Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti said the team is "close" to a resolution with the Orioles over the Sept. 5 scheduling conflict, but he noted there are a "lot of parties with Major League Baseball that have to come together and find out whether it's an obstacle that they can overcome." Speaking yesterday to NFL Network's Andrew Siciliano at the NFL owners meetings, Bisciotti said, "I think we still have a chance to get it worked out.” If the Ravens had to open the season on the road, Bisciotti said he would be “disappointed for the fans." But he said of not having the Thursday night celebration, "We have eight away games and eight home games, and if we're forced to do it, then we have to do it. Like I said, there are just so many parties involved that if it's insurmountable then I'll be disappointed, but we'll get over it” (“NFL Total Access,” NFL Network, 3/19). Any shift of the MLB schedule requires the approval of the league, the Orioles, the visiting White Sox and the MLBPA, with a variety of competitive and business issues at play. MLB thus far has not been keen on the change, but a source said the Orioles are still trying to accommodate their neighbor. Negotiations are ongoing between Ravens President Dick Cass and high-ranking Orioles officials. Further complicating the issue is shifting the White Sox-Orioles from the evening to the afternoon would run afoul of provisions in the MLB CBA preventing day games after a night game in a different city (Fisher & Kaplan, Staff Writers). MLB Senior VP/Club Relations & Scheduling Katy Feeney said, "From a baseball competitive standpoint, it would be very difficult to change times. We're talking about September" (NFL.com, 3/19).
LEAVE IT TO THE TEAMS: ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said MLB and the NFL “shouldn’t be involved with this." Wilbon: "Two teams that share the same plot of land ought to have enough goodwill to work this out in their own.” ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said, “If I’m the Orioles, the NFL has to give me something. Steve Bisciotti said he will accommodate them for lost revenues. I got to get a gift bag, I got to get something if I’m going to move out the way.” Wilbon: “Let the Ravens play on Sunday. This whole Thursday thing, let’s not act like it’s Thanksgiving Thursday. This is a tradition of three-and-a-half minutes” (“PTI,” ESPN, 3/19). In Baltimore, Peter Schmuck cites sources as saying that the Ravens "have offered to try and compensate the Orioles for the inconvenience, but that possibility may have been endangered" by comments from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Ravens officials that "seemed to be aimed at putting the O’s on the defensive, even though this scheduling snafu is not of their making." If that was the "intent, it was brilliantly cynical and manipulative, considering the Orioles are just bouncing back from 14 years worth of bad publicity." The Orioles may yet "agree to some kind of accommodation, but they are under no obligation to do so when moving the game to the afternoon immediately after a travel night for both teams could have an effect -- however subtle -- on the ability to compete for a playoff berth" (Baltimore SUN, 3/20).
TOUGH TO MAKE THE MOVE: In DC, Tracee Hamilton writes she could see MLB "accommodating this request" if the Orioles-White Sox game was "in the midst of a homestand ... at the end of a homestand, or if it followed an off day." But it follows "night games on the road for both teams." Hamilton: "If the Thursday night opener were important, I’d feel differently. But we’re not talking about a postseason game. We’re talking about a faux-opening day." The NFL "cooked up this Thursday night spectacle featuring a pregame of middling rock stars and lots and lots of blather" (WASHINGTON POST, 3/20). In Baltimore, Kevin Cowherd wrote, "I just hope it's not the O's who end up hurting themselves and caving in to the almighty NFL." Having the Orioles "play an earlier day game and the Ravens move back the start of their game that night would be a disaster." Cowherd: "It seems to me the NFL is going to have to accommodate the Orioles on this one" (BALTIMORESUN.com, 3/19). But in DC, Cindy Boren wrote, "If I were Goodell, I'd make another generous offer to compensate [MLB Commissioner Bud] Selig, the Orioles and the White Sox for their trouble -- and it would be my final offer." If Selig "didn't accept it, I'd schedule that Sept. 5 home opener for the Ravens and let nature take its course" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 3/19). NBC Sports Network’s Michelle Beadle said, "You’ve got TV for both sides for the baseball side. You’ve got teams coming in, you can’t just switch it all willy nilly.” But Beadle later said, "My reaction is that obviously football should come first." NBC Sports Net's Dave Briggs: "The NFL will get their way" ("The Crossover," NBCSN, 3/19).