Last year I took my wife to Camden Yards to see the O’s.
We were staying in the Admiral Fell Inn in Fells Point for a few days. She had flown in from Scotland to join me midway through a three-week stay in the area.
I had been coaching soccer in Howard County, teaching young Americans how the game should be played properly, something I have been doing on and off since Clinton was in the White House.
I’d promised my wife that on one of my trips, if she came over from Scotland, I would take her to some of my favourite places in Baltimore. Basically, I had arranged for us to eat lots of seafood and watch blues bands in The Cats Eye Pub.
I know how to treat a lady.
And when we weren’t doing that I had to show her some places featured in The Wire. I had arranged for her to fly in while the O’s were in town. They were playing the Angels and another uninspiring season was unfolding at Oriole Park.
As we edged toward the Inner Harbor in the water taxi on our way to the game, I gave her a potted history of the Orioles and what to expect. Basically, I said, they are not very good and haven’t done anything of note for years.
Although, I suppose you could say that being well on their way to their 14th consecutive losing season is something of note. But you know what I mean, nothing good of any note
You’ve heard of the World Series, well the Orioles haven’t got close to winning it in decades. They last won it 1983, when mustaches were socially acceptable.
They do have a lovely ballpark and it’s real close to the Inner Harbor which I am sure you’ll like.
It’s only a short walk from where we are going to eat – Phillips – and although the murder rate in Baltimore is on the high side it is highly unlikely we will see a homicide take place. So don’t worry.
We’ll buy tickets outside the stadium from a guy who’s been there for years and somehow manages to sell them for cheaper than face value.
I’ll barter to get the price down. He’ll expect that, of course, and won’t be offended even if we are start offering him not much more than the price of a couple of beers for tickets meant to be sold for at least double that. Don’t ask me how he does it, but he does it and they’re good seats too.
Yeah, I told her all that, and after a shrimp fest in Phillips we headed up West Conway, bought tickets from our man at ten bucks below face value and entered the ballpark.
Unfortunately, my low expectations were met and the Orioles went down 9-3 despite briefly rallying with a monster Adam Jones homer in the sixth that also allowed Nick Markakis into score.
Jones gave the crowd of little more than 15,000 some hope but it was all too brief and by the bottom of the 8th the O’s were 8-2 behind.
A guy sitting near us spent the last two innings booing every bad decision and every bad play. He did a lot of booing.
As we trudged back down to the Inner Harbor after the game, my wife said you were right, the Orioles suck.
Well, a year on and the Orioles are on the up. I have been keeping up with their progress through ESPN America, the cable channel that covers all the major US sports.
Their coverage is great although for some reason they think the kids’ baseball is of any interest to anyone other than the children’s parents. The Little League World Series is shown in its entirety, it seems, at a time when their is actual baseball going on.
Why on earth would the ESPN schedulers think we would rather watch children playing ball than the real thing is beyond me. But that’s another thing.
Now, as I write this, the O’s are set to face the Yankees in the Divisional Championship games. If they win and eventually make it to the World Series, then I intend to head back to Charm City.
I intend to drink whisky in the Cats Eye where blues music is played. And I intend to cheer on the O’s who don’t suck anymore.
Gordon Robertson is a Glasgow reporter, who also happens to be a football club chairman and a coach. He lives in Glasgow and travels to the East Coast in the United States frequently in the summer.