Scott German: If this is a dream, don’t wake me up
A couple of weeks ago my wife and I drove up to Baltimore, had a nice dinner and did something we had not done in well over a year: we went to a Major League Baseball game.
Camden Yards , the home of my beloved but woeful Baltimore Orioles, was hosting divisional rival the Boston Red Sox.
Before the game we paid the normal absurd price to park, had a few equally absurdly priced adult beverages and crab cakes that darn near required a bank mortgage to obtain. And you know what ? We loved it.
OK, actually, I loved it more, but we had a blast for over three hours.
Some tidbits about our night: the Orioles took the early lead, but a weak bullpen coughed up the lead late, and Boston won 6-5. Normally this would have ruined my night and trip, but not this night, it was insignificant. Well, maybe it was somewhat significant; after all the Orioles have been my favorite MLB team my entire life. I hate any team not named Baltimore.
Despite an attendance limit of 12,500, there were plenty of obnoxious Boston fans that somehow sleazed their way into the stadium. And as I have a penchant to do, I spent the next few hours discussing baseball with those fans that speak funny.
And yes, indeed, it was wonderful.
The national anthem was magnificent, and not one player from either team took a knee. The grass was so brilliantly green you would have thought the Orioles’ groundskeeper had borrowed a trick from the folks that take care of the Virginia Tech football field and spraypainted it green.
The in-between innings video board games were even more intriguing than in the past. Practically no one left the seating area. You would have thought the mustard, ketchup, relish race was the Preakness Stakes. The 12,500 strong sounded more like 50,000!
The traditional seventh inning stretch seemed like it lasted 10 minutes, and no one cared. “America the Beautiful,” “Take Me out to the Ball Game,” and the Orioles’ tradition of John Denver’s “Country Boy” gave me goosebumps.
The umpires made a bad call that kept an inning alive for Boston and led to the eventual winning run to score, and I barely cursed. The Orioles manager Brandon Hyde made what I thought was a bone-headed pitching change, and I didn’t immediately demand his firing.
In the fifth inning, a towering foul ball headed in our direction down the left field line. I made an unbelievable catch of the ball. It hit three empty seats and ricocheted toward me. I let it roll to a stop and clutched it. The unbelievable part? I took it and gave it to a young boy seated next to his dad. They both were wearing Red Sox hats. Life without baseball for over a year will do that to even the hardest of us fans.
Oh, did I mention the best part of the game? Not batting practice, not the food, not the sounds of the game, something that could not be found anywhere you looked – those stupid cardboard cutouts.
That night in Baltimore baseball was back, better than ever. And we were there.
Story by Scott German