Monday, May 15, 2006

The Great Experiment, Week Five: A Dose of Ambiorix and Blind Optimism

Prescription for Fan Happiness

By Aaron Koos

Give The Sun some credit for trying to get an Orioles bandwagon rolling.

On the front cover of Monday’s print edition, right at the top, was a photo of Kevin Millar next to the teaser headline “AN IMPROBABLE RALLY.” Then, when you open up to the sports section — again in all caps and in a font size usually reserved for declarations of war — was the headline “
ORIOLES WIN WILD ONE” above a half-page photo of Javy Lopez crashing into home plate with the winning run.

When I first saw the coverage, I thought I’d missed something. Was there reason to celebrate? Should I dust off my “How ‘bout dem O’s?” greeting and reserve my curbside seat for the parade?

Reading The Sun, you might suspect that the Orioles aren’t a fourth-place, sub-.500 team that beat the last-place, 10-25 Kansas City Royals in front of a meager home crowd.

Sure, come-from-behind wins and series sweeps are great, no matter the circumstances. I actually tuned in yesterday and saw the comeback. And, while I was pleased, I’m not sure I saw anything improbable or wild, let alone IMPROBABLE or WILD. So, unless The Sun’s Caps Lock key is stuck, I’m guessing they’re motivated by something other than the O’s performance on the field to whip up some frenzy around this team. Could it be that The Sun hopes a few feel good stories might help move some more subscriptions?

They do need to sell more papers. Last week The Sun reported that
daily circulation has slipped 3.3 percent and Sunday circulation has fallen 6.6 percent. That’s not good news, especially for a newspaper that is facing stiff new competition. A new print daily, the Baltimore Examiner, just launched in April. It’s free and delivered daily, and is designed to be read in a schedule-friendly 20 minutes. According to an Examiner editor that I met at Camden Yards last week (at a non-baseball related event, lest you think I was actually motivated enough to attend a game), this is the first new daily paper to start completely from scratch since USA Today in 1982, and it's being extremely well received by readers and advertisers alike.

The Sun can’t be happy about the new competition, or the declining circulation, or trying to sell the same tired coverage about the same fourth-place, losing team. That’s why they’re selling stories about WILD nights at Camden Yards (there’s a joke that I’m not allowed to make here, due to the “who we are not” rules of this site).

True to its no-nonsense style, the Examiner didn’t break out the orange and black pompoms with their headline today: “
Orioles Score 4 in 9th to nip Royals,” although their article also characterized the game as “wild.”

I do realize that both papers were using “wild” as a reference to the sixteen walks issued in the game. Interesting though that they chose not to characterize this play as “sloppy” or “baffling.”

I guess you’ve got to accentuate the positive when you’re trying to attract readers. We’re not above this at Roar from 34. Let’s give it a try:

Isn’t it IMPROBABLE that Royals Manager Buddy Bell let KC reliever Ambiorix Burgos load the bases in the ninth with three consecutive walks and no outs in a four run game, and the Orioles didn’t find a way to squander the opportunity that was handed to them on a silver platter?

Isn’t it WILD that the Orioles are only 4.5 games back despite an 18-20 record, a string of bad luck injuries and a badly slumping free-agent first baseman brought in to do the opposite of what he’s been doing?

Wow. I feel better already. Let’s just ignore the losses and celebrate the wins. If you remember, that’s what Ravens coach Brian Billick did last season after a 1-2 start. When the previously winless Ravens finally beat the struggling Jets in game three, Billick inanely declared “We’re 1-0.” It should be noted that his first off-field job in the NFL was in the 49ers PR department.

When it comes to this week’s CAP score (the ultra-scientific formula that rates my fan activity in the categories of Current Knowledge, Ardor, and Participation), I’m taking my cue from the winning mindset of the Sun and Brian Billick. Rather than dwell on the details of my poor composite CAP average of .185 this week, let’s just point out that I actually tuned in for TWO comeback wins against Detroit and Kansas City. And, I now know that Ambiorix is not a prescription drug.

This could work. We’re 18-0! How ‘bout dem O’s, hon?

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a difference a day makes...and the Boston Red Sox 2006. The O's haven't beaten anybody with a winning record and don't look likely to do so in the near future. We stink so nothing save for more doses of KC will save our team's sorry a**es!

Matthew Taylor said...

Thanks for the comment.

I had to watch Monday night's debacle in person. The only thing more disheartening than the result was the overload of Red Sox fans. I even felt bad for the O's players.

I did get a laugh, though, from the promo for the Devil Rays series: "Come see power hitter Jonny Gomes and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays." With no disrespect to Gomes, who I loved watching in Durham prior to his big-league promotion, the O's are struggling to maintain fan interest. And understandably so.

Anonymous said...

I caught the 9th inning of Wednesday's game, my mlb.com connection came on just in time to hear the cheers of the Sox fans as a result of the Ortiz homer. We lucked out probably because even the 2nd base ump must have felt bad for the O's especially after Tejada's falling down so he called Harris out :<)

Matthew Taylor said...

The play at second looked like a potential break for the Orioles in real time, but the replay showed that Tejada got the glove in there ahead of Harris' slide. It was a heck of an effort by Miggy to get the tag down.