So This Is What First Place Feels Like

DC Sports Nexus ---- Saturday, May 26, 2012

At the Ballpark
Orioles Park at Camden Yards

I've been an Orioles fan all my life, but I'm not old enough to remember the "glory days".  This season I decided to root for the Nats as well and lo-and-behold I found myself with TWO first place teams.  This is the story of my visit to Camden Yards for the O's 8-2 win over the Royals last night.

Friday night at Camden Yards has always meant one thing for me, 9 dollar upper deck student tickets (no one tell them I graduated).  It also meant having an empty seat in front of you to stretch your legs out on and laughing at paying 9 bucks knowing that you could move down to the lower decks after a few innings had passed.  Tonight the tickets were still 9 dollars, but everything else was...a bit different:
"Even the crowd is in uncharted territory with the 28,954 assembled at Camden Yards featuring nearly 11,000 walk-up tickets purchased, a new stadium record." -Brittany Ghiroli (O's Beat Writer)

What is Going on Here?
So I didn't get to stretch out my legs and I didn't get to go down to lower seats.  You know what else, I also can't remember a game in recent memory that has been so much fun.  I've seen Camden Yards filled for games against the Yankees and Red Soxs, but that's mostly because it was filled WITH Yankees and Red Soxs fans.   For a game against the Kansas City Royals the atmosphere of the park was unexpected and unbelievable.  Dare I say that during the Oriole's 5 run fifth inning the park even took on a "playoff-like" feel.

Even the security guards were feeling the energy tonight:

Not So Fast...
I'd be lying if I told you that the park was filled with 29,000 hardcore fans who were lingering on every pitch.  During the 5th inning that statement would have been mostly true.  Two innings later however...most people in my section were more focused on starting the wave.  They had their efforts halted when Chris Davis hit a monster homerun in the 7th, which reminded them about the baseball game.  Fear not though, they actually succeeded in getting a stadium-spanning wave going before the end of the game and it got cheers that rivaled any cheers a baseball play got the entire night.

Being In First Means Fighting?
The attendance might of been announced at around 29,000, but it was much less by the end of the night.  I can say that with confidence because I saw 3 different groups of people escorted out by the police from my section, all of them for fighting...with other O's fans.  Apparently it wasn't only my section because after 2 1/2 innings played I heard my usher say that 40+ people had already been ejected from the park.  I guess O's fans have spent so long having Baltimore invaded by Yankees and Red Soxs fans that they just assume drunken fighting comes with the first place territory.

The Right Direction.
I don't want to leave you with a negative impression of the game.  In fact,  as I said at the start, it was one of the best times I've had at Camden Yards.  The crowd was loud, rowdy, and came to cheer on their team.  After 14 losing seasons it's going to take a lot to get Baltimore to return to being a "baseball" town, but tonight showed me that things are moving in the right direction.  If the crowd was that electric for a game against the Royals in May, I can't even imagine what it'll be like if there is still meaningful baseball being played in August and September.

What About the Nats?
Sadly, I haven't gotten an opportunity to make it out to Nationals Park yet, but I am aiming to rectify that situation as soon as possible.  I've heard that Washington just "isn't that into baseball", but tonight has shown me that winning can really change that.  We've already had some coverage comparing the about baseball experiences in Baltimore and Washington (Here, Here, Here, and Here) and I'd like to contribute to that once I get out to see a Nats game in person.  Until then, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below or on twitter @dru90.

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