Last night after the Orioles bumbled their way to another loss to the Red Sox I was mindlessly scrolling through Twitter where I found even more tweets about how sad and pathetic the attendance is at Orioles games and how the fan base is letting the team down, and it makes me want to tell you all this.
It’s not a reason why attendance is down for the season, but it applies to this very important series that the Orioles have completely blown.
I hate going to Orioles games when the Red Sox are in town. I hate spending my money to be miserable, and that’s generally how I feel when I’m there. It’s no secret that when the Red Sox are in Baltimore there are hordes of their fans in the stands. Not only are they there, but they don’t tend to be very gracious guests. They treat the place like it is theirs, and it drives me bonkers.
I wish this didn’t bother me. I wish I could go to the games when the Red Sox are in town and cheer on the Orioles and ignore the crowds of Red Sox fans, or I even wish I could engage them with some friendly team rivalry, but I can’t. I’m not that person. Instead I’m the person that stews with every roar for a Red Sox fly ball and grinds her teeth when listening to “Let’s Go Red Sox” ringing throughout Camden Yards.
Maybe it all stems from back when the Orioles were bad. I don’t really know. But I remember when they instituted prime game pricing and all of the sudden it seemed that the Orioles expected me not only to go to the stadium and be surrounded by those fans for a game the O’s would most likely lose, but they expected me to pay even more for the experience.
Nowadays, the Orioles are less likely to lose (this current homestand notwithstanding) but the rest of the experience is basically the same.
But still, I went back then. I paid my money to sit in the stands and listen to the crowd roar for the away team. I bought into the argument that the Yard needed to be defended. That if the Red Sox fans pushed me out that they won and I wasn’t going to let that happen.
The worst I can ever remember is the day that Manny Ramirez hit his 500th home run. I was sitting in the left field upper deck with my parents and some friends and other than the people in my group, I couldn’t find a single Orioles fan in my section. The chanting and the ovations and feeling of being a stranger in my own house were all too much. It was the single worst experience I have ever had at an Orioles game.
I used to blame the Red Sox fans for taking such liberties in an away park. I used to blame Orioles fans for not coming out in force to drive them away. Now I don’t blame anyone, but I still hate it.
My husband and I share a 29-game plan with my in-laws, and every year when we are divvying up the games my mother-in-law tries to make it as fair as possible and make sure we get roughly the same number of weekend games and games against division opponents. But I wouldn’t mind if she kept every single game that involves the Red Sox. I’d rather go see the Rays any day.
I don’t care if it’s a big series with a division rival. I don’t care if it’s a series with playoff implications. I don’t like being there. I’d rather watch on television where I can turn the sound down if the Red Sox fans get to be too much, or change the station altogether if I need to.
At some point I came to the realization that being a good fan doesn’t mean spending money to be miserable in your own park. But I still fight that guilt that says if I really cared I’d continue fighting the good fight instead of conceding my beautiful ballpark to those fans. It’s a logic vs emotion thing, I suppose.
But where are the Orioles in this? The 2016 attendance woes were going on long before the Red Sox got to town, but what measures have they taken to try and get more Orioles fans there to combat the Red Sox fan infestation?
Have they offered ticket discounts or free concessions to fans wearing Orioles gear? Or maybe discounted tickets or vouchers for other games if you buy a ticket to a game against the Red Sox? Or something to do with billing zip code? Or is the onus purely on me?
I know I’m a good Orioles fan. For many years I thought that meant forcing myself to sit through games that made me unhappy. I no longer feel that way.
I still sometimes find myself at games vs the Red Sox when they fall into my season ticket plan (I’m going tonight, actually, and already dreading it) but I no longer let myself believe that I am somehow responsible for what happens at the park. It’s too much of a burden and frankly, it’s kind of silly that I ever spent money on a leisure activity out of a sense of duty.