April 30, 2006
What a coincidence that my friend Rashmi would get free tickets to an Orioles game for a day that the Mariners were in town. And what better luck than to have the perfect spring day for the game yesterday. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky the entire day. It was baseball weather.
Baltimore is about a 20-minute drive from my home. We went down and found parking near the convention center. Ten dollars. I was in reverse sticker-shock! Just $10 for all-day event parking? If we were in Seattle, parking that close to the stadium would start at $25 or 30 (and I don’t even want to venture a guess for the same in Manhattan).
We walked down Pratt Street and over to the famous Inner Harbor – Baltimore’s main tourist attraction. Visiting the harbor has been on my to-do list for weeks. The cool thing about going there with Rashmi is that she was raised in Maryland, so she makes a great tour guide. One interesting fact she pointed out was that the first casualties of the Civil War occurred right there on Pratt Street.
The harbor walk was packed with people walking around, renting paddleboats, taking harbor cruises, walking aboard the tall ships, and visiting the aquarium. We ate a delicious seafood lunch and then walked and shopped until game time. The views from Federal Hill Park were great.
I hadn’t been to a baseball game since my friend Tom used to take me to M’s games at Safeco field in Seattle. I learned a lot about baseball from Tom in 2001-2002 (when the Mariners were top of their league), and came to love the game. Very few people wore M’s caps or shirts at Oriole Park at Camden Yards yesterday, but I was one of them. Another cool thing about Rashmi is that she knows baseball. And she enjoys it as much as I do.
When we got to the gate, Rashmi handed me my ticket. I took one look, saw the five-dollar price tag and laughed out loud. Neither of us could believe how cheap the seats were. (If you were familiar with the company Real Interface that gave her the tickets, you'd understand.) Rashmi noted that one ticket was less than the price of parking! What can I say, I’m a cheap date. Granted, they were nose-bleed seats, but for that price I expected bleachers, not actual seats. The seats were actually pretty good. Behind home plate and slightly over on the 3rd base line side. Our view was excellent. We were almost able to call balls and strikes ourselves.
By the way, you young single men out there: Rashmi is single. Late 20’s, college degree from Boston, owns her own home, works at the F.B. I., and is something of a technology geek (but you wouldn’t know it unless you sat in the same office with her). She’s super-bright and has a warm, generous personality (and great sense of humor) to go with it. You couldn’t ask for a better friend. Oh, and she doesn’t take crap from anyone.
So that’s my plug for Rashmi (a.k.a. Tech Writer Girl). :)
Anyway, it was a weird feeling being in the opposing team’s stadium. When the 34,000 fans there cheered the O’s, I felt out of my element. And I was disappointed in the M’s. First of all, it wasn't the same Mariners team that I used to know. I didn't recognize most of the players. And the majority of them were named Jose, Luis, Ramon, Hernandez, Lopez, or Gonzales.
My Mariners did nothing for the first five innings – one hit, and that was it – while the O’s racked up runs. As soon as I got out of my seat and went to use the restroom in the 6th inning, the tables turned, and the Mariners started scoring runs right and left. I should've left my seat sooner! I missed out on Ichiro stealing a base or two and getting a run. By the time I got back to my seat, the score had gone from 4-0 to 4-3. And the O’s fans were not happy.
Every time a Mariner scored, the fans booed. I found this to be in very poor taste. Of course, by the 7th inning most fans are drunk, but that’s really no excuse for poor sportsmanship. And some 11-year old kid a few rows up behind us screamed his annoying head off the entire time. I kept thinking, “Where is his mother?” Combined with boo-ing fans, and rude fans in front of us who spent more time standing than sitting (because they kept getting up for beers and bathroom breaks), I am not sure I’m inclined to become an Orioles fan after all. We’ll see.
In any case, the M’s won 8-6! It was an exciting finale, as the closing pitcher for the Mariners kept loading up the bases, keeping me on the edge of my seat. He finally struck out the batter, and the game was over. Whew.
Baltimore is a neat city. I definitely want to go back and do some more exploring.