The Baltimore Orioles’ new brand is disappointment

Don’t act surprised. It’s a recurring theme with the once-proud franchise. Capital Gazette’s Bill Wagner reported Wednesday the Orioles will not play an exhibition game at the Naval Academy this year.

The announcement comes 14 months — fourteen — after the Baltimore team blocked the Washington Nationals from intruding on their territory. The Nationals and Boston Red Sox thrilled midshipmen during an invitation-only event April 1, 2017.

Bryce Harper wore a Naval Academy sweatshirt during batting practice. Jackie Bradley Jr. signed autographs for throngs of midshipmen.

It was a once-in-a-lifetime moment. It still might be a once-in-a-lifetime event because it’s the Orioles we’re talking about.

The Orioles Way has quite a different definition in 2019 than it did in the 1980s. It’s impossible to fathom Cal Ripken Jr.’s Orioles repeatedly embarrassing themselves.

The Orioles Way used to mean doing the little things right which set the foundation for success. Today, it means trading away top young talent and 100-loss seasons. It means breaking a pledge to the Naval Academy.

The Washington Nationals were scheduled to play games at Max Bishop Stadium in 2018 and this year. Instead, we get promises of next year.

Orioles by rights have territorial control for all Maryland. They exhibit championship expertise protecting their legal ground but would hardly rate as rookie leaguers nurturing it.

The Orioles couldn’t find an opponent to play a proposed March exhibition game this year, Navy spokesman Scott Strasemeier told Capital Gazette. We have to wonder if the same enthusiasm used to shut down the Nationals was unleashed recruiting an opponent.

For perspective, the Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals played the Toronto Maple Leafs in a regular-season game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium last March.

Here’s some unsolicited advice for the Orioles to ignore at their own peril when working to find an opponent to play them at the Naval Academy. This is how conversations with potential Major League Baseball teams should be delivered, verbatim:

“It’s the Naval Academy. Thank you for your time.”

We’re talking a preseason game. The stars sign autographs. The managers wear Naval Academy caps. Two thousand invitees — including 800 midshipmen — get a lifetime thrill.

It’s unrealistic to believe not a single MLB team was willing to stop in Annapolis after spring training in Florida or Arizona to be part of such a unique game that honors future military leaders.

The Orioles couldn’t find a partner to do that over 14 months? The Nationals could. They did.

Perhaps it’s just the Nationals Way.

Jimmy DeButts can be reached at 410-280-5915 or follow on Twitter @jd3217.