Sunday, July 15, 2007

Day 22: Camden Yards

All photos of Baltimore and Camden Yards available on Flickr.

The start of Week 4 of the tour brought us to Baltimore, Maryland to watch the O's. It was a short drive of just under two hours from our hotel across the river in New Jersey, and for a change we arrived with plenty of time to fundraise. We found a great corner spot across from the convention center and raised about $45. We then met up with my friend Lauren and some of her friends from work who came up from DC and scored us some free seats (a special thanks for that). Erik and I had been to this park before, but it is still one of my favorites and we spent a few minutes walking around the park and hitting the team shop before first pitch. We found the infamous Maryland crab cake stand along the way and purchased those - pricy but worth it, just like the cheese steak in Philly.

Our seats ended up being 3rd row in the upper deck box along 3rd base and were pretty sweet. Bleacher seats are always my first choice assuming the price is reasonable, but at Camden I really enjoy sitting along 3rd. Just like at PNC Park, this vantage gives you great views of the city beyond the outfield wall. The thing I have always loved about Camden is its "enclosed" feeling. The seats in left field and the B&O Warehouse help make the park feel like a neighborhood field moreso than a mammoth stadium. Just a side note: the B&O Warehouse is the longest building in the world, which houses team offices and the team shop. This means that we have now been in the world's two tallest buildings and longest building on this trip so far, which is pretty cool. Camden Yards was the pioneer ballpark that set the trend for the new retro style. Since its opening, almost every single ballpark has followed in this trend of urban, masonry, intimate ballparks rather than the large, multi-use, steel parks that were popular thirty years ago. And as they say...nothing beats an original, and Camden will always be my favorite in the so-called "age of the new ballpark."

The game was a win for the Orioles, and gave them a series win over the White Sox. Garrett Olson gave up 2 over 5.1 while striking out 4, and closer Chris Ray shut the door in the 9th for the save. Brian Roberts and Corey Patterson both homered in the 5-3 win, while Jermaine Dye homered twice for the Sox. It was yet another hot and humid day game, but we were properly hydrated and lotioned for the game and enjoyed an awesome afternoon of ball in Baltimore. After the game, we drove the short 45 minutes to DC to stay at Lauren's (thanks to Lauren for her generosity). Tomorrow, Erik has plans to journey down to the US Capitol to bother some Senators, and Lauren and I plan on doing some walking around of our own, hoping to jog some old memories of the city I once called home for 6 months. The day, of course, starts out with an exciting voyage out to Falls Church at 9 AM to get my first oil change of the trip; hopefully everything is okay with Old Yeller and I can share some interesting road stories with the mechanic.

park stats and rankings:
aesthetics - 10
views from park - 8 (would be a 9 or 10 if not for a condominium being constructed)
view to field - 8
surrounding area - 8 (very close to downtown and Inner Harbor)
food variety - 7
nachos - 3
beer - 9 (lots of variety, good price, souvenir bottles)
vendor price - 4 (most of the "regular" ballpark stuff is okay, the specialty foods are pricy)
ticket price - 10 (ours were free)
atmosphere - 6 (not a large crowd)
walk to park - 6 (would be larger if walking from Inner Harbor)
parking price/proximity - 8
concourses - 9
team shop - 8

best food - crab cake sandwich
most unique stadium feature - B&O warehouse in right field
best jumbotron feature - Crazy Crab shuffle
best between-inning feature - playing of "Thank God I'm a countryboy" during 7th inning stretch

field dimensions - 331/410/318
starters - Jose Contreras (CHW) v. Garrett Olson (BAL)
opponent - Chicago White Sox
time of game - 2:50
attendance - 29380
score - 5-3 W
Brewers score that day - 4-3 W

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