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The Orioles have a night game scheduled for September 5 and the NFL would like to have the Ravens open at home to kick off the season that night. Who wins?
Call it a Super Bowl-winning city problem: for the first time in my memory, the Orioles and Ravens have a sensitive scheduling matter to figure out, and according to tweets from The Sun's Jeff Zrebiec, they haven't figured it out yet.
The root of the issue, based off Zrebiec's tweets, is that the week beginning Sunday, September 8 is going to be the opening weekend for the NFL. In its ever-continuing quest to turn itself into an every-week-of-every-month spectacle, the NFL typically opens up its season on the Thursday prior to that Sunday, building up its Thursday Night Football brand for the NFL Network, and the defending Super Bowl champion gets to host that game. Last year, they moved to a Wednesday night so as not to go up against the Democratic convention.
This year, Wednesday, September 4 after sundown is the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, and it seems that the league that will have games on Christmas and Thanksgiving will balk at having the game when one of the major Jewish holidays is occurring. They would like to have the game on the night of Thursday, September 5 instead.
The problem is that the Orioles, whose schedule has been set for some time longer, are beginning a seven-game homestand on the night of the 5th, their first game played - without an off day - after a three-city, nine-game road trip. Though rosters would be expanded by that point and regulars could be rested if necessary, an afternoon game in that situation would be less than desirable. Should the Orioles just be expected to give way? Of course not.
It seems, based on comments made by other NFL reporters thus far, that the Ravens are willing to possibly have the game on the 4th but the NFL is not. One reason this could be the case is if the NFL wants to have the Ravens play the Patriots in Baltimore to open up the season. Patriots owner Robert Kraft is Jewish.
According to Zrebiec, the commissioners of both leagues have been involved in attempting to reach some kind of alternate solution to the issue and thus far this has not been accomplished. Given that the Orioles schedule has been set for much longer, the leverage to have nothing change seems to belong to them. If they can't work anything out with the Orioles, the Ravens will have to open the season on the road.
Both the O's and their opponent, the White Sox, have games at night, on the road, on Wednesday, September 4. The O's wrap up a series in Cleveland and Chicago will be playing New York. So potentially moving those games now requires four teams being involved. Could the Thursday game be changed to an off-day and a doubleheader be scheduled for Saturday, September 7? That might be the fairest solution to give all parties the most of what they want, while minimizing headaches for the city of Baltimore, but MLB has the upper hand in that they don't have to change anything.
2 p.m. UPDATE: Jeff Z.'s initial reporting was NFL sources. Zrebiec, of course, was the beat writer for the Orioles at The Sun before moving to the Ravens beat, and he probably still knows some people. He seems to have talked to an Orioles source, who notes that "to change game time by more than 30 minutes would require approval by MLB, MLBPA and the White Sox" - and that the Ravens have offered a "financial contribution" to make it happen but "it's not about that for the Orioles." (end update)
Not that anyone asked me, but I think that they should just play the games at the time they would otherwise be scheduled and deal with the headaches. Or, you know, the NFL, which plays games on Christmas, could just play on Rosh Hashanah.
Let's be honest, a Thursday night game in September against the White Sox probably isn't going to sell out or come close unless the O's are in the midst of another pennant chase - and even if they are, it's not like the O's have a strong track record of spur-of-the-moment promotions to try to fill the stadium.
Transportation and parking would be the biggest headaches, with the Orioles probably having to surrender all of the Camden Yards lots to tailgaters. But if 200,000 people can come downtown for a championship parade, then 100,000 or so can come down for a Ravens game and an Orioles game at the same time.
Think of it like a practice run for some time when the Orioles have a home playoff game at the same time the Ravens have a home game scheduled. Wouldn't that be a nice problem to have? This way they could try out some ideas on how to deal with that, the NFL can get its glamorous kickoff game, and the Orioles don't have to make any crazy adjustments to their potentially-important stretch run. Everybody wins.
(This article has been edited from its original content to correct an inaccurate statement about the opening night of the NFL season in recent years.)