I didn’t do this column last year because we still didn’t know exactly what sports might look like in 2021. But with an amount of “normalcy” back in the sports world over the last 12 months, I think it’s OK to start offering some hopes for the local sports scene in 2022. Here are a few of mine.
1. I hope we get the chance to see Adley Rutschman play Major League Baseball.
This is by far the most simplistic of my wishes. I want there to be a Major League Baseball season in 2022. That shouldn’t be asking too much. Adley Rutschman’s first game in an Orioles uniform would be the most anticipated baseball game in Baltimore since … the 2014 ALCS, probably?
I don’t actually fear a full cancellation of the 2022 baseball season. A delayed start wouldn’t remotely surprise me and might not be that significant in Baltimore given such low expectations. We just want to gather together en masse to celebrate the arrival of the centerpiece of the rebuild.
2. I hope our opinions of the next Maryland men’s basketball coach aren’t molded by whether or not they were the specific coach we wanted to see the school hire. And I hope Ryan Odom is at least considered for the job.
The relationship between Mark Turgeon and the Maryland fan base ultimately didn’t work out. But it would be revisionist history to suggest that Maryland fans never gave Turgeon a chance. While Sean Miller might have been the first choice of most fans, there was a general willingness to give Turgeon (then still a relative unknown to most casual fans) the opportunity to prove he could build off of the success Gary Williams had achieved.
Perhaps in part because that didn’t work out, I’ve sensed that Maryland fans feel more urgency about the hiring of Turgeon’s replacement. Some believe it has to be someone with serious name brand value, even if that means an older or embattled coach like Rick Pitino. Others believe it must be someone with direct ties to the area. Many fans are likely to be turned off if the next coach is someone whose accomplishments are similar or lesser than Turgeon’s at the point when he was hired.
I have no idea if former Johns Hopkins standout Andy Enfield (who received his MBA from the University of Maryland) would be interested in leaving USC, but I think he would be at the top of my list if he was. But I’m also high on Randallstown alum Kim English despite his lack of experience. And I think the world of Odom, who seems to be mostly off the radar to this point.
But I’m not going to judge the hire based on whether it was the coach I wanted. I will judge them on merit. I hope all fans do the same.
3. I hope Ronnie Stanley is still Ronnie Stanley.
We can’t pretend to not be concerned about this. The 2019 first-team All-Pro will have played a total of seven games throughout the last two seasons and has undergone multiple major ankle surgeries.
Perhaps he’ll be just fine. He’ll only be 28 years old when the 2022 NFL season gets underway. But he has an $18.5 million cap hit next season with a dead-cap figure of more than $41 million. After a season in which the Ravens experienced a nearly historic amount of injuries, those numbers make it critical that Stanley be the player the Ravens thought they were getting when they paid him. There is a limit to how much a team can overcome in this department (as we saw in 2021).
4. I hope we don’t get to football season without being able to bet on our phones.
While we are finally able to bet in person at the state’s casinos, it remains enraging that mobile betting in Maryland (a far more significant moneymaker for the businesses involved) has yet to be solved. This state has made a pattern of falling behind others when it comes to economic opportunities. It is infuriating and must end. March Madness should be a priority for getting mobile (and online) betting in place. The start of football season should be the absolute latest date it happens.
5. I hope we’re celebrating Baltimore’s selection as a 2026 World Cup host city.
We’re expecting a decision early in the year. It would be a monumental moment for our community within the sports landscape.
And I hope you have health and happiness as well.
Originally published Dec. 15, 2021