Last week I got my wish. The hometown Orioles made the playoffs as the second wild card team. To be honest I was disappointed, without a true ace I was worried about the O’s chances in a one game playoff. As we all know, they prevailed. Leading me to Monday night, where we scored excellent seats down the first base line for a thrilling game two victory.
In all my years growing up through Tribe success, we never made a trip up to Cleveland to take in a playoff game. The expense of tickets coupled with four hours of roundtrip driving all during the school week left me watching the games at home. Baseball was my first love and it has defined many moments in the relationship with my wife. We have a goal to hit all active stadiums together, I even proposed to her on opening day in Baltimore in 2011 right outside Camden Yards. So attending my first playoff game Monday night was much more than just a game.I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect. A starving fan base who hadn’t seen a winner in fifteen years facing the most dominant team in the history of baseball. I have taken in many Yankees/Orioles games and those games normally consist of more Yanks than O’s fans. I was immediately shocked to see that the Yanks fans were few and far between.
As we took our seats, I was filled with excitement. When the PA announcer announced that TBS live coverage was about to commence and invited all fans to get on their feet, it was pure pandemonium unlike anything I have ever witnessed at a baseball game.
The Baltimore Ravens own one of the best home field advantages in all of sports. It’s one of the few NFL stadiums that feels like a college environment. There are cheers and chants that take place throughout the game. The strong aggressive play of the team echos the values of a blue collar east coast city. While Baltimore sits on the east coast its football team plays like that of a smash mouth Big Ten team. Every big 3rd down the place is on its feet. Any tackle for loss or broken up pass elicits giant roars.
That raucous home environment that the Ravens possess, took over Camden Yards on Monday night. We were on our feet virtually the entire game. Every 2 strike count was like 3rd down. Non-stop chants and cheers were heard throughout the game. Anytime a 3rd out was made it was like a huge defensive turnover.
It was truly a site to be seen where a team that has reached ultimate success in football, brought that fanatical experience to baseball. I truly believe that last night’s environment was a true result of what has become a very difficult city to play football in.
I think that there are few cities in this country where the same can be said. Some of your great NFL teams are based in cities where the baseball teams have also endured recent success. One city that may be a similar experience would be in Seattle if the Mariners were to make an out of nowhere run. While the Seahawks haven’t experienced much success over the years, they have one of the best home field advantages in all of the NFL.
I cannot speak for other cities, but many kids growing up in Baltimore heard the stories from their fathers and grandfathers about great O’s teams from the 70’s and 80’s. Every year they wanted to share an experience like their fathers had. Yet every year they were left disappointed. Monday night was a childhood’s worth of rage pent up from always coming up short. While it may just be an ALDS to the rest of the country, to the citizens of this loyal city it’s a life worth of prayers, hopes and optimism all being answered at the same time.
While I am not an Orioles fan, just simply a supporter; I sure do hope that we get a couple more games this year in the Charm City.