It was a great day for a ballgame. I took Wednesday off and wandered down I-95 to Baltimore to watch my second-favorite baseball team, the Baltimore Orioles take on the (stinking) Boston Red Sox at Camden Yards, one of the few ballparks yet to succumb to the lure of big money naming rights.
The place was swarming with (stinking) Red Sox fans. Probably because they can't get a ticket for a game at Fenway, so they come to places like Baltimore, New York and Philadelphia and infest otherwise decent places with their (stinking) World Champions t-shirts and goofy accents. I try to act politely when I'm around them, because I realize that baseball was invented in Boston in 1996 and I owe them their due.Prior to the game, I was able to find some quality time with my friend Beer in the centerfield picnic area, where I didn't exactly have a picnic, just some fries and a Harp. In the foreground, you can make out the giveaway item of the day. It's a seat cushion. When I arrived, I was asked how old I was. 50, I said sheepishly, expecting to be refused from whatever they were giving out. As it turns out, it was an AARP sponsored Orioles seat cushion, available to fans 50 and older. Lucky me. I guess they figure that us old folks need padded seats for our fragile backsides. I carried it around for a while. After the game, I gave it to a homeless woman who was sitting on the sidewalk without a cushion. She wasn't 50, but she looked like she needed it more than me.
I had a nice seat directly down the left field line. To my left was Red Sox left fielder Manny Ramirez, who seemed more interested in the fans chanting his name than in actually playing the game. Later, he made a great catch against the wall and, I swear, took a second to acknowledge the fans screaming for him by giving the fan in the first row a high-five just before he turned and threw to first base to double-off the Orioles base runner.
Oriole Park is a nice place. It was the first of the new ballparks that were modeled after the old ballparks. For a while, every new park that was built was compared to it. Now that it's "old" I don't hear those comparisons much. Partly because the Orioles aren't very good and partly because almost every team has a new park, so it isn't such a big deal anymore.
The O's fell behind quickly, 3-0 and the "Let's Go Red Sox" chants were starting to annoy me. There were almost 29,000 people at the game, and at least half of them were Sox fans. I asked a cop if there was a city ordinance limiting the number of Red Sox fans in a building. None. They need to work on that.
That was just before Orioles left fielder Jay Payton brought a nasty end to the Sox fans fun. He hit a grand slam in the bottom of the seventh inning, giving the Orioles a come from behind 6-3 lead that they would hold and send the Sox and their (stinking) fans home disenchanted.
I spotted this nice sign at a place called the Wharf Rat, a block from the ballpark. A perfect end to a nearly perfect day.