I was in attendance for last night's Orioles-Phillies game at Citizens Bank Park in Philly. It's the first time I have ever gotten to see the team on the road, so that was pretty cool. I have to confess that what excited me the most was the prospect of getting to announce my presence early. As the strains of the Star-Spangled Banner (as rendered by Rheel Menn, who sounded better than this goofy name suggests) serenaded the stadium, I sounded my barbaric "O!" over the rooftops of the world.
Knowing the Philly reputation, I expected to get some heckles or plastic beer bottles thrown my way because of this. But as for Philadelphian hospitality, the worst I was subjected to over the whole evening was some guy pre-game calling out to me, "Baltimore sucks!" Tell me something I don't know, buddy.
Someone commented to me that people at a glance might have taken the orange and black for Flyers colors. Maybe I should have worn my Joe Flacco jersey if I really wanted to get them riled.
I hope I'm not committing adultery against my beloved Camden Yards by admitting it, but the Phillies' stadium is a great place to watch some baseball. Since it is a bit away from the downtown, parking is not quite as insane - we paid $10 to park in a lot with a block's walk. As well, the view out from the back of the park is a straight shot to the Philadelphia skyline, which was impressive once the sun went down and the lights were lit on the buildings. I had an upper deck seat behind home plate so this was about the best view to see it in the house. A good deal for $22.
Where I was most impressed in comparison to recent experiences at Camden was the concessions. You probably have your own horror story where it's taken three innings to get a bunch of Boardwalk fries or a hot dog or whatever, because that's just how it rolls there. There was a full house at Citizens Bank last night, 45,000 people or so, and I never waited more than 90 seconds to get food or beer, making several trips to do so throughout the game since I was blown away by the speed. I'm not sure if this was because most people weren't buying food and beer or if the Phillies just know the magic number for concession stands. I guess it's easier to plan that stuff when you know every game will sell out, or nearly so.
It seems that some things are universal. The Old Bay Crab Shuffle was the Turkey Hill Ice Cream Shuffle. The ketchup/mustard/relish race instead was the SEPTA (train) race. However, no one at any point attempted to start The Wave. There was no kiss cam, although Philly instead has the "flex cam" which I think was probably worse. Hilariously, some guy got himself on the JumboTron and then chose to make an obscene gesture involving his fingers and tongue - and was immediately booed. Now that's the Philly I was expecting!
Speaking of JumboTrons, theirs is not as cool as ours. Nyah nyah. Really though, the between-innings entertainment was lacking, with one notable exception.
I was filled up on overpriced beer and having a good time since the O's were winning, so I was waiting for a good between-innings song to get up and dance around and make an idiot out of myself. Apparently this is behavior that the people who select music at Citizens Bank Park frown upon, because there was perhaps one song played that was released after 1980, and that was some Linkin Park junk, not exactly the classic or modern rock kind of stuff where the inebriated individuals will sing along and get down with their bad selves. This was disappointing. Maybe there would have been a more cheerful atmosphere if the Phillies were winning. Well, though I was ready to break it down for the YMCA (saving the sprinkler for it and everything), I'm glad to have gone without since it means the Orioles won.
But seriously, nobody was dancing between innings, not even getting up and waving their arms around a little. It was weird. I figured that kind of thing was going to be in every ballpark.
Philly gets some points for the Phanatic, though. One between-innings gag had the Phanatic serenading a female Phanatic before a candlelight "date" ... and ended with the Phanatic doing a body-splash, knocking over the table, the chairs, and the female Phanatic. It's the funniest mascot thing I've ever seen.
All in all, it was an enjoyable experience. I hope that if I get to experience some more road games in subsequent years that they can match this one. With that said, I am off to try to solve the one big burning Philadelphia mystery I encountered yesterday... which would be why seemingly half of South Philadelphia does not take down their Christmas lights. Ever.