As chronicled daily on Camden Chat, things keep getting worse for the Orioles. In recent days, the ineptitude involves injuries for players who could be trade chips, lack of hustle from a star, blown leads and an unbelievable inability to consistently score more than three runs a game. Nightly they seem to find new ways to lose while frustratingly maintaining a spot as the worst team in baseball.
Time will tell if it is the least successful Baltimore baseball season ever, but accomplishing that feat is a very real possibility with the team at 23 wins and 83 games to go in the season. Other than watching to see if the 54-win mark can be eclipsed – the level of futility established by the 1954 and 1988 teams – what reasons exist to go to Camden Yards throughout the rest of the season?
Surprisingly, after giving it some thought this week, there are several. Unfortunately, not many involve the Orioles’ play on the field.
Bacon on a stick
Among many above average food options at Camden Yards, Dempsey’s bacon on a stick ranks among the best. Officially described on Yelp as “slow smoked Hungarian bacon dipped in an Old Bay maple glaze and served in a six pack of beer bottles,” the item is a wonderful snack or appetizer, particularly when accompanied by a Rain Delay IPA.
One plus for fans in 2018 is the smaller crowds make it much easier than in years past to get a seat at Dempsey’s. According to ESPN, attendance at OPACY is down comparing 2017 to 2018 from 25,042 per game, to 20,388. Expect that gap to grow even larger.
Giveaways and special events
As detailed in the Baltimore Sun this week, the Orioles have a significant number and focus on giveaways and special events like never before. This is likely a result of the greater involvement in team management by John and Louis Angelos, but whatever the case, it is for the better.
Free admission for kids with their families, movies on the scoreboard and theme nights are all creative and fun ideas. A Game of Thrones theme (Tuesday, August 14 vs. Mets) and Bark (hint: bring the family dog) at Oriole Park (Wednesday, September 12, vs. A’s) are unique.
As far as free stuff between now and the end of September, fans can stock their wardrobe and get a Birdland Hawaiian Shirt (Saturday, June 30, vs. Angels), Maryland Flag Script Replica Jersey (Saturday, July 14, vs. Texas), Lightweight Hoodie (Saturday, September 15, vs. White Sox) and a Coaster Set (Friday, September 28, vs. Astros).
Perhaps the most lucrative weekend for giveaways is July 26 through July 29, vs. Tampa Bay, where fans receive something each night, including a Retro Swinging Bird t-shirt (Thursday), fireworks and music (Friday), Trey Mancini bobblehead (Saturday) and a Birdland Summer Garden Gnome (Sunday). That’s quite the potential haul.
Great ballpark, interesting opponents
Going to Camden Yards, even if the Birds are terrible, is still Major League Baseball and an opportunity to see a game in one of the best ballparks. It is the best stadium east of the Mississippi, and the fans – even if there are fewer around this year – sport gear and have a bond with the team in a way few cities do.
Throughout July, August and September, there are eight games against the New York Yankees, including double headers on Monday, July 9 (single admission), and Saturday, August 25. Plus, six games against the Boston Red Sox remain. Since the Orioles won’t be winning the American League East, maybe they can stop New York or Boston from doing so, ala September 28, 2011, otherwise known as the bullpen chicken, video game and beer collapse.
Two games also remain at home against the New York Mets – a team that doesn’t visit very often so that will be fun to see – and four against the World Series Champion Houston Astros, who appear to be even better this year, sporting one of the most statistically dominant starting rotations in the history of the game.
Records and the unexpected
Maybe someone will hit the Warehouse for the first time in a regular season game? Seattle’s Ken Griffey, Jr., did it at the 1993 Home Run Derby. Maybe a player will tie or beat Josh Hamilton’s record of four homeruns in a single game? He accomplished that feat on May 8, 2012. A no-hitter? The only one in OPACY history was tossed by Boston’s Hideo Nomo on April 4, 2001. A perfect game? Never happened. But it could. You’ll need to be there to see it.
The past and future
Between today and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, the Birds have 19 home games. That’s 19 times (or less, very likely less) to see Manny Machado, Adam Jones, as well as possibly Brad Brach, Zach Britton and others, in orange and black.
Once some combination of those four are gone – and almost certainly all of them should go, except for Jones, who I’d make a case to be re-signed – it will be time to see the future. The future includes current O’s prospects, as well as the young players they get back via trade. Seeing the kids develop could be great.
There is no doubt the last three months have been painful for Orioles fans. Standings wise, the next three won’t be much better. But, it is still a treat to go to the ballpark. Come the cold days of a Charm City winter, you’ll wish for a summer outing at Camden, even if the home team is having their worst season ever.
A decade ago I had a sign on my office door that said – “If you are lucky enough to be at the lake, you’re lucky enough.” I’d revise that for the rest of the 2018 Orioles season to say – “If you are lucky enough to be at Camden Yards, you’re lucky enough.”