Is This Heaven? Yes Hon, It’s Baltimore!
The idea for the title of this article came from a sign at Camden Yards during the ALDS. So if that was your sign, please contact us. We’d love to give you credit!
If you don’t know why they call Baltimore Charm City then clearly you weren’t at Oriole Park at Camden Yards last night to see the Orioles defeat the Yankees 3-2 to even the ALDS at 1-1. Last night was just another sign of how much people from this area love the Orioles, love this city, love each other and want everyone in the world to know it. My voice is shot from screaming and my shoulders are sore from high-fiving everyone in Baltimore last night but I CANNOT WAIT to do it all over again!
I’ve been to a lot of stadiums in a lot of different cities at a lot of different levels for a lot of different sports so I can honestly say – with a lot to judge this by – that there is just something so special about a full house in Baltimore. In the 9th inning, Craig Sager of TBS announced that his sound level meter read more than 120 decibels, which is louder than the loudest NBA arena. He said, “Let’s face it, this crowd at Camden Yards has topped the crowd at the Thurnderdome (OKC Thunder) as the loudest crowd I’ve seen in many a years covering sports.” O-Mazing!
As for the Ravens, well they have the best home record in the 21st century, have won 14 consecutive home games and 22 out of their last 23. That’s domination and it’s not a fluke! The Ravens have the loudest fans in football. Period. It’s not about getting drunk and screaming (though some do that), it’s about knowing the right times to be loud and the right times to show your respect. Like standing on a third down, standing when your pitcher has two strikes in a big situation, cheering to honor the recent accomplishments of a batter and moving those chains on a first down. And let’s not forget the “O” in the national anthem, the area’s way to show the world we are from Baltimore and are damn proud of it.
To call the these crowds rowdy would be inaccurate. I’ve probably been to 500 sporting events in Baltimore and have maybe seen one fight in my section EVER. I’ve been to one Miami Dolphins game and saw too many to count and saw a fight during one of the two times I’ve been to a Cincy Bengals game. And, as many know, Philadelphia was famous for having a jail in their stadium. From other NFL and pro sporting environments to English Premier Soccer games, the list can go on. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are many of you out there with stories of things you didn’t love at Baltimore sporting events, but this is professional sports and these are PG-13 events – there is a lot of passion in these stands! Baltimore crowds are exited, loud, proud, intelligent and hard-working. Rowdy, not so much.
The last two nights were truly a special night in my life. Outside of family and friends, there is nothing I love more than Baltimore and sports. Growing up in the 1980s and 1990s the Orioles were just such a special part of my life. A winning season for Maryland football was unthinkable; until Gary Williams, Maryland Basketball would hope to get two wins in the ACC each year by sweeping NC State; and pro football didn’t exist. Then there were the Orioles – competitive almost every year and led by Cal Ripken and Eddie Murray, two guys who just had statues unveiled at Camden Yards. The stadium was packed every night and though our hearts were broken in 1996 and 1997, we are grateful for the memories.
The Ravens came along in 1996, and boy have they been an amazing part of Baltimore, but every sports fan had a gaping hole in their heart because 1997 was the last time the Orioles were relevant. We’ve been through a lot, too many managers to count, too many executives to bring up, too many wasted contracts, and too many top prospects who never made the difference in Baltimore that they did in Frederick and Bowie. As angst, frustration, confusion and disbelief took over for a 14-year streak, we saw the crowds get smaller and many a game taken over by opposing fans form the northeast.
As 2012 begin, none of the media took the time to look at the talented players on our roster and some of the moves that were made. It was predicted we were going to have one of the worst seasons in baseball history – and what other choice did many of the fans have but to believe them and believe 14 years would turn into 15? You know what happened next, when no one thought they could win more games than they lost – or even close – they now sit in the middle of the ALDS. And as far as attendance, I just spent $194 for four standing room only tickets to a hypothetical ALCS game and the only reason we’ll have no seat is because there were none available .
Baltimore, or Charm City as it’s affectionately called, is a city full of pride, passion, and personality that all those that yell “O” have a love for. We are not perfect, but since our lowest days in the 1970s and 1980s, we’ve seen our crime rate tumble, a renaissance of our downtown, an emergence of new industries and bigger and better colleges. Baltimore has a long way to go to be Utopia, but we work continually to make Baltimore a better place when it needs it the most – just like we do for the Ravens and Orioles.
I’m not the emotional type, but the last two nights were one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen. There were times that we thought we’d never see a home playoff game ever again in Baltimore and it was better than I dreamed it could be. So much orange, so much passion, so much energy, so many smiles, so many hugs and so many high fives. I’ve always loved this city and now that Orioles have filled that hole in my heart – this really feels like heaven! LET’S GO O’S!
Update: On Wednesday ESPN named Baltimore the toughest place to play in the NFL!