The Baltimore Orioles are held their annual FanFest yesterday and while both they and the Baltimore Ravens share the same home city, they couldn't be viewed more differently in terms of how the organizations are run. The Ravens, concerned about the economy and the unsettled state of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, announced that they are not raising ticket prices for the 2011 season. The very same day, the Orioles announced a ticket increase, this for a team with 13, going on what should be 14 straight losing seasons.
In addition, at FanFest, the team is charged $15 per autograph for all fans over the age of 14. I cannot think of a single current Orioles whose signature would command a $15 price tag. It seems that whenever the team is faced with making an important decision, it fails miserably on the public relations front. While in the NFL, while free agents accept less money to play for the Ravens in order to have a chance at that elusive Super Bowl ring, over in MLB, players must be courted with "Confederate Dollars" to come here and only if they are grossly overpaid. Players want to go to a team that is either a winner or one that even appears to be on their way to competing and playing meaningful games in September, much less June in the Orioles case. Lately, the only free agents being signed by the O's are the ones that either are way past their prime or are not wanted by virtually any other team. Players use the Orioles to drive up the price they end up getting from another team, shunning the Birds at the final moment.
Two teams, same parking lot, yet two completely different mindsets and philosophies. While the Ravens will continue to be amongst the league's elite teams, the Orioles continue to bottom-feed year after year. Here's hoping the Birds of Baltimore open their minds and wallets to develop the young talent and bring in established veterans to return to the team that many of us older fans knew and worshipped.