Before every Orioles home game, PA announcer Ryan Wagner congratulates and reminds Baltimore that we have the “best fans in baseball,” and to be courteous to those around you. If you have gone to any games this season, you know exactly what shpiel I’m talking about.
And as the Orioles sit idle here tonight, we have some time for reflection before the final homestand of the year begins against the rival Red Sox.
After many complaints of low attendance despite the Orioles having their most successful season in 15 years, fans finally packed the Yard against the Yankees. The stadium sold out two of those four games, including the Sept. 6th matchup in which the Orioles honored Cal Ripken, Jr. for his years of consistent service to the franchise. A few days later against the Rays, however, attendance did not even reach 30,000. The Orioles even encouraged fans to come out by offering tickets for only $4 and $8.
But this is not another editorial about how Baltimore always promised to come back when the team started winning. This is about what goes on in those seats.
The ceremony went much as everyone had expected. Gary Thorne provided his usual insight, with a slightly comedic and dramatic tone. Brady Anderson told his own quirky stories, dropping a few off-color remarks in the meantime. Billy Ripken gave a rousing speech about Oriole baseball, and the Ripken Way. Then, ironically enough, just as Cal took the stage, Alex Rodriguez stepped into the batting cage for the Yankees. Cal spoke in his usual mild-mannered way, encouraging Baltimore to get behind their Orioles, and support the “Oriole Way.” It was the perfect start to what Orioles fans knew would be a memorable night.