This past Sunday, my family and I had the opportunity to go to the first playoff game between the Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees, played in Baltimore.
Now, I don’t really talk about sports much on my blog. Honestly, I’m not a huge sports person. I’m basically a fan of hometown teams. And since there are really only 2 major teams in Baltimore, The Ravens (football) and The Orioles (baseball), there’s not much to follow. Especially since one of those teams has consistently sucked up the joint for the past 15 years. While The Ravens have been pretty good and fun to watch the last few years, The Orioles have had a losing record for so many years, this city pretty much gave up all hope of ever again having a successful baseball team . . . until this year.
Something happened this year. Something changed. And that something’s name is Buck Showalter. Buck is the Orioles’ manager and has turned this team around. This year they started to win. This year they were fun to watch. This year they actually made it into the playoffs. So there was no way we were not gonna be there.
The last time the Orioles were in the playoffs was 1997. I was 22 years old. The hubs and I had been going out for about a year. We decided to get tickets to one of the playoff games. I made a sign to hold up at the game. It was fun and exciting to be at the stadium that night. There was an energy. It was electric. But it was so very long ago. Fifteen years.
My 7 year old son is a huge Orioles fan. He has loved them for years, even through some pretty bleak years. But he is a true fan. He knows every player. He knows their stats. He wants to watch every game. Even when they were horrible, he rooted for them zealously and lovingly. Until this year, he had never seen them play well. It was always heartbreaking to watch him root so hard for a team that was so bad. Now that they were finally playing like the Orioles of my husband’s and my youth, we wanted my son to get to experience how we felt all those years ago when we went to that playoff game.
So, we bought the tickets. We told the kids we were going. We spent Saturday night making signs. We watched the weather forecast and obsessively updated the status, hoping for a miraculous change. But no matter how many times we looked, it was always the same forecast . . . rain. But we were not deterred! Baseball was back in Baltimore in October for the first time in forever, and we would not miss this moment. Weather be damned!
Unfortunately, the weather was damned. As we arrived at the park, the skies opened up. We slowly moved through the gates with the crushing crowd, only to be poured upon by the drenching rains. By the time we got safely under cover inside the stadium, there was a waterfall of water pouring off of my hat and my hair was saturated. But we were there! And so very hopeful that the rain would stop quickly and the game would start on time. But, unfortunately, that was not to be.
So we waited. And waited. And waited. All told, we waited two and a half hours for the game to start. Luckily, we had club level seats, which meant there was an indoor corridor behind our seats that held plenty of lounge type areas (carpeted alcoves with seats and TVs to watch the other playoff games proceeding as scheduled), so we put a blanket down and had a very long picnic with the boys. We had some food. A couple of beers. The 4 year old played Angry Birds on the iPad. The 7 year old was antsy and complained most of the time, but I didn’t blame him. It was pretty boring, and at one point we started discussing whether we should just go home. Nobody wanted that, but it was getting late and we had young kids and bedtimes to consider.
But finally, finally, after two and a half very long hours, the rain stopped and the tarp was removed from the field. We headed out to our seats and finally felt that postseason buzz that we had been waiting 15 years to once again feel. It was electric and exhilarating. And we looked down from our balcony seats to view a sea of orange.
The boys each had their own signs to hold up, which we had them do at every commercial break, and then they would put them away when each team would come up to bat. The woman sitting behind me actually thanked me at one point for putting the signs down at each inning, since she had been to a previous game with a very obnoxious sign holder in front of her. But we tried to be considerate about it, even though we were in the front row and held the signs in front of the bars and not above our heads or anything, but still. We put them away each time.
You can even see us in this picture taken by my bloggy bud, Bluz, who was also at the game, but on the opposite side of the stadium. He did catch one moment when my oldest was holding up his sign:
However, despite our best efforts and continuous sign holding endeavors, TBS never showed him holding his sign on TV! The only time we were actually on there was when a foul ball was hit into the seats near us and the camera tracked it, getting us in the shot, but just barely:
That’s me in the orange hat, above the big A on the right, and the hubs is next to me above the S. So we are all famous-like, now! Woo-hoo. Hollywood, here we come!
We did end up having to leave before the end of the game, as it was getting extremely late, the boys both had school the next day, and the little one was starting to look very glazed. It could have been the late hour, but then again, it might have been the 6 hours straight of Angry Birds he had played. Either way, it was probably good because at least we weren’t there when our arch nemesis Yankees came back in the 9th inning . . . with a vengeance! Ugh, it was so painful. The good news is the next night we came back to win it, so we are tied in the series with one game each. Go O’s!!
But the best part about the entire evening? Despite the rain, the interminable waiting for the game to start, and even the loss . . . it was the unextinguishable excitement emanating from my oldest son. He was the most excited and revved up boy ever. He grinned, he cheered, he bounced during the entire game. I just love seeing him that happy and full of joy. And that night was one of the best of his life, and a memory he will have and be able to share with his own children. I don’t know that there is any more that I could have asked for that night.