This is a few days late, but I had a pizza party to attend and an important Ravens game to watch, so I'm sure you'll cut me some slack.
I've been attending FanFest regularly over the last few years, even though there often seems like there isn't much for me to do there. I'm not interested in autographs or game-used jerseys or sports memorabilia, but I always like to go. It's like getting a baseball fix in the middle of the off season and it always pumps me up. In addition to the things I've already mentioned, the main draw is the main stage, where they cycle through different themed panels (rookies, starting pitchers, etc.). That's always enjoyable to me. The players and coaches rarely say anything surprising, but we don't often get the chance to see the personality of the players, so it's always fun.
The last few years, Camden Chat has been provided a press credential for this event, but I have always preferred to go as a fan. My colleague Mark Brown attended as a member of the press, and if you follow him on Twitter you may have noticed his quotes and tidbits on the players. I, however, was among the crowd of over 18,000 who just can't wait for baseball season to arrive.
I actually got to FanFest later than usual. Like the rest of you, I woke up to find the sad news of the death of Earl Weaver. So I wrote a post on that and then got lost on the internet as people all over remembered Earl and expressed sadness over the loss. By that time the word had spread that lines to get into the convention center were wrapped completely around the building and it was taking quite some time to get in. So I dallied around the house for a bit before finally hopping on the light rail at about 12:45.
As I arrived at FanFest, I heard Joe Angel and Gary Thorne on stage talking to Nate McLouth and Manny Machado. Let me tell you, just hearing their voices was worth the price of admission. The four of them went through the heads-up play that Machado made (you know the one) to preserve a tie with the Rays so that Nate McLouth could get the game winning hit and be carried around by Chris Davis. It was a lot of fun listening to them re-live the magic, especially when Manny joked about how every time he watches the highlight he listens to Gary Thorne say, "Don't throw the ball!"
That panel was followed by other player panels. Most weren't too noteworthy other than the fact that they were surrounded by a more excited buzz than I've witnessed for a long time. It brought back memories of the late season games at Camden Yards when everyone was excited for every moment and really believed in the team. That's kind of the point of this seemingly pointless post. It wasn't so much the events of FanFest that were exciting, it was the fact that so many people were excited to be at FanFest. I'm still processing the fact that the O's are beloved, and I'm enjoying every second.
None of us knows what the 2013 season will bring. I fight myself on being too pessimistic and I fight myself on being unrealistically optimistic. The one thing I do know is that the interest in the Orioles is higher than I can remember seeing it, and we can only hope that the team is able to keep it that way.