The empty-stadium game at Camden Yards today is going to be weird. And the Orioles being the “home” team in Tampa Bay this weekend is not ideal. But it’s rather difficult to see what else Major League Baseball could’ve done about all that is going on in Baltimore right now.
Nancy Armour of USA Today thinks differently. I don’t mean to single her out as, I’m sure, there are others who question what’s happening with these Orioles games. It’s fair to question it, as it’s just a weird situation all around and there are not truly satisfying answers. But a couple of the main points are worth talking about.
Her primary criticism is that baseball is “acting out of fear” and that baseball “assumes the worst of the people of Baltimore.” I’m sympathetic to that notion and feel like, if they had a normal game with fans allowed in and nothing bad happened, it would be a good thing that would go a long way toward combatting some of the worst stereotypes of the people of Baltimore since the unrest began. But I also don’t blame baseball for not taking that risk.
What if something does happen? What if riots or violence does interfere with fans going to and from the park? What if someone is injured? The injury would be bad for its own sake and the optics would be bad for both baseball and Baltimore, would they not? Less philosophically, Major League Baseball is a business. A business which has had teams incur liability in the recent past for being unable to ensure the safety of fans coming and going from the ballpark. It’s hard to blame that business for not knowingly taking such a risk in this situation, however much you’d like to see a game with fans pulled off in Baltimore today.
Armour’s other suggestions — moving the game to Washington or Philadelphia — aren’t realistic. She notes that business disputes between the Nats and Orioles prevents the former. Logistics make moving the games to a neutral location all the more difficult. Gearing up for a road trip to Tampa Bay is one thing. Moving stuff to a third location and figuring out the finances of that stuff is a lot more difficult. And who, really, would that serve? Not the people stuck in unrest in Baltimore right now. It might be nice for rich people in the suburbs who can take a road trip to see the O’s play in Washington or Philly, but they aren’t exactly the ones for whom we should be most concerned at the moment.
I agree with Armour and others that this is a less-than-ideal situation. But it seems to me that, between an unbalanced schedule which doesn’t have the White Sox coming back to Baltimore again this year and the risks and liabilities associated with putting a ballgame on in Baltimore at this very moment, it’s the best of many less-than-ideal options.