San Francisco Giants vs. Baltimore Orioles (06/13/04)
San Francisco Giants vs. Baltimore Orioles
A Road Report – June 13, 2004
(by PHIL RIPPA)
My boy, Jamal is getting married and I am serving as Best Man. So on Saturday we had the bachelor party where I learned I can still hit a 5-iron fairly straight with the world’s tiniest left handed club and that you will never ever get a chance to play Daytona USA because it is the Rockville, MD version of crack. Sleep was lost and when you are old, you regret every single second past midnight that you stay up.
Unfortunately, we still had to go to this game on Sunday. This all started back in January as for a birthday present, Jamal told me to select any game on the Os schedule and he will get tickets for them. The Yankees were only playing one weekend series in Baltimore this year and the Saturday game was Sept. 11. I decided that I really really didn’t wanna to have to sit in a ballpark, listen to 76 versions of Grand Old Flag followed immediately by Cotton-Eyed Joe (because if the kids can’t hoedown the terrorists have won) just to watch NY smack the Birds around yet again. And getting out to Baltimore on a weeknight for a 7 pm start is impossible without leaving 80 hours before game time. Of course, according to Peter Angelos and MLB, Camden Yards is just outside my apartment. We looked at the interleague games because it would give us a chance to see a team we hadn’t seen in person before. And the perfect game was this one because we could see Bonds possibly hit a homer or his heart explodes. Either way, it would be a memorable day at the ballpark.
I head into Adams Morgan to pick up Jamal and his friend, Scott (an officiant of said upcoming wedding. Ahh… the internet). Not before I get trapped on one of the million one-way roads in DC and some yutz driving a kidnapper van lets some corkys out in the middle of the road so they can bob and weave their way to the bizarre farmer’s market in front of the Catholic church. The line of traffic becomes huge, yet the dolt responses to all the honking by just giving that hand wave of “Yes, I know I am douche but since I waved my hand, I realize I am wrong and you will all forgive me.” Amazingly, for being in a shady part of town, he didn’t get capped. Probably because there was a nun standing on the corner. Grr….
For the first time in the approximately dozen times I have been to Camden Yards, I am able to find parking on the street. Another plus is that you are allowed to bring in outside food and drink, which is such an amazingly great policy. I load up with a hamburger, hot dog and giant Iced Tea for $5, which is a $1 cheaper than the YingLing I pay for later on in the park. There are very few things better than artery clogging meat grilled on a barbeque.
Our seats are along the third base line about halfway down in the outfield. We were like 15 rows back, so close enough to the field to make mean comments, far enough away to not hear the people in the first few rows offering sexual favors to the ballboy for the next grounder that comes that way. Camden Yards, like most parks, have seats not built for someone who is 6’6” and over half of that leg. It was fine for the first hour as there was no one sitting to our left so I just kinda sprawled out over three seats, while avoiding the 17 peanut bag eating family behind us. What was annoying was that the owners of the empty seats showed up in FOURTH Inning. Grr…. It would have been more tolerable if the father wasn’t trying to crack his son up with Kilbornesqe wit. Thankfully, junior was noselling it and looked like he would crack his pappa in the month if he didn’t get himself some $4.75 soda.
As I mentioned, the only reason we attended this game was to see if Barry Bonds would hit a home run… this was assuming he actually played. Oh yeah, that thought didn’t cross my mind 5985 times. Thankfully, we are in an AL park and there is that wonderful rule known as the DH. So Bonds was slotted into the 4th slot and ready to crush Sidney Ponson’s mighty soul. All the talk was how Ponson was going to challenge his teammate of 4 months. Anyone who has seen Ponson pitch will probably be chuckling by this point in time. We were settling into our seats in the top of the first when Bonds, in his first at bat, skied the ball to the opposite field all the way to the warning track. Oh yeah, pitching to him is a good idea. Second at bat, Sir Sidney yet again fails to get the ball away from the fat part of the plate (well, Sidney is very familiar with the terms “fat” and “plate”) and Bonds slams a shot over the right field wall for a 380 foot 2 run HR. Baltimore, being like every other park that the Giants make an appearance at, boos the hell of out Senor Bonds… until he hits the home run and then he gets a standing ovation. WHOO-HOO! HYPOCRACY!
Ponson and the Giants starter, Jerome Williams, combined to have two of the uglier starts you could watch and stay, relatively sane. Ponson was left in the game forever, 6 2/3 innings of constantly being in trouble but avoiding the truly enormous inning to overstay his welcome. Thirteen hits, six earned runs, three walks, one hundred and ten pitches, with barely over half of them being strikes, are not pretty numbers. Not that Williams was making anyone forget Walter Johnson. He allowed four walks and hit THREE batters to go along with two home runs allowed. If he hadn’t been able to get the two pickoffs, things would have looked a lot worse. There was no real reason for him to be left out there for 112 pitches except… well… Felipe Alou must hate him. Williams was probably wondering why he didn’t stick around with the Pistons to get that NBA ring. Oh yeah, that joke never gets old.
The Orioles always provide the funny when I attend their games. I saw the enormous brawl that Arthur Rhodes started that saw Graeme Lloyd try and gain street cred. Last year, I saw Jack Cust trip over the imaginary man in the ground and cost Baltimore the game. This game saw the Os forget how to run the bases (two picked off runners cost them scoring chances in the first two innings), Luis Lopez actually making me wish that Melvin Mora hadn’t earned his first day off of the season (Lopez committed about 8 errors – the hometown scorer only gave him one) and then there was Brian Roberts falling on his ass trying to corral a pop-up.
Something I have never grasped is the idea of buying a jersey (be it a baseball, football, basketball or any sport) and then putting a name on it that ISN’T the name associated with the number on the back of the jersey. This is really a huge problem in Baltimore and is the second most annoying thing about Orioles fans (#1 problem is the shouting “OOOO” during the national anthem… especially at non-Orioles sporting events). The most egregious offender at today’s festivities was the guy wearing the Cal Ripken Jr. authentic jersey… authentic except for having “THE BLADE” plastered on the back. I hate people.
Somewhere around the 5th or 6th inning, we were getting antsy and decided to walk around the park to see if there was anything of note. There was a quest for some smoked sausage and we happened to spot the landmark for when Ken Griffey Jr. hit the warehouse during the All-Star game… which seems like ages ago. Speaking of Junior, the highlight of the game was in between innings, they flash up on the scoreboard “Earlier today, Ken Griffey Jr. hit his 499 career home run. He then came up for a chance for 500…” so there is a buzz in Camden Yards as everyone is like “Cool! he hit it and they are actually going to show it to us.” So they proceed to show Junior’s shot that went all the way to the wall and was caught. It was amazing as Peter Angelos or someone who works in the PR department truly has built up hate towards Junior. I mean to make that the ONLY highlight of any game that was shown all day??? The crowd was not pleased. We laughed for a solid half inning at this.
Okay, I lied. The real highlight of the game occurred when we got back to our seats. Since All-Star ballots were floating around, we were discussing random folks and Carlos Beltran’s name came up and there was talk of whom the Yankees and Red Sox would be trading for. So I stated that either team would be the ones most likely to land Freddy Garcia. This is when things got interesting. The woman sitting in front of us turns around and inquires “What about Freddy?” She went onto explain that her and the group she was with were all “Good friends’ with Freddy” and what a “great guy he was”. I am going to assume this relationship is similar to my sister stalking various Yankees at autograph signings and saying things to Gary Carter like “I am so glad you went into the Hall of Fame as a Met”. High comedy abounds. Anyway, we are going to ignore the issue of if these people were such “good friends” and clearly baseball fans, how they hadn’t heard the 49832 million rumors about the Mariners dumping Garcia. Instead, I just explained the rumors I had heard (the big one being Garcia to the Yanks for Jose Contreras and Dioneer Navarro). I also said there was talk that Seattle was also going to try and package Bret Boone to the Yanks. Well, I have never crushed anyone’s spirits so quick as the woman muttered something again about what a “great guy” “Freddy” was and within 45 seconds her and her husband got up and left for good. I have to imagine that she spent some time in the bathroom composing herself and then continued to cry big crocodile tears all the way back to Seattle.
Bonds batted again in the top of the eighth and we quickly left after he ended the inning. There was the one die hard Orioles fan yelling at the thousands of people leaving “You all have no faith. They can still come back. What are you? Yankees fans???” Okay, so maybe THAT was the highlight of the afternoon.