Monday, June 28, 2010

Oriole Park at Camden Yards

So it's taken me a long, long while to get these posts done.  For those of you who put off breathing until I post about a baseball stadium, I really apologize.  I'm now in sunny California and have put off writing about my last four stadiums for way too long, so it is TIME TO UNLEASH THE BEAST!!!!

My trip to Camden Yards was unusual to say the least.  Unusual because I have awesome friends who are unbelievably generous - so generous that I didn't really get to enjoy the entire ballpark.  Thanks to Will Beatson, I was able to procure two tickets for Ryan Atlas and me to the Yankees-Orioles game at Camden...IN A SUITE!  A big thanks to Will (who has helped me out tremendously on this entire voyage), Ryan for coming to the game with me, and the most unbelievable hostess in Major League Baseball - Christine Taylor. OOPS. I mean Jennifer Burns.  When you see the pictures from the game, you'll understand what I mean.  It really was such a great experience I feel like I have to go back to truly "see the stadium" like I have on the entire trip.  Well, I must describe to you my elitist experience at Camden with Ryan, Jenn, and two other guys (Anthony and....?) who were in our suite with us.

I must thank Ryan again, not only for attending the game with me, but for hosting me the three days I was in Baltimore and DC.  He freed up his schedule, set me up with a local gym, and gave me some good tips on where to eat.  Another huge thank you to Will, who gave me numerous places to eat, set me up with the tickets, and would have gone to the game with me on Tuesday had I not bailed on him for Stephen Strasburg's debut. Both gentlemen, and both scholars.

Location:  Camden Yards is located in downtown Baltimore, right next to the Ravens stadium - much like the set up in Philadelphia.  It was easy to get to from Ryan's apartment in Canton - about a 20 minute cab ride.  I took the freeway in the cab because of downtown traffic and it wasn't really a problem at all. I think you can also take a light rail from Penn Station and from other parts of Baltimore if you want to save some cash,  The area around the stadium seemed to be more of a business district than I was expecting.  It was actually quite nice, especially since I hadn't heard many good things about Baltimore as a city.  All in all, I would love to go back to the city for an extended trip.  It really is a cool area.

Ballpark:  Oriole Park at Camden Yards was built in 1992 to replace the old Camden Yards and hosted the All-Star Game in 1993.  It's a beautiful, red-brick park that is open air.  I would compare it a bit to Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, but it seems smaller and cozier.  It may be the large red building in right field that encloses the stadium view, but I've grown fond of smaller parks.  It has concrete concourses that were really, really big.  Another huge plus.

I'm also a huge fan of the retired silver numbers outside the stadium.  The Orioles have a hell of a history, and it's a real classy way to celebrate the franchise's best players.

There doesn't seem too much to do outside of the stadium, which is kind of a downer, but most everything you would want to do is a close cab ride away.

 Behind the plate

Outside the stadium

Cool outside view

Native Baltimorean, George Herman Ruth

Brooks Robinson, the original Hoover

Jim Palmer

Eddie Murray plus creepy dude between the "3"s

Cal Ripken, Jr.

Food:  Well I only ate in the suite, so I was treated to crab cakes, chips and 7-layer dip, some brats with all the fixins', and an open bar.  Camden does it right. I wasn't able to get an SCPI during my visit, but I look forward to heading back to Baltimore during my training in NYC to finish the job.  Oh, the food was great, by the way. A million thank yous to Jenn for setting that up.

Game:  Well, the Orioles were playing the Yankees, so I wasn't expecting the Orange-birds to come out with a victory at all. Things were looking good as they scored 2 runs early, but the Yanks put 3 on the board in the 6th and 7th to win the game 4-2.  It was a good game for a Yankees fan, and there were plenty of them there.  The Orioles aren't exactly playing well, so it was easy to see why they were heavily outnumbered in the crowd during the rainy game.  I was actually really surprised to see how empty Camden was, especially for a game against a team like the Yankees.  I guess when your franchise is struggling as bad as they are, it is to be expected.

Even though the game could have been better, the experience could not have.  It was good to hang out with Ryan, especially since he cut out from work to go to the game with me, Jenn was amazing, and we had good chats with Anthony and his friend.  The games really are better when you have good company, and this was one of the best.  Many thank yous to everyone involved, and a sincere sorry to Will for changing my mind about the game a couple of days before.  You're the man.

Robby Cano, future MVP?

Me, Jenn, Ryan

It's a bird...!

Mo pitching to Miggy

Overall: The game could have been better and more crowded, and I wish I could have seen more of the rest of the stadium. I wish I could give Camden an incomplete and go back, but I feel like I have to rate it as I saw it. So, it understandably gets high marks, especially since it was real high on my anticipation list before I started the tour.  I would definitely go back to Camden, and I really hope the franchise is able to turn its on-the-field product around sometime soon.

Location: 7
Ballpark: 8.5
Food: 8.5
Game: 7.5
Overall: 8

Record: 17-6
Giveaways: Jenn arranged for Al Bumbry to come into the suite, and he signed some large cards that he was carrying around with him.  He was a cool guy, and it was even cooler to get his autograph. Thanks, Jenn! The tally is at 7 now.

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