MIKE BURKE

Allegany Communications Sports­­

Over the Memorial Day weekend, the Baltimore Orioles debuted their City Connect uniforms, which are intended to pay tribute to the city’s many diverse neighborhoods.

Based on the purpose of City Connect, I liked them, and even though the Orioles wore them just twice (Friday and Saturday), there are those of Bawlmer-hon persuasion who believe the uniforms served as a curse of some sort and helped lead the team to what could be a very costly long weekend.

First of all, the Orioles lost both games in which they wore the uniforms, but they won the Sunday game when they wore their traditional home whites. Never mind they lost the first two games to the Texas Rangers, who arrived and left Baltimore with the third-best record in the major leagues (behind the Rays and the Orioles). The Rangers are just a very good team and will be one of the major players this season in the American League. Yet somehow, the City Connect uniforms led to the O’s losing two out of three.

(They won last night, by the way, 8-5.)

Baltimore, you see, is a city wary of curses and, perhaps, it should be. After all, the (minor-league) Orioles were the first team to unload Baltimore’s own hometown kid Babe Ruth, right? Sold him to Boston, which, being in the heart of witchcraft-mad New England, really is a town that believes in curses and suffered for quite a long time in being such. Speaking of which, how ‘bout ‘dem Bruins and Celtics, huh?

To make matters even worse for Baltimore, on Monday, during a listless offensive performance against the Cleveland Guardians in a 5-0 loss, the Orioles’ best player, centerfielder Cedric Mullins, suffered a right abductor groin strain and, on Monday, was placed on the 10-day injured list.

The Orioles, who you better believe are hoping it is only a strain and that Mullins is out for only close to 10 days, acted quickly by signing outfielder Aaron Hicks to a major-league deal. As Hicks was recently released by the New York Yankees, the Orioles will pay the switch-hitter the major-league minimum with the Yankees continuing to pay the bulk of his contract.

As for the uniform that some feel was the cause of the recent misfortune, it features, at first glance, a mostly-black look with “Baltimore” script across the front in a bold font inspired by the Globe Collection and Press at the Maryland Institute College of Art and the local arts scene. The speckles and imperfections “represent the shared grit the Orioles and the Baltimore community possess.”

The Orioles also designed the inside of the jerseys, which features a colored mosaic design inspired by the city’s arts culture. The sleeve piping features a black and white mosaic design as well, which is also on the uniform’s socks.

The colorful pattern on the uniform represents the various neighborhoods of Baltimore. It was designed on the inside — a first for an MLB team — as a showcase of the city’s colorful interior, a contrast from the grayscale exterior that represents a “surface-level view” that some may have of the city. The vibrant colors are designed to symbolize the uniqueness of the various aspects of Baltimore.

The hat features a script B pulled from the team’s road uniform font. The same B logo is on the uniform sleeve on top of the mosaic neighborhood black and gray pattern.

A patch featuring “You Can’t Clip These Wings,” the words of essayist/poet Kondwani Fidel, a Baltimore native, is meant to embody Baltimore pride and the city’s perseverance. To coincide with the uniform reveal, Fidel wrote the poem “You Can’t Clip These Wings,” which you have likely seen on the Nike commercial shown during Orioles games.

For what it is, I think it’s a pretty cool uniform, though I could do without the white belts (‘70s leisure suit reflux). Do I think it served as a curse of any kind in leading to the Orioles’ difficult Memorial Day weekend? I do not.

Do I want to see it every day? No, because it is a tribute uniform to the city of Baltimore, and tributes stop being tributes when the same one comes too frequently. “Baltimore” on the gray road jerseys will do just fine, thanks.

That said, I do feel the Orioles’ City Connect uniform is an appropriate and meaningful tribute to a great, great city as well as to the people, the neighborhoods and the spirit of Baltimore.

Which, of course, is what makes Baltimore so great to begin with.

Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected] and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT