The Baltimore sports market is one of the best in regards to fan loyalty and attention that professional franchises receive from the community due to its "small market" feel compared to places such as New York, Boston, and Los Angeles. Now that the Baltimore Ravens season has come to an end, the Baltimore Orioles can expect even more pressure from local media and fans than previous months and even seasons.
The Orioles have been pretty fortunate in recent years when it comes to the offseason because the Ravens have been one of the most consistent and dominant NFL franchises posting five consecutive playoff appearances and capped it off with a Super Bowl title last season, which has taken attention away from the Orange and Black's inability to make many significant moves.
Expect that to change now.
Baltimore will enter 2014 with the Orioles as the primary focus for the first time in five years and the front office staff in the Warehouse is going to feel it.
Thus far this offseason, fans and media have seen this team's biggest acquisitions come with names such as David Lough and Ryan Webb, and if you are not a die-hard baseball fan or at least a die-hard Orioles fan, you probably have no idea who those guys are.
The Birds have also shipped their closer Jim Johnson, who has more saves in the last two seasons than anyone in baseball, to the Oakland A's as a salary dump, and have yet to fill the void at closer. Oh yeah, they "attempted" to sign Grant Balfour, but apparently the Orioles medical staff saw something in his shoulder during his physical that no one else in the league seems to think is an issue.
To place even more pressure on the O's, Baltimore is coming off of back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since the 1996-'97 seasons, and many believe their window to compete for a World Series Championship is already closing fast due to guys like Matt Wieters and Chris Davis who only have two years of team control remaining.
Like it or not, the Orioles front office staff has to accept the fact that the fans now have high expectations for this team, and have shown that winning brings them back as attendance has increased each of the last two seasons. Owner Peter Angelos may try to play off the fact that Baltimore is a "limited" market, but more ticket revenue combined with nearly $50 million in TV money this year leaves the Birds with no excuse to go spend some money to improve this team.
There are still some big time free agents out there that would instantly improve the Orioles current roster, and if the front office staff and ownership think that fans and media have been on them already this offseason, they have not seen anything yet as the Orioles are now the primary focus in Baltimore.
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