Monday afternoon marked the opening day for the Baltimore Orioles and I was fortunate to be able to attend the game along with my husband.
It’s not often we are able to sneak out of work for something fun, so we really took advantage of the day, leaving ourselves with plenty of time to get to the park before the game.
It may seem strange that I, a proud New Yorker, would wind up at Camden Yards, cheering on less than stellar baseball team, rather than one of my hometown franchises. Yet, I am comfortable saying with a great deal of pride, and am ready to endure the backlash from my fellow Empire State compatriots, that I thoroughly and absolutely enjoy attending Orioles baseball games.
Allow me to explain.
Despite growing up as an athletic kid on Long Island, professional sports did not play a huge role in my life. Though some are born and bred to root for either the Yankee or Mets, Jets or Giants (or rarely Bills), or Islanders or Rangers, most New Yorkers grow up lacking any particular attachment to any singular professional sports team.
We all know it takes a lot to impress a New Yorker. Winning the Superbowl or World Series doesn’t lead to an obsession or sense of self-righteousness. It simply contributes towards supporting our ability to rationalize how we are positive we’re better than everyone else. When our teams do well, we often attribute this as simply being another routine part of living in the best place in the United States.
Maryland, on the other hand, is a whole different territory. Despite certain premium attributes including being beautiful place to live, with a fantastic overall quality of life, magnificent amounts of culture and history, and inhabitants with a bizarre fascination with their state flag, hometown sports here are consistently disappointing. Fans here are used to losing. Rather then rebel against the standings and statistics, fans here actually revel in the fact that their teams are so bad.
My husband (who is from Maryland) is a steadfast Redskins fan. He also loves the Orioles. He’s also one of the most optimistic people I know. Though I haven’t done the exact analysis, I’m pretty sure those characteristics are carried on the same gene.
He’s not alone here in the Free State (an incredibly ironic name for the single most expensive place I’ve lived in my entire life… Yes, more expensive than Long Island…) People here simply believe, at all times, their teams will win. And when they lose, even if it’s for the 10th time in a row, they actually believe the next game will be “the one.”
Surprisingly, over the 2.5 years I’ve lived here, I’ve learned it actually can be remarkably fun to attach yourself to a sad team, dress in their colors, eat lots of fried food, drink a decent amount of light beer, and cheer wholeheartedly, despite knowing without a miraculous intervention, I’m likely to go home a loser. I’m not saying it’s ok to lose, I’m just saying you need to be realistic and expect its going to happen when you live in Maryland.
When it comes to the Orioles, it doesn’t hurt that Camden Yards is also so much more than a baseball stadium to me. It truly is an “experience”, regardless of the score of the game.
The area is gorgeous and the grounds are meticulously maintained. There doesn’t appear to be a bad seat in the entire stadium (even when you’re standing and not sitting.) Restrooms are plentiful and lines aren’t out of control. Parking is ample and the walk from the typical lot, takes you through the tailgating zones of the M+T Ravens stadium where there is no shortage of enthusiastic and entertaining Orioles fans waiting to get your energy flowing. On the way, you even cross over the painted finish line for the Baltimore Marathon! It’s as though you are prepping yourself for athletic greatness (but in actuality you’re about to lose another game.)
The food and beverage choices area also a large part of what makes attending an Orioles game remarkable. Where else can you find a crab mac and cheese hot dog? Or Chesapeake Fries? And Old Bay is as common a condiment as ketchup or mustard. 24 ounce Miller Lite cans for a bargain price of 10 dollars! Bacon on a stick! Frozen margaritas in souvenir cups! I’m sure this is no coincidence. The endorphins released from the ingestion of endless food and beverage opportunities help dull the pain associated with watching the team play poorly.
Our Opening Day was fantastic. The game was awesome and the weather was exceptional. I had a great time cheering on the team and enjoying the warm temperature.
Less than 24 hours prior to the sound of the first pitch making contact with the catcher’s glove, obscenely fat snowflakes were pelting down from the sky and sticking to the ground in huge wet piles. Considering this was the level of excitement going down in our household at the time…
..the day was absolutely perfect.
And guess what? The Orioles won!
1-0 and at the top of the American League standings!
This could be our year!
Let’s see how things during game 2 tonight…