Day3: Marlins 8 Orioles 5

My final stop: a pilgrimage to Camden Yards.  Oriole Park is the original of the retro-stadiums we’ve become so used to.  In my opinion, if Camden Yards hadn’t been built, the beloved Fenway Park might have been torn down by now.  Before this Baltimore gem, the trend was to build ballparks in wide open spaces with perfectly symmetrical outfields.  Camden Yards made it cool to play baseball in the city, with an out-of-town scoreboard as a taller outfield wall.  Before Camden, Fenway was an old and busted park that couldn’t hold more than 30,000; suddenly it’s vintage, and therefore worth preserving even at the cost of outlandish ticket prices.  What visionaries live in Baltimore.

Tonight’s game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Florida Marlins was actually the most exciting of my three game tour, however it definitely contained the least energy.  I’m not sure if the actual attendance of less than 20,000 was a sign of the Orioles’ despair, or a statement on the lack of interest in interleague play.  I’ll take it as both.  Seriously, interleague play was completely lost its novelty.  It makes the All-Star game so much less significant, and it’s starting to feel like exhibition games in the middle of the season.  My solution is to cut interleague play down to two series a season.  You can leave one series against the geographical rival (Mets vs. Yankees, Dodgers vs. Angels), and then add one more series that rotates around the league.  That would give it some real spark, it you only had one series against a given team every 15 years!

But I digress.  I’ve got to tip my hat to the O’s fans that do show up, because they are die-hard.  I first got the feeling during the national anthem, when everyone yells to emphasize the “O” in “O say does that star spangled banner yet wave.”  Later, I watched as a man shouted down two little kids waving a Marlins flag, and I knew for sure that they take their floundering team pretty seriously.

We had a 1-1 tie going into the bottom of the eighth, when the Orioles blew it up with 4 runs.  I walked out to the outfield, to watch the last inning from the unique Camden Yards standing room seats, only to watch the O’s give up 4 themselves to send the game into extra innings.  Miguel Cabrera of the Marlins hit the game winner in the tenth, when Williams, apparently attempting to intentionally walk Cabrera, threw a lob over the plate that even I could have whacked for a single.  I can’t say that I’ve ever seen a play quite like that, no one in the stadium was all that clear as to what they had just seen; a pretty rough night to be an Orioles fan.  

It’s quite strange what makes these two teams what they are.  The Orioles have enough offense that I would expect them to be a much more competitive team.  Before tonight, I had only heard of three of the Marlins starters, and yet they’ve rattled off a 9 game winning streak.  What is sending these teams in opposite directions?  I don’t have the answer, but perhaps that’s what makes baseball interesting.

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