The Baltimore riots may have calmed down but their aftermath remains, and nowhere is it more tangible than what is taking place in Orioles Park right now.
The view from center field at Oriole Park. pic.twitter.com/mW5Bt0vC2R— MLB (@MLB) April 29, 2015
Orioles match has started with no public pic.twitter.com/cTuk6qxwpt— Andrés Benedicto (@_abenedicto) April 29, 2015
Major League Baseball had already canceled the first two games of the Orioles' series with the Chicago White Sox. And the Orioles' weekend series with the Tampa Bay Rays was moved to Florida.
Wednesday's game was scheduled to be played under the lights, but the league moved it to the afternoon and closed it to the public. Major League Baseball's official historian, John Thorn, said it had never happened before.
As NBC recounts, the Baltimore Orioles played a ballgame on Wednesday with nobody in the stands. The low murmur of a weekday afternoon crowd was replaced with eerie silence.
"Baseball history will be made here today," Orioles play-by-play broadcaster Gary Thorne said to the TV camera at the start of the game. But it wasn't the kind of history anybody wanted to make: it was so quiet at first pitch that you could hear the click of camera shutters.
And the fans were on the wrong side of the gates.
At a pregame press conference, Orioles outfielder Adam Jones tried to help a healing city.
"My prayers have been out for all the fans, all the kids out there," he said. "They're hurting. And I think the big message is to stay strong, Baltimore. Stay safe. Continue to be the city, the great city, that I've grown to love over the last eight years."
Rob Manfred, the commissioner of baseball, said that the decision was made "in the best interests of fan safety and the deployment of city resources."
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As a reminder, this is what John, son of the majority owner Peter Angelos, said a few days ago about the riots:
“Brett, speaking only for myself, I agree with your point that the principle of peaceful, non-violent protest and the observance of the rule of law is of utmost importance in any society. MLK, Gandhi, Mandela, and all great opposition leaders throughout history have always preached this precept. Further, it is critical that in any democracy investigation must be completed and due process must be honored before any government or police members are judged responsible.
That said, my greater source of personal concern, outrage and sympathy beyond this particular case is focused neither upon one night’s property damage nor upon the acts, but is focused rather upon the past four-decade period during which an American political elite have shipped middle class and working class jobs away from Baltimore and cities and towns around the U.S. to third-world dictatorships like China and others, plunged tens of millions of good hard-working Americans into economic devastation, and then followed that action around the nation by diminishing every American’s civil rights protections in order to control an unfairly impoverished population living under an ever-declining standard of living and suffering at the butt end of an ever-more militarized and aggressive surveillance state.
The innocent working families of all backgrounds whose lives and dreams have been cut short by excessive violence, surveillance, and other abuses of the Bill of Rights by government pay the true price, an ultimate price, and one that far exceeds the importance of any kids’ game played tonight, or ever, at Camden Yards. We need to keep in mind people are suffering and dying around the U.S., and while we are thankful no one was injured at Camden Yards, there is a far bigger picture for poor Americans in Baltimore and everywhere who don’t have jobs and are losing economic civil and legal rights, and this makes inconvenience at a ball game irrelevant in light of the needless suffering government is inflicting upon ordinary Americans.”
And here's a bit of levity as Orioles players sign fake autographs and wave to fake fans...