Red Sox fans celebrate Manny Ramirez's 500th home run at Camden Yards in 2008.
Ok, so this isn't going to be a profound post with any kind of new way of thinking or information you've never read. It's more about getting something off my chest and articulating a feeling that I think many of us have.
I went to the baseball game last night and, well, it wasn't fun. It's not the losing. Obviously losing is never fun but I've been to more Orioles losses than wins in my life and I keep going back, so that's not it. It's the Red Sox fans. Just being at the game puts me on edge. Honestly I wouldn't have even gone to the game of my own volition, but it was the birthday of a friend and that's what he wanted to do.
This isn't about hating the Red Sox or their fans. It's just about the experience of being there, and it just makes me angry. It makes baseball not fun because that's not how baseball is supposed to be, not at your home park. Here are the things that I know logically:
- The Red Sox fans bought their tickets fair and square and have every right to be there. They didn't get their tickets through nefarious deeds, they simply called the box office. They are not buying tickets that would otherwise go to O's fans. They are buying tickets that would otherwise be empty seats.
- The Red Sox fans are not going away. Perhaps if the team goes on a multi-year slide it will thin out some, but not totally (and besides, if you pay any attention to the Red Sox and how they operate, you know that won't be happening any time soon).
- The only way to shut up the Red Sox fans and force them out of our park is to win. That's it. We can wax on about taking back the yard and holding down the fort and whatever other way we choose to romaticize the plight of O's fan vs. Red Sox fan, but there is nothing that we can do. It's up to the team to get better. Why would a casual fan be at all interested in attending a game that a) the Orioles will probably lose, b) will feature a ridiculous amount of out of town fans, and c) costs more than any other game?
Logically, when I look at the facts, I understand why it happens. It's the perfect storm. Oriole Park is a beautiful place to see a game, the location is convenient for Red Sox fans, it costs a paycheck to buy a ticket at Fenway Park, the Orioles are bad, the Red Sox are good, Baltimore is a fun city to visit. But it still just upsets me so much to even be around it. When the Red Sox are in town on a weekend and my friends and I go to happy hour or out for the evening, I try to pick neighborhoods they don't really know about just so I don't have to see their fans.
I don't even hate the Red Sox, not really. Obviously as a fellow team in the AL East I want them to lose all the time, but it's not a case of just hating the players the way I have other teams in the past. There are actually a number of guys on the team that individually I really enjoy. I mentioned Jon Lester in the game recap, but I also enjoy Kevin Youkilis. It makes me want to vomit hearing all of the Red Sox fans yelling "Yoooooouk" at Camden Yards, but if he were an Oriole his weird body tics and crazy serial killer look would endear him to a lot of us. Plus the dude can just play.
This isn't about the behavior of the out of town fans. Well, maybe a little bit it is. I've seen the Orioles play in a number of away parks, and I cheer for them like crazy. In theory I don't have a problem with that. But when it's multiplied by five thousand, it's hard to take. That's why it's miserable. But the way I feel about these games isn't about the behavior of individual fans. There are plenty of obnoxious, inappropriate Red Sox fans. There are also plenty of obnoxious, inappropriate Orioles fans. The biggest dummy in my section last night was a guy wearing a t-shirt of Calvin peeing on the Red Sox (always a classy choice) and a coral necklace. No, it's more about the entire atmosphere. I don't WANT them to be there. I WANT the Orioles fans to be there. But I don't really want to be one of the few O's fans that actually shows up. If that sounds like I'm admitting defeat, well, I guess I am. It makes me feel miserable and helpless. It makes me sad. It makes me jealous. Why would I do that to myself?