Author's photo - Fan forum at Orioles FanFest 2/1/14

Baltimore Orioles FanFest – A Day with 15,000 Friends


 

There is a tremendous amount of energy generated when 15,000 people gather together in one place for one purpose upon which everyone agrees – that the Baltimore Orioles are headed for a great season in 2014.

The Baltimore Civic Center was crawling with people in what is a very kid-friendly and family-friendly event. And along the way, there is also plenty for the serious fan to hear and experience.

The FanFest event really personalizes and humanizes the players on the Orioles. One is able to see their personalities in a unique way – almost like in a giant family room. And it is clear that the Orioles guys are family – this is a group that uniquely likes each other and working together for success. From the laid-back persona of Duck Dynasty Markakis, to the joking with Tommy Hunter that his microphone was on a 10-second delay, the guys are very human.

In several articles in the coming week, I’ll share a few observations that I particularly took away from the event in terms of personnel for the contested positions, contracts, etc. But today I thought I would just share some of the thoughts of people I met today. (And since there is another event today that sadly does not include our Ravens this year, you can check out our writing staff’s prediction for the game HERE.)

I asked everyone three questions: What are you most excited about for this coming season, what are you most concerned about, and which free agent would you want to see secured for the Orioles this year?

Bob from Dundalk – a season ticket holder – said he is excited about the core of the team coming back and seeing the young pitchers progress. “It will be interesting to see who goes to second base,” he said. While believing the closer situation will work out, the DH role gives him the greatest worries for the lineup. Yet he could not say he was really excited about any of the free agent possibilities still out there.

On the other hand, Eli from Ellicott City was really interested in and hoping the Orioles will be able to secure A.J. Burnett. Eli is particularly looking forward to seeing Manny Machado back after the injury, while expressing his greatest concern as the starting pitching. “We don’t really have a true #1 starter,” he said.

Ken from Vienna, VA is also looking forward to seeing Machado back, while also hoping to witness a lot better pitching and hopefully also the addition of Burnett. Those sentiments reveal his concerns on the flipside – “I have a pitching concern … not worried about the hitting, as we have added enough … but there is no closer and we need another starter.”

Tony from Columbia is most excited about “Baseball, Period!”  He attends over 100 games a year between the O’s, Nats, and his season ticket plan at Bowie. His concern is that the team “jettisoned a closer with no plan, and that will have a domino effect. Tommy was used perfectly last year.” Tony is not excited about the big names of free agents that are out there. He is, not surprisingly as a big supporter of the AA team, interested in seeing young pitchers given a chance to work it out when they are called up. “Don’t just stick them out there, and as soon as they pitch like crap … gone! There is not enough patience.”

Overall from talking with fans, there was just about one of every opinion out there about what to do to make the team better, who to play at second base and left field, and a number of other thoughts. But there is no disagreement on the one common desire to see the 2014 Orioles succeed.

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