Monday, October 6, 2014

Diamond Jubilee

If you remember back to my post on going to the Orioles game where they clinched a playoff berth, you can see why I would want to go to one of those playoff games.  When the O’s were in the playoffs in 2012, I went to two of those games.  This time around, tickets would be harder to come by.

Again, they had a lottery for the opportunity to buy tickets from the team, at face value.  Again, I won.  I one of 60,000 or so, among the 120,000 who signed up.  I read those stats last Saturday morning, the day the sale was to start.

At the stroke of 10:00, I was into the ticket site and clicked the section where I wanted to sit, for Game 2.  Said it was sold out.  I immediately clicked on 4 tickets (the most you could order), under “Best Available.”  The search came back with Standing Room Only tickets.

Oh. Hell. No.  This homeboy isn’t standing for three hours, fighting for space in a sea of drunked up Balmer fans.  Instead, I tried going for prospective Game 5 seats, and was able to land 4 in right field foul area.

Those seats would be fine, except that I didn’t expect there to be a Game 5.  My prediction was Detroit in 4.  I had been consulting with the pre-eminent Tigers fan, the CFO, in the hopes I could score the tickets and he could come out for the game.  This was still in play, but I’d have to go through the “secondary market.”  (Like StubHub.)

Of course, we’d have to pay roughly double, so I’m sure the CFO realized he could just as easily buy the tickets himself and see a game in Detroit, thus saving himself either a plane ride or 8-hour drive.  So he was out.

Tuesday night, I consulted my iPad app, SeatGeek, which compiles resold tickets from a number of different websites.  I considered pulling the trigger, but then thought about my weekend’s “itinerary.”  On Saturday, I had to be at my brother’s house early, to go to the Ohio State / Maryland football game.  If I was out late on Friday, I’d be dragging ass.  So I passed on it, and decided to hope for a Game 5.

When I woke up Wednesday morning, I heard on the radio that the Friday game would be either at 12:00 or at 3:00, depending on the outcome of the NL Wild Card Game.  (Don’t ask.) 

Whoa… that changed everything.  A day game meant I could burn one of my unplanned leave days, see the game, and still be home by dinner time. 

I went back to SeatGeek and snapped up a single seat in the back of the lower bowl, just behind 3rd base.  It was 13 rows back, but I figured it would beat sitting up in the nosebleeds.  It wasn’t a bad deal either, all totaled, $157, or about double face value.

I was happy to be guaranteed to see a game.  I didn’t feel good about the odds of Game 5 actually happening, so I didn’t want to miss out.  Detroit is a seriously good team, with a pitching staff featuring the last three Cy Young Award winners. 

The game ended up starting at noon, so I was down at the Yard by 10:15.  Even so, I couldn’t even get near the door of my favorite pre-game watering hole, The Bullpen.

Not even my VIP card was going to get me in there.

Not wanting to fight for space to stand, just to speed-drink a couple of beers, I went into the ballpark early, got a beer, and watched a little batting practice. 

You can see the time, (if you squint) up on the scoreboard at the top left, 10:44.

I stayed off to the side, because the flag court was already about 4 bodies deep at the rail, due to the SRO tickets.  I found a nice, leisurely spot and just enjoyed being out in the sun, with a cold beer, watching baseball.

Eventually I worked my way around the Yard, seeing what there was to see, and recording it all for you.

This would be the view from my prospective Game 5 seats.  Not bad at all.

TBS (who was broadcasting the game) added a new camera, displacing about 6 seats.

I love that they have all the players’ pictures on a cheat sheet.  I can hear the director shouting, “Get me the hairy guy!

At first, I thought the guy with the beard was Detroit relief pitcher/Orioles’ whipping boy Joba Chamberlain.

I mentioned it in 2012 and I’ll repeat it again: I hate that they make a field logo that says “Post Season.”  It’s so generic.  It’s like putting up Christmas decorations that just say “Holiday.”

I think the field logos should look like this:

All I can figure is that they just don’t want to repaint it for the next series.  Although really, all they’d have to do is change one letter, to “ALCS,” up until the World Series.  Moving on…

Because the Orioles always wear their black jerseys on Fridays, I was going to wear my black Adam Jones jersey.  But the game before, The Yard looked so good with most people wearing orange, I decided to buck my habit of matching what the team wears and go with my orange Nick Markakis jersey.  (Uncoincidentally, the O’s were 3-1 when I wore it to a game, AND they won big (12-3) when I wore it while watching the game on TV the day before.)

As it turned out, it really didn’t matter what I wore because no one would be able to see me.  I guess I overestimated how many rows there were under the deck.  Now I know… 13.  Because I was in row 13, the very last row.  What that meant was that I wouldn’t be able to see the scoreboard, or even a fly ball.  I’d see it go up, then watch to see where the outfielders went, then see it come down.

This was the view from my seat… kind of like watching the game with your eyes half closed.

Because we were in the last row, my seatmates figured it wouldn’t matter how long they stood up, so the guy to my right was up almost the whole game.  Yes, I could still see the game, but it cut off all my peripheral vision to the right.

Like my brother used to say, “Everywhere I go, there’s an ass in my face.”

During one of my potty breaks, (which thankfully didn’t involve full scale evacuation, like at my last game), I cruised around behind the plate, looking once again for a ballpark shot I could get blown up.  I think I found it.

We’ve got game action, a full house, and playoff decorations on the field and warehouse.

So, the Orioles went 2-0 early, on a Markakis home run, then the Tigers came right back with 6, for a 6-3 lead.  It was tense… I was fairly confident this wasn’t going to be our day, but at least it put me closer to being able to use my Game 5 tickets.

Suddenly, in the bottom of the 8th, the wheels fell off for the Tigers.  The O’s finally got rid of the Tigers’ starter, and began to lay into the not-nearly-as-good relief pitching.  Tigers’ pitcher Joba Chamberlain actually got a rousing ovation… O’s fans were happy to see him come in the game, because he had just gotten shelled the day before.

O’s put across a run, making it 6-4.  Next thing you know, the bases were loaded, with one out.

The next batter, former Tiger Delmon Young, ripped a double into left field, scoring 3 runs and putting the Orioles back in the lead.  My friend, when that happened, the Yard went stark, raving bananas.  I mean, we were loud the entire game, with lots of chanting and carrying on.  But now?  Off the charts.

This was the most excited I’d ever been at a baseball game.  Everyone was waving their orange towels (which had been given to everyone at the gate), although some clearly needed lessons.

The Orioles were up 7-6 going into the top of the 9th.  If they held them there, it was all over.  Camden Yards was absolutely shaking.  The crowd was doing the Seven Nation Army chant, (which I hate), and chanting this year’s post-season slogan, #WeWon’tStop!

The closer buzzed through the Tigers like a hot knife through butter, and the game was over.  What a celebration… I know I was engaging in multiple same-sex high-fiving encounters all over the place.  All I could think about is how I needed to come back and do it again.

Notice how the stands were still full.  I think maybe people expected the team to come back out and lap the field again, like they did after they clinched.

I actually watched Game 3 at the sports bar, after the Steelers/Jags game.  As soon as it was over, I pulled off my Steelers jersey and hat, and pulled on my lucky orange Markakis jersey, which I’d packed and hidden under the bar.  People were like, “Weren’t you just… um…”

I watched the end of the game at home though.  And because it was looking good for the O’s, I thought I’d take a picture for the CFO, of me holding the proverbial broom.  Now, I knew it would be bad karma to actually take the shot before the game was over, but I figured there was no harm in getting it set up.

So with the O’s up 2-0 in the bottom of the 9th, and their closer in the game, I got out my tripod and attached the camera.  Then I got the broom from the kitchen.  Within seconds, the Tigers hit consecutive doubles, narrowing the score to 2-1.

I immediately stowed the tripod and put the broom away… I should have realized I was basically daring the mojo gods to smite me.  Luckily, the mojo gods were appeased by my act of contrition, and rewarded me with an inning-ending double play.

So, good news: the O’s move on to the American League Championship Series.  Bad news: my Game 5 tickets are worthless.  Good news: I get my $350 back!  Bad news: just in time to spend it on a single ALCS seat.  Geez, if they go to the World Series, I might have to take out a loan.

But in the meantime, I have this:

Note: No, those aren’t boxers.  They’re Orioles jammy pants.  You know you wish you had a pair…


Anonymous said...

I was there. And I will attest to your claim of batshit craziness in the fandom. We were 3rd base side about mid-outfield and most of the people in our section were on their feet for the entire game. Being 7 months preggers, I can't do the standing for 3 hours thing, so I sat and leaned forward to catch the action. My niece, who was in the nosebleeds directly above us, texted me to stand the hell up, which I responded, "I'm pregnant, bite me." But in that 8th inning, when it got crazy exciting, I couldn't NOT stand. One batter later . . . 3 run double putting the O's ahead. So really, they should be thanking me for getting on my feet! ;)

I may need to borrow one of your lucky orange jerseys for the next series. Nothing fits me! Although, I may need to squeeze into what I wore last week again. Might not want to mess with success!!

bluzdude said...

I was lucky that people only stood up in the forward rows when something happened. I hate having to stand for a whole game/show/whatever, and I'm not even pregnant. (Although apparently you think my clothes would make good maternity wear. Which is fine, you're welcome to borrow a jersey if you want.)

As long as you keep the same garment underneath, the mojo should still be effective. So sayeth Bluzdude: Doctor of Mojo Arts.