Chris Townsend, who hosts his own talk show as well as the A’s pre and post game show on 95.7 The Game said it best when describing the eerie scene at Baltimore’s Camden Yards, “Baseball is supposed to be an escape from the realities of life.”
Instead, the Orioles and White Sox played to an empty ballpark with a seating capacity of more than 45,000 because of the riots occurring from the fallout of the Freddie Gray funeral.
Sure the game was played and televised but there was nothing jovial about the contest despite the Orioles 8-2 win. When Chris Davis launched a three run homer towards the warehouse in right field, the only sounds that could be heard were from the players in the Orioles dugout and the booming voice of play-by-play announcer Gary Thorne exclaiming, “goodbye home run!”
One of the lasting images are of fans looking on from the gates outside Eutaw Street and a few others who gathered at area hotel balconies for a glimpse into the locked down ballpark.
Sure we all understand the need for safety and security which is why the game was closed to the public. But it should have been rescheduled for a later date or perhaps played in Chicago with the Orioles serving as the home team.
It has been done before, in 2004 when the final game of a series between the Montreal Expos and the San Francisco Giants in San Juan, Puerto Rico was rained out.
The game had to be made up and it was as the second game of a conventional doubleheader. The Expos wore their home uniforms and batted last while the Giants donned their road greys in their own ballpark.
Baseball continues to alienate itself from their fans and this is the latest faux pas. It should come as no surprise why the NFL and the NBA are far more popular, especially those under the age of 50.
Historically, Baseball was and still is looked on favorably. When you think of the old time greats like Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, and Jackie Robinson, those names resonate even today with those who don’t even follow baseball but with today’s game who are the stars?
Sure you have Mike Trout, David Ortiz, Buster Posey, and Clayton Kershaw but those names ring hollow when you have stars in the NBA like Stephen Curry, LeBron James and James Harden. Or the NFL where Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Peyton Manning are household names.
Baseball is no longer the American Pastime, it’s past its prime. I still love baseball and I think it’s still one of the best sports to watch in person.
But when the sport locks out its own fans, what message are you sending other than telling the public, we don’t need you!