We just spent a weekend in Baltimore with our two sons. The event that brought us all together was the Pirates visiting the Orioles over Mother’s Day weekend. So we sprung for tickets and hotel room for the family, and spent time around the Inner Harbor.
Orioles Park at Camden Yards is yet another of these cashless places. Ostensibly, these venues have gone to all card transactions to cut down on germ transmission, an outgrowth of the Covid pandemic. But like many other businesses, I imagine they have gone to cashless in order to cut down on the sometimes hidden costs associated with handling of cash. I still like using cash for small transactions. It galls me to have to use a card for a seemingly minor transaction, although at major league parks, there is no such thing as a de minimis transaction. Unless you were fortunate enough to visit Montreal during the last year the Expos were there, and happened to come in on a Friday where adult tickets were $5 apiece for a slightly sight impaired seat. Since we had both boys with us, they were ticketed at $1 apiece, and to add to the allure, it was dollar dog and beer night. I doubt we will ever get into a major league park for a total of $12 again – and it was Canadian dollars, with each one only about 65 cents US at the time.
We were in different sections of the stadium each game. The first day, we were in the center field bleachers, and had the extreme good fortune to be seated a couple of rows behind some obviously under-age kids who had somehow managed to convince concessionaires to serve them beer. They could not handle their beer, and they became excessively noisy and obscene as the game went on. MF this, and MF that, and their taunts were aimed at anyone sitting around who was dressed in Pirates attire. My wife finally had enough, and stood up and chastised them, prompting a rebuttal about first amendment freedoms from one of the hooligans. She was supported by our neighboring crowd, because she was saying what most of us were thinking. What really caused the kids to face reality was that the beer vendor they abused brought back two security guards, and soon the entire row was removed from their seats. The worst offenders did not return, but eventually all but two of the group came back, and did not bother anyone else for the rest of the game.
The kids missed seeing the completion of a cycle by one of the Orioles (single, double, triple, and home run). For Pirates fans, it was not good since this hitter caused our Friday night loss. But just seeing a cycle was a rare sight – maybe not as rare as an unassisted triple play, or a perfect game, but still a rare feat. That was ok – two days later we saw Mitch Keller go 7 scoreless innings, striking out 13 while not walking anyone. As dominant as I’ve ever seen a pitcher in a game I attended.
We did spend some time in the Inner Harbor. We got to see a local celebrity – Mr. Trash Wheel (see picture above). This contraption was connected to booms which funneled floating trash to the collection zone, where the wheel would turn and toss the floating matter into a container which then was removed. We did not get to see the thing work, but our oldest son who works an environmental job in Henrico County Virginia, was very excited to see this machine that worked to keep the Inner Harbor clean.
The week following our trip was also exciting. My wife encountered her first case of blood clots in her leg, while the same son who was excited about Mr. Trash Wheel went through an appendectomy. Quite a bit of difference between the happiness we had at the ball park, and the trepidation we felt during the next week. It is true what they say – never take anything for granted, since it can all go south on you in an instant. We were just fortunate to avoid more serious consequences in the next week.