So I told you guys that I followed the Mets south for their weekend sweep of the Orioles. Yesterday, I was loading up our pictures from the weekend when I thought it might make a cool little write-up to chronicle our couple days in Baltimore as it was a really good time. Not just the sweep (I actually only went to the Friday night game) but Baltimore itself is a pretty excellent city. I guess for full disclosure we were the typical, touristy, out-of-towners who basically stuck in and around the Inner Harbor. But either way, still fun. So read on to hear more about my trials and tribulations in B-town (with pictures!)...
Let's start with the game. As I said, we made the hellish ride down 95 Friday morning to catch the series opener that night. Sidenote: The traffic was probably the only negative about the entire trip as it's pretty much impossible to go within 50 miles of Baltimore (or DC for that matter) without hitting bumper-to-bumper congestion. Anyway, we made it down with a couple hours to spare which was perfect as I'd wanted to explore the park a bit before game time.
First off, upon walking in we got free reversible bucket hats, which as we all know is never a bad thing. And as we walked in it was pretty evident already why everyone loves this place: That old-timey feel that most new ballparks (including Citi) have, well they absolutely nailed it at Camden Yards. The best way I could describe it is whereas we've got a modern stadium with cool throwback touches, theirs is truly a cool throwback stadium. From the black 10-ft wrought iron gates to the use of aged red brick throughout to the access into the old B & O Railroad warehouse beyond right field to the shockingly light presence of ad space and to the ever-present reminders of past stars, you really do feel like they recreated a classic, old time park at Camden.
Even before all that, the stadium sits in a great part of the city, right in the Inner Harbor, surrounded by restaurants, , bars, hotels, museums and stores. It's a great walking area; one could definitely spend an entire day hitting all the spots directly outside the park without ever actually going into the stadium itself. Sadly, no matter how nice a park we just built, we'll never be able to compete with that. So back to the stadium and my favorite feature, something I mentioned earlier, the warehouse in right. For someone like me who's a sucker for historical stuff, the fact that they'll let you go inside this 100+ yr old turn-of-the-century railroad storeouse is really cool. It's incredible that they were originally going to tear it down to make space for the stadium; instead the team bought it and it now houses team stores, food stands, team offices and even a private club where you can watch the game from one of those windows.
So onto the game itself. I won't re-hash the action as we all know the Mets won 5-1, but I will tell you I was going nuts when Chris Carter hit his first career bomb to RF. I'd say the Orioles fan next to me was sick of my act by about the 2nd inning. Unlike the Sat. & Sun. games, this one was probably populated with more Orioles fans than Mets fans and I'd say they were very gracious hosts, though I guess it's kind of hard to tell graciousness from indifference. Just sitting there for a few innings you could tell the attitude of the average Oriole fan is a mix of frustration and apathy, and I can't say I blame them. Hopefully their talented young core will come around. As far as the ballpark eats situation, pretty good (relatively speaking, as I've gotten pretty accumstomed to the impossibly high bar that Citi has set for stadium concessions). But Big Mario's Pizza didn't disappoint. Though I never get why organizations dress their vendors in team colors; I know the neon yellow we use is ugly but hey, it doesn't blend in does it?
The victory walk out of the stadium was also fun but I guess I've been going to too many Mets games when I'm humming 'Taking Care of Business' to myself without even realizing it:
All in all, we had a really fun night. And I can honestly say this is probably the best ballpark I've been to. Don't get me wrong, I think the Wilpons did an incredible job with Citi Field and I really liked ATT Park in SF last summer as well but as a fan of that old school, throwback motif, this place was right up my alley. In fact there were two features that I think we can even borrow that would really enhance Citi in my opinion. One is the old fashioned clock in center; I've been saying we need an old school clock since day one and theirs is exactly what I'm looking for. I mean seriously, how can you build a retro stadium that harkens back to the good old days and so forth and so on without an old-timey looking clock? I'm officially lobbying for that.
The second feature was a really cool one I'd never heard of: They mark each home run that clears the actual park and reaches the concourse beyond right field, in front of the warehouse, with a little baseball-sized plaque, with the player name and distance. And obviously since it takes a hell of a shot to get out there, there are only so many. David Ortiz had a few of them, Griffey too and I even found a Delgado bomb; Adam Dunn incredibly put one up on the front of the goddamn warehouse. So why not do the same on the Shea Bridge? Aside from the occasional Ike blast, not many people are going to get up there so why not commemorate each one.
After the game that night we stopped for a couple burgers at a pretty excellent little sportsbar across the street called 'The Nest' (get it?) and walked some more around the Inner Harbor as the Friday night scene was definitely in full effect. It's a pretty cool place to be on a weekend night as the streets were littered with young people, musicians and lots of other baseball fans. I was shocked to learn that the enormous building below was once the city's power plant, now renovated into restaurant and shopping space. Apparently they make really good use of their cool, old buildings in Baltimore.
So the next day was more of the same, strolling around the Inner Harbor. Though that day we had the good fortune of a nice, early wake up call from the Bob Marley cover band playing in the street fair directly below our hotel window; nothing like waking up to 'No Woman, No Cry' in a strange bed at 7 AM. The street fair itself was actually pretty great as I managed a bunch more free swag/food and there was this guy weirdly riding around on one of those penny-farthing bikes which was also great. As I mentioned, I'm kind of a history nerd and so I channeled my inner 4th grade field tripper as we took a tour of the USS Constellation that's floating in the harbor. Probably one of my favorite parts about the city was the abundance of cool sidewalk art all over the place; statues on street corners, sculptures in parks, murals on buildings, it's a very nice touch. Also, I couldn't believe how many Mets fans were walking around the city on Saturday, it was crazy. Anywhere you went you'd see a at least 18 Wright jerseys.
Basically just roamed the streets for the rest of the day before we got back on the road that night. Definitely a nice little trip, I'd recommend anyone who hasn't been to take the 5-hour ride next time the Mets play the Orioles if only to check out the awesome stadium. The city wasn't half bad either as there was plenty for a couple out-of-towners to see and do over the course of a weekend. Lot's of stuff down near the harbor and unless you're venturing out into Greater Baltimore the need for public transportation or taxis is minimal. So hopefully my trip to Baltimore didn't bore you guys too much and if you liked it, well hey I'm heading down to Washington when we play the Nats in a few weeks and you too can feel free to share any and all of your experiences traveling with the team.
PS - I bought this calculator watch that weirdly says "bmore" on the face