As I sat there in the press box watching the second game of the doubleheader against the Rangers, I couldn’t help but think of how exciting it would be if Camden Yards was packed on a consistent basis. It has been a very, very long time since this ballpark had the type of crowds we saw when it first opened back in 1992. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Camden Yards, and I can’t think of a better anniversary present to The Yard than to fill the seats with passionate fans who can’t get enough of their beloved Orioles.
I was here last season when the O’s knocked the Red Sox out of playoff contention, and the atmosphere in this place was out of this world. Just think of how nuts this place would be if the O’s were fighting for a playoff spot in late September. And with the way they are playing so far this season, who knows where they’ll be come September. I will tell you one thing, though. It makes a huge difference to these players when the stadium is packed full of passionate, screaming hometown fans instead of those of visiting teams (Yankees and Red Sox, especially). There are plenty of reasons to come out to The Yard and watch your O’s play, but here are five good ones.
There is never a dull moment
No matter if it’s a three-run walk-off homer to erase a two-run deficit in the bottom of the ninth or a bases loaded save with a one-run lead, the O’s never fail to raise our blood pressure at critical points in the game. Through the first 32 games, the O’s have already been involved in six one-run games and six extra inning games. They have more fight in them than I’ve seen in years and I think they truly feel like no lead is too big to overcome. The game I go back to is the 17-inning affair against the Red Sox last Sunday when they blew a five-run lead and still managed to battle back and win the game, completing their first three-game sweep at Fenway Park since 1994. Simply put, this team never says die.
The long ball is just a pitch away
At the time Thursday night’s game was completed, the O’s were third the majors with 45 home runs. That’s an astounding stat considering the teams and lineups they are surrounded by (Yankees, Rangers, Cardinals). What this means for fans is that a three-run deficit could vanish in the time it takes the ball to clear the fence. Home runs equal excitement no matter how you look at it, and so far this season the O’s have been able to provide that kind of frenzy for their fans.
Camden Yards is better than ever
Known as The Ballpark That Forever Changed Baseball, Camden Yards has really stepped up their game in 2012. They made a number of new renovations in the off-season including a new Roof Deck above center field that gives fans a unique view of the game as well as a full-service bar that is sure to amuse the fans who like that sort of thing (myself included). The right-field wall has been modified to reduce the height of the out-of-town scoreboard so the fans in the standing room only section that aren’t 6-foot-5 can actually see the game too. Maybe the best addition to the stadium is the bronze sculptures of the six greatest O’s of all time including Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Earl Weaver, Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken Jr. These sculptures will be unveiled throughout the season and are a great addition to an already amazing ballpark.
This one is pretty simple, guys. Come out and support your hometown baseball team. I understand it would be much more enjoyable if the O’s had a winning team year in and year out, but at least it looks as though they are making a concerted effort to be better this season. It is much more enjoying and a lot less annoying when the seats are filled with orange and black as opposed to the visiting team’s colors. This is just a matter of pride. O’s fans need to start having some or they are going to get run out of their own stadium.
Anything can happen in baseball
We saw this a few years ago with the Tampa Bay Rays. They went from having the worst record in the majors at 66-96 to making it to the World Series the following season. Obviously, this doesn’t happen everyday, but they won games kind of how the O’s are winning them now. Great starting pitching, a solid bullpen and timely hitting. Add some Orioles magic to the equation and you’ve got this year’s O’s team to a tee. Rising from the basement to the top is easier said than done, but it’s feasible. I don’t want to jump the gun just yet because the O’s still have a long way to go before we can talk about the postseason. But just the inkling of hope that the O’s can put together a magical season should at least get some fans out to the ballpark to witness the possibility of greatness. After all, isn’t that why we watch sports in the first place?