Some fans balking at seeing backups

The Baltimore Sun

Two weeks from today, Reese Boyd, an avid Orioles fan since 1952, plans to attend a game with his son-in-law, whom he says was courteous enough to purchase the tickets.

Boyd, who sat along the third base line during last night's Orioles 3-0 win over the Los Angeles Angels, loves the ballpark experience as much as anyone, but he says if he gets wind that the Orioles will field a team similar to the one they fielded last night, he'll have to alter his plans with his daughter's husband and essentially tell him, "Thanks, but no thanks."

Boyd, 69, counted himself among the fans disappointed when the Orioles decided to bench four of their regulars, including star shortstop Miguel Tejada and fan favorite second baseman Brian Roberts.

It was Boyd's first game of the year, and unless those starters return to the lineup, it will be his last. Catcher Ramon Hernandez and third baseman Melvin Mora also sat out the game.

"I like to see the best team clearly possible on the field," Boyd said. "Tejada and Mora, they should be on the field. I want to see them have the best chance at winning, and in order to do that, you put the very best team on the field that you have."

Tony Puleo and his wife Nina attended the game with their two kids and a neighbor's child. While the children, all younger than 6, seemed not to care that the Orioles had backups filling half their lineup, their parents noticed.

They say they attend a good amount of games every season, using tickets through Tony Puleo's job. But the experience, with food, parking and high-priced beverages, can dent one's pocket, and not having the chance to see Tejada smash a ball over the left field wall can diminish it.

"It shouldn't be like this," Tony Puleo said. "They should play the season out, whether they're still in the running or not. They shouldn't sit out because there is no hope. The games still count for us."

Added Nina Puleo, "And those players are still important to the fans."

Dick Stedding was more forgiving of the team's choice to bench its notable players. Stedding is a season-ticket holder who said the Orioles' record and the lateness of the year renders such decisions meaningless.

"They're trying to motivate the team and send a message," Stedding said. "At this juncture of the season, it doesn't matter. You're one game out of last anyway."

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