SECTION 331

Like a Million Baseball Fans Cried Out, and Were Suddenly Silenced

First Day at Camden Yards. Bats. Very Dangerous. YOU Go First.

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And we have wifi!

This morning started off with a hefty dose of sleep, which I badly needed. We gathered our things and got ready to leave, and I got my standard gear on for Orioles games:

IMG_1535I’ll be wearing this when the O’s come to Seattle as well.

We stopped for some cash, drinks and snacks at a nearby gas station after checking out, and got on the road back to Maryland. The drive was not too bad. A lot of slowdowns and general business, but I would expect that on a Saturday anywhere. It didn’t take us long to get back to the Baltimore area, and I had already called ahead for the Motel 6 reservation in an area about 11 miles outside the city, so we were set to go.

We found the hotel, but couldn’t check in until 3, so drove around looking for a coffee house. There weren’t any. This area seems devoid of pretty much anything except car dealerships, some sort of mall that looked pretty uninvited, a lot of strip malls, gas stations, and general blah. Not finding even the Panera Bread that we thought was on the area via Google, we went back to the hotel, and discovered that there was a bar in the Days Inn above the 6, so went up there, figuring a quick drink and hanging out for an hour, and then we could check in, drop our stuff off, and get going. The bar turned out to be Paradise Indian Cuisine, which wasn’t so much a bar as a restaurant and party space rental. There was a buffet, and we were the only white people in there, and I have to say, the food smelled and looked amazing. If it were not for me wanting ballpark food, I would have gladly consumed my weight in curry and pakora ans samosas. Instead, I nursed a Kingfisher, and Rick and I chatted while people watching and checking out the cricket match on TV over the bar.

Around 2.40PM, we went back down to our own motel, and were able to check in, load our luggage into the room, and hop back in the car to go the stadium. Google maps has literally saved our bacon; were it not for this application, I never would have found a towing company for the tire the other night, and I think we would have gotten lost far more than would be comfortable for me. It’s been a gift. We followed ourselves on the blinking blue dot until we wound up on Russell Street, home of both Camden Yards, and MT& something-or-other Bank Stadium, where the Ravens play.

IMG_4456IMG_4458We had to drive all the way around the stadium, but did find parking, right across the street, for a miracle price of $10. Let me repeat that, parking across the street from the stadium for TEN. DOLLARS. None of this $20-$55 price gauging that happens on 1st Ave in Seattle. Ten bucks, a friendly traffic control officer to help you back in, boom, book it, done. From the car, we took walk back around the stadium towards Eutaw Street. I took a bunch of pictures…

IMG_4459IMG_4460There was an area on the corner of Russell and Camden Streets that had a lot of bars that clearly catered to pre-game fans. Brian Roberts has his own statue there, Gold Glove and everything.  EDIT: BROOKS ROBINSON. Sorry, you guys, I was exhausted.

IMG_4461IMG_4463And the Eutaw Street courtyard…

IMG_4466Me and Cal Ripken’s number, making friends:

IMG_4469We wound up going into the gift shot at the Sports Legends Museum, but I didn’t realize that it was for the museum specifically, and then Rick pointed out that there was a larger Team Store inside; he has been to the Yard before, he has a friend who is a huge Orioles fan. So we went to the ticket office to buy tickets for Sunday’s game, and then just sort of hung out in this area, waiting for them to open the gates.

IMG_4470IMG_4471Waiting was torture. Especially once the food vendors started cooking. The smell of barbecue, hot dogs, and burgers was absolutely out of control, and I have been eating lightly or really saving my appetite for ballpark food the past few days. Around 5PM, our bags were checked and the gates were opened, and we were finally allowed inside the gates.

IMG_4472The Orioles Hall of Fame. All the greats from the teams history are here out over center field. It is fascinating to me to see such a storied history. The Mariners are such a young ballclub, we have our greats, but not like this. I wanted to go into the Team Store to make my bank account regret ever living, but first of all, a picture of the field. This seems to have been my modus operandi for this trip, as for whatever reason, we have wound up going to the center field entrances of all three parks.

IMG_4473Did I mention what an amazing day it was for a ball game? I have had incredible luck; I was really concerned about the possibility of a rainout, given that it was snowing in a lot of the areas over here only three weeks ago. But we have had nothing but pleasantly warm weather the entire time I have been here; even yesterday’s game in Philadelphia, that was plagued by a lot of wind and a small sprinkling of rain towards the end of the game, was still pretty warm out. I decided to snap a few quick shots of the tail end of Orioles BP…

IMG_4476IMG_4474IMG_4477…and then we hit the Team Store, along with everyone else. What a zoo! I was hoping to find a thin hoodie like I got at Citizens Bank the other night, but no dice. I did find their Hello Kitty section, and nabbed a 3/4 sleeve shirt with an O’s patch on it, along with a pair of socks:

IMG_1544Once the Team Store was done, we were going to try and get into Dempsey’s and have a nice leisurely sit-down lunch, but there was a 25-minute wait, and I just didn’t think I could cover much ground if I had to wait that long. I’d feel too hurried to eat. So we decided against it (we’ll try again before Sunday’s game), and wandered in the direction of the main gates. I nabbed a beer that at this late hour I cannot remember the name of – I want to say it was a Goose Island Honker Ale; I just remember the goose heads on the taps – and we investigated the main concourse, strolling towards the area our seats were in.

IMG_4478IMG_4479We nabbed Rick a whiskey at one of the bars along the way. Fun fact; you can have hard alcohol anywhere in the stadium. I am not sure if it has to do with Maryland’s liquor laws or what, but it was kind of nice. I’d like to be able to grab a margarita at Edgar’s and take it to my seat, but we’re not allowed. At Camden, you can just walk around with your drink, whatever that drink may be. It was kind of refreshing. After looping almost around to the Eutaw Street area again, we decided it would be best to grab some food and head to our seats. Rick got a dog and some waffle fries (really good waffle fries), I got a Chesapeake crab roll. It was delicious. Expensive at $16, but delicious.

IMG_1541We found an usher, who escorted us to our seats, rather than just tell us where they were. When we got there, he took a towel and dusted them both off and left. We discovered later that this is an extra service, and that tips are apparently expected. I don’t know how much to tip for something like this, particularly when I am perfectly capable of finding and dusting off my own seat. We saw a lot of bills exchanging hands. I got our seats from a season ticketholder on StubHub, and they were nice and cushioned, which was pleasant for my back. But I have never in my life given any money to someone for showing me something I was well and capable of figuring out myself. I don’t mean to be a bad customer, but I have discovered on this trip that there is a lot of very odd tipping etiquette. I’m from the Northwest; I tip for food service, drink service, and coffee service. Anything else is unfamiliar. In any event, this is where we were sitting:

IMG_4480And the Warehouse, across the way:

IMG_4481I had hoped to get my picture taken with The Bird, but no such luck. I am sure it is my unfamiliarity with the ins and outs of the field, but The Bird didn’t seem to appear anywhere but on the field. He is also responsible for putting the rosin bag on the mound, but not before a few animated antics:

IMG_4494IMG_4495And just then, who should I see but Brandon Morrow! I had completely forgotten that he was still in Toronto.

IMG_4498He went out of the dugout and stood on line for the National Anthem, and then just as quickly, disappeared back into the dugout for the remainder of the game.

IMG_4499The Canadian National Anthem was sung by a choir for the Jays, and then our own National Anthem. I had been given the knowledge that at OPACY, the “OH!” in the phrase “Oh say does that Star Spangled banner yet wave…” was sung at loud volume by the whole park. I am glad I remembered, and yelled it out like a pro.

And then, the game started. Bud Norris took the hill for the top of the first, and made quick work of the top of the Jays order.

IMG_4502IMG_4503IMG_4505And of course, one of the reasons I became an Orioles fan, outside of my brief glimpse into the awesomeness that was Chad Bradford, our dear gone but not forgotten, Adam Jones!

IMG_4506I miss you Adam Jones. The hot second where Erik Bedard was amazing for one game was never worth what we lost by sending you to the east coast.

IMG_4509Jose Bautista, taking a good look at some Norris tosses. Bautista suffered the taunts of an Orioles fan, who was very loud and yelled in a very odd sort of Brooklyn accent, “JOOOEEEYYYYBYAAATS!” every time Bautista would come to the plate. It was annoying at first, then it just became funny. I don’t know that I have ever heard anyone use a player’s Twitter handle to heckle them, but this guy was ready, willing, and loud enough that Bautista had to have heard him at least a few times.

IMG_4513Nick Markakis takes a low pitch over the plate.

Adam Jones singles, and then messes with opposing pitcher Drew Hutchison while at first…

IMG_4515IMG_4516Drew Hutchison has a very bizarre set position. I love pitchers because everyone is different. Batters are all different too, and guys like Kevin Youkilis are always doing something weird with the bat or their batting stance or something about their plate rituals, but there are a lot of really bizarre ways that pitchers choose to gain success. Hutchison looks like he’s expecting someone to dump cold water on him from behind at any moment.

IMG_4522And then, a tiny kick, post-throw.

IMG_4523And Nelson Cruz was suited up in tonight’s lineup as well. I know there were some vastly differing camps on this guy within the Mariner fandom; a lot of people didn’t want him, but still more people did, and it didn’t seem like any situation the Mariners would have made would have made everyone happy. So the Orioles saved us some trouble, and took Cruz for themselves. Cruz went 1 for 4 tonight, in the DH slot. It sort of just is what it is, and one game doesn’t change my opinion of him one way or the other.

IMG_4529There was a play at first where instant replay on the screen clearly showed that Oriole Steve Lombardozzi was out at first; Edwin Encarnacion’s foot never left the bag. But for some reason, the ump called Lombardozzi safe. The Jays rightfully challenged it. I am getting very tired at this point in writing (it’s after 2AM EST), but I believe the call was upheld. I am not sure what the point of replay and being able to challenge is worth, if a call that the entire stadium can see with the naked eye in a slow motion replay is upheld by professionals who are partially responsible for the outcome of the game. I was on the O’s side, but it was simply a bad call, end of story.

IMG_4532Shortstop JJ Hardy takes a bad swing at a dirtball.

IMG_4540Bud Norris was relieved by Evan Meek, who pitched the 8th inning, after Norris successfully kept the Jays shut out.

IMG_4542

And then who should show up on the hill for the Jays but another guy I miss, Steve Delabar!

IMG_4548IMG_4549Monster arms!

IMG_4551And then it was the top of the 9th. 1-0 Orioles, and Tommy Hunter came in to pitch. The people in back of us were convinced that this was it: Hunter in, game over. But that’s not how it played out. I wish I could tell you that Hunter put up the good fight and went 1-2-3 and the game was over. I wish I could tell you that. But baseball is no fairytale world. And a lot of the time, what you want doesn’t happen. Hunter came in and did well, alright: he got both Adam Lind and Dioner Navarro to pop up and fly out. We were on our feet, this was it; the Orioles were going to clinch this, right here and now. But you know what? Colby Rasmus doesn’t care about what we want, and that is why we can’t have nice things like smooth, nine -inning pitchers duels. Nope. Rasmus looked a 98MPH 4-seamer right in the face and sent it screaming over right center to tie the game.

IMG_4556Todd Redmond relieved Steve Delabar, and boom, boom, boom, three Birds down and onto the 10th.

Fortunately for yours truly, the Orioles management team dug up Darren O’Day, and let him do that weird thing he does for the top of the 10th. I love that weird thing he does.

IMG_4561IMG_4564IMG_4562O’Day was replaced by Zach Britton, who I failed to get any photos of because I started to wonder if we would ever, ever get out of there at this point. But the 11th inning went quickly, and then the 12 inning went quickly for the Jays, and then the thing that I had been wanting to happen actually happened. A walk-off. A dramatic walk-off. Not a dinger, because this was just how the game was going to go. The Jays decided to keep Todd Redmond in maybe slightly longer relief than they should have. And Redmond faltered. A first pitch 91MPH sinker was all Steve Lombardozzo needed, and he hit it to center fielder Colby Rasmus, who was unable to get it back in play before Lombardozza made it all the way to third base. It seems somewhat fitting that the guy who is responsible for me having to be up so late to write this post is also, oddly, the guy who gave the O’s the win.

IMG_4566You see, Todd Redmond likes his low 90s sinkers. You know who else likes low 90s sinkers? David Lough, who smacked a single to left field to drive in Lombardozzi, much to the joy of those of us still present, and Lough’s teammates.

IMG_4567IMG_4568IMG_4570There were some other things I feel I cannot leave out. Apparently, Rick and I were on TV multiple times this evening, due to the location of our seats. Every time a right handed batter stepped up to the plate, Rick and I were on TV. Look no further than this Tweet from a helpful fellow baseball fan for proof! We also received numerous texts from Rick’s father and a friend, telling us to quit making faces or stop taking pictures. Very funny. There was also an incident late in the game where Edwin Encarnacion let go of his bat, sending it right at us. It passed through the gap between me and the people who were sitting two seats away, and hit a Jays fan sitting behind us in the knee. I don’t know if you’ve ever had a baseball bat thrown at you by a major league player, but it is -and please excuse my language here- fucking terrifying. I vaguely remember one of the thoughts going through my head being something to the effect of  ‘well, this is it, now I’m a statistic’, but fortunately the spinning piece of solid ash or maple did not hit me at all, and caused the poor Jays fan only minimal damage to his leg. The horrible thing? The usher took the bat from the fan and gave it back to the Jays dugout! If it HAD hit me, you’d have to pry it out of my cold dead hands. I prefer to keep my attempted murder weapons, thank you. As we left the stadium, I asked him if he was OK, and he showed us his leg, with a reddish bruise on the side of his knee. He said it was OK, it just really hurt when it hit the bone. He kept looking at the usher down front, so I hope that he was going to make a play to try and get the bat back from the dugout. He deserves more than the ice pack they gave him for his troubles, and Encarnacion better autograph that thing for him.

It is just four minutes of 3AM as I am committing this to publish, and I will be up at 9 tomorrow, so we can get ready to check out and go have an early brunch/lunch at Dempsey’s before tomorrow’s game. I have a lot of other things I need to do and take pictures of there, and I am glad we have tickets for tomorrow’s game. Upper deck, 300 level, so nothing terribly fancy, but it will be sitting a little more my general style, and I am looking forward to it. Let’s go, Orioles!

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3 thoughts on “First Day at Camden Yards. Bats. Very Dangerous. YOU Go First.

  1. Great writing, as usual and wonderful photos. I felt like I was there. We’re off.

  2. Very cool! Hope that the rest of your trip was as much fun. :)

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