I had a relatively uneventful day at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
They announced the “crowd” at 17,944. There might have been 12,000 people actually in the stadium.
It took me about 15 minutes to hustle a free ticket — two girls walking between the stadium had an extra pair, and after being VERY concerned that somehow I was looking to arrest them (never been accused of being a cop before) they handed me their extra in Sect. 29 right behind the plate – but getting in was quite easy. It was only a matter of who would give me a free ticket, not “if” I was going to get one.
I promised to feature their photo for their generosity. (Thanks, Charlie!)
The craziest thing that FULLY illustrates how screwed up the Orioles are is the walk-up crowd line at OPACY. Every time I’ve been at the ballpark this year, it’s been PACKED with people wanting tickets and the Orioles aren’t smart enough to hire more staff to accomodate the day-of-game buyers. People miss first pitch because the Orioles are too incompetant to even get their fans into the ballpark!
(Some things, like the lack of customer and/or fan relations, are pretty obvious, even when you don’t have a press pass!)
Once I got in, I was kinda bored for the first few innings, but made my usual rounds to say hello to the many luminaries in the media.
Since they won’t let me INTO the press box where I belong, I generally just talk to my friends and associates from the open air area in front of the box. And I tend to yell at Casey a lot, too. I also show up to let the phonies and cronies in The Warehouse know how stupid they are for letting my employees into the press box, but not me.
If it didn’t restrict me from doing my job, it would almost be comical. But I digress…
Saw Ken Rosenthal, whose work is always featured here on WNST.net in the Fox Sports News banner on the left side of the front page. Got to chat with two longtime Cleveland Indians beat men — Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Sheldon Ocker of the Akron Beacon Journal — both of whom I’ve known for almost 15 years. Hoynes is actually the president of the Baseball Writers Association and I had cause to chat with him a few weeks ago, once Peter Angelos made it clearly that I’m no longer a “legitimate” media member.
(By the way, my attorney has given me some advice regarding a lawsuit that I’m planning on serving to Mr. Angelos and the Orioles for damages regarding my not being able to not only talk to his players, but it’s limited my ability even today to write about anything from the ballpark that doesn’t involve being a fan…but I digress…that’s for another day!)
By the fourth inning, it was kinda chilly in the shade behind homeplate and it was a bummer watching a game alone. At that rate, it’s just better to watch on TV, I think. Baseball games are made or broken by the company you keep!
But lo and behold, I was joined (via a random meeting) by an old friend, Mat Edelson, a great writer who covered baseball and Baltimore for a variety of local publications, including Baltimore Magazine, back when my career in radio started in the early 1990′s.
Mat is a HUGE baseball fan, a lifer like me, who joined me for the remainder of the day and made it a memorable experience.
We discussed all of the things I generally write about: the murder of the Orioles franchise, the empty afternoons downtown, why the Orioles are screwed up, how much we love baseball and why the hell we still care enough to waste three hours sitting in the shade at a stupid baseball game on a nice Monday afternoon.
Needless to say, it was an entertaining afternoon, sitting with someone you like at a game and realizing how much fun it WASN’T before you finally got some decent company and some laughs.
Guilty pleasure admission: As much as I don’t really root AGAINST the Orioles, when bad things DO happen to the team (and that seems to happen a LOT over the last decade) it’s always fun thinking about whether it pisses off people like Peter Angelos and I always wonder whether they are suffering the loss the way they should.
Most of us are numb, I think, the real Orioles fans who are now rendered “indifferent” by the losing and ineptitude.
So, when Grady Sizemore hit a liner into the gap in the 7th inning, I caught the facial expression of one of the Orioles’ brass leaders, who shall remain nameless, but was circling the inner bowl of the park. He’s one of those Angelos “insiders” who HATES MY GUTS for no reason — even though I’ve always been respectful toward him.
But he looked like he needed a tall drink and some Tums when Sizemore went into the gap and it sent me into a state of hysterical laughter, seeing him suffer another of their many losses.
(That said, I’d NEVER root against Brian Roberts or any of the players I like!)
Obviously, the game itself was no thrill — especially for any Orioles fan or anyone who was associated with paying the bullpen $40-million plus in the offseason. Bradford, Parrish, Walker and Williams all STUNK today!
As an aside to a pretty crappy game, in Edelson, I found a baseball soul mate!
Mat Edelson — God bless him — has the EXACT same strategy I have on gamedays: “I will NEVER buy a ticket to get in here,” he said. “I won’t give that man (Angelos) a penny of my money on principle alone.”
He got a freebie out on the street right before the game, just like I did!
So, we caught up, talked baseball, talked the internet and blogging, talked about the “old days” with the Orioles, back when Brady Anderson was hitting 50 home runs and people actually packed downtown for 12:35 “Businessman Specials.”
I also enjoyed the company of some random baseball fans in my section — three self-described Norfolk residents and barworkers who drove four hours this morning to Baltimore to see a baseball game, “just to do something different, get outta Virginia for a day.”
They drank, ate and had fun too!
But in the end, the grand slam off Jamie Walker in the 8th was a little too much to handle, and Edelson and I headed down Conway Street toward Hooters, just like we used to do when the city was full of baseball fans and consumers.
It wasn’t a “great” day at the ballpark, but again, it’s the people you meet and the surprises that come along at a ballgame that always seem to make it a memorable experience.
I hope Drew is holding me a pair for tomorrow night. It’ll be fun to go with some families and kids for his big night at the park.
Off to Lenny Moore’s event tonight at Martin’s West…
I gotta shave…