Kevin Van Valkenburg of the Baltimore Sun's Toybox blog has some advice for Matt Wieters as he tries to get comfortable in Charm City:
But before it all begins, on behalf of the city of Baltimore, I'm wondering if, as a transplanted Marylander, I can offer a few pieces of advice. Don't think of these as absolutes, just as a potential road map for what's ahead of you. This city was a little overwhelming to me when I arrived eight years ago. But somehow, I've grown to love it. Hopefully you will too. But here's the way to make that happen . . . During Hon Fest, come to Hampden, drink too much, eat too much funnel cake, threaten to start a fight, yak in front of Holy Frijoles, and then make out with a chick with a beehive hairdo. Seriously. To the fan base, you represent absolute perfection and endless possibility right now. It would be good for everyone to realize you're human and allowed to make the occasional foolish mistake. Because then it won't be a let-down if you go into a slump. We like our stars to have a few flaws, or at least be human. (See: Lewis, Ray) This would seem like harmless fun. I promise I won't send the pictures to Deadspin.
I don't know that he needs to try that hard -- Baltimore loves its stars if they show even a little love back, so maybe going full on blotto, local style is not necessary -- but baseball remains a far more local game than any of the other major sports. A star who understands that holds the key to fans' hearts. A guy like Alex Rodriguez never understood that, while guys like Curt Schilling and others who enmeshed themselves in the local culture (even if they're not themselves locals) do. In an ideal world, Matt Wieters would be allowed to just play baseball before coming some sort of leader or icon, but Van Valkenburg is right: it's not an ideal world in Baltimore. Fair or not, so much is expected of this kid right out of the gate, so anything he can do to show the fans that he's there for them every bit as much as he's there for the Orioles would be time well spent.