Ravens, Orioles represent the best of what Baltimore can be

In short, how many US cities are home to Major League Baseball and National Football League franchises that are legitimate playoff contenders in both sports? Los Angeles? Undoubtedly. Ditto for Tampa, Florida. But after that, the collection gets very thin very quickly. New York will likely have two baseball teams in the playoffs, but football? Fugged about it! Giants and Jets are destined to be cellar dwellers. Meanwhile, ESPN has the Buffalo Bills as the NFL’s preseason favorite, but sorry, upstate New York, your Buffalo Bison are strictly a triple. Which brings us to a certain community on the Patapska River with a capital city population of 2.84 million and a football team that is not only in the NFL’s top 10, but also a baseball team that, much to the surprise of the fans (and probably even the players and coaches) , continues the hunt, at least for now, for the wild card slot.

And just like the Ravens to complete their 3-game preseason schedule hosting the Washington Commanders at M&T Bank Stadium on Saturday, it’s as good a time as any to make this observation: How cool is life for sports fans in Charm City right now? Baltimore may have its problems—readers can check this space every other day of the week for a detailed explanation of them—but we should also pause and rejoice in our successes, even small ones. The Orioles did Baltimore (and professional baseball) the world good with their strong showing on the Little League Classic last Sunday, including the infectious joy these young men bring to the game. The Ravens will likely do the same this weekend, if only to demonstrate how much better their organization is run than their opponents 41 miles down the road, where owner Dan Snyder is embroiled in toxic workplace allegations (and this is only this year’s scandal).

The stadiums in downtown Baltimore are undoubtedly an economic asset. The Maryland Stadium Authority touted the billions of dollars in economic activity generated by the facilities — enough to justify this year’s another $1.2 billion of investment in them. This year marked the 30th anniversary of Camden Yards, and it’s been fun to realize the impact the beautifully designed ballpark has had (with the possible exception of the new left field wall) and the great moments that have taken place there. The Ravens have enjoyed success for so long that they expect a national audience. We can be proud of their presence in Owings Mills and downtown. If John Harbaugh ever wakes up with a sudden urge to run for public office, look out for Brandon Scott, John “Johnny O” Olszewski Jr. and Larry Hogan or whoever fills those seats. The O’s and Ravens bring a bit of pride, and that’s exactly what Baltimore needs right now.

Of course, things are never perfect. Even the most casual Ravens fans probably know this star quarterback Lamar Jackson remains unsigned and, as was clearly demonstrated last season, the team is much better when he is on the field. And signing him to a long-term contract will probably be expensive. Getting past the Kansas City Chiefs this season won’t be easy. Even the Cincinnati Bengals are putting up a good fight. But does anyone believe the Ravens won’t go all-in when the regular season whistle blows Sunday, Sept. 11 at MetLife Stadium against the New York Jets? And that’s why Baltimore fans love them so much. From star position players to more expendable special teams shooters, the Ravens will bring desire and dedication to the field.

We’re not going to do too much professional sports. It’s business, we know. There are ticket sales, television contracts, autographs, and licensing. But it’s also fundamentally a test of will, a battle of skill, planning and preparation, a demonstration that a team can be greater than the sum of its players. And that’s why the Ravens and Orioles in 2022 were so special.

Let’s face it, Baltimore could use a little inspiration, whether it’s a diamond, a grille, or a neighborhood street corner. If we could solve our problems the way the Ravens solve their opponents, if we could hit home runs like those birds with the necklaces, if we could work together, black, white, rich, poor, urban and suburban, to achieve success, we can remind the rest of the country that Baltimore is a major league city. And that, as young fans like to say, would be wonderful.

Baltimore Sun editorial writers offer opinion and analysis on news and issues that matter to readers. They work separately from the editorial office


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