Friday, January 23, 2009

Dreaming of the O's and Bohs...

So there are still 2 months of winter to suffer through and already I am ready for a trip to Camden Yards for an O’s game.

Yeah, the team doesn’t look to be that competitive – again – but at least Andy MacPhail is making moves that fit into a bigger plan. So at least there’s that.

But the fact remains, regardless of whether the O’s are good or not, Camden Yards is still a great way to spend a summer afternoon or evening.

And even though OP@CY will be celebrating its 17th birthday this season, the stadium still exudes that new feeling. Maybe it’s the new hi-def scoreboards.

Granted, Baltimore’s mass-transit system leaves a lot to be desired, but getting to and from the stadium couldn’t be easier. The Light Rail, completed in 1995, drops you off at the doorstep of the warehouse, and the Metro is located only a few blocks up Howard Street. Remember the days when you’d be on the Light Rail sitting motionless for 5-10 minutes at a time? Since they finally completed double-tracking the entire line a few years ago, there is no more waiting time, unless you head north through downtown from the stadium. Something should really be done to speed up that portion of the Light Rail. But regardless, taking the Light Rail or Metro is the easiest and cheapest way to go.

Want to hang out and get a drink before or after the game? Federal Hill with its seemingly endless amount of bars and restaurants is only a short walk away. Pickle’s Pub has been right across the street from the stadium where Washington Blvd. begins its journey westward since OP@CY opened in ’92. And new(er) establishments like Sliders and Gino’s have opened up to satisfy fans' thirst and hunger before and after games.

My favorite place to go before a game? Heading a few Light Rail stops past Camden Yards to Lexington Market for a Faidley’s crabcake platter and a Natty Boh to wash it down. In my opinion, Faidley's is the best crabcake in Baltimore, second to maybe only G&M. Anyway, after I'm finished the crabcake, I head over to the Berger’s stand to by some fresh Berger’s cookies for desert. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

When I actually get to the stadium, I’ve always been partial to the bleacher seats. They’re the cheapest seats in the house, they’re located close to the exit and it’s the place where most of the “real fans” still sit. I was in the bleachers at a game as recent as 2007, and had a great time heckling Cleveland Indians fans along with dozens of other rowdy O’s fans. More importantly, no one got hurt or thrown out and the O’s won the game. It was like being back in 1996 or 1997.

Another reason the bleachers are great: up until last year, you could buy a Natty Boh can on Eutaw Street for $5. Yeah, it’s still a total rip-off since a 6-pack of cans retails for about $3.50, but in the era of $7 dollar stadium beers, most of them of the “lite” variety, $5 seemed like a bargain. Plus drinking Boh at an O’s game allowed me to connect with the ghosts of fans past. It’s a shame that they stopped selling it at the game. Hopefully they will bring Boh back, and to find out I sent an e-mail to the National Brewing Co. to see if they could give me an answer on that, but 3 days later, my in-box is still empty.

I'm ebarrassed to say I still haven’t had a Boog’s BBQ sandwich. That will change in 2009. My food consumption at the game usually involves peanuts, picked up outside the stadium for about $3. If there’s no Boh, I’ll buy a Yuengling or a Clipper City at one of the “fancy beer” stands. It’s worth the extra dollar.

Now that I think about it, the game itself is usually down on the list of favorite things about going to OP@CY. Sure, I cheer the O’s on, heckle the other team’s players, and have a blast doing it. But the discussions to be had with friends and other fans have become more important than watching Daniel Cabrera try to work out of a bases loaded jam when he walked 2 of those batters himself.

Am I more hopeful going into 2009? A little. The defense looks to be solid and the line-up will be potent again once Matt Wieters arrives in Baltimore. But the starting rotation as it stands on January 23rd looks horrendous. Hopefully MacPhail still has a few tricks left up his sleeve.

Until then, I’ll be dreaming of drinking a $5 Natty Boh in the bleachers and ragging on Eric Hinske – until he hits a home run and shuts me up, like he did on Opening Day, 2008.

Here’s to hoping 2009 winds up differently.


Andrew said...

Never had a crab cake from Faidley's, though I'm on board with G&M's. Olive Grove used to be my favorite, but the past couple times I've been there they haven't been quite as good as I'd always remembered.

NestMinder said...

Nice job man. You definitely got me in the mood to head down 'ere and see de O's, hon. Spring and baseball seems especially enticing as I scrape an inch of ice off my car today. I worry how much longer places like Pickles can survive, as the crowds continue to dwindle every season, and their business disappears like so many Cabrera curveballs into the dirt.

I consider myself a bit of a crab cake connoisseur, so I'm disappointed I've never had one from Faidley's. I'm always on the search for the best - right now I have it scored as pretty much a dead heat between G&M and Hella's in Millersville. Faidley's will definitely get some business from me this summer.