Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Three Times is a Charm City

I've been to many games at Camden Yards in my lifetime (including Cal Ripken's last game and number retirement ceremony in 2001). Baltimore is a nice quick day trip from up here. I can take the city in small doses, and I like to end my day or evening by going to either an afternoon game before catching dinner or evening game before heading home.

With as many games as I've attended there, as big of a Mets fans I am, as many "road" stadiums I try to visit (with or without the Mets actually playing a game against the home team), I have never been able to sync my schedule with the Baltimore Orioles when the Mets are in town.

Last year, when they had a three-game series in the middle of the week down in Charm City, I figured I'd just resigned myself to not seeing the Mets play there again for many years.

Not so fast there, Scooter. As soon as I saw the Mets were making the trip not only to Baltimore again this season but on a weekend, I had to go. It was the first time for me seeing my team ever at Camden Yards.

Baltimore may not be the nicest city. It may not be the cleanest or the flashiest or most comfortable (the summers there are BRUTALLY humid and this is coming from someone who LOVES humidity), there may not be a ton to do outside of the Harbor and Fells Point areas, but I can tell you one thing. It is a GREAT place to catch a baseball game and an overall enjoyable experience as a fan. I always said I love watching games where I had no vested interest in the teams and could just enjoy the "art" of baseball. Well, I had a vested interest this time, but no Cal Ripken to root for (who is my all-time favorite player). So let's play ball!

First, I have to say I was truly amazed by the pure amounts of Mets fans who made the trip down there. I don't know if it's because perhaps being in the DC-metropolitan area, or that it's approximately three hours outside of the NY metropolitan area, but it seemed like Baltimore was THE PLACE to be this weekend for Mets fans.

And rightfully so. Until this series, the Mets had not won a road series since July 2009. Forget sweeping. this team just needed to win. We already know the Mets believe in Home Field Advantage. To be legit, they need to start winning on the road. And what better way to start winning with the worst team in the AL East, the Orioles.

Maybe it was the authentic "Lets go Mets" chants. Maybe it was all the blue and orange in the stands. Maybe it was the big bright white letters of the GO BIG PELF shirts on Sunday.

All I know is that the Mets treated Camden Yards like their home, and I've considered Camden Yards like a home-away-from-home for me as a fan. So the fact they swept and continued their home winning progress on the road was a huge thing.

Doing it in front of so many fans who made the trip was just a bonus.

I'm sure many of my dear readers have been to Flushing in April or a cold night in the spring, or in the fall. You freeze your parts off, male or female. The summers, to me anyway, are not as bad, because the breeze from the Bay keeps the air circulating, so it's hot, but manageable. It depends on who you are, I guess, because I love hot weather. One reason I can only take Baltimore in small doses is because the humidity. My goodness, the humidity. It's a dirty word there. You'd think in a harbor area the air would be cooler at least. Nope. On a hot day, the air does not circulate and if you were a dog, you would be panting to keep cool. When we checked into our hotel room, I tweeted (@Coopz22) that I never loved air conditioning more than I loved it at that moment. See, I had worn jeans on the bus trip down, and since our room wasn't ready for occupying yet, I couldn't change till we returned after lunch.

Lunch was closer to the stadium, so we stopped by to get pictures there.
That was the last time of the weekend where I did not have my hair up or wore long pants. Shorts all the way. Yay!

Saturday night was supposed to be a big Tweet-up Meet-up type of thing. When you make the trip to Baltimore for a game (which I highly recommend) more than likely you will use the Eutaw Street entrance. There's nothing really like it at Citi Field, but it's kind of like scanning your ticket on the street then continuing with a neighborhood walk. Over there though is an open plaza with bleacher seats, food stands, beer and most importantly Boog's BBQ, named after a Baltimorean legend, Boog Powell. That's as much of a landmark at Camden Yards as anything.

I've been going to Camden Yards for years, but have never taken part in their BBQ delights there. It's odd but every time I go there, it seems like I just ate or just not hungry enough to have a meal (not to mention, I think the last two times I was there, I was eating vegetarian, so BBQ pulled pork was not on my menu). I have to make it a point to try it next time though.

The idea seemed easy enough. However, I found out on the way down that several fans' plans fell through, and one of them who actually did make it had to keep moving around simply because the area was so crowded (it was, no blaming them not to mention the oppressive heat). So the hype machine left us with four people -- myself, the hubs, CoreyNYC and his wife Em! So we were able to get one picture. But it was so uncomfortably hot, we didn't stay that long anyway.

On to our seats. For the Saturday game, we had seats on the third base side (between David and Jason, to be exact). Our views were pretty good.

Prior to the game was Ravens Appreciation Night, and we were given Ravens-colored Orioles caps on the way into the stadium. The Ravens mascot (uh, a raven) made an appearance, and Metsgrrl even pointed out that the Ravens mascot was named "Poe." How did I not know this? If I haven't already declared my allegiance to the J-E-T-S, I'd totally stake my tell tale heart with the Ravens.

One thing that surprised me in the Charm City though was the fact that although the city is in general cheaper than New York City, there is not really a "home town discount" at Camden Yards. The 16 oz beers were on course with what we'd pay at CitiField, and the best "bargain" I guess if you can call it that is the 24 oz can of beer for $10. But still when I think about what I spent on that, it was quite a lot. I noticed for Sunday though, when I participated in it, was that the draft beer was $6.25. I guess that was a bargain. Sort of.

I did get several texts while inside the stadium and the game settling in, but the most welcome one was from CrazyMetGirl Tracy who suggested we come up to the Club Level -- unlike the Mets' Excelsior Level, the Club Level is open to all, just not the seats. The best attraction? AIR CONDITIONING. (You can see by the happy faces that we were cool as cukes)

The Club Level, as its name suggests, houses different air conditioned (Oh I never loved air conditioning more than I did this weekend) lounges, but most importantly the Retired Numbers Lounge...
Where my favorite number of my favorite player of all-time, Cal Ripken Jr. is honored (along with Eddie Murray and Brooks Robinson, to name a few).

Only if you want to get to the seats do the ushers check your tickets. Even then, though, I was able to sneak in a row that was empty because I knew members of my family were there, including the famous Jay the Dawg (aka SassDawg). This trip turned out to be a last hoo-rah for Sass since he is moving to Upstate New York in a few weeks to start school.

Even with K-Rod on the mound, the team managed to not make things interesting in the 9th and we won, yeah! Takin' care of business, for sure!

Then onto Sunday, which was the get-away day for all teams, including me. The Studious Metsimus team and I took the Boltbus down. Now, if you remember my grumblings last year going to the series in D.C., I basically said I would commit hari kari before taking one again. Well, when I got hold of their dollar fares going down there, I figured...what the heck. Try and try again. It wasn't as bad as it was last time, but I guess the 1/2 hour less road trip meant there was no rest stop on the way down. Which sucked on the way back, hitting traffic and being cooped in that bus the entire time. Anyway, I had the idea that maybe we could get on standby if the game ended early enough. Well the game did end on the early side, but we still made our regularly scheduled departure basically because to buses to Baltimore/New York are booked solid.

I digress. Anyway, Sunday was another one of those brutally humid and hot days, with thunderstorms threatening. Funny thing was, it started to drizzle at one point and it was a welcome relief from the weather. UGH.

Bear Man and I had a humongous breakfast at the buffet at the Cafe Promenade - it's a bit pricey, but it's in a hotel. I dream about this buffet when I am not there, it is THAT good. So by the time the game rolled around, we still were not hungry. And even when we returned home that night, we STILL were not hungry!

But Sunday I had to make it a point to get Joey Beartran and myself a funnel cake, to report back to someone who kept telling me to try one. They were apparently the "best." I am not a big funnel cake fan, but it was good -- not enough to make me want one again, but glad I tried it nonetheless.

What else? Out of the three starters the Mets had going, I was so certain Big Pelf was going to have a strong game against the weakest team in baseball. However, it was RA Dickey and Hisanori Takahashi who were the sure things this weekend, while Mike Pelfrey had a case of the yips, but still managed a good outing.

We got to the park early on Sunday. Folks started lining up around 11 am to get in the stands.

We were able to get some decent shots of the final moments of BP, with the team running in from the outfield to the clubhouse at the end.

Also some suh-weet photos from behind home plate.

One thing that Bear Man pointed out to me is that we are lucky at CitiField to be able to have the luxury of walking around the open concourses during a game and still be able to watch it. You are still enclosed at Camden Yards, which is one drawback. It's still one of my favorite places to watch a game though.

Our seats were in the "Eutaw Reserve," more commonly known as bleacher seats. I specifically wanted these seats because they were equivalent to what I have at CitiField in Section 138. Only difference? PRICE.

This is where you get the hometown discount when you go to Orioles games folks. In the seats, but not in the concessions.

Here are some of the other views from the stands.

I feel as though I am a close personal friend of Angel Pagan (or as the Orioles announcer would say: "Pah-GAWN") this year, since I see him so often in my seats at CitiField too.

To the left of the seats we had was the standing room only section -- you have to be about 9 feet tall to see the game from there.

Prior to this series, the Mets were not impressive on the road. To me, a sweep was necessary. Two out of three in my eyes would be a failure, if the Mets were going to prove themselves as "legit," they needed to beat upon the weaker teams. Well guess what? We broke out the Swiffers for this series and opened the series in Cleveland with a win as well. With a Braves and Phillies loss last night, this division is getting a little close for comfort. Hot enough for you, boys?

Three wins in Charm City, though. Baltimore may be one of the worst teams in the baseball. To me the Mets proved they can beat up the smaller guys and play to the level of the stronger components, and to me, that's just absolutely charming.

1 comment:

Jake said...

Good stuff. Sounds like it was a blast!