Hey, O's fans: Get off phone and get loud


Turn off your cell phones. Get off your derrieres. Watch the game for a change -- and maybe even stay until it's over.

The following is intended for the fans who have no idea why they attend games at Camden Yards, other than to say they went.

Today is Game 6 of the American League Championship Series. Mike Mussina is pitching. If the Orioles lose, their season is over.

Under those conditions, fans at most parks would be at full roar from the first pitch until the final out.

At Camden Yards, they're only certain to cheer when prompted by the scoreboard or the Oriole Bird.

Jacobs Field is louder. Yankee Stadium is louder. The Enoch Pratt Free Library is louder.

When the Colts played in Baltimore, Memorial Stadium was known as the world's largest outdoor insane asylum.

Camden Yards is the world's largest outdoor boardroom.

Think we're kidding?

Cellular-phone companies are installing antennas on the warehouse roof to accommodate the heavy number of calls made from the ballpark.

What Camden needs, more than anything else, is the ghost of Babe Ruth to unleash a massive belch that clears out the wine-and- cheese crowd.

And those high-powered suits who aren't afraid of ghosts?

Surely they'll be afraid of Orioles closer Randy Myers, who can be enlisted to greet fans at the gates with his stun gun.

Someone has to provide electricity.

Evidently, a championship-caliber club isn't scintillating enough.

Games 1 and 2 of the ALCS were so quiet, you could hear designer clothes wrinkling.

Maybe it was a silent protest -- some ticket holders were upset that the Orioles were playing the Indians and not the Yankees.

Was it revenge they wanted?

Nah, just top dollar from ticket brokers.

Given the choice of rooting for the home team or turning a handsome profit, certain elements at Camden Yards will sell out every time.

The Washington element deserves part of the blame, but the Baltimore element isn't much better.

The 10th man won't get his uniform dirty.

The Camden crowd wants to be seen, not heard.

Don't take this wrong: For the most part, Orioles fans are great. They buy 3.5 million tickets a year. They revere the players. They support the team passionately.

The problem, as we all know, is that the fans who can afford tickets aren't necessarily the fans who care the most about the team.

This phenomenon is not exclusive to Baltimore. Nor is it exclusive to baseball. But how is it that catcher Lenny Webster received louder cheers in Cleveland than he ever has at Camden Yards?

Uh, don't answer that.

Granted, the Indians' fans were mocking Webster. But Jacobs Field is just as pricey as Camden, and the fans, for whatever reason, seem more knowledgeable and enthusiastic.

In Game 4, they cheered Manny Ramirez for sliding back into first base. Ramirez had been picked off first the previous day. Can you imagine the fans at Camden showing that kind of savvy about anything but stock prices?

They think it's clever to boo Terry Mathews.

They think it's wild and crazy to cheer with two strikes.

So, without further ado, let's review the three C's of fandom, most of which are understood by 5-year-old Orioles die-hards, if not the Camden glitterati.

Cheering: This bold act requires great physical exertion -- fans must rise from a sedentary position, then stretch their vocal cords to the limit.

Hard to do while talking on a cell phone.

Clapping: Another vigorous activity in which fans slap their hands together, creating a stinging sensation when performed to maximum effect.

Hard to do while talking on a cell phone.

Chanting: The Camden crowd actually tried it in Game 4 of the Division Series, treating Randy Johnson to a chorus of "Ran-dy! Ran-dy!"

Suggested chants for the rest of the ALCS:

"Man-ny! Man-ny!" -- for Indians right fielder Ramirez, who is good for a gaffe a game.

"Hal-le! Hal-le!" -- for Indians designated hitter David Justice, who committed the biggest error of his career by failing to stay married to actress Halle Berry.

"Chea-ter! Chea-ter!" -- for potential Game 7 starter Orel Hershiser, who was turned in by his own teammate, for crying out loud.

Chanting can be wicked fun.

But again, we must repeat:

Hard to do while talking on a cell phone.

Camden Yards doesn't have to be Yankee Stadium, a haven of foul language, drunken behavior and other disorderly conduct.

But it doesn't have to be the Paris House Opera, either.

A 12-year-old named Jeffrey Maier became a New York folk hero for pulling Derek Jeter's homer into the stands during last year's ALCS.

A 12-year-old kid who tried the same stunt at Camden would be ejected for knocking over a fan's drink.

This isn't to encourage fan interference.

But there are poetry readings more clamorous than Orioles games at Camden Yards.

All that can change today.

The Orioles are two victories away from the World Series.

Reason to cheer, don't you think?

Pub Date: 10/15/97

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