Twenty years ago, I was thrilled to stand in a line that wrapped around the B&O warehouse in the hope that I'd be able to purchase a standing room only ticket to see the Baltimore Orioles play at Camden Yards. That seemed much longer ago the other night when I was put in a position to defend the empty seats around me at Camden Yards and defend the integrity of the home of the Orioles.
Do opposing teams' fans have a right to visit Camden Yards? Absolutely. Do they have a right to cheer for their team? Absolutely. But diminished attendance should not lead to diminished standards. Less people in the home of the Baltimore Orioles should not lead to a lesser experience for hometown fans rooting for their hometown team.
I've accepted visiting Yankee and Red Sox fans as a necessary evil at Camden Yards. Yes, many of them purchased their tickets from willing Orioles fans. Yes, visitors (or local bandwagon jumpers) bring revenue to the area and to the stadium and team. But they are still in our house.
When I am in someone else's house, I play by their rules. I respect where I am and don't take my shoes off and put my feet on their couch as I might do in my own home. I don't go walk around like I own the place, sit wherever or do whatever I please.
So when the woman in the Yankee's jacket just sauntered up to the first row off the field, empty seat on the aisle to take pictures I took notice that she probably didn't belong there. Was it OK if she took a picture or two of Mark Teixeira's backside? Not my thing, but sure. Was it fine if she continued to take pictures and stay in that seat for multiple innings if that was not her seat? Absolutely not.
I did what I was supposed to do. I talked to the usher. The problem was the usher acted like it was no big deal. She even encouraged the woman, who was visibly drunk by the way, to move back just a few rows knowing full well she didn't have a ticket for the section. To make matters worse, the Yankees fan behind me ratted me out so now I had the drunken woman with no ticket yelling at me while I sat in my seat. I immediately went to the usher once again, but I only felt like I was trying to explain to her how to do her job. Realizing that I was fighting a useless battle, I took the front row seat to stay out of shouting distance and continue to try and enjoy the game with my wife.
I couldn't imagine if I had children at the game. I thought that Red Sox fans had surpassed Yankees fans on the scale of loudness and obnoxiousness; I take that back. With the O's down to their final two outs, the aisle in our section down by the field became a zoo with people climbing over one another to get closer to the field, taking pictures, waving signs and making noise. I had to strain just to see home plate.
This needs to stop. I've been to enough games at the new Yankee Stadium to know that there are plenty of high-priced box seats that sit empty. Last year in New York, with friends in the section across from mine, we thought we'd try to sit together. The ushers were on us in no time, refusing to let us sit together even though we were only moving one section over, the tickets were the same price and both sections had completely empty rows. You have a better chance of getting close to President Barack Obama than sitting in the wrong section at Yankee Stadium.
There should be no double standard. There especially should be no aiding of visiting teams' fans, allowing them to congregate as the innings progress. The enemy's presence seems greater than it actually is when they descend on the lower box seats to try to take over Camden Yards.
I don't like 14 years of losing any more than anyone else. I'd like Cal Ripken Jr. to own the team, too. The bad news is that Peter Angelos is still the owner, but the good news is that I don't think that Mr. Angelos has had his fingerprint on this team since the hiring of Andy McPhail. He finally learned to let the baseball people make the decisions and do their jobs.
Now it's time for the young starting pitching to do their jobs — and for the employees of Camden Yards to do theirs.
Timothy G. Taylor, BaltimoreCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun