The Orioles are a great many things to this community: an excellent baseball team that is making an unexpectedly strong run for a pennant, a focus of civic pride, a downtown magnet for suburban dollars, occupants (and partial designers) of a beautiful ball yard, a nice bunch of guys who enjoy what they're doing and make us enjoy it with them. There is one thing the Orioles are not: an exclusively private business that can tell the general public to butt out of its affairs.
It would be churlish to begrudge the Orioles the bonanza they are enjoying at the ticket windows and concession stands. (But not to express the hope they decide to share a little more of it with Cal Ripken Jr. next year.) According to a financial plan unearthed by The Sun's Mark Hyman, they are attracting more fans and pocketing more money than even they expected before Opening Day. And their expectations were hardly modest: an $18.4 million operating profit, double last year's emotional farewell at Memorial Stadium.
Certainly the fact that the team is breathing down the necks of the Toronto Blue Jays helps draw sellout crowds even on weeknights. But so is the excitement about the brand-new Oriole Park at Camden Yards.