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New Orioles Unis: That's How To Do It

Well, that's better. One week after the Washington Nationals unveiled a poorly-conceived remake of its player uniforms, the Baltimore Orioles are out with their new fashions, and they're not only classy looking, but they also reflect a thoughtful new repositioning of the franchise.

By restoring the word "Baltimore" to their jerseys for the first time since the last Washington Senators left the mid-Atlantic states with but one baseball franchise, the Orioles are coming home to Maryland fans and abandoning their half-hearted and ultimately failed effort to attract fans from the Washington area.

To make that decision even plainer, the team has a new armpatch logo consisting of the main elements of the Maryland state flag.

Like the Nats, the O's have gone back to the future, adopting a traditional script on the front of the uniform. But unlike the Nats, there's no gimmickry here, no special garish Fourth of July red, white and blue unis. It's a clean look and, for the Orioles, a clean break with the Virginia and Washington fans who had been a key focus of the franchise for three decades.

The competition between the two teams now centers on the Maryland suburbs, which have been the weak spot in the Nats' fan base so far during their short existence. By adopting a stronger Maryland identity, the Orioles appear to be making a play for the allegiance of those who face traffic challenges whether they go north or south to a ballpark.
But it would be foolish for the Lerners to give up on those Maryland fans, and they won't. Watch for them to step up their promotions, especially in Montgomery County, which should be every bit as big a part of the Nats' foundation, yet which so far accounts for far less attendance than the Virginians who are the biggest part of the Nats's success.

Who knew so much could be packed into a mere uniform?

By Marc Fisher |  November 12, 2008; 4:10 PM ET
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Marc: I think your reference to the Orioles' 'half-hearted and ultimately failed effort to attract fans from the Washington area' is fairly inaccurate. You might be able to say this for the Northern Virigina suburbs. And it's certainly true that interest has waned in the MD suburbs and DC have as of late. But if you go back to the 90s, when Camden Yards opened, when Cal Ripken was goinng for the streak, when the team was in the playoffs in '96 and '97, it was a big story in the DC area. In fact, I still have Washington Post editions saved where the O's were the cover story in the Sports section as well as have a taped segment where Ken Broo of Channel 9 discusses that night's game as the lead sports story.

I agree with you that the competition now centers soley in Maryand. And certainly more wins in that column could swing loyalties towards either team.

But given that I was a Rockville resident for two decades and exactly a by-product of the Orioles reaching out to DC, I had to dispute your claim in this entry.

Posted by: rockvilleraven | November 12, 2008 5:25 PM

Born in Sibley Hospital, D.C...DIEHARD Redskins fan...been an Orioles fan since the Senators deserted us for Texas. Can't get into the new 'Nats as I have been an Oriole fan for far too long. Love the new uni's, love the "Baltimore" logo...good stuff!

Posted by: james51 | November 12, 2008 10:27 PM

To reiterate Rockvilleraven's comments, the Orioles were the team for Montgomery and P.G. counties, and they will continue to be if the Orioles don't abandon them. And it appears that they will not. Marc Fisher is correct: VA has been "won" over by the Nationals (to the extent that the franchise has "won" any fans over), but it is the MD suburbs around the District that are in competition.

The Orioles' addition of the MD flag to the uniforms, their strong presence around the state through their farm system, the schlep that getting to Nationals Park is, and the decades of support for the Birds when the District had no team, all give the Orioles the upperhand in the battle over Mont. and P.G. And this life-long Silver Spring Orioles fan is with the Orioles in this fight.

Posted by: Oriolefan1 | November 13, 2008 7:25 AM

James...I too was born in Sibley, huge Skins fan, and have been a lifelong O's fan. Raised in Arlington,cant bring myself to cheer for the Nats. I was taught that you dont change allegiances just because another team came along

Posted by: rc2223 | November 13, 2008 9:28 AM

rc2223 - I have lived in Alexandria my whole life and am now a Nats fan. BUT, I did not change my allegiance because the Nats came to town. I was turned off by Angelos' dismantling of the team in over the last 10 years. I was a fan through the lean times and during the "glory years" of Davey Johnson's tenure as manager. But Orioles baseball, as it was traditionally, is dead.

I have some Orioles jerseys and hats that will never again be worn by me.

Posted by: jschildk1 | November 13, 2008 11:12 AM

Orioles Tradition is not dead. It is quite clear that Angelos nearly killed it. And it has been on life support. However, the hiring of Trembley and more importantly, MacPhail takes us straight back to the Old Orioles Way created by Hank Bauer, Lee MacPhail and honed by Earl Weaver. It will take time and Angelos staying out of things as he seems to have done this past year. Perhaps his sons have finally convinced him to let the baseball people do their jobs. But the O's will be good again. They nearly were decent this year inspite of being in the toughest division in baseball.

Posted by: pippsk | November 13, 2008 12:56 PM

I agree with most of the blog but I have to disagree concerning the "failed" attempt to reach DC fans. I am a lifelong Washingtonian and I support all of the DC teams except for the Nationals (Redskins, Capitals, United, and the Wizards). Because there was no DC baseball team, I grew up and remain a diehard Orioles fan. I can't switch after so many years.

The new uniforms look great!

Posted by: croftonpost | November 13, 2008 1:32 PM

Man, am I glad to hear from other DC-centric fans and their continued support of the Orioles. I was born in DC (in 1970) and moved out to the Eastern Shore of Maryland at a young age. When I reached my sports consciousness, the Senators had left DC. I followed all DC sports teams and the Orioles. I rooted for DC to get a team, because I felt that the city deserved one. But, I was soon disgusted to find many Orioles fans so quickly switching allegiance to the Nats. I can understand the old timers and some of the younger fans accepting the Nats as their new team. However, the fact that many Orioles fans in my age group would abandon the team they grew-up rooting for made me sick to my stomach. These are the same guys that used to yell "O" during the national anthem, but now hush those who still follow the tradition. No wonder attendance at Nats games is so low so early in their existence - there are too many of these "fair weather" fans that switch allegiance with any excuse. Anyway, I hope a solid base grows for Nats games and that the Orioles continue to be Maryland's (and some of DC's, at least) team.

Posted by: Papalama | November 13, 2008 3:35 PM

I'm a life-long Washingtonian, grew up in Maryland, lived in DC for several years, and now reside across the Potomac. Like many who've commented above, I rooted for the Redskins, the O's, the Bullets/Wizards, and the Caps. I even traveled up to Camden during the 2002-2003 "Dark Ages" when Syd Thrift and Angelos ran the team into the ground. When we first got the Nats, I thought I could split my allegiance down the middle, as they were in different leagues. However, my good intentions quickly dissolved and I found myself engrossed with my new Nationals and haven't looked back. Its not that I root against the Orioles, I just don't root for them anymore. My ability to shed my ties to the O's caught me by surprise, as this was the team I grew up with. That said, having season tickets and being able to get to any home game within 20 minutes just sealed the deal. I probably went to one or two Orioles games a year prior to the Nats arrival. Now I got to more than 20 Nats games and the only time I watch the O's is during interleague, or when I flip to the wrong MASN station.

I don't begrudge DC-area O's fans. I actually find it honorable that so many folks around here keep rooting for them, as DC is such a fickle and fairweather town. I've often thought that true O's fans--those that remember Deivi Cruz and Geronimo Gil--deserve a championship team more than most others. At the same time, I have to admit I don't completely understand it.

I am not like many Nats fans who abhor the thought of a DC native rooting for the O's. I don't complain about the coverage of the team in the paper. But I just think that if your hometown gets a team, you root for it. You don't have to turn in your O's gear, but you should pull for the local team. For me, I don't consider the O's local anymore. I don't root for the Ravens, so I'm not going to pull for the O's. As I said, I won't necessarily root against them, but I'm not going to be lining the street if they ever win a championship.

A long-winded response, sorry about that.

Posted by: rodeorob | November 13, 2008 3:46 PM

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