It was the warmest Saturday night of the 2009 season and I had the opportunity to attend the Orioles vs. Rangers game with my oldest brother Keith. Like me, Keith is a lifetime Birds fan and his first ever ballgame was game 3 of the 1966 World Series at Memorial Stadium. Not a bad start to helping someone become an Orioles fan.
Just a few random thoughts from the game: It was great to see a packed house at Camden Yards for a game in April. The Orioles reported it was the largest ever walk-up crowd in the the park’s 18 year history. More than 12,000! Way to go Baltimore! Not sure if the reason for the packed house was warm weather, free O’s/Raven’s hats or smart fans anticipating lots of long balls. There were plenty. Five by the Rangers, just a single blast by the Orioles.
It was very surprising just how quiet a home crowd of more than 41,000 can be. Certainly with Mark Hendrickson giving up lead off homers just about every inning and the Birds falling behind 6-1, you can’t blame O’s fans for acting as if they were attending Saturday evening mass instead of a ballgame. I suppose the real eye opener was seeing how much prodding the fans needed to get into the game. Without the video scoreboard, nary a clap or cheer would have been heard. It’s kind of depressing really, but I am not going to pretend that this isn’t happening at every park in America. Canada too.
Another thing I noticed at the game was much more congestion at the concession lines than at games past. I’m sure much of that had to do with the huge crowd, but these lines were very unwieldy. For the first time ever at Camden Yards, I waited twenty minutes in the food line. I was shocked, because I always brag to my friends around the country how Orioles Park has got their food service down to a science. Quick and efficient. Never a long wait like at other, more pedestrian stadiums. Saturday night it was anything but the fantastic and fast service like in years past. Then it dawned on me. They are using a differnt system to distribute food than in years past.
It used to be getting food at Camden was a cafeteria type style. The food service workers would put out the food in mass quantity and the customers would pick out what they wanted and zip to the cashier to pay. Like self service. Now fans must place their order and then the food is delivered to them. And it is delivered S-L-O-W-L-Y!
I am hoping that upon further review, the Orioles will eventually go back to the speedier self service method. This is a rather simple fix. Getting the fans at the games to cheer more often and louder, might not be so easy. Hopefully within time, both these minor annoyances will be rectified.