The Cartoon Version

2012 has seen a return to the Orioles' iconic cartoon logo as the team's main icon for the first time since 1988...

It’s Baltimore gentlemen, the Gods will not save you. — The Wire

As a result, my wife is quite concerned that Kate is running around talking about the Orioles as her new favorite team.  The wife, who is an Angel fan, remains concerned. She is comfortable allowing me to fill Katelyn’s head with dreams of Cal’s Memorial Stadium or Haas Pavilion, but not of Oriole Park at Camden Yards.  On the way home from an Easter Egg hunt on Saturday, Amber confronts Katelyn:

Me:  “Who is your favorite team?”

Kate:  “The Orioles…”

Mommy: “The Orioles?”

Kate:  “I like the Orioles, like they are Daddy’s favorite team…”

Mommy (to me):  “You did that!”

Me:  “I did not…this occurred all by itself.”

Of course, none of Katelyn’s sudden weekend interest translated into any desire by her later on that evening to allow me to watch the game telecast on my iPad for the Birds’ win against the Twins on Saturday night.  I finally managed to escape to the bathroom to watch both Nick Markakis’ and Matt Wieters’ homeruns in the 7th inning of what became an 8-2 win.  While the game was on, a longtime friend, whom I originally met during the team’s success in the mid-1990s, upon discovering I hadn’t been able to watch the game, began to chide me on Facebook about the fact that Kate had apparently forgotten who her favorite team was.

Truth be told though, between Disney Junior, Disney Princesses, and her other enjoyments of the moment, the Orioles are in competition for her attention.  In addition, in all honesty, while I’ve unabashedly foisted the Cal Bears upon my daughter (it is a public school, after all…), I wanted her choice of professional teams to be more organically chosen.  My father was a Los Angeles Rams fan, and took me to my first Angel game (back when Anaheim was still in Anaheim…), but otherwise never suggested to me what my favorites should be.  I want that particular choice to be the same for Katelyn.  On the other hand, I am not beyond helping the process.  

Perhaps though, this ought to be the process.  Emilie Miller is the daughter of Jon Miller, former broadcaster for the Orioles, formerly of ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, and now currently the voice of the San Francisco Giants:

My father, Jon Miller, broadcasts baseball. I do not remember my first game, but I cannot separate my childhood or memories from baseball. For the first six years of my life, my father juggled his duties as a broadcaster and as a single father of two young girls. These duties often overlapped.

In a photograph from the 1980s, my sister Holly and I are sitting in the broadcast booth before an Orioles game at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. Cheeks flushed and a bit sweaty on a sticky summer day, we are drawing on the backs of stat sheets. Holly leans languidly on the table in front of the microphone, glaring into the camera and looking bored. I look as if I am still in diapers.

My father raised us while going to games, but he never insisted on our sharing his passion. It could have been easy to raise us as precocious fans with encyclopedic baseball knowledge; we were entrenched.

I was 5 when a foul ball shot into the broadcast booth. My father ducked instinctively as it flew over his head and smashed a window behind him. I happened to be sitting under that window, engrossed in a coloring book.

Before I realized what had happened, I was dripping in shattered glass, which covered my hair and gathered in the folds of my dress. Suddenly, several towering adults surrounded me, their voices full of concern. My father was in the middle of broadcasting the inning. On the car ride home, I learned a lesson from my father: “Em, in baseball, it may seem like nothing is happening, but you must always pay attention.”…[t]o spend so much time in a space that fills night after night with tens of thousands of fans who love a team deeply, and to grow up surrounded by people who, at every pay level, love where they work, was beautiful. I still love sitting in the stands before the stadium opens; it feels like a cathedral, filled only with potential and the sound of flags whipping in the wind. Yet baseball is also the reason I will be forever fond of obnoxiously loud pop music and hot dogs.

As Miller continues, she notes:

But it isn’t just a game. I was born in Texas because my father was a Rangers broadcaster. I grew up in Baltimore because of the Orioles. We were American League, we were Cal Ripken, we were hot summer nights at the yard. As an adult, I visit my family in Northern California and shiver watching Giants games in the whipping wind as the sun set over San Francisco Bay.

She was raised to be a baseball fan first, and a devotee to that passion before she came under the sway of a favorite team.  What the Arte Morenos of the world don’t quite get, in particular given how baseball is not the popular sport it once was, is that baseball fans have to be cultivated, not converted.  Signing an Albert Pujols means very little if the passion for baseball that enables a fan to understand the signing of such a player does not exist first.  Over a 162-game season, the months go by far too slowly to get an immediate rush that other sports can provide a casual fan with only a passing interest.  In fact, I had to chuckle when I heard a panicked fan already complaining to Angel Talk on Saturday when the Halos dropped their game to the Royals; in the caller’s opinion, manager Mike Scioscia’s decision to sit his starting catcher, Chris Ianetta, in favor of backup Bobby Wilson, was one of the factors as to why the Angels had lost.  Given that the Angels were going through a stretch of 3-straight day games, with travel to Minnesota (for the Twins’ home opener yesterday) in between, he couldn’t “get” why it might be important to get a catcher, one of the more demanding positions on a baseball field, some rest.  Already, you could see how this different idea of a 162-game schedule can wear on a fan who is used to snippets of action on Sportscenter.

It’s why when the Orioles lost to the Yank-mes last night, to drop to a 3-1 record after an Opening Series sweep of the Twins, the long season had to be taken into account.  While the Orioles have reverted back to the team’s iconic Cartoon bird head, no baseball season is a cartoon short.  So when it comes to developing my own little girl’s longterm fandom, it is not something I can hope to force upon Katelyn;  this little girl, by her nature, wouldn’t allow us to force anything upon her as it is, anyway.  I will take her to games, teach her what I know, and hope it comes along.  How it develops from there, should be up to her.

Nevertheless, she might like this cap (pictured below).  It goes with a number of her outfits already…




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