You remember the Baltimore Bohemians, the upstart minor league soccer team playing its games in Charm City while wearing some uncommonly swagged-out uniforms. Joe Tirabassi, one of the Bohs founders (and designers of that awesome kit), will be keeping a diary of the Bohemians inaugural season for us. His first entry is here.
We have entered into the phase of our operation that can be qualified as the "Asses in the Seats" stage. No one likes to play to an empty house. It's not a good look, especially for your inaugural game. The bad news on this front: we probably picked the wrong Saturday. The first game the Baltimore Bohemians ever play is going head-to-head with myriad sporting diversions of which fans in the Baltimore area could avail themselves. The Preakness, O's/Nats in D.C., D.C. United vs. Toronto at RFK, and lest we forget, there's some other slightly higher-profile soccer match going on over in Munich. All of them this Saturday. All of them vying for the attention and precious time of Charm City sports fans. Or, you know, it could rain. While most of our demographic will be jaunting across port a pots elsewhere, we'll be putting the finishing touches on Cedar Lane, our home ground. Icing down the kegs, stapling the programs, planting the corner flags: the details. Success lies in those details and up until now, we've done everything right. Well, almost everything. But this is how it has to be: our budget being as it is, missteps can prove costly and our financial straits leave no margin for error. We're learning from our mistakes, and we're determined not to fail.
This means when you get a few boxes of pocket schedules made, you should make sure you have the right dates for every game. It means making sure our ex-hippie sound man comes through with the PA. It means getting the liquor licenses sorted out in time with the county. It means preparing for rain.
And it also means putting a quality product on the field. Those jerseys really made a name for our club (and the income from sales has floated us in this lead up to kickoff), but if all we have is a flashy kit, we run the risk of becoming a fashion label as opposed to an actual, living, breathing football club. Thankfully, our masterful coach has put together a crack squad, built largely around local talent. These are D1-level guys whose caliber of play will hopefully make those shirts even prettier. These dudes play well, and if nothing else, they'll look good doing it. Even in the rain.
Growing up, I never wanted to do what these guys are doing. I never wanted to be a professional soccer player. It was the logistics that hooked me. At the age of 11, I taught myself HTML on a 28k modem in order to, nerd alert, make my club team a website. I documented our ups and downs with scanned newspaper clippings, grainy pre-digital photos and in-depth statistics on a now-deceased Angelfire page that probably only had visits from my IP address. Sure, I had the giant Baggio poster and my bookshelf was littered with "Sportstars," Kenner's soccer variation on their Starting Lineup figures.
But, beautiful execution of the beautiful game aside, I was always fascinated by the inner workings of a club, and what went on behind the scenes with the besuited brass that filled stadia across Europe. Granted, most of the clubs we fetishize have decades of history behind them, but our team and theirs face the same challenge: how do you keep fans coming back, season after season, especially if your club has hit a rough patch? We’ll answer those questions on a much smaller and notably less grandiose scale during this season—a footy microcosm, rain or shine, right here in Baltimore.
Truth be told, this club was supposed to get going in 2013. As fate and other agents would have it, we got our shit together for a 2012 kickoff. In less than six months, we've built a minor league franchise from the ground up. Now all that's left to do is actually play the matches, and hopefully win. When the floodlights have been extinguished, when the players have left the pitch, the jerseys aren't going to matter. The praise and hype from the press aren't going to matter. The only thing that will matter is the outcome. But for the love of all things good in this world, I really hope it doesn't rain.