As a Baltimore Orioles writer, I try my very best to NOT be a blind homer. Yes the articles written here are from the Orioles’ perspective, but I try to call things down the middle. And I try to do the same while tweeting game highlights.
However there are some instances when you’re called to use your bully pulpit to in effect defend the home team. One of those instances came this morning for me. Overall, I like and appreciate the work of The Washington Post’s Thomas Boswell. He’s a great baseball writer, and a great sports writer overall – much in the tradition of Tony Kornheiser. (I’d throw Shirley Povich or John Steadman in there also, but I truly believe that those guys are in a league of their own.) But he wrote something this morning that came as a bit “off.”
In Boswell’s column today, he writes about how after yesterday’s game the Washington Nationals are now getting the best of the Orioles. (Chelsea Janes, also of The Post, wrote a very similar article as well.) Overall since the series started in 2006, the Orioles have won 38 games, and including yesterday Washington’s won 27. So…because of that one win, Washington is suddenly in command?
Boswell and Janes point out that there were lots of Washington fans in the stands at Camden Yards yesterday. And that might be a fair assessment. From my perspective perched above home plate, I’d say that approximately 30% of the announced crowd of 36K+ were “rocking the red,” or rooting for Washington. That’s maybe 12K fans or so.
Now if you read Boswell’s or Janes’ columns today, you get a vastly different view point. One would think that it was a total take over of Camden Yards by Washington’s fan base. That’s just simply not true. The biggest cheers of the day did in fact come from Orioles’ fans, on the off occasion that they did something good in the game.
Boswell mentions the LET’S GO CAPS cheers in his piece; the assumption is that everyone yelling that was rooting for Washington. The Capitals are given home team status with regard to the NHL in Baltimore as well. I saw quite a few people with Caps’ jerseys and Orioles’ hats at the game yesterday. And again by Boswell’s logic, both Buck Showalter (who conducted his pre-game presser in a Capitals jersey) and Mike Bordick (who wore a Capitals hat during the MASN telecast) must have had a rooting interest on Washington’s behalf.
And again, let’s not allow facts to get in the way of a good story. Yesterday was Memorial Day, and as a result it was an afternoon game. That was great scheduling on MLB’s part, because yes in fact it allowed BOTH fan bases to be a part of the game. The rest of the series will probably see the crowds slanted much more heavily in the Orioles’ favor because they’re two night games during the week.
And on that note, the Orioles will head down to DC in the third week of June, for all night games (Tuesday June 19 – Thursday June 21). In the past when the DC-based games have been weeknights, the Orioles’ fan base has ALWAYS turned out. Were there more Orioles fans in DC (and in fact more Washington fans at Camden Yards) when the series would be held over a weekend? Absolutely. But you’ll see a similar phenomenon in reverse when the O’s head down there. Heck, Showalter’s commented on the number of Orioles’ fans in attendance before.
But apparently all of that means nothing, if you read Boswell’s article. Neither does the head-to-head record of the team’s against one another to this point. If you read Boswell’s article with tunnel vision and without knowing anything else, one would think that yesterday’s game was the first the teams had ever played against one another. Not only that, but that first ever game between the two teams (because the others either didn’t happen or didn’t count) was held in Baltimore in front of nothing but Washington fans. And again as someone who covered the game in the ballpark, I can tell you that’s just not true.
I wouldn’t expect The Washington Post to make mention of the orange hue that will indubitably be in the stands at Nationals Park next month. And if they or anyone else does mention it, the commentary will be well those people live in the DC area and for some reason didn’t want to root for the Nationals so they really don’t count. No joke folks, I’ve heard arguments like that in the past.
In fairness to Thomas Boswell, that article didn’t really sound like his body of work. It almost sounded like he was told to write about a certain angle. Boswell’s still a great writer, and make no mistake that he’s one of the best of this generation. I just disagree with him here, and I think he published a piece of what’s called yellow journalism. But again, it wouldn’t surprise me if he was prompted to do so.
So your question might now be, why do you care? If you have no rooting interest per se and you’re “just a writer,” does it really matter? That might be a fair question. But as I said, I write “from the Orioles’ perspective.” I try to call things down the middle – but sometimes you do have to in effect take up for the home team. If the home team is correct or as in this case is being made the fool or the butt end of a joke, setting the record straight IS calling it down the middle. Lest you risk a false narrative such as this one becoming the unofficial truth. In D.C. they have a much simpler way of putting it: FAKE NEWS.