Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

For Once, Baseball Has The NFL By The Short Hairs

Illustration for article titled For Once, Baseball Has The NFL By The Short Hairs

It's the rare occasion that MLB has any leverage over the NFL, the most powerful non-Illuminati organization in America. So with the Ravens and Roger Goodell begging, pleading, and cajoling the Orioles to move a September game so the Ravens can open up at home, it's hard to blame Peter Angelos and Bud Selig for just sitting back and enjoying the show.

For eight whole years now, it's been an NFL tradition that the defending Super Bowl champs get to kick off the next season, at home, in a nationally televised Thursday night game. But there's a problem for the Ravens. The Orioles are already scheduled for a home game the night of Sept. 5, and downtown Baltimore is remarkably unsuited to hold two big events at the same time. So the Ravens want the Os to get out of the way of FOOTBALL.

They've tried being nice, and appealing to justice:

“I have called Bud Selig twice and spoken to him about that,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Monday. “We are trying to work out an accommodation to allow the Orioles’ game to happen earlier in the afternoon and the Ravens to celebrate their Super Bowl championship with their fans at home on Thursday night. We think that is the right thing."


They've tried the power move:

“I don’t know how much goodwill we’ve built up at both the league level and the team level. I hope it’s enough that [the Orioles] say, ‘This is a good thing to bend over backwards to accommodate them,’ ” Bisciotti said.

They've tried buying them off—Steve Bisciotti said he'll compensate the Orioles for any lost revenue. They've even tried the guilt trip. Said Biscotti, "The bottom line is if they wanted to do it, they would find a way to do it."

From Selig and the Orioles: silence. The popular girl is paying attention to us! Don't blow this!


Seemingly every alternative has its own logistical issues. The Orioles don't want to move their game up to the afternoon, because they'll be flying in from Cleveland on the red-eye the night before, and baseball's getaway day rules don't allow for day games after night games in a different city. The Ravens don't want to open on the road, or on a Sunday, to lose the kickoff week festivities that come with the Thursday opener. The NFL doesn't want to play on Wednesday, because it's Rosh Hashanah. (Though as this column points out, they played on the holiday last year, and in many past seasons. And the Giants' 2012 opener was moved to a Wednesday because of Obama's DNC speech.)

But this isn't about logistics. It's about power. For the first time in many, many years, the Orioles have power, and pride. By September, they hope to be in the thick of a pennant race, winning over a city that has longed to care about baseball again for longer than the Ravens have existed. Kowtowing to the NFL would come across as the Orioles being willing to accept second-class citizenship. Stand up for your right to play under the lights! Take back the night! (Or just take the Ravens' money. You have 80 freaking other home dates.)

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