Taking Advantage of the Plus-One Fan Invitation: How Orioles and Knicks Fans Relate
Peter Angelos (Courtesy of Getty Images)
With the recent workings of James Dolan and the New York Knicks basketball franchise, I was quickly reminded of just how terrible it is to love a team that is owned by one of the worst in all of sports.
While I won’t take credit for knowing everything there is to know about Dolan’s mismanagement of sport franchises in the Big Apple, I’m comfortable in saying that I’ve heard enough about it. And as an advocate of baseball’s Baltimore Orioles, I can relate with fans who have an owner like James Dolan running their favorite team into a mountain of embarrassment.
Since Peter Angelos became owner of the Orioles in 1993, the team has been nothing short of crap.
Not that I can speak for all O’s fans, but I have come to terms with the fact that supporting more than one team is okay. It’s only justified, however, if the owner of your favorite team leaves you hopeless and without direction, while also signaling no end to his/her tyranny.
Like us polyga-fans of the Baltimore Orioles, Knicks fans should be allowed to root for another NBA team and not receive the adverse reaction if they choose to do so. Reason being — the owner isn’t selling. And as long as Dolan owns the Knicks, the New York Knicks will be the New York Knicks.
The same goes for the Orioles. Although rumors come and go regarding the possibility of a new owner, Peter Angelos isn’t selling. As a result, fans have virtually nothing to look forward to. And as long as Angelos owns the Orioles, they will continue to be the Orioles.
When I was growing up, my sports teams were the Washington Redskins, the Washington Bullets, the Washington Capitals and the Baltimore Orioles. Raised as a hometown sports fan, those were my local teams. I embraced them.
Following Angelos’ 1993 purchase of the Orioles, I stuck around. Not only was I still an ankle-biter at that point, but everybody deserves a chance.
In return for giving Angelos a chance, myself and the rest of Orioles fans received the epitome of mismanagement, an incompetent sports relationship and overall atrocious baseball product.
From 1995-1997, I can’t complain too much. Cal Ripken broke Lou Gerhig’s record in September of ’95, the 1996 Orioles* were one of the more memorable teams of my childhood and Baltimore made a run in the 1997 playoffs before losing to the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS.
James Dolan (Courtesy of Frank Franklin II)
It wasn’t until Angelos pulled his first truly asinine and egotistical move following the 1997 season when he forced then-manager Davey Johnson to resign on the same day that he was named American League Manager of the Year. This was the beginning of the end for me as a fan.
Over the course of the next 15 years, I’ve witnessed the Orioles as the laughing stock of the MLB. Despite playing in one of the league’s toughest divisions, the Orioles have been completely irrelevant. The rosters have been generally lackluster, consistent coaching has been obsolete and somewhere along the lines Sammy Sosa played a season in Baltimore and posted some of the worst statistics of his 18-year career.
In 2005, the Montreal Expos relocated to Washington, D.C. and baseball returned to the nation’s capital after a 33-year drought.
Due to the lack of a public spending cap and odd moves by then-mayor Anthony A. Williams, I wasn’t nearly as excited for the Nationals as I should’ve been. But once Peter Angelos went public with his opposition of having another baseball team added to ‘his market’, I became a Washington baseball fan. Not to mention, the Nats were playing games at RFK Stadium — the home of the Washington Redskins for more than 35 years.
I haven’t disowned the Baltimore Orioles as my favorite baseball team. But I have become a bipartisan fan of sorts.
I root for the Baltimore Orioles of the American League and the Washington Nationals of the National League. And until Angelos sells the Orioles to someone that understands what it takes to be the owner of a sports franchise, the Nationals will remain most important. My only concern with this approach is that, by the time the Orioles fall under new ownership, I’ll be entirely too vested in the Nats. And I’m comfortable with that.
As one of the longest-tenured teams in the NBA, the Knicks hold a solid base. Not only are fans resilient, but they’re passionate and reminiscent of the team’s brief success in the 90′s. Adopting a second team and establishing an emotional stake will be tough. But in order to maintain sanity and mental balance within your world of sports, I can attest that storing the Knicks in your back pocket (at least for the time being) is a necessary and perfectly understandable move.
If you’re anything like me, you consider your favorite sports team like a spouse. You become upset with every miscue, you make plans together for a majority of all weekends and your peers would disown you if they found out you were sleeping around and cheating on such a prized possession.
But here’s where I beg you to take advantage of the plus-one fan invitation. You have no idea what you’re missing.
There’s no reason to feel guilty. It’s the direct result of poor ownership. Guys like Dolan and Angelos are the ones to blame.
( * ) — Giving credit where it’s due, I did have a strong liking for the 1996 Orioles team that was robbed by Jeffery Maier in the ALCS against the New York Yankees. As most know, Maier wasn’t a player for the O’s or the Yankees. He was the snot-nosed kid in right field that reached over the wall and snagged a ball away from Orioles outfielder Tony Torasco as he jumped to make the catch on Derek Jeter’s long ball. Umpire Rich Garcia failed to call interference and the series suffered a landslide momentum shift.