The TV cameras made it look even worse. With the red-hot Orioles on their way to a thrilling 4-3 win over the Chicago White Soxon Monday night, MASN cameras revealed vast stretches of empty green seats at Camden Yardsall night, making it look like it was a slow-pitch softball game between a bunch of fat guys rather than two major league teams fighting to make the playoffs.
The crowd was announced at 10,995 and there seemed to be far fewer fans than that when O's left-fielder Nate McLouth cranked a game-winning two-run homer in the eighth inning to pull the Orioles to within 3 ½ games of the Yankees in the American League East.
It was the second-smallest crowd of the season. And you can make all sorts of excuses as to why no one showed up: kids were back in school, slight chance of rain in the forecast, folks worried about traffic and parking with the city gearing up for the Baltimore Grand Prix this weekend and blah, blah, blah.
But the bottom line is this: it was an astonishingly small crowd for a pennant contender. And the Orioles deserve better. Much better.
Forget the 14 straight losing seasons – that's old news now. This is a team that has proven itself all year long, a team that has played with heart and nerve, a team that has played exciting baseball for five straight months and done nothing but win.
Again, the Orioles deserve better than that pathetic fan turnout last night.
I keep waiting for the fans to come back in droves and embrace this team, but it hasn't happened yet.
Going into last night's game, the Orioles ranked 23rd in attendance in the major leagues with an average of 25,536 showing up for their home games.
By contrast, the upstart Washington Nationals, a long fly ball down I-95 and another team in a postseason dock brawl, ranked 14th in the league with an average crowd of 29,899.
Oh, I guess it could be worse. The Tampa Bay Rays ranked 30th and dead-last in attendance, with an average crowd of 19,925.
Still, that was a civic black-eye at Camden Yards last night.
Again, this team deserves far better.