So December is coming to a close, and right on schedule, my excitement for the upcoming baseball season is growing. Regardless of how I feel or don’t feel about the way the Mariners have handled the offseason so far, it’s sort of comforting to know that we are only three months away from men hitting fastballs and curveballs with sticks, and of course summer. And we’re even closer to Spring Training! One of my gifts for Christmas was a decent radio that could
But the thing I’m really looking forward to this year, the gem kicking off my baseball season, is my trip out east to see the Baltimore Orioles and Philadelphia Phillies. And maybe the Nationals; I’m still working that out, because technically speaking, I could get off the plane, grab my luggage, and go straight to Nationals Park. I might be a little late for the first or second innings, but it could technically be done. I could also do it the following day; an early game! But I have a lot to cram into my visit to the right coast, so things need to be balanced carefully, and a Nats game would mainly be because I’m in the area, not out of any true love for the team itself. We’ll see. My flight out is sadly a red-eye (6AM the day after the Mariners’ home opener, which I will also have to stay up to write about/pack/get maybe a smidge of sleep), and I just dealt with one of those for the holidays in the worst possible way, so it’s kind of a big decision.
To prepare myself for sucking as much joy as possible out of Camden Yards, I have been doing a small bit of research. I wanted to know how Camden compared to Safeco Field, as I was (and still am a little) concerned about having enough time for one game to see and do and eat and take pictures of everything as much as possible. To this end, there is a slight possibility that I may have to go to two games while there. Have to. Oh, the humanity! But I know more about the place now than I used to, so let me share what I have discovered.
Camden Yards is in downtown Baltimore, in the Inner Harbor area. They even have their own “official” hotel, a Sheraton about a block or two away from the field. Certain gates open two hours prior to game time, and all gates open an hour and a half prior to game time. This gives me a half hour less to take part in pre-game activities than I normally have at Safeco. I am not yet sure if this will be an issue. The gates that open earlier are on Eutaw Street, and you can take in BP from the bleachers there, or the Orioles Legends Sculpture Park, which I have a very keen interest in from a photography standpoint. I have seen a few pictures of the park from Deanna at Marinerds, on her FaceBook page, and I am very much looking forward to taking as many photos as possible. I love the art and architecture that makes stadiums unique. The site also features these suggestions for first-time visitors. A shirt?! I must obtain a shirt!
Like Safeco, Camden has multiple places of interest to obtain drinks and food; this is where I think I may run into trouble as far as having to attend more than just one game. The All-Star Cafe sounds sort of like the Diamond Club, in that it is a limited access situation for custom-made food. Boog’s BBQ is named after former first baseman Boog Powell, and occasionally he is there signing autographs; maybe a little like Edgar’s in Safeco? Dempsey’s Brewpub is a setup we don’t have in Seattle; the closest would be maybe Pyramid or Jimmy’s across the street. Dempsey’s is actually located within the field itself. I plan on drinking at least one pint there. Hopefully. Free State Pub is located near third base and provides local beers, but there’s no indication as to whether or not it is a pub in the normal definition, or merely a kiosk with beer. Don’t tell me, I’m looking forward to finding out myself! The Miller Lite Flight Deck sounds a little bit like the Lookout Landing in Safeco, but also sort of like the Hit It Here Cafe; located on the club level, but with seating if you want it, and good for groups. The Natty Boh Bar doesn’t have much of a description, aside from the fact that provides fans with local brew National Bohemian, which I’m pretty sure I’ve never had and will need to amend when I get there. The Roof Deck sits atop the batter’s eye in center field with a full service bar and standing and seating room. I like that you can do this, as we can’t in Safeco, and having viewing room above the batter’s eye would be fantastic.
Unlike Safeco Field, unopened non-alcoholic beverages are permitted to be brought in from the outside. Also unlike Safeco, no re-entry is permitted. A smoking ban went into effect as late as this past March (Safeco has of course been a non-smoking facility for years now). All other bag/camera/signage rules are pretty much the same as Safeco. Everyone gets checked, no giant signs, etc. You can of course also purchase birthday wishes for their screens in the outfield, they have a special kids area for playing in, and a few other amenities that Safeco also has.
The Orioles also have a rather curious bullpen set up. Whereas we have two open pens back to back, the O’s and their opponents warm up right next to each other. Asking around on Twitter about the pens, I got a response and photo of the area from Avi Miller of Baltimore Sports Report. Used with permission.
I know a lot of teams do this, but it just seems so open. Our bullpens still feel a little bit closed off; I think that’s due to the ceiling down in The Pen. Whatever the case, it appears that there is a lot of space to position for photography, and that makes me happy.
A pretty good picture I found via Google Images (credit in lower right corner):
You can of course see the famous B&O Warehouse over right field. That is also where Dempsey’s is located. I am planning on getting tickets in the lower bowl; if I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it right. I will also be getting a blank Mariners jersey lettered for the occasion, and will be wearing an O’s t-shirt under it. Hopefully the weather cooperates with my clothing plans.
Since I don’t think I will get to write over the next few days unless I have time, I just wanted to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Joyous Kwanzaa, or whatever it is everyone celebrates. I hope your time with family and/or friends this holiday season is wonderful, your food comes out perfectly, and the presents are good. Happy Holidays, everyone, from me here at Section 331.