On Tuesday, my pal Derick and I took a day trip to Baltimore. Neither of us had seen the Baltimore Orioles ballpark, so a quick tap tap tap on the Orioles website, and we’d got ourselves a pair of eight dollar tickets to watch them play against the Boston Red Sox. It’s a three-ish hour journey from Brooklyn to Baltimore. I got to see some of the finer parts of New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland’s freeways. We flicked through radio stations all the way, and when we got into Orioles territory, settled on a sports talk radio station where callers seemed resigned to a thumping in the evening’s game.
Getting into Baltimore was really easy. Straight off the freeway into the Inner Harbor area and a car park. Lovely. After a lunch of really lovely crab cakes, we spent the afternoon wandering around in the 88°F heat. We had a look in the Babe Ruth Museum and the Sports Legends Museum, sauntered around the harbour, up to Federal Hill, and had a few beers in a local bar before game time.
Of the fifteen Major League ballparks that I’ve not seen, Oriole Park at Camden Yards was the one I was most looking forward to. The first of the new bunch of stadiums that have been built in the last twenty years. Oriole Park is lovely. A nice intimate park, with a huge brick warehouse running along one side. Plenty of space. And excellent food. Figuring that it’ll be rare for me to visit Baltimore, I chomped down on a pulled pork sandwich, and later on, a pit beef sandwich. Both were fantastic. By far the best food I’ve had at a sports event.
There has to be a downside, though, and with the Red Sox being in town, Camden Yards was pretty much 50/50 split between O’s fans and Red Sox fans.
And in the early innings, the visitors were making the most noise when their team took a 9-1 lead before some big clouds let rip with an hour long rain delay.
The rain, though, allowed for a bit of mingling with the locals. We were sitting in the upper level, and when I asked an employee on the concourse where the smoking section was, she said “You’re standing in it!” A cop stood near her nodded and concurred, “Right here.” After a bunch of ballparks where the smoking sections are hidden away, or even outside the stadium, it was very nice to be able to smoke just a short hop from my seat.
I got chatting to a couple of guys. Both Orioles fans, both into soccer, so we got to stand around and praise sports from our nations. We also got to the topic that I think a lot of British people wonder about: is The Wire accurate? Apparently so. I was told that, outside of a few downtown areas – the areas tourists might visit – there’s a whole heap of truth in the show.
I also pulled the tourist card and took a few photos of people while we waited out the rain delay. Here:
Eventually, the rain slowed to spitting, and the game re-started. 9-1 down, bottom of the fourth. Two-and-a-half scoreless innings later, and the Red Sox got another run. 10-1. And then, in the bottom of the seventh, Justin Masterson pitching for the Red Sox, the Orioles started hitting. Suddenly, it was 10-6. Again, in the bottom of the eighth, the O’s scored another five runs. Amazingly, the Orioles were leading 11-10. The Red Sox fans were quiet, the locals were having fun. Three outs later, and the Orioles had staged their greatest ever comeback in team history; the biggest ever comeback by a last placed team against a first placed team. Orioles manager Dave Trembley described it as “probably the best game I’ve been involved in.” And for Derick and I, it was fantastic to be in a beautiful ballpark, watching a fantastic game.
Three hours of sleepy driving later, we were back home in early hours of the morning Brooklyn, looking for a parking spot, tired but still raving about a great evening.