This is "The Gods Are Bored," and I assure you, I love baseball. It's my favorite sport, because I am in constant awe that anyone could hit such a small ball, moving so fast, in such a way that it will fall somewhere in a field. It's amazing. And it's the only sphere (ha ha) of life where being 1/3 good at your job makes you a superstar.
As a child, I went to sleep listening to the Baltimore Orioles on the radio. My parents were Orioles fans, and they would put the game on at night. I can clearly remember wondering how all the players' names were spelled. Sure, Jim Palmer and Brooks and Frank Robinson, easy. But Andy Echebarran? Carl Yazstremski? Mike Cuellar? Woof.
The Orioles were great throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. Then they got hot again in 1979, just in time for me to be living six blocks from the stadium through the summer. To sweeten the pot, the Orioles had a student ticket price of $1.75 for upper deck. Yes, the decimal point is in the right place.
I went to every home game that summer.
The way it worked was, I would walk down to the stadium, go to a ticket booth, show my student ID, get a paper ticket, and go to the turnstile. At the turnstile, one of many ushers would tear the ticket in half and give back the stub. Done! Find a seat. Sometimes I sat by myself, sometimes I had friends with me, and sometimes I sat in a section full of rowdies who, like me, went every night.
When I got home from a game, I would take a piece of scotch tape and tape the ticket stub to the wall in my apartment. I didn't start doing this until nearly mid-season, but I'm pretty sure I had more than 50 stubs on that wall.
Good times, good times.
But enough of the great bygone days. Let's look at a modern trip to the ballpark, shall we?
The Orioles were in Philadelphia for a three-game visit. Self, Fair, and Mr. J got seats for the 7/25/23 game, which cutely happened to be "Christmas in July." I am fully aware of how Philadelphia fans treat visiting teams and their fans, but I was determined to wear my bright orange Orioles Hawaiian shirt that The Heir had trash-picked from West Philly. More about that in a moment.
Mr. J purchased the tickets, lower deck on the third base side. They cost $60 apiece, with another $20 for guaranteed parking near the third base entrance. The cost alone is jaw-dropping. But to make matters worse, I had to download an app to access a QR code that was my ticket. Ponder this. Go ahead, I'll give you a moment.
This is Philadelphia, so of course I got trash-talked before even getting within spitting distance of the ballpark. But the Orioles are hot at the moment, and Baltimore is only 100 miles from Philly, so I had plenty of fellow fans in orange to commiserate with. (Mr. J wore neutral colors and Fair, a fan of all things Philadelphia, was decked in home team colors.)
When we got to the entry kiosk, I didn't know how to hold my phone so the stadium could scan the code. Fair had to do it for me. And oh yes, before that step we had to go through a security checkpoint that took an X-ray of the contents of our purses.
Finally in the stadium, $200 out of pocket, and one "go back to Baltimore" so far.
Reader, have you been in one of these modern ballparks? They are as loud as the halls of Hell. It isn't fans cheering, it's the jumbo-trons. DANG you cannot hear the person sitting next to you! (Which, given that I was surrounded by Phillies fans, might have been a good thing.)
Mr. J and I had been determined to eat an early dinner before we went to the ballpark. But one thing led to another, and we didn't. The worst place in the world to be hungry is a modern baseball park. The food is dreadful, and you have to take a second mortgage to purchase it. No exaggeration: a bottle of water is five bucks. I don't know what Mr. J spent on the inedible sandwiches he bought for us, but he tells me they don't take cash at the food stands. Lord love ten thousand fruit flies! I'll bet he paid more for the food and beverages we consumed during that game than we did for the half bushel of large, fat crabs from TL Morris Seafood last week.
The stadium was packed. The fans were loud. The Phillies either trailed or tied until the bottom of the ninth, when they got two outs and then scored and won the game. This exhibit about sums it up.
EXHIBIT A: CITIZENS BANK PARK, 7/25/23
About all I can say is, my shirt is the tits.
I wish I could say I'm done with live baseball for all time, but I already have a ticket to another game in late August. This ticket only cost $40, but then I bought a plus-one for Mr. J, so oh boy. It's possible for us to use mass transit to get to the ballpark, which will maybe save us a whopping $10. But I am going to be like Persephone in Hades and not let a morsel of food or drink pass my lips while there.
Just think of it. I saw a whole damn season of home games in 1979 for less than one game in 2023. And I had something to tape on the wall when I got home.
About the only thing that's stayed the same is my devotion to the Baltimore Orioles. What a great team. Go Birds!