Though yesterday's Opening Day wasn't technically at night, I want to write about it to let you guys know that I'll be blogging various Orioles games throughout the season. As any of my friends, family, or coworkers can attest to, I've been an O's fan since, well, since I started having memories really. I went to games at Memorial Stadium when I was a wee one, saw Cal's record-breaking game in '95, and have been with them through thick and thin ever since.
Since we were playing the Yankees for the season opener, I had a feeling it would be crowded. But I apparently had no idea. I stopped by the Pickles/Sliders/Gino's area outside the stadium before going in and it was pure chaos. Not just regular Opening Day chaos, either. I think since the game time was 4:05 (and the rain pushed it to more like 4:30) people had plenty more time to drink. And the intermittent showers only made things crazier.
After getting out of the mosh pit-like atmosphere, I headed into the stadium and stood in the biggest line I've ever experienced to get in. There were plenty of Yankees fans, for sure (a New Yorker to my left was singing the praises of Camden Yards to his son), but Orioles pride was alive and well. People were donning the new, yet retro, Baltimore jerseys, while others were wringing out their bright orange ponchos when the sun finally decided to come out.
Once seated, it was clear that we were in a heavily filled Yankees section—we were sandwiched between two families rooting for the Pinstripes. The ceremonies were pretty much par for the course: razzing the opposing team, welcoming new players as they jog down the orange carpet, and "o"ing during the National Anthem. But the boos for Severna Park-native Mark Teixeira were definitely the most intense I think I've ever heard, and they didn't let up. Jim Hunter's voice went hoarse just trying to compensate. And I have to mention Vice President Joe Biden's great arm, as he threw out the first pitch well over the plate.
I'm not going to do a play-by-play of the game, there's plenty of places to read that. But I will tell you some things that stuck out to me. Jeremy Guthrie is still going to be our ace. Though the cold weather stiffed up his arm, he only allowed three earned runs and seven hits over six innings. The top of our order is full of rockstars. Brian Roberts and Adam Jones, the first two hitters, combined to go 6-for-7 with two RBIs, five runs, and three walks. Melvin Mora had an awesome, diving catch, making him look way younger than his 37 years. Our relief pitching is still shaky, with returning pitcher Chris Ray allowing a two-run homer. But our offense prevailed and newbie Cesar Izturis hit a two-run homer in the eighth.
As far as off the field, some new stuff this year was of course the locally written "How 'Bout Dem O's" song playing before game time and a bit on the jumbotron called "Be the DJ" where each player is asked to pick between three songs and whichever gets the most votes gets played ("Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" won yesterday). And we found out that we were part of the largest Opening Day crowd in Camden Yards history: 48,607. But don't worry, the crab shuffle, hot dog race, and John Denver are still all there.
It felt good to pound C.C. Sabathia and ultimately come out on top 10-5. It felt really good to unmercifully boo Teixeira (who went 0-for-4, by the way). But what felt awesome was really owning our stadium, which tends to get hijacked by Yankees or Red Sox fans when they come to town. Not yesterday. The idealism of a brand new season, and such a positive start, was enough to silence any loudmouth out-of-towner.
[Image: courtesy of me.]