A couple of years back, I met my buddy the CFO and his son, Jake, in Pittsburgh for a weekend of baseball games when his beloved Tigers were in town for a series against the Pirates.
Cut to this weekend, when the Boys were Back in Town, only this time, right here in Baltimore. The Tigers had a 4-game series against the Orioles and we had tickets for the first two games on Thursday and Friday nights, and for a Sunday game up in Philadelphia.
It’s been about 6 years since the CFO was here last, so I had some fun things on the “schedule” to keep us all occupied in and around the baseball games.
Director’s DVD Commentary: Yes, I actually roughed out a schedule on a spreadsheet, but NO, it did not include times we needed to be places (other than things with concrete starting times). It was just a way to arrange all our options. And we ended up scrambling it all up anyway.
First of all, since we had three days’ worth of activity taking place downtown, we decided to get a hotel room near the Inner Harbor for Thursday and Friday nights. We figured there would be less time spent shuttling back and forth on the subway if we just stayed there. Plus, I wouldn’t have to cook.
We decided to hit the National Aquarium first and take in the underwater spectacle. It didn’t disappoint.
"Hop on, dude!"
Forget the cat and dog... we got Grumpy Frog!
The long sought-after, "Marty Feldman Tetra."
"You talkin' to me?"
These guys were always in a hurry.
"OK, who dropped the Trojan Party Pack into the tank?"
"And now, Jacques Cousteau presents the elusive Saltwater Sea Loogie."
"...And who's been pouring vodka into the dolphin tank?"
All that aquatic excitement worked up a powerful thirst, so after checking into the hotel and gearing up, we made our way down to The Bullpen for some reasonably priced liquid refreshment, or in other words..
We didn’t stay too long, though, because we wanted plenty of time to wander around the ballpark and cause trouble.
Because Jake plays the same position, he wanted a chance to watch the Orioles 3rd base phenom Manny Machado, so we got tickets 11 rows behind him.
"Why is that kid staring at me? Do I owe him money?"
It was an exciting game; the Tigers jumped out to a big lead, but the Orioles fought back, although the rally fell just short and they lost 9-8.
On Friday, we got tickets for a guided tour of Camden Yards. Over an hour and a half, we were given the history of the area, a rundown of all the architectural decisions that went into creating Camden Yards, toured the luxury boxes, the scoreboard control room, the press box, and ended up being led down onto the field, around the grounds crew who were watering the infield, and into the Orioles dugout.
This was the coolest thing I’ve done in years. Unfortunately, I had to press my luck.
The whole time, our guide told us, “Stay off the grass, you have to stay off the grass.”
From the clay cinder track, I walked up short of the grass, thinking, “OK, I’m not on the grass.” But I had to touch it. My goal for the entire tour was to touch Major League grass. As I bent over and lowered my hand, I heard the tour guide say sharply, “Don’t touch it…”
But the signal from my brain had already been received and was past the point of no return. I lightly brushed the grass with the back of my hand, and then leaped back as if I’d been touched a stove. Dude wouldn’t even look at me for the rest of the tour.
The CFO piped up, “It doesn’t touch the field, or else it gets the hose again.”
(Yes, I know it’s not the right cadence for a legit Silence of the Lambs quote, but I have to give the CFO credit. Because he’ll demand it in Comments either way.)
“I’m sorry I bent your grass, Mister.”
Later, I emailed Sitcom Kelly this picture,
and wrote, “Guess where I just was.”
She replied, “Fun!! Did you carve my phone number in the bench? Did you get out to the bullpen? (not the bar). Put my number out there too.”
Sure, what’s one more athlete to go missing and end up clawing at a dirt wall at the bottom of a pit in Sitcom Kelly’s basement?
Because we still had a bunch more time to kill after the tour, we checked out the Maryland Science Center. The place was really cool, but there was something about it that just gave me an uneasy feeling. I'm not sure why...
This time, we sat in one of my regular spots, the left field club seats. We had a lot more elbow room up there, which was good. The CFO had to banish his son, for wearing an Orioles shirt instead of Tigers. (It was a laundry situation.)
We saw another exciting game, with the Tigers again jumping out to a big lead… 6-0 in the 4th inning, before the Orioles came back to win 8-6. The whole series ended up in a 2-2 split, so neither of us won bragging rights. So I just fell back on the O’s sweeping the Tigers in the playoffs last season.
Saturday was an open day, as far as specific events go, so we decided to fill it (and us) with lunch at noted Meat-a-torium, Fogo de Chao.
I even skipped the free breakfast at the hotel, just so I’d be good and ready for the Meat-O-Rama. But then what do we find? The place doesn’t serve lunch on Saturdays. I couldn’t believe that. The busiest day of the week at the Inner Harbor and they don’t do lunch? Sorry… that does not compute.
Instead, I gave the guys a tour of my new office building and then we ate at a local (upscale) deli. Sure, it was good, but it just wasn’t the same as unlimited meat on a skewer.
After lunch, Jake wanted to ride a water taxi, so we jumped on one that said they were going across the Harbor to the Rusty Scupper. I assumed this was one of the free ones, the “circulators” that run every 15 minutes, but it turned out to be a paid route with several stops. He said the Circulator boat didn’t run on weekends. Gah! Wasn’t shit working out on this day, I tell you.
I told the guy to just take us back to where we started from, but it was too late. He didn’t charge us, but we wouldn’t have a ride back. Instead, we walked all the way around the Harbor to get back to our parking garage, in the searing sun.
On the bright side, though, we went by a guy and his son doing a stunt act at the base of the Inner Harbor, so we stopped and watched for a bit. As a finale, the guy had his 7-year old son stand on top of a half-beachball, on top of a keyboard stand, and escape from a straightjacket.
(Yes, they really have straightjackets for kids, and no, he wouldn’t tell us where we could get one.)
The kid was amazing though… I mean, YOU try balancing on a ball without the use of your arms…
We killed the rest of the night eating pizza, drinking beer and watching the next Orioles/Tigers game on TV.
On Sunday, we drove up to see the Phillies/Braves game at the new(ish) Citizens Bank Ballpark. I have to say, I was impressed. It was really a beautiful place, with wide aisles, good food, and lots of little standing room nooks to have a bite and watch the game.
Our original seats were in the sun, and the ushers had no problems telling people to move to shaded spots… as opposed to Baltimore, where the ushers will shoot you dead for switching seats… or touching their grass.
The Philadelphia Naval Shipyards were about a mile from the ballpark, and as luck would further have it, the CFO’s old ship, the USS John F. Kennedy, was docked there. So we ran over there after the game so he could reacquaint with the old girl.
She was being dismantled, so she’d seen better days.
Just because we missed out on Fogo on Saturday doesn’t mean we gave up on our hopes to have a meat feast… we just postponed. The guys were going to leave Monday morning, but instead we decided they could leave later, after meeting me at Fogo for lunch.
Brandishing our last forkfuls.
Trust me, (because as I write this, I’ve got the meat sweats and am sitting in a puddle of grease,) we got our money’s worth. Just about everything they carved off for us was delectable. You should have seen me doing the Fred Sanford Shuffle back to the office afterwards. Don’t think I’ll be needing dinner tonight, thank you very much.
Anyway, that was the weekend… a packed one at that. I think I did more stuff over the last 4 days than I’ve done in the last 4 years. But it was fun being the host, and I hope my guests enjoyed their stay at Chez Bluz.
Well, there and at Chez Marriott…