A modest proposal for the O's

September 12, 2005|By KEVIN COWHERD

LET'S BEGIN with the premise that this Orioles season is not exactly ending on an upbeat note thus far.

Let's also agree that as they stumble toward what looks like an eighth straight losing season, the O's have turned off so many fans that Camden Yards is as empty as a New Orleans street corner most nights.

OK, what to do about it?

The obvious solution: Put a winning team out there.

Winning solves all ills. Win and the fans come back. Win and all is forgiven. This is hu man nature.

Fans are suckers for a win ner, no matter how many times they get backhanded by organizations that just grab for their money and don't seem to care about them. And baseball fans are the biggest suckers of all.

So if the O's front office gets rid of a few knuckleheads in the off-season and makes the right trades and free-agent signings to turn the O's into winners in 2006, presto!, end of PR problem.

But as alluded to in this space last Thursday, there's something else the Orioles could do to win back a few fans - and they could do it this year.

OK, it's only a small gesture.

And it probably won't have any effect on the hard-core disaffected fans, the ones who think this team has been mis managed for years and that Peter Angelos is probably now qualified to run FEMA.

But here's what the O's should do: Let the fans in for free at one of their remaining games.

That's right, don't charge admission.

Call it, I don't know, "We Owe You Night."

Or "Sorry We Keep Screw ing Up Night."

Or "Thanks for Sticking With Us Through Another Hellish Season Night."

OK, maybe that last one's a little wordy.

Look, I don't care what they call it.

The point is, everyone gets in free. People who already bought tickets to the game get their money back. Same thing for season ticket holders.

Sure, the team would lose a few bucks. But they'd reap a PR windfall. For one night, don't worry about profit mar gins.

Heck, I'd even throw in a free Coke and hot dog for each fan, too. (Oh, yeah, I'm a big spender with other people's money.)

I'd promote the heck out of this thing, too, if I were the Orioles. Take out ads in The Sun, take out ads on radio and TV, let the whole area know this night is coming.

Make a big deal out of it. Make it a celebration.

It's a giveback to the fans for enduring eight crappy sea sons.

Oh, I know the Orioles have already scheduled a Fan Ap preciation Weekend for this weekend.

But that's not the same thing.

What do you get out of those Fan Appreciation games? A hotdog and Coke for a buck each?

Sorry, that's not going to cut it for these poor fans.

For what Oriole fans have endured the past eight years, they ought to let 'em walk away with a big-screen TV or a new stand-up freezer for a buck.

OK, I just thought of some thing else that would be pretty neat for "Sorry We Keep Screwing Up Night."

Are you ready? Have the players themselves greet the fans as they arrive at the ball park.

Well, the players who are still with the team, anyway.

I say that because Rafael Palmeiro and Sammy Sosa are currently at home rehabbing injuries and are expected to rejoin the team "at some point," according to O's man agement - "at some point" in this case being a euphemism for "never."

And Sidney Ponson won't be pressing the flesh at "Sorry We Keep Screwing Up Night" ei ther, now that he was sent packing after his third drunk en-driving incident.

(I know, I know ... what kind of a country do we live in where they don't even let you play ball after three DUIs?)

But every other Oriole should be greeting the fans as they come in and assuring them that the team is still working hard, trying to turn things around, appreciative of their loyalty and blah, blah, blah.

You don't think that would win over a few disgruntled fans?

You don't think that would help the team's image as it prepares for another bleak winter of fan discontent?

At this point, anything would help the team's image.

When you're going this bad, anything's worth a shot.

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