On More Baseball Excitement

At work random drawings are sometimes held for baseball tickets. Sometimes the Orioles. Sometimes the nearby minor league team, the Aberdeen Ironbirds (though, I should note, they don’t begin play until mid-June).

Last year I won tickets to the Ironbirds twice, but never the O’s.

Last night, I scored Orioles tickets.

My second baseball game in four days.

Saturday was warm. Last night was not. A cold wind swept through the park, and it was downright chilly by the late innings.

I had never been to Oriole Park at Camden Yards. I rode the Light Rail from the office downtown, something else I had never done. Camden Yards had more of a carvinal-like atmosphere than Nationals Park had had on Saturday. Also, the gift shop was larger and better stocked. (Of course, there’s a reason for that. The Orioles have a fifty-five year history. The Nationals have a four year history. Just as the Orioles ignore the St. Louis Browns history, the Nationals don’t claim the Montreal Expos history. So, the Orioles giftshop had nostalgia items that the Nationals giftshop would not.)

Nationals Park was probably three-quarters full on Saturday night, and at least a third of those were, like myself, Cubs fans. Camden Yards might have drawn a crowd of 10,000 last night, and it was all Orioles fans. The upper deck was completely empty except for above the media box directly behind home plate, and a few oddballs way out in the left field upper deck. The middle deck? That one sat empty, too. What crowd there was made noise — I’m thinking specifically of a very drunk kid two rows behind me who couldn’t have been more than twenty — but there was no energy.

I was disappointed at the size of the crowd. There’s a picture in this morning’s paper of Aubrey Huff’s homerun, and the crowd backdrop behind him is… empty seats. From the angle, that would have been along the right field line. I suppose ten years of futility will do that to a team, ten years of an ownership that has taken its audience for granted.

It was the little things about Camden Yards that impressed me. The kiosks with Guinness on tap. Between innings a video celebrating the vendors that walk that stands was shown. There was the bizarre incident where I got caught in the turnstile and flipped over it.

The Orioles got out to an early lead, but things began to melt down in the seventh. Brian Roberts, long touted as a possible trade to the Cubs, made a stupid play that kept the inning alive, leading eventually to four runs on the board for Tampa Bay — and based on his play at the plate, the Orioles can keep Roberts, because I certainly don’t want him in Cubbie blue.

Tampa Bay burned through pitchers early on. Their starter had trouble locating the plate, and walked the bases loaded in the first inning. Second inning, too, he walked several batters, and allowed some runs. In the third inning, the score broke open, and Tampa Bay made a pitching change. Their middle relief was better than their starting pitcher.

I left in the eighth, with the Orioles up 7-4. It was cold. I needed to catch the Light Rail back to my office complex so I could pick up my car. And I had memories of trying to get into the subway station at Nationals Park on Saturday, and I didn’t want a repeat.

It doesn’t look like I missed much by ducking out early.

ETA: It occurs to me that this post reads a little, well, dry. That I didn’t enjoy myself.

I can tell you, dear readers, in all honesty, that the game was a bit dull.

However, I was giddy as a schoolkid. There wasn’t a lot of energy to the park, not even before the game, but there was a palpable atmosphere at Camden Yards. When I first walked up to a railing, after I walked in, and looked down on the playing field, it took my breath away.

It was amazing. 🙂

I was thrilled to be there.

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