I went to see the Baltimore Red Sox take on the Baltimore Orioles tonight - or so it seemed. The biological home team won. The adopted home team lost (Orioles 11, Red Sox 10).
It was hard to tell whether there were more Red Sox fans or more Orioles fans tonight, as is always the case when these two teams play in Camden Yards. The cheers from Red Sox fans were loud early in the game, but then again, they had more to cheer about. Orioles fans cheered loudest in the end when Nick Markakis hit a triple that ended up driving in the game winning run. It was quite an exciting finish considering the Orioles were down 9-1 earlier in the game.
My brother in-law was the beneficiary of corporate seats very close behind the screen toward the first base line. My brother in-law, father in-law and I would be sitting with the beautiful people.
We were escorted to our seats by Ron, the seat attendant with the Windex. "Thanks, but we can find our own way," my brother in-law said, but Ron insisted that we have clean seats.
Red Sox jerseys were everywhere. A long time Red Sox fan was wearing a "Yastrzemski." I saw a "Lowell", a few "Varitek", several "Youkalis" and many "Papelbon". Red Sox fans love Papelbon.
I saw a fan wearing a Chelsea Fire and Rescue t-shirt. I didn't think people from Chelsea would know how to get to Baltimore. Don't you need a passport for that? The city beneath the Tobin Bridge went bankrupt in the 1990's, and the mayor pleaded for help from the state by saying, "I beg of you, don't open the gates of heaven and let us in, but for God's sake, please open the gates of hell and let us out." One made it out, apparently, and made it down to Camden Yards.
Michael Jackson's P.Y.T. played over the loudspeaker. The fan reaction was neutral, but the estate was blessed with a modest royalty payment.
It had been a couple of years since I had been to a major league game. I had to transition myself from Bowie Boys & Girls Club softball to MLB. When the first few players got out, I found myself yelling, "nice try. Nice try. I know you'll do better next time."
The sky grew dark. It started to sprinkle. I took a well timed bathroom break. The rain came pouring down, and a rain delay was declared before the game was official. My father in-law described the protocol for calling the game - the home plate umpire would have the final say. Always the cynic, my brother in-law theorized that MBA types working for Peter Angelos had super computers that compared concession inventory, real-time purchases, payroll data and radar to determine the optimal point to call the game to maximize profits.
We had a celebrity sighting during the rain delay. The host of the defunct CNN show The Capital Gang, Mark Shields, walked by. "Mark," my father in-law yells out while he grabs Mark's hand to shake it. Apparently they had met before, and he explained the circumstances to Mark, and then he quickly introduced me and my brother in-law. Mark says, "think we'll get the game in tonight, boys?" And then he is off. My father in-law has an encyclopedia for a brain, and quickly explains that Mark is from Weymouth, and he is therefore a Red Sox fan. Sure enough, Wikipedia indicates that Mark Shield is indeed from Weymouth. Scary.
The rain seems to be getting lighter, and we check out the field. The crew is removing the tarps. Ron is there waiting to escort us to our seats again. Ever resourceful, Ron now has a Chamois to dry our seats. I said, "oh great, a Chamois." Ron says, "you mean Cham Wow!" Another tip for Ron.
The crowd came back liquored up. The family atmosphere disappeared. A shouting match begins to take place between a Red Sox fan with a thick Boston accent and a young girl Oriole fan. The match ends with the Bostonian shouting, "don't be a baby. Kindee-gaaaaden called. They want you back in claaaaass!"
One casualty from the rain delay: most of the beautiful people have left. There are many empty seats down near the front.
Ron has to ask a group of thirty-something year old "boys" to move twice because they were in other people's seats. He finally asks them to go back to their assigned seats. One of the "kids" says, "there are plenty of seats down here. There was a rain delay, you piece of shit prick." The ugly people have arrived.
The Red Sox and Orioles fans let out alternating cheers. "Let's go, Red Sox" is followed by "Let's go, Orioles!" Common ground is discovered: "Yankees suck! Yankees suck!"
A different Red Sox team came out for the second half of the game. The infield isn't paying attention to the game, and they walk off the field after only two outs in the inning. The umpire goes to the dugout to retrieve the embarrassed players.
The post rain delay game is owned by the Orioles. They start a rally in the bottom of the 7th. Five runs scored. Michael Jackson's Wanna Be Startin' Something plays over the loudspeaker. The context is not lost on the fans, and they cheer wildly. More royalties to the estate.
The Red Sox bullpen sends out pitcher after pitcher. Nothing works. Jonathan Papelbon finally comes out, and from the cheers, you would have thought the Pope had arrived in Boston. He starts off good, but not good enough. Nick Markakis put an end to that.