I wrote this a while back. I think more people should read it:
This past Saturday I was one of the 20,000 (if that) that stayed through the three hour rain delay to watch Eddie Murray’s ceremony and to watch the Orioles lose. I was soaking wet, my voice was hoarse and all for nothing. Sounds like a sucky night doesn’t it?
Oh, did I forget to mention I went with my seven year old cousin? Well that’s what made that night worth sitting through all the rain and terrible baseball. To see a kid who didn’t even know who Eddie Murray was, chant his name at the top of his lungs like he had watched him for years. To see him usher in the new chants of “MANNY, MANNY!” as the future Orioles star stepped to the plate and scream “CHARGE!” as loud as he could when the horn sounded.
My cousin is a diehard Orioles fan. We didn’t give him a choice. So going to the game at the spur of the moment was a heck of a treat for him, but when he found out our seats were in the left field bleachers (where he thought we might catch a home run) his eyes lit up. To see him run up and down the aisle yelling at the Royals’ Alex Gordon (him even getting yelled at himself by an usher) that’s what going to the games are all about.
He got a foam finger, a picture with the Bird, and most importantly, in his eyes, he got some food. That boy can eat! I showed him where Eddie and all the other Orioles legends’ numbers were retired above our heads in left field and explained to him why Jackie Robinson’s was up there too.
For that one night I was able to forget about the fact that the Orioles lost. I was able to even forget about the fact that they are hunting for a playoff spot. Because all that mattered that night was enjoying ourselves, taking in the experience and being around other drenched fans as we rooted for our team down to the bitter end.
Those are the moments that make going to the games worth it. We don’t always have to be bitter about how Peter Angelos steals our money and how he has given us nothing but losing baseball for 14 straight years. We are in the midst of something special right now. Our beloved O’s are in the playoff race! There is finally meaningful baseball in Baltimore again. Besides, every once in a while you can just enjoy going to the game because it’s fun to watch baseball, regardless of the outcome or how well the team is doing.
It doesn’t always have to be a bad experience. Saturday night should’ve been a bad experience. They handled the delay terribly, people left before Eddie’s on field ceremony, the team lost. But I still had a great time. And I know my cousin had one of the most memorable nights he has ever had.
He got to stay up till two in the morning. He got to yell at opposing players and call them names (Billy “Butthead” Butler was his favorite insult). And best of all he got a ball. Growing up that’s all you ever want at a baseball game. “A real major league baseball”, as he said holding it in his hands.
We found ourselves in the very last inning and we still hadn’t caught a home run (even though the Orioles pitching gave up a fair amount). He was on a mission and I wasn’t ready to let him fail so I took him down next to the dugout and told him to ask the players and managers for one. I sat back a few rows and he would come back every so often and ask why they were being so shy. I told him to keep asking.
Eventually the game ended and just when it looked as though he wouldn’t get one, a guy came out and tossed him a ball.
That’s a memory he will have forever. On a crappy night in Baltimore, he didn’t care that the Orioles lost. He isn’t bitter. Call it ignorance, call it youth. He had a great experience. I say we take a little lesson from him and have fun watching this team for however long they give us. Who knows what could happen? Maybe we’ll get a ball too…