Left with an empty feeling

The Baltimore Sun

On Wednesday, when the Orioles earned their first win of the season, 9-6, against the Tampa Bay Rays, they also set a dubious Camden Yards record for all-time lowest attendance - 10,505.

You can come up with all the excuses you want - cold weather (in the 40s for most of the game), a school night, a lackluster opener two days earlier, a ho-hum opponent, the typical Day After April Fool's hangover. But 10,000 fans?

In Florida, where the vendors get paid more than the players, they had 3,000 more people than that the same night (of course, the temperature was 30 degrees warmer). Plus, the low-water mark here in Baltimore was more than 2,500 fewer spectators than the previous all-time low, also an early April game against Tampa Bay just about two years ago.

So this does not bode well for the season. This kind of apathy you expect in August or September when playoff hopes are crushed, not in April when, as the threadbare expression goes, "hope springs eternal or until you're 20 games out, whichever comes first."

Yesterday, a reader of my blog suggested I was being too hasty when I fretted over the poor showing, making the point that April attendance is frequently problematic.

But another fan, who was at the game, wrote this: "As one of the 10,505 who went to the game ... I can attest to how disappointing the crowd turnout was. Don't get me wrong, I was able to get good seats without having to spend much money, but it was embarrassing nonetheless. Looking around the stadium I almost started to think I was watching a game for the Baysox or Keys. Very sad."

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