Yesterday, I continued my annual father-daughter tradition of going to Opening Day at Camden Yards. Of course, it wasn't really in its purest form, as we opened on the road in Tampa Bay, snagging three wins along the way. But whether it was our so-far perfect streak, the ideal 80-degree weather, or just people looking for an excuse to get drunk on a Monday afternoon, the fans came out in hoards.
The area outside of Pickles Pub was barricaded off and fans had to show I.D. to even enter. There were a few beer tents scattered around, serving $4 Miller Lite and Coors Light cans (prices which were most likely hiked up for the special day). The atmosphere was much like it's been in the past, crowded and rowdy. But, this year seemed to be amped up a little—people were throwing around bottles as if it were Preakness and chants of "Let's Go O's" started well before the game.
Walking into the stadium (which took a while, due to the considerable crowds at all the entrances), I thought the new vendor takeover was obvious from the get-go. All the facades on the concession stands were new. There were even different titles like, "Oh, What a Hot Dog." Speaking of, Natty Boh was available on draft (for a pricey $7.50), as well as a huge variety of other beers, including Flying Dog brews, Stella Artois, and Landshark, just to name a few.
Something that the new vendor, Delaware North Companies Sportservice, had boasted about was new concession-related technology to make transactions faster. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case yesterday as most of the credit card machines were down, causing plenty of frustration for hungry fans who waited in half-an-hour lines. But, 46,593 fans won't pack the Yard every game, so hopefully they'll be able to work out the kinks.
All in all, it was a great Opening Day. The Orioles prevailed over the Tigers 5-1, thanks to Brian Roberts's three-run homer in the fifth. The crowd was extremely energetic—explosively applauding when Buck Showalter was announced before the game and coming to their feet as Koji Uehara closed it out. You know it's April when there's Orioles optimism in the air and, hopefully this year, it will last.
[Image: courtesy of flickr.com/photos/visitmybaltimore]