Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 11/16/14

Along with several other franchises in the mid-Atlantic region, the Baltimore Orioles have a bit of a problem. This was illustrated last night at Fed Ex Field in Landover, MD, where I found myself attending the Maryland/Notre Dame football game. When I drove into the parking lot and walked into the stadium, I noticed something that shocked me: more fans supporting the Irish than the Terps. (Admittedly, this was to have been a Notre Dame home game however it was moved to FedEx Field, so Notre Dame had control over how the tickets were sold.) Granted Maryland came into the game at a hapless 2-7. However one would have thought that there would have been more of a showing from my fellow Terrapin faithful at a game being played 20 minutes from campus. This is a phenomenon that we obviously see at Oriole Park at Camden Yards when the Yankees or Red Sox come rolling into town as well.

The product on the field has a lot to do with this. Looking at this region, the Ravens and the Washington Capitals are the only noteworthy teams who are fielding a decent team. (However the number of terrible towels waving at Ravens/Steeler games in Baltimore is also troubling.) That means that tickets are going to be more readily available to people who might be traveling with their favorite team to this area. We know that’s the case when NY/Boston come to town, and their fans all turn up at the yard wearing their bling-bling and doing their Jersey Shore act. So in that sense the onus is on the teams/schools to field better squads. If I was a Maryland player last night I would have been absolutely demoralized at playing 20 minutes from campus and having to go to a silent snap count due to the crowd noise.

With regard to the Maryland game last night, there were a great deal of Terp fans in attendance (myself included). Due to the nature of the game you just didn’t hear too much from us. When Maryland scored a TD you barely even heard a bronx cheer go up from the crowd, because most people figured it didn’t matter. And therin lies the problem. Even though the teams struggle, I think that there’s a certain amount of apathy amongst fans in this region. Whoa Vadala, are you calling out the fans for not doing their part? That’s a tough question; in a sense I think I’m saying that I recognize that while the teams need to do a better job of fielding a good product, I sometimes wish that people didn’t get so fed up with how things are going and stop coming to games. We see this with the Orioles all the time, when attendance seems to take a hit in August and September (in fairness vacations and school starting has something to do with that as well). However is Camden Yards still not a great place to take your family on a summer evening? Would last night not have been a great opprotunity to take your kids to see the Terps play and get them indoctrinated into the Maryland atmosphere? I know that’s how I fell in love with the O’s and Terps; my Dad had me with him in Byrd Stadium and Cole Field House a few times a year.

Here’s the other sickening truth to this arrangement; the teams in this region are seen as some sort of joke as a result. I heard numerous Notre Dame fans laughing and sneering at the breakdown in the crowd last night. The same is true with NY/Boston fans at Oriole Park. Not only do they get to see their favorite team, but it’s a de facto home game. (From the standpoint of last night, I think the worst part was that I heard quite a few people yelling Go Irish with Baltimore accents.) With the NYers and Bostonians, we see a certain pride in their city/region. I feel the same way; I’m extremely proud of this region, and it does in effect hurt me to see it consistently humbled in this manner. This is partly what gives Yankee and Red Sox fans such a sense of entitlement. We’re going to beat you at your place in front of our fans. With Boston that sense of entitlement was also part of their downfall, however I digress. Most of these fans are not friendly in that they come into our stadiums and take to harrassing hometown fans and telling them how bad they are. The Irish fan sitting behind me last night even booed when the Maryland band was on the field.

Ultimately, our teams need to get better. However sometimes I wish that people would be willing to go through the rebuilding process with the teams rather than showing up at the tail end just to see when they get good. People can certainly spend their money as they see fit, and it’s probably unfair of me to criticize. However I don’t think for a moment that it doesn’t affect the players. As I said, I’m not sure how happy I’d be if I had to go to a silent count so close to home. All I’m saying is that we need to start protecting this house so as to avoid allowing others to infect this house.

Follow me on Twitter @Domenic Vadala

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