On a whim, I decided to go to the Orioles vs. Royals game on Friday, September 11th. I went with a couple of my roommates and a friend visiting from out of town. It seemed odd to me, but I had no illusions about the game mattering in the grand scheme of the 2015 season. I enjoy going to games at Camden Yards, but over the past four seasons most of those games had an import behind them. The stink of a pennant race was all over them. And those games were great. Contention contains much more excitement than irrelevance.
Yet, not being so engrossed in the actions and reactions of the game allowed me to rise about the minutiae and enjoy simply being at a baseball game with friends. Something that while I had done before, was able to more thoroughly enjoy now. Riding on the outcomes of every last pitch gives me a lot of nervous energy and anxiety and that can be hard to be around when your friend is there just to soak it all in. So that's what I did on Friday. I simply enjoyed the experience of going to a baseball game with some good friends.
The Pregame Experience
I live in the city, so getting to Camden Yards is relatively pain free as long as you're willing to walk through downtown during rush hour. I did what most people do and went to Pickle's Pub right outside Camden Yards. It was a wonderful night for a baseball game. The first thing I noticed is how great Camden Yards looks even from the outside. The brick facade fits so nicely into the downtown landscape.
I've long thought--and the thought popped back into my head again--that Camden Yards is going to be around for a very long time. It is a modern enough ballpark that renovating it has not been all that difficult. It has the surrounding infrastructure and easy access. Depending on how long major league baseball lasts, and how long it lasts in Baltimore, Camden Yards could easily be a Wrigley Field or Fenway Park in the coming decades.
We strolled into the game after the first inning. Something that in the past would have enraged me and honestly it still ticked me off a bit, but I cannot say that my friends share the same enthusiasm for the game as I do.
It was already 1-0 Royals by the time we sat down. We got to watch the Royals go up 3-0 pretty quickly. There were some obnoxious Royals fans seated right behind us. Not the heckling kind of obnoxious, but the overly enthusiastic clapping kind. Not the worst kind of people in the world, but not the kind of people I want to sit in front of while watching a lost season.
For the most part though, I talked with my friends. Drank some beer. Spit sunflower seeds on the ground below and looked down on the field from Section 374. One of the other things I got to appreciate was just how great Camden Yards is on the inside as well. Almost any seat I have sat in has had a good sight line to the field. On top of that, the place just looks great at night. The big brick warehouse with the green of the seats splashed with the orange from the crowd. It all looks so wonderful when put together.
One thing that did stink about being the upper deck was the total lack of vendors walking around. I think the first vendor that came to our section, of any kind, was in the seventh inning. Not exactly a huge issue to get up to get a drink, but the last game I attended a game was in the lower level and not five minutes would go by without someone walking up with something to sell. Oh well though, the game did not matter all that much to me anyways.
I faded in out of paying attention to the actual game. I perked up when the scored went to 3-2, but quickly lost interest again as the teams jockeyed leads and and neither could find the veritable shutdown inning. Then came the top of the 8th inning. My friend from out of town had left to go see his brother sitting somewhere else in the stadium. The Royals had just scored making in 6-4 Royals. My two roommates were worn out from the week and not prepared to go beyond a three hour baseball game.
So we left early. Another thing I hate doing. But again, I didn't really care about the outcome. I had enjoyed my time with my friends and if they wanted to leave, then oh well. And, we live close by so catching the end of the game was not out of the question. I did feel like a mediocre fan. Show up late, leave early.
Turns out, as I got home and flipped to the game to see if anything interesting had happened, Nolan Reimold rounded third after cracking a ball off the top of the foul pole. Next thing I know, it's 14-6 Orioles. I texted my roommates who had already gone to bed, "The score is currently 14-6 Orioles, FYI." Just to make them feel a little bit bad about it.
In the end, it would have been nice to have been at the stadium during a two grand slam inning, but I got to enjoy it all the same. It was very nice to simply sit back, talk, and interact with people with baseball on in the background as a nice companion. A good excuse to sit outside, drink bad beer, and enjoy your company. In this setting, you can really understand why baseball came to be known as the national pastime.
Having said all that, I enjoy the games when something is on the line, When Camden Yards has that electricity about it. So while I got to enjoy a game with friends, but I would just as soon be that nervous wreck in my seat screaming at the ump and praying for a win.