proponents saying ‘told ya so!’ I’m also glad to see the Ravens fans coming out of the woodwork earlier than usual this summer.
Now it’s up to the Ravens to make the most out of it.