Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The ALDS Bluz

Sports Disclaimer: Yes, this is a post about playoff baseball, but not really about the game.  It’s all about my experience in attending the game, under trying conditions.  Sports fans and non-sports fans should be able to relate.  So read on!

As you may have seen in my prior post, the Orioles made their first playoff series since 1997.  I had tickets to the American League Divisional Series (ALDS) games on Sunday and Monday, so it’s been pretty busy for me.  In fact, I’m freakin’ exhausted right now.  But here I am pounding out a post for you, because that’s the kind of high-quality site I run here.  [Gak…]

My biggest challenge was finding someone to go to the game with me on Sunday night.  When I originally bought the tickets, I was expecting Sitcom Kelly to go, but due to an unforeseen circumstance, the first two games were going to be in Baltimore, even though they were the lower seed.  (Normally the team with home field advantage in the series plays the first games in their park.)  Sitcom Kelly and her sister were going to be in Ocean City over the weekend, but I thought the games would be played later in the week.  Fortunately for me, my brother Ed came through.

Ed was in Columbus since Friday night, meeting up with his old OSU frat brothers, with whom he was going to the game against Nebraska.  After the O’s clinched their ALDS birth, I texted him to see if he wanted to go.  I thought he’d be getting home too late, would be too tired, or wouldn't be allowed out of the house again after carousing all weekend, so I was happily surprised when he gave me a “Hell yeah!

All the mojo signs were favorable for the game.  Friday night, the Orioles won their playoff birth.  Saturday night, the Buckeyes clobbered Nebraska.  Then Sunday, the Steelers won against the Eagles.  (Yes, I know I root for teams from three different states.  What of it?)  Yes, the Ratbirds won, but they looked terrible doing it.  So I thought I had some good omens for the O’s game.

The biggest problem looked to be the weather.  Unlike football, they will delay a baseball game if it’s raining.  But if it starts raining while the game is in progress, they will continue unless it starts pouring.  So I figured I’d need to be prepared.  I posted my game-day mojo apparel on Twitter, so you might have seen that, if you follow me.  (And why on earth wouldn't you?  @DarwinfishBluz… do it!  I’m hilarious and devastatingly insightful. And modest.) 

Anyway, this was my attire: I called it my Revenge of the Losers motif.
From the top down, Pittsburgh Pirates long-sleeved tee (perennial losers since 1992), Bowling Green Falcons sweatshirt (my alma mater and a non-very-competitive MAC school), a plain black tee, and my unfortunately cream colored Orioles jersey.

I wore that jersey when they won the Wild Card game, so I figured I’d continue the mojo.  You can also see the plastic rain poncho, which I wore all wrapped up under my sweatshirt.  It proved to make a nice seat-back pad.

The hourly report on weather.com said rain was likely between 8:00 and 9:00, and would then clear off, so I figured we’d be in good shape.  So as soon as the Steelers game was over, I changed gear, hopped onto the subway and rolled into town.  I met Ed outside the gates.  First stop was to get a look at the new Brooks Robinson statue.  I needed a picture so I could complete my set.  They just unveiled it at the end of September.
The statue of Brooks Robinson, the best fielding third baseman ever, no matter what Cal Ripken says.

As Ed and I headed up to the club level, it started to rain.  And it didn't stop for another three fucking hours!  Thanks for the tip, weather.com.

On the bright side, we were inside on the club level.  There was plenty of food and drinks to buy, but precious few places to sit.  Our game seats in the 5th row were juuuuust at the edge of the overhang above us.  Our row was the last row that got wet. 
You can see the top of the overhang, in relation to our row.

As game time drew near, they announced that the game would be delayed, and they’d have more information later. 

It got to be just like when you’re stuck at the airport and they say, “We’ll have more information in a half hour,” and then 30-minutes later they say “We’re still delayed and we’ll have more information in another half hour.”

We were basically stuck in this glorified hotel hallway.
Club level, Camden Yards.  You can see one of the bar areas up on the right.

So while we were milling around and sweating our balls off, (remember all the layers I was wearing), it dawned on me that they were really screwing the pooch.  They had nice big HDTV monitors all over the place, but almost all of them only showed the static Delay Message.  Same thing on the scoreboard outside.

This was a time with several pro football games going on, plus a National League playoff game… why the hell wasn't some of that being shown?  They have this giant scoreboard, but they don’t have anything on it.  Put up a game!  Put up the studio guys or the pre-game show!  Put on Seinfeld, for Pete’s sake, but do something to alleviate the freakin’ boredom!  I've written before about some of the things I think they can improve at Camden Yards.  Add this to the list.

Eventually we found a TV showing the Bronco/Patriots game, but it took a while.  It just so happened that it was in a lounge that was serving (former Oriole great) Boog Powell’s famous BBQ sandwiches.  (His main stand is behind centerfield, out on Eutaw St.)  At one point, the line shrunk from gargantuan, down to almost nothing, so I took that as a sign that I should get a roast beef sandwich.  (I’m pretty flexible about interpreting signs.)

Oh, man, it was huge.  The lady put at least twice the amount of beef on there that they do outside.  Maybe that’s an unspoken bonus for ponying up the bucks for the club level.  I thought about getting a picture, but I just didn't have enough hands.  It’s tough to eat and drink and hold your plate while you’re standing around.

And just standing around proved to be a problem.  We were standing behind a couple who were sitting at one of the few tables in the place, when the dude turned around and said that the girl wanted me to take a couple steps back, because she was afraid I was going to drop something on her.

I told him that at $10 a sandwich, I wasn't dropping shit and I was eating over my plate, so he should just turn around and shut his cake hole.

OK, I didn't really say that the part about his cake hole.  And my brother was much more diplomatic about it and said that we all have to make the best of a trying situation here, and since he was lucky enough to have a table and chair, he should just count his blessings.  Anyway, it was only another minute or two before I was done, so problem solved.  Ed said later that he thought the guy (that was in front of him) was just feeling crowded because he kept scooting his chair around.  He just blamed it on the girl, like a putz.

Eventually, we heard a commotion from outside as they announced that they were setting game time at 8:40, (from what was supposed to be a 6:07 start), so this ended up as a two and a half hour rain delay.  The ground crew took to the field to a big ovation, and began the work of getting the tarp off and preparing the field.
The Running of the Tarp.

 Why the FUCK are they spraying water on the field after a 2-hour rain delay?  Why not just take the tarp off earlier?

Here’s another thing that bugged me.  Look at the playoff logo on the field.
It just says, “PostSeason”

They couldn't spell out “Divisional Series?”  Were they trying to save money by only doing one logo, covering the ALDS, AL Championship Series and World Series?  Having a graphic that just says “PostSeason” is like producing a Valentine’s Day card that just says, “Holiday.”

They also supplied a give-away to all attendees… an Orioles rally towel.
The copycatting of the Steelers’ Terrible Towel continues.

To me, it looks like the Oriole Bird has to take a serious pee and is trying to hold it.  It cracked me up that they also had this picture painted outside the men’s room.

My blogger friend Misty was also at the game, in club seats across the Yard in left field.  She said her son had a green sign and wanted me to try to get a picture.  I said I’d try, but no promises.
See that little green smudge?  You’re welcome, Misty.  Sorry I don’t have a better telephoto lens.

This was our perspective for the game.  Pretty good seats, if you ask me.  And it was great to see the place packed, for a change.

As for the game, it was OK.  It was close.  O’s had a brief lead, but really couldn't do too much with the Yankees pitcher C.C. Sabathia.  The score remained 2-2 most of the way.  After his wild weekend, plus the long delay, Ed checked out after the 5th inning.  I couldn't blame him.  I was tired, and I laid around all day after having a good night’s sleep.

Even with all the layers, I got pretty cold whenever there was a breeze.  I should have worn some kind of windbreaker.  (And I did at Monday’s game.)  After the 8th inning, and the O’s got a lead-off double but couldn't even get the guy as far as 3rd base, I decided to start moving on.  It was about a quarter to 12 and I’d seen enough. 

I was also getting tired of the loud drunk a few rows behind me, who thought he was much funnier than he really was.  (Note to drunk guy: Bellowing at Sabathia that he was still fat stopped being funny by the 3rd inning.  You need to learn the meaning of the concept, “enough.”)

I went down to ground level to use the restroom before I left and I pretty much regretted it.  Not only did the Yanks’ #8 batter hit a home run, the stall I went into had recently been the site of a full-fledged chunking.  I peed as quickly as I could, before I added to the carnage, while ensuring that I touched nothing.  Bleah…

I made my way to the flag court standing-room area for one last glance at the game, to make sure I didn't have any further reason to stay.  The Yankees promptly scored another run to go up 4-2, and with the way the O’s weren't hitting that night, I didn't see any reason to expect a change, so I bolted and got to the subway about 12:05.  Turns out, the Yankees kept scoring and won the game 7-2.

You know, it’s one thing to watch a late ballgame and then turn off the TV and tumble into bed.  It’s quite another when after the game; you have to get out of a crowded stadium and make a 50-minute trek home before tumbling into bed.  I didn't get to bed until 1:15 and even then, I couldn't seem to fall asleep.

Man, did that alarm ever go off early on Monday… But it was cool because that night, I’d get to do it all again.  This time it would have to go more smoothly, wouldn't it?  Wouldn't it??

Director’s DVD Commentary: Sorry I ended up running so long.  Every time I went back through it to cut, I remembered more stuff to add.  My apologies…


Cassie said...

I do enjoy the disclaimer about it being a sports entry.

I also love that the Orioles are referred to as the O's. Who doesn't love a good O?

Mistyslaws said...

Oh man. Great recap. I think you covered it well. And thanks for the pic. It's the only one I have of him with the sign. TBS was NOT cooperating with showing fans at all. They were way too interested in the blimp's view.

Oh, and you were so close to me when you were inside. We got sandwiches from the same place and were camping out in one of the lounges near there. I think we were one over from the area playing the football game. We actually DID have a TV showing the other playoff games, so there was that at least. Cell reception was non-existent inside, though, so I couldn't have sent you a message about where we were even if I wanted to. We were there with my hubs' brother and wife AND sister and husband, and we couldn't even contact them to try to find them while we were waiting. It was a bummer.

Reeik said...

I see in the Club Hall pics you got a shot of where the MENS rooms are !!! Good for you ....

Mary Ann said...

More than just a game, this is a whole constellation of experiences. I can almost taste the big sandwich and hear fans' stupid comments and complaints. AHH the wonderful world of play-off baseball...in the rain!

bluzdude said...

I’m in a hard position, sometimes, because while I know a lot of sports fans read me, I also know that there are plenty that just don’t give a crap about it, especially Maryland sports. So I disclaim because I don’t want anyone to go, “Ew, sports… goodbye…” because I try to write about the peripheral stuff rather than hardcore game talk. No one has to actually know anything about the game to enjoy the post. I want to write it like I’m taking someone along with me and we’re having fun (or sharing the misery, as the case may be.) It just happens to be going on at a sporting event.

As for the Big O, have you ever heard the National Anthem, when it’s played around here? I don’t know if they broadcasted the Anthem before the last 2 playoff games, but when they wind up for the big finish, “Oh say does that Star Spangle Banner yet wave…” the entire crowd shoulds “O!” It’s kinda our thing.

Next time I come out to Pittsburgh, I’ll have to bring you the Orioles ballcap that just says, “O’s”. (It’s the cap they wear on Friday nights.)

bluzdude said...

Thanks… I’m glad for the confirmation that it was you guys with the green sign.

Are you sure you were in the same place, and they just didn’t have another Boog’s area on the other side? Because you guys were clear across the park, and WE certainly didn’t wander that far around… My brother was having the same cell trouble. I think everyone in the place was trying to bring up a weather map. It was funny… you look around the place and everyone has their noses buried in their phones.

Did you try to text anyone? Sometimes when cell traffic is that high, a text message will go through, even when a call won’t. (due to the lower demand for signal strength.) At least that’s what we tell our people during hurricane prep…

bluzdude said...

Yeah, I noticed that too. But that’s how I missed the door. I saw the sign on the outside wall, then just plunged right through the first door, when I should have buttonhooked.

When I left the Club Level on Sunday night, I totally should have peed there. There are no chunks allowed on the Club Level.

bluzdude said...

At least the company was enjoyable...

Why is it that loud drunks are so much funnier when it's me that's loud and drunk?

Mistyslaws said...

The Boog's place is pretty much in the middle behind home plate. We walked pretty far around. It's not like we didn't have plenty of time! :-/

I was trying everything with my phone, and nada. It was just completely blocked for hours. Miserable.

Oh, and I showed my hubs the caption you wrote to Brook's statue. We totally agree. Cal's been talking all sorts of crap lately. I used to love the guy. Now he's sorta dead to me. :p

bluzdude said...

Now I'm pissed because we were right there, and didn't see each other. Gah!

As for Cal, I don't think he was thinking about Brooks... He was just doing that thing commentators do... Talking hyperbole out the ass.

Jessica R. said...

That sounds almost as bad as being stuck at an airport. Glad your sandwich made up for the rain delay... well almost.

Anonymous said...

I'm just trying to imagine a team I root for in the playoffs.

Nope, I got nothing.

O's are still in it. On life support, but they're in it.

Cassie said...

That is fantastic.

Unapologetically Mundane said...

Okay, this post wasn't nearly as boring as expected. Especially since you made me realize the obvious name for my clothing line, if I make one someday:



bluzdude said...

That was one heck of a roast beef sandwich. Maybe next time I go (and don’t have club seats), I should try to get club seat people to buy one for me and bring it back down to the lower (peon) level.

bluzdude said...

Yeah, from the Cubs to the Pirates… that’s a lot of futility to cope with… especially since you missed the years when the Buccos were good.

bluzdude said...

See? My disclaimers don’t lie! But who are you kidding… you just looked at the pictures…

My people will get with your people, to arrange my future royalties on Ettire.