28 Ballparks Friday October 5, 2012

Preface: I started writing this post a week before the Nats clinched the National League East Division crown and the Orioles were forced to play a wild card game. So of course this is absolutely horrible timing on my part. In no way am I trying to be a debbie downer to The Nats amazing season.

Of course, I write this post as The Washington Nationals finished clinching their first pennant since moving to The District and The Orioles struggle to clinch a wildcard spot, but I have to say this… I’m really not a fan of The Nationals.

I know, I know, considering how many hours I spent at Nats Park over past two years it feels like blasphemy to admit this. But it’s true.

I’ve written about this before, but of all the sporting teams in The District, I was always indifferent to The Nationals. Now, they weren’t as hated as the dreadful Wizards or the over-hyped Redskins, but I definitely don’t love them as much as The Capitals or D.C. United. The truth be told, I’m still bitter about The Nationals stealing the Expos and no matter how likable Harper, Zimmerman, Desmond or Werth are, I still can’t get behind their success.

But, the Orioles, now that’s a different story.

Falling For The Orioles… Again

Before leaving our home in The District for Canada, we had the opportunity to head to Baltimore for a few days after my wife’s graduation

I know, you’re probably thinking that Baltimore really isn’t a place for a much needed vacation, but truth be told, Baltimore is one of the hidden diamonds in the rough when it comes to America. Now, you have to add a caveat that the beautiful part of Baltimore is the inner harbor/downtown area and we didn’t do a Wire tour of Baltimore. So yes, our tour of Baltimore was pretty controlled.

But what Baltimore does have is the legendary Camden Yards.

Nationals Park will always have a special place in my heart, as it was the first ballpark to introduce me to the American Baseball phenomena. But Camden Yards was my first introduction to the allure of Baseball as a cultural myth. Even though the stadium is only 20 years old, it feels like a 60 year old shrine to the sport and the Orioles as a cultural element of Baltimore. Every screw and bolt of the park, from the warehouse walls behind the outfield to the National Bohemian beer to the Old Bay Spiced Hot Dawgs, screams to the gritty golden era of Baltimore’s history. So the park in itself is a wonderful masterpiece and an amazing homage to the sport of Baseball.

But going to Camden Yards also reignited my love for the lonely Orioles. Like every kid of the NHL 94 generation, my real passion for sports came through countless hours of video games. The only truly baseball game that I enjoyed or played at lengths as a kid was Cal Ripken Jr’s Baseball. It was a crummy little game, but it was the first time I really enjoyed baseball and for a brief period of time I was able to say I had a favorite player and team. Of course, it would be a few years later before Cal Ripplefart Jr., would set his name in the record books. But when we visited Camden it was incredibly cool to stand by the statue of Cal Ripken and think back to those innocent days of being a nerdy kid playing too many video games.

So with an innocent trip to Baltimore, I was able to relieve some obscure childhood fantasizes and I can now confidently rest my hat with my own team – a team that I’ve fallen for not just on geographical location, but on a special childhood tie.

The trip also had another side effect.

I’ve alluded to it before, but I think it’s safe to say that the 30 Major League Ballparks is officially the only item in my bucket list. And while our new home isn’t on the Major League Baseball circuit, luckily enough the centre of the Canadian Universe a couple kilometres down the road has some sort of monstrous contraption they call a baseball stadium.

Categories: the-nationals, the-orioles,

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