Friday, May 14, 2010

Baltimore Bound!

I am a baseball fan. I like going to the games but I'm not really close enough to Major League parks to make more than three trips a year. It's expensive and takes a lot of time out of my day to visit them.

However, I still like to visit them, Particularly ballparks that I haven't been to yet. Since I've been back to Jersey. I've been to Shea, Its replacement New Shea, New Yankee, and the new Phillies ballpark.

I went to several ballparks on my driving trip across the USA including the beautiful Pirates ballpark, Kaufman Field, and Jacobs Field.

When I lived on the west coast I've been to both Mariner ballparks, two of the SF Giants ballparks and whatever they called the Angels stadium back in 1995.

So, I've making a point to visit as much of the northern east coasts ballparks on the east coast before my eventual move back to the west coast. Fenway is out of the question because the tickets are too hard to get. However if someone else can get tickets or if the Re4d Sox continue their downward slide....

Since I'm a Mets fan, Any of the parks I go to needs to be when the Mets are in town. The opportunity to see the Mets in an American league venue is slim because they don't play there every year except at the Yankees ballpark (And That's an impossible ticket) So since I followed the Mariners when I lived in Seattle I opt to see them when they're in town. It's an easy ticket to get because they're not high profile around here.

I've been wanting to go to Oriole Park at Camden Yard since the day they opened it up back in 1992. It's a historic park in that it started the new wave of "retro" ballparks that arose around MLB the last twenty years. When it first opened, I lived in Seattle and anytime I visited my folks any trip out there was out of the question mainly because it was a difficult ticket back then. Since I've been back ,the Orioles have been bad for so long the novelty of the park has fallen by the wayside and it's an easy ticket, especially with every other team in baseball except the Dodgers, Red Sox, Cubs and Royals either in a new ballpark or on their way to building a new one.

So, I was looking for an excuse to head to Baltimore to see them. I took a week off from work and since I had no real plans, it was a good opportunity to go down there and see the Orioles play the Mariners.

I thought about taking a train down but I waited too long to grab good (cheap) tickets down there so I opted to drive down there knowing that parking wasn't gonna be too expensive. It wasn't, but more than it needed to be. No the biggest expense in going to Baltimore involves toll roads and believe it or not the cheapest part of it is the New Jersey Turnpike. From exit 11 to exit 1 costs $4.75 which seemed like a lot of money but it is a decent distance at a cost of little more than 2 cents a mile. The Delaware Memorial bridge costs 3 dollars to cross and covers both directions so that was reasonable. But then you enter Delaware and 1-95. It costs $4.00 for a mere 11 miles. The most expensive toll road in the country. 39 cents a mile! What a scam! No wonder their state taxes are low!

But no one really wants to STAY in Delaware so it's on to Maryland and Baltimore. No toll on the way to Baltimore until you reach the Ft. McHenry Tunnel. $2.00 each way is reasonable for the well maintained tunnel.

So now I'm out $13.75 merely on tolls before I parked my car real close to the ballpark. I bought the cheapest ballpark ticket and entered the ballpark. It was an hour before the game so I wandered around taking in the vibe of the ballpark. It has aged well in its 18 years. I was surprised that the ballpark doesn't have a concourse with a full view of the field. I guess it was built before that became a regular feature in new ballparks.

I spotted former Oriole great Boog Powell at his namesake bar-b-cue stand. What a kick that was, Boog (what a great name) was a heavyset player with a powerful swing who was on the Orioles during their great years of the late 60's and early 70's. I bought one of his pork sandwiches for 9 bucks. For the second game in a row I got some food poisoning. Milder than the one I got at Citi-Field earlier this year but it put a damper on my movements. Booooog!

I finally sat in my assigned seat knowing I wasn't gonna be there too long. Not a bad view but looking down at all the empty seats available I felt the urge to sit down in the first section, Probably could have easily done it because the ballpark is very people friendly. Anyway Camden Yard is a good place to catch home runs. They have a short right field porch which can be caught by anyone who bought a ticket to the park. Three went in that direction the day I went. Too bad I'm not young enough to be more aggressive to dive after it. It including one from my favorite player in all of baseball, Ichiro Suzuki.

Besides Ichiro I'm not too familiar with most of the rest of the Mariners since I left Seattle. I noticed that about half their starting players are batting under 200. No wonder they are doing crappy. Their top pitcher Felix Hernandez was pitching okay and had a 5-1 lead until the Mariners brought in a new pitcher in the eighth, who promptly gave up a home run, a strikeout that allowed the batter to advance, a walk, a single and with one out a grand slam.


I left the game at that point and tried to make the most of tourism by walking around the Inner Harbor which is nice but very familiar in its attractions. though I loved the Barnes and Noble set up they have.

Time to head home. Once again I pay the toll masters. This time the amount was $15.35 for a grand total of $29.10 for tolls on the day. Holy Moley. There's got to be a way to avoid this. I stopped at a Roy Rogers (Didn't know they were still around) and over all had a good day but to pay nearly $30 for some of the least scenic roads in the country....


Over all a good day, But as far as Camden I dodn't expect to go back. Been there, Done that, Don't need to do it again.

Next ballpark, The one the Nationals play in Washington DC. I think I'll take a train or bus this time.

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