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Baltimore – Our Home

Probably the most common question I’ve received about Baltimore Sports and Life (BSL) over the years has been a variation of what’s up with the generic name, and what is the life portion of the site?

When I launched BSL in 2009, it was a blog for my own diversion. We initially wrote not only about sports, but included some thoughts on restaurants, pop culture, and politics.

(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)

I quickly concluded that continuing to include my own biased political thoughts would only irritate roughly half of our potential audience. So, I ended that. We also got away from doing anything non-sports, as there was plenty to discuss by limiting ourselves to discussing the Orioles, Ravens, and Terps only.

The site had some incremental success. In December 2011 we added a message board. In November 2012, we added the first voices beyond myself for the blog portion of the site.

On the message board we adopted a policy that political and social discussions didn’t belong at the site. Not because I didn’t think they were conversations worth having somewhere; but because I didn’t think they fit us well. Our contributors over these last few years have run the gamut politically. Some far left, some far right. I wasn’t concerned about the politics of any of them – only their ability to provide quality coverage of the O’s, Ravens, and Terps.

The decision to not have those larger societal and political discussions has been pressed at times by our message board posters, but it’s a policy we’ve maintained. As we’ve evolved, my vision for what I want BSL to be has only become clearer. I want us to be a diversion. A place you can come for intelligent sports conversation, and bs on lighter-topics.

That’s all well and good, but the bottom-line is that you cannot have a site named Baltimore Sports and Life – and not have some commentary on the events of the last few days.

A lot of our sports commentary is analytical, and fact-based.

My thoughts here are emotional. Visceral.

My heart aches.

My anger is real.

I’m going to give some of my opinions here.

Some of you will agree. Some of you will not.

Believe that I surely don’t believe I have the answers here. I don’t. I’m also not claiming that my points of view are correct.

If you think I’m wrong, I’m willing to listen.

 

Let’s start with this.

It is my opinion that if you grew up and live in the Baltimore Metro (Anne Arundel, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Carroll, Harford, Howard) – you are from ‘Baltimore.’

If that is you, you know the look you get when you tell someone from outside of Baltimore you are from here.

That look that manages to combine both fear and pity.

If you are like me, that has often become a source of irritation.

You can’t blame them though.

As a community, we haven’t done a particularly great job of promoting the positives that do exist.

Outsiders know The Wire, but fail to know about the general affluence of the Metro as a whole.

And make no mistake – if you look at the Metro’s education and median income levels – it is a fact that we live in one of the Nation’s most affluent areas.

Forever, we’ve been labeled a rust belt city. An economy based on dying manufacturing. The real story is the transformation to an economy that is certainly helped by proximity to large amounts of Government jobs, but also huge growths in the BioTech, EdTech, and Financial Services industries.

You also can’t blame anyone from outside of Baltimore who has a negative perception of Charm City, because those negative perceptions are also rooted in reality.

Violent crime has been reduced over the last decade+ (in some years, reaching 40 year lows), but those reductions have been essentially going from astronomically insane numbers, to still too much.

We hear about the negatives of the City, because those negatives exist.

There is no way around it.

There can be a lot of good, in the City and the Metro as a whole – but until the ills that plague the City are really addressed; those messages of the good will never be received on a larger scale.

For a City / Metro which has regularly taken huge PR hits, this is another tremendous black eye.

This is going to hurt the local economy. Hand-in-hand, it will hurt tourism.  You hope it doesn’t hurt investment, but you can understand if it does.

You know this will be the lead story not just on every National news site, but also fodder for The Daily Show, and SNL. YouTube clips and Memes to be replayed endlessly.

If you had already grown tired of carrying the banner to celebrate Baltimore – will you be able to find that strength, and fight now?

I’m ranting, and as I write I realize I don’t know where I want to go with this.
Writing is often cathartic for me. This is not. It’s painful.

At our message board the other day, I said that I found my Facebook feed hard to read. I mused that I thought I preferred a time where you didn’t know everything someone was thinking.

Hypocritically, I’ll continue to give some of the opinions I’ve had since Saturday. Those comments in italics are what I’ve written on the message board since Saturday.

Some of those comments are already embarrassing to read back.

On Saturday, my comments were very brief.

My own basic thought is that protests are fine. They shouldn’t erupt into violence.
Best to the protesters. Best to those worried about their personal safety and property due to the protesters.

I also included a link to some background information to the protests of Saturday.

On Sunday, part of my reaction to Saturday was this:

Here is what I hate. I see a bunch of people that shoot first with their comments, vs. desiring to get more information. I see a bunch of sensational comments, and I don’t have the desire to engage. People are going to think what they think.

That Freddie Gray possibly died as a result of not getting early medical care and the spinal injury could have been the result of the police is cringe worthy.

I dislike the complete lack of faith in the system. I recognize that I’m a white suburbanite with different life experiences than much of Baltimore City’s African American community. I recognize that if I had their experiences, it would likely be easier for me to identify with their feelings. I don’t, so I can have empathy – but I don’t directly understand.

I do have faith that an internal review from the Police, an external review from the FBI, and the judicial system if it progressed to that point – would properly address any abuse from the Police (if such abuse did in fact happen).

I don’t see what calling for the Commissioner’s or Mayor’s job accomplishes.
I don’t like that Commissioner Batts rather tame comments were condemned by the President of the FOP.

I think the great, great majority of people protested peacefully Saturday as per their right to do so.

I think the people that didn’t, corrupted the message of the people that were peacefully protesting for the changes they want. I think those people should be enemies of the peaceful protestors as, and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

I don’t think anyone should have their personal safety or property threatened by a protest.

I think those who vandalized, or tore down the flag, or looted etc… acted like cowards.

I think it’s annoying to see numerous people react to headlines from sources with clear agendas… who don’t even have basic facts right (such as identifying the Commissioner as the Mayor)…

It’s extremely annoying seeing outsiders trash Baltimore, when locals do it… I find it disheartening.

I think the basic divisions you see people make… “I’m for the Police, I’m with the protestors” are dumb.  You should support both. The Police and the protestors aren’t vague groups… they are us.

You might not sing koom by ya tomorrow, but you better figure out how to improve the communication from those who serve, and the community at large.

I think there was some really dumb stuff done by a small minority…  but judging by some of the comments I’m seeing, people are equating a looted 7-11, and some smashed cars as apocolypse now, or the second coming of the ’68 riots.

The City didn’t burn down Saturday. The sun came back out today.  40K people were at OPACY without issue.

When the City kept people at the park for a few minutes Saturday, I’m sure that was scary…but it was the right precautionary move, and it was short lived.

I think I see one side saying everything was very peaceful until the crowd reached Pickles, and stuff was said and thrown at the protestors…..and I think that is unfortunate if true.

I also think it sucks that some people were not interested in the protest itself, and were looking for nothing but an excuse to act out.

I think when Photo Journalists were taken down by Police, that kind of illustrates the point of the protestors….  Conversely while that makes a good headline, it also ignores that Police are people… and while trained… when they are extended, and pushed, and their intensity is upped… mistakes can happen.

I think Gray’s sister / family deserve commendation for their comments urging peace.

While I could live without Jones or any other player commenting on most things… I think he again showed leadership in his comments, and I really applaud him in this regard. Same with Torrey, and Suggs. Simple messages, from people with a large platform.

 

On Sunday, I definitely did not see Monday coming.

Early yesterday afternoon, I still didn’t completely see what was coming, at-least in its eventual scope.

I do think it is a lot of fear mongering.   Not that anything won’t happen…  it will.   There is anger, and there are people looking to do damage, just to do damage.

You can sense it is a powder keg ready to ignite.

That said… the damage and looting, and desecration to the flag that did take place Saturday – while vile – was a bit overblown. It wasn’t the city burning down.

(I thought this link was interesting in showing how a comparable amount of damage / rioting at Ohio State or Huntington Beach was reported in comparison.)

Do I think someone could target cops? Yeah, unfortunately I do. Do I think ‘Crips and Bloods’ have come together in harmony to systematically go after the Police? No, that seems like sensationalism.

You definitely need some leadership here. Someone to effectively step in as a mediator between the Police and the organizers of the protesters….  and you also need the protesters to come out and continue to argue against violence from those who want to corrupt their message… and cause damage for the sake of causing damage.

Lastly if a Police officer is targeted, the city will become (with reason) a militarized zone for some time.

 

Here are some current thoughts.

Echoing the thoughts I think of everyone, what we saw yesterday was disgusting. Those weren’t protesters. It had zero to do with Freddie Gray. The actions we saw yesterday were properly identified as criminals and thugs by the Police Commissioner, the Mayor, the Governor, and The President.

Those people didn’t just hurt their own communities. They did damage to all of us.

I know some disagree, but I think the Police had the right policy yesterday to try and avoid engagement. At times they lacked numbers. Had they gone with the policy of immediately cracking skulls, I think it is a strong possibility that there could have been even further escalation.

It’s horrible that at-least 15 Police officers were injured yesterday, with several in serious condition. I think had they engaged yesterday, it’s possible those numbers could have been even worse.

Today, you have more numbers from the reinforcements from Anne Arundel, Baltimore County, Howard County, Montgomery County, The State Police, and The National Guard. You can be more aggressive if need be.

As horrific as the images of yesterday were, at-least there were no images of the Police antagonizing the situation.  They weren’t. The Fire Department wasn’t.

The criminals were.

Certainly can’t have another night with 25 fires.  And you can’t have more images of looting.
So, with more numbers…. you have to clear the streets… and if that means the Police have to be more aggressive… so be it.

Even once the streets are cleared, even if that lasts for a week – the question will become what happens next?

Will there be additional violence?

Will you have to have an extended Police state?

When the rioting does stop, and the cameras leave – what then?

Will you stay?
Will you leave?

It’s been great to see the other local municipalities provide some supplement help to the City. It is my feeling, that as a collective Metro, that help is going to have to continue.

If we as a whole want to rid the City of the social ills which damage all of us – whether you live in Canton, or Catonsville, or Ellicott City, or Bel Air, or Glen Burnie, or Westminster – it is going to take a group effort.

It should be clear to the Metro as a whole – we can no longer turn a blind eye towards the ills which have ravaged Baltimore City for too long.

I love Baltimore. This is our home. The home of the people I care about and love the most.

This is Baltimore:

Development-Landing-Baltimore2

But so is this:

 

This is Baltimore:

 fedhillinnerharborwbench400x300

But so is this:

 

This is Baltimore:

 

But so is this:

Balt 3

This is Baltimore:

But so is this:

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This is Baltimore:
But so is this:

To co-opt Under Armour’s slogan…Will we come together as a Metro as a whole, and protect this house?

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Written by Chris Stoner
2 years ago
Baltimore,

Chris Stoner

Chris Stoner founded Baltimore Sports and Life in 2009. He has appeared as a radio guest with 1090 WBAL, 105.7 The Fan, CBS 1300, Q1370, WOYK 1350, WKAV 1400, and WNST 1570. He has also been interviewed by The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore Business Journal, and PressBox (TV). As Owner, his responsibilities include serving as the Managing Editor, Publicist, & Sales Director. You can reach him via email at [email protected].

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