Last night, I went to my first live sporting event in 18-ish months. And it was glorious. It was a different experience, but it was still awesome. Yes, the Orioles lost, but the game had everything you want. Cold beer, I could stand and yell about anything I want (mostly when analytics screwed the Orioles out of a double play and then we gave up 2 runs), Trey Mancini hit his “Fuck Cancer” homerun, the Red Sox blew a lead, the Orioles blew a lead, and we got extra innings (free but fake baseball). The emotional roller coaster of live sport is back in my life and I couldn’t be happier.
A lot of good tonight on the field, but a lot of ugly too. Strikeouts are still a problem at the plate. I was also irrationally mad when the Orioles blew their lead. Cesar Valdez is good, but seeing the Red Sox 3/4 times in 10 days doesn’t work the same when your “dead fish” pitch is essentially supposed to mess up a hitter’s timing. Really confused why Wade LeBlanc was brought back after spring training. There’s got to be a decent lefty prospect we could bring up for long relief (Keegan Akin/Zac Lowther). And Chance Sisco is an absolute liability.
Game result aside, let’s take a minute to look at what to expect at the ballpark this summer, at least for the first few months.
What’s the Same
Pickles, the Bullpen and Sliders are still packed.
The “O” during the national anthem was loud and proud.
Everyone when nuts when Trey and Tony went back to back and then again in the electric 8th inning. We still get a healthy helping of “Seven Nation Army” when we score.
The upper left field reserve is still for the rowdy crowd and the beer still tastes better the higher you are.
The Hot Dog Race and the Crab Shuffle are still crowd favorites and “Country Boy” still SLAPS during the 7th Inning stretch.
Still too many Red Sox fans in attendance, accompanied by a “Let’s Go Red Sox” chant that was promptly answered with a “Fuck the Red Sox” chant.
You still run in to people you know (shoutout to Shane and Brandon, two huge BtY followers)
There was still that section that tried starting the wave and it never really got going.
And last but not least, that walk on Eutaw Street still doesn’t get old.
There was a huge line to get into Pickles, the Bullpen and Sliders. Luckily, we got to skip that cause one of my buddies was already in and had extra seats at his table.
No Ryan Wagner as the PA announcer.
There were no strangers to high five around you due to social distancing.
Bathrooms are socially distanced too.
Masks up at all time, unless you’re actively eating and/or drinking. I found out this doesn’t mean that just having your beer in your hand means that you’re “drinking.”
There are zip ties on seats that *should* be empty.
No rooftop bar. The Bird actually hangs out up there all game for socially distanced photos that you can schedule with him. The National Anthem/God Bless America singer hangs up there all game too.
Less concessions are open. The only Eutaw Street attraction that was actually open was Boog’s. No Flagcourt. No bullpen standing room.
Once you get past the initial “oh damn this is different,” there’s still nothing like being at the game. I do have a bone to pick with some fans though. Listen, I’m not the posterboy for COVID-19 safety and I don’t want to be the fun police. But don’t be an asshole at the games this year. I’m all for getting rowdy, having a few too many beers, and going out with your friends. BUT there were people breaking zip ties on seats to sit with their friends. Any idea how long it took stadium workers to zip tie roughly THIRTY THOUSAND SEATS?? And then some time between last night and gates opening today, they have to go back and zip tie all of the seats people broke. And just wear the damn mask. It sucks, I hate it, but it’s been a year so we should all be used to it at this point.
Rules are in place for better or for worse, and theoretically, all we have to do is follow them for a little while longer and things should be back to normal soon. I don’t enjoy seeing people being kicked out of the stadium for not following the rules, but the teams and workers aren’t playing around this year. Let’s just be thankful that live sports are back. Soak it in. Things are getting better. Just dip your toe in the waters before you go full cannonball.