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Preparing For Summer’s Fair Weather (Fans)

With all of the (mostly justified) optimism surrounding the Orioles this spring, a thought arises. Let’s assume for a moment that the team starts out well. That by the time baseball weather arrives a month or so into the season they’re above .500 and performing up to expectations. Will it be reflected in the attendance?

Not so much in weekend games or games against marquee opponents — most of those continued to draw well even in the lean years. I’m thinking more of those mid-week nights against teams like the Mariners or White Sox. This year, for example, Seattle comes to town on May 10-12 for a Tuesday-Thursday set. Will those games be well-attended if the O’s are playing well?

I’d bet they will. And if that’s the case, it will probably mean that some of the fair weather fans have returned. This is a phenomenon about which I have decidedly mixed feelings.

Mostly, I want to see Camden Yards strong again. I want to see it come back alive and see the players feed off of that energy. I want to see a robust hometown crowd supporting the local nine.

On the other hand, there’s a provincial aspect of my personality that anticipates the influx of folks who abandoned the team in recent years and says, you didn’t earn this.

Silly? Maybe. But I recall the conversations I had with so many people who wondered why I still cared about the Orioles because “they suck.” I recall the hundreds (thousands?) of radio callers I heard blast the team with myriad reasons for giving up, moving on. To think that some of those same individuals will be back disturbs me.

To be clear, I’m not talking about folks who were always casual fans anyway. I’m talking solely about the ones who spoke out. Those who expressed, in one forum or another, their willingness — their pride — in abandoning a team that wasn’t giving them the wins they felt they deserved.

To them I say, stay away. Don’t come back just because the team is doing well. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.

The Camden Yards I want to see is one filled with die-hards who never left the team and regular folks from all across the Baltimore region who find themselves reinvigorated by the possibility of an improved team. The whiners and complainers of the past two, five, ten years have no place in that. They signed their name to abandonment, and they should own it.

Most of them won’t, of course. I know that. But a man can dream.

27 comments to Preparing For Summer’s Fair Weather (Fans)

  • looking4perfect

    Preach it!

    Always stick by your hometown team, through thick and thin. You don’t always have to agree with the things they do, but keep rooting for them.

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle


    this whole idea that you have to blindly root for anything is…tribo-athletically jingoistic?

    i mean, i get the enthusiasm for the strides the team has made but…i think if you look at it critically it’s not hard to understand why baltimore deserves to be won back.

    but whatever. it seems like fuckin’ groundhog day at this point.

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle


    You don’t always have to agree with the things they do, but keep rooting for them.

    just ponder this for a god damned second.

  • brstevens

    Attendance is relative. Over the last couple years those mid-season mid-week games against the mediocrity of the league were lucky to draw 10,000. If the O’s play well those kinds of games might draw 25,000 this year. Is that better? Yes. Is it indicative of bandwagoneers jumping aboard? With vast swaths of fans still dressing up as empty seats I don’t think so. Until the O’s make the post-season and you can’t find anyone who’ll claim to have abandoned ship when times were tough I don’t think the types of fans who show up at games is anything to get your panties in a wad about.

  • Dan H

    I’m a fair weather Caps fan. I freely admit it. I love hockey, but I never latched on to a team, because I never really had a team. The Caps have been good, they have one of the best players, they’re close; I like the Caps. If they win it all, sure I’ll be happy. I might even do a little dance. But I won’t REALLY feel it, like the die-hards will, and I know that, because I wasn’t with them when they sucked. I didn’t live and breathe their futility. So, if they hoist the trophy, it won’t redeem a decade (lifetime?) of angst and disappointment.

    The fair-weather fan phenomenon is common to sports, in general, and life too, for that matter. It bothers me a little because I might get crowded out of my ballpark by rich assholes that bought all the good tickets because it’s now the cool thing to do.

    I just tell myself that if and when the O’s win it all and I get that redemption I’ve been waiting for, these fools around me won’t have any idea the feeling of ecstasy, pure bliss, euphoria I fully expect a WS win to feel like. There is no way to fake that. So, sure, they’ll enjoy it, have a good time, mostly because everyone else is having a good time. They will say to themselves, “Well, isn’t that nice.” But they’ll go home and live the rest of their lives exactly the same.

    For me, I expect to live in that moment forever. Whenever it comes.

  • dan the man

    @ Big Ben’s Motorcycle:
    You’re right in that no one has to root for a team if they don’t want to. But just know that rooting for your team only when it’s doing well leaves you up for some serious criticism if you want to proclaim yourself a true Orioles fan. Why? Because if you’re a real fan, it doesn’t matter if the organization does things you don’t agree with because there is always the team on the field.

    Now, if you don’t wanna root for that team because none of them hustle or are a bunch of criminals, that’s another thing.

    But honestly, fans who are fans again solely due to the win-loss record are straight suspect. When your argument is “well who says we HAVE to root for the O’s when they suck” then that’s just decidedly weak as shit, I’m sorry.

    All that said, my end thought on this is that the time is now to bring fans back to the Yard. Forgiveness all around because having Baltimore be a baseball town again is the most important thing. Even the fair weather fans are still relatively knowledgeable and still follow the team whilst bitching about the team all these years, regardless of them saying otherwise.

    Jump on board, there’s plenty of room for everyone.

  • dan the man

    Also, as I’ve said many times, the Orioles do not owe you or me or any fan anything. Do they owe you something when you decide to purchase their product? Sure! And while you can argue that the product has been weak, that’s still up to us whether or not we purchase that product. But until that point, it’s a product, and we are free to not purchase it. The average casual fan who does not attend games or purchase merchandise or has cable solely for MASN – that fan does not implicitly deserve anything from the Orioles because he is choosing not partaking in the Orioles product.

    In this respect, the fans who feel entitled need to get over themselves. Baseball, like all sports, is a business, not a right.

  • Mike R

    Do you mean the same Baltimore “fans” who 4 years ago sold their Ravens tickets to of all teams, Steelers fans in the final week of a season that they had won only 4 games? That home game was atleast 75% black and gold if not more.

    Those same fans who jumped ship then are the same ones who jumped ship on the O’s 5, 10, 13 years ago. To them I say fuck em. Don’t come back.

    Of course they will come out of the woodwork if they start playing well. Maybe not as early as May, but August and September if they’re still in some kind of contention.
    Dan H wrote:

    It bothers me a little because I might get crowded out of my ballpark by rich assholes that bought all the good tickets because it’s now the cool thing to do.

    100% true. Anyone here ever been to a Nats game? That’s what you see. More than half the people there sitting in their suits, reading the Wall Street Journal, yapping on their Bluetooth during the game.

    Went to the game last year when Strasburg was suppossed to start then was a last minute scratch. Standing in line for tickets and 3 suits walk by that can’t understand why theres such a long line. “Whats the big deal? Are they giving something away or what?” Mind you Strasburg had made about 7 or 8 starts by this point. How does any true Nats fan not know when Strasburg is scheduled to pitch.

    If the Orioles turn it around, thats what we have to look forward to. A ballpark half full of people that when you say “Remember when Aubrey Huff hit for the cycle?” And they say “Who?” Or “Wow, Manny Machado is tearing up the minors.” “Who’s that?”

    I guess if my choices are cheap tickets, hanging out with die hards in the flag court, and yet another dismal year. Or more expensive tickets, uncomfortably crammed into to park surrounded by dummies, and the Orioles conteding for the playoffs, I’ll take the O’s winning everyday and twice on sunday.

  • Andrew

    There’s so many worse things in life than dealing with fair-weather fans that I’m not going to worry about even for the five seconds it’s taken me to write this very blog comment.

    That said, I think the O’s would need to be sitting in the .700+ winning percentage in mid-May to deal with crowds on a Tuesday night against Chicago.

  • Tomás

    @ Big Ben’s Motorcycle:
    um…there’s a humongous difference between countries and damn sport teams.


  • mike

    I don’t consider myself a fairwether fan but I did put off going to Oriole games for years. The reason wasn’t because we were bad. The reason was the lack of effort the Orioles put in to compete. I’ll watch this year and already purchased a partial season plan not because I think we’re going to compete for the playoffs but because the organization is putting in effort to be competitive. I don’t know how many fair weather fans feel like I do but I would never and have never abandoned the Ravens because I know the org tries every year to put the best on the field they can. Couldn’t say the same about the O’s. Seems things changed since McPhail came in.

  • looking4perfect

    @ Tomás: um…there’s a humongous difference between countries and damn sport teams.


    I know, right? apples and oranges.

  • neal s

    I had a feeling this one would generate a lot of discussion…

    Anyone who’s read TLC long enough knows that I’m into exploring the notion of fanhood. What makes a fan, what makes a community of fans, and why — I find these concepts fascinating.

    Now, ultimately, the main point here is obviously that I, like most of you, want to see Camden Yards become an exciting place again. But, yes, there’s something that rankles me about fair-weather fans returning en masse.

    But is it an “important” issue? Nah. Just one that I think is interesting.

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    calm down i just wanted to use tribo-athletically jingoistic somewhere.

  • Dave

    How many of the tools that took pride in abandoning the(ir?) team actually did “sign their name to abandonment”? I’d guess most threw stones anonymously, and will just as anonymously come back once the team has re-established itself as a winner.

    They won’t lead the charge back in, or be early adopters. But they’ll slink back in just as anonymously as they denigrated the orange and black.

  • neal s

    I just re-read through all of these comments and, man, it made me feel good. Lots of good insight, good thoughts, and a healthy dose of diverse opinion without any bullshit. We don’t have 50 comments here but a thread like this is basically why the site exists. I love it.

    So thanks, everyone. I hope we’ll keep hearing from all of you throughout the season.

  • Dave

    @ Big Ben’s Motorcycle:
    it is a great line…can’t fault you for wanting to trot it out.

  • Joe Miller 2

    Neal your willingness to blindly stick with this team as they trotted out year after year of crappy product doesn’t make you a hero. Passionate / lifetime Orioles fans have every right to complain about the way this ownership group has trashed a civic trust. If those same fans want to come back, spend their money, and sit next to the 1,500 or so season ticket holders with your mindset – so be it. You’ll be happy to go to a stadium with more fans – diehard, fair-weather, whatever. Your suffering / victim mentality – just let it go.

  • Joe Miller 2

    @ dan the man:

    @DantheMan. Outstanding. Makes me nostalgic for the late 80’s – when you could still get a 32oz Natty Boh @ Memorial Stadium for $3.25.

  • looking4perfect

    @ Big Ben’s Motorcycle:

    HA! You sound like my GF. She has a “word of the day” blog that she updates passionately. I can’t blame you either, I immediately had to look up what that meant and show it to her.

    I’m all for anybody who is willing to root for the O’s to fill up the yard, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to respect their choice to label themselves as “fans”. It’s subjective anyway, so the argument is kind of a waste of time.

  • WOFM

    There’s a big difference between “fair weather fans” and fans who became frustrated with year after year of losing which led many to wonder if they were even trying, or fans who had reason to take issue with how the Angelos’ ran their business.

    Any real fan hates the front-running hangers-ons, the people who go to just say they were there. But not to burst all of our optimistic bubbles, they’re not exactly sniffing that kind of popularity just yet.

    Playing .500 ball is not gonna get you back to the early days of Camden Yards, where getting tickets was a local status symbol

    But face it, there are not enough “serious/knowledgeable” fans to fill any ballpark night after night. True fans just have to learn to tolerate this influx of fair-weather fans who will always come trotting out when a team becomes successful. So bash those kind of people all you want, but don’t forget that if those bandwagoners start to return, it means the team is truly competitive again, which ought to be enough to offset the annoyance of dealing with the fair-weather fans again.

  • neal s wrote:

    But, yes, there’s something that rankles me about fair-weather fans returning en masse.

    Chances are you won’t have to worry about being rankled anytime soon.

  • Andrew

    Alls I’m saying is if your options are “deal with bandwagon fans” or “deal with shitty baseball team” that’s one of them, whaddayacallems, Hobson’s Choices.

  • looking4perfect

    @ WOFM:

    Very good points. I’ve always tried to tell my sports fan friends that as crazy as it sounds, we are in a minority. Looking at the big picture, the majority of the population don’t follow sports.

  • David

    I see your point here with this post. There will be fair weather fans. Theres also fans like me who wont pay to see junk baseball. I dont want to sit in a empty stadium on a weeknight after rushing home from work to get down there to see a lifeless baseball team go through the motions. If the Ravens put a junk product on the football field the same thing would happen. Guess what they dont. They want to win. The Orioles dont show that. I see a bad team with no life while the warehouse gets rich. How bout that? Im sure someone will say im wrong on this but im not. You cant stand by a team that fails every year for 13 years and say well its the home team i have to root for them. Sure i root for the O’s to win but why pay money to see them fail. I saw a man make a Capitals reference as well. Theres a big difference between that and the O’s. The O’s are 13 years of being terrible and cellar dwellers. The Caps are in the playoffs pretty much every year, the angst is not winning the Cup. Really I hope the O’s do well. I hope they win some games. If i decide to spend money to go see them i should be welcomed back and not told im a fair weather fan. I should be told by the O’s hey we got the message here you want a good product to spend money on. Well here it is or at least we are trying.