MLB Unwilling To Move Up Orioles Game For Thursday Night Ravens Home Opener
MLB appears unwilling to move the Orioles' Sept. 5 night game that would conflict with the Ravens' home opener. MLB Senior VP/Club Relations & Scheduling Katy Feeney, with little enthusiasm for the NFL's request for the baseball game to have an earlier start, said, "The Orioles game has been scheduled for quite some time." Asked if the issue was now dead, Feeney replied, "Nothing is simple," though she did not elaborate. MLB is opposed because the Orioles and White Sox each have games the night before in other cities, and generally teams do not have travel between a night game followed by a day game. Because the Orioles and Ravens share parking lots, hosting the games concurrently is not an option. The NFL team that wins the Super Bowl since '04 has opened the season at home on the Thursday night before the traditional Sunday afternoon kickoffs for other teams, replete with big celebratory events. That Thursday night falls on the same night of the Orioles game against the White Sox, and the NFL has ruled out holding the game a day earlier because that is the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said, "I have talked to Major League Baseball, I have called (MLB Commissioner) Bud Selig twice and spoken to him about that. 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." Sources said that Ravens President Dick Cass also has reached out to the Orioles (Fisher & Kaplan, Staff Writers). The Washington Post's Mark Maske noted it appears if the conflict "can't be resolved, Ravens would prefer to play on the road Sept. 5 rather than at home that Sunday night" (TWITTER.com, 3/19).
WHO BLINKS FIRST: Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti said that the team has "offered to compensate their baseball neighbors for any lost revenue." However, in Baltimore, Jeff Zrebiec in a front-page piece cites a source as saying that the Orioles' "reticence to move the game to earlier in the day is a baseball issue, not a financial one." Orioles officials "don't think they could get the required approval from the White Sox, the league and the players' association to change the game time." Feeney said, "It doesn't just involve the Orioles. There is another team." Bisciotti said, “In fairness to Major League Baseball and the Angeloses, we’re trying to dump a pretty big problem on them and we’re asking them to make a lot of concessions that will benefit us and potentially harm them though it doesn’t necessarily harm them." He added, "The bottom line is if they wanted to do it, they would find a way to do it. From the Ravens and the NFL standpoint, we’ll do whatever we have to do in order to keep that tradition" (Baltimore SUN, 3/19). CBSSPORTS.com's Clark Judge noted Orioles Owner Peter Angelos would "have to sign off on the move, and there are two things you should know about the guy: 1) He takes his time making decisions, and 2) he's stubborn." A source said, "I know Peter Angelos, and he'll dig in like a tick's head in a dog. So there's no use in appealing to public opinion, because it won't work." Angelos has the "leverage here, and so does" MLB. Neither "has to budge." But the NFL "does, and it's trying." A source said that MLB is "willing to take the hit on this one, though it's Angelos who is unmoved" (CBSSPORTS.com, 3/18).
TIME TO TAKE CHARGE: ESPN's Trey Wingo noted that if fans can "read through the tea leaves" with Goodell's comments, he was “saying, ‘Well, I’ve called the Orioles twice. It’s on you guys!' That’s him saying, ‘Hey, we’re reaching out. You guys haven’t responded.’" Wingo: "He’s putting the squeeze on them a little bit.” ESPN's Tedy Bruschi said, "I hope ... they can work it out because that’s such a special night for the world champion.” Wingo: "It’s an event, and with all due respect to baseball and the Orioles, you play 81 home games in baseball. You only get eight in the regular season in the NFL, and you want this one to be at home to kickoff the season” (“NFL Live,” ESPN, 3/18). YAHOO SPORTS' Michael Silver wrote, "With all due (dis)respect to the displaced national pastime, it's time for the Sheriff of Park Avenue to walk all over Selig." Something is "going to have to give." And that "something -- sorry, baseball fans -- is not going to be America's most popular spectator sport." Goodell to his credit was "relatively polite when questioned about the conundrum." But if Selig "won't play ball, here are three words of advice for Goodell: Make it happen." Silver: "Does Selig seriously think he's going to win this battle against the NFL?" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 3/18).