I've always tried to get some Orioles each year, even though there wasn't a lot of winning during the long, dark years from 1998-2011. I saw some good ones -- a huge comeback win against the Blue Jays on July 4, 2003, a day so hot that I apparently almost stepped right in front of the Light Rail because my will to live was so low. I saw a lot of bad ones: Jack Cust, representing the tying run, falling twice between third and home; the Orioles losing despite Aubrey Huff's cycle; and many, many more.
I have the limits of what I can stand, though, and so I started to avoid games against the Yankees and Red Sox. Not only were losses to these huge-payroll behemoths a virtual certainty, but often lovely Camden Yards would be taken over by obnoxious Yankees or Red Sox fans (and really, it's hard to tell the difference, even though they're such bitter rivals with each other.).
In September 2011, the Orioles stopped being Boston's punching bag, winning 5 of 7 games versus the Red Sox that September, including "Game 162", to knock the Sox out of the playoffs. Camden Yards was no longer "Fenway South", and if the Orioles' success against the Red Sox continue, we'll hopefully see ugly, decrepit Fenway Park (I kid. Even I like Fenway, even though it's not a real stadium.) become "Camden Yards North" (I'm not kidding about that part.)
But anyway, all that aside now as I finally get to the point: I took my wife, parents, and sister to an Orioles-Red Sox game at Camden Yards on Saturday. The Orioles lost, the lone game they would drop in the four game series. While there more Red Sox fans than I would have preferred at the Yard, orange vastly outnumbered red for the whole series. That was nice. However, I had two Sawx fans sitting behind me who I needed to comment on. Meanwhile, I spent most of this game in the perfect Natty Boh induced comfort zone of straddling the line between being a jerk and not being a jerk.
The two Red Sox fans behind me were VERY surprised at the amount of boos that David Ortiz received. “We never booed Cal Ripken” they said.
At this point, I very loudly stated that “Cal Ripken was never implicated in the use of performance enhancing drugs. Cal Ripken didn’t stand there for 20 minutes and admire every home run that he ever hit. And Cal Ripken didn’t argue and whine every time a strike was called against him. Other than that, it’s exactly the same.”
Look, I get that Big Papi is their player and they're going to root for him. And he's been a very good to great player for them for a long time. And I'm sure he's a good guy off the field and it always seems like he's well-liked by other players in the league. But how can they not see how he acts and understand that opposing fans don't like the guy.
Later in the game, after the Sox fans returned from an approximately five-inning long absense, during which I speculated that they had food poisoning, and they commented negatively that Orioles fandom is known as "Birdland."
"Yeah," I sage whispered , "Because 'Red Sox Nation' is soooo original and cool." Unfortunately, they had the last laugh on this day, but I am more than happy with how this series, like all of the series against the Red Sox since September 2011, went.