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YIBF JOURNAL, Camden Yards Edition

I’ve written in this blog in prior years about growing up a baseball fan from the late 1940s onward and how the magical number of (2) appeared in the baseball listings for the big holidays of Memorial Day (originally called Decoration Day to honor the dead of World War I), the Fourth of July, and Labor Day (which incidentally for those of you planning late summer activities is the earliest possible in 2014, Sept. 1.)

Since the 1970s modern baseball has given up the holiday doubleheader and virtually all scheduled two-for-the-price-of-one doubleheaders. And most players and managers are very glad for that because most twin bills are split and nobody working in baseball really likes spending all day at the ballpark to win and to lose.

Yet on my 72nd birthday on June 27 I couldn’t resist the day-night doubleheader between the Orioles and the Tampa Bay Rays at Camden Yards. O’s skipper Buck Showalter and Rays manager Joe Maddon dripped with sarcasm at the scheduling of these games to keep their players at the park from nearly dawn to midnight but it proved to be a personal delight for me – even if my Orioles only split and then lost the Sat and Sun games.

Baseball doesn’t require victory every day to enjoy it immensely. (You hear that, Yankee winnites?) And if you’ve never been to Camden Yards, the first and the best of the newer urban ballparks, put it on your bucket list. It was nice to see people gathering before the games at Toby Mendez's sculptures behind the center field fence. Erected during the 2012 revival season of the Birds, they honor the six Oriole Hall of Famers from Brooks Robinson to Cal Ripken Jr.

Once in the stands at Camden Yards the views of the field from almost section are good and sometimes spectacular. My perch for the Friday and Saturday games was from the first-base-right-field side. Reminded me of storied Memorial Stadium on 33rd Street where the amenities may have been minimal but so many seats were angled directly at the pitcher’s mound and infield. And the impressive 19th century warehouse that now houses Oriole offices hovers protectively over the field.

In Sunday’s game I sat in the upper deck third base side, affording me a stirring view of the Baltimore skyline with the restored Camden Station a major part of the thrill. Its two cupolas with clocks atop are quite arresting.

A strikingly thin skyscraper also caught my eye, a building that once housed Donald Schaefer’s office – the former Baltimore Mayor and Maryland Governor who was a driving force in getting approval for Camden Yards after the football Colts fled to Indianapolis in the middle of the night early in 1984.

I do have some quibbles about the Camden Yards scoreboard operation. Rarely did the names of the players at bat and the defenders in the field display in unison. So if you wanted to know who was in the field when the opponent was at bat, you were disappointed.

Also in Sunday’s game, a couple of innings after Tampa Bay had broken it open with their biggest outburst of the year, a 7-run 6th, the Orioles substituted freely but the public address announcer did not say in what place in the order the new players were batting.

These are little things but baseball is made of a series of little things that lead to the big thing known as victory. Nonetheless it was a memorable visit to Oriole Park at Camden Yards and made the first days of my 73rd year on earth most pleasurable.

That’s all for now. The Orioles were rained out on Fourth of July and now face another day-night doubleheader in Boston on Saturday the 5th. They are actually percentage points ahead of Toronto in first place and for the first time in 2014 seven games over .500.

But remember Lowenfish’s Second Law of Baseball Dynamics is:
NO TEAM IS A TRUE CONTENDER UNTIL IT MOVES TO 10 GAMES OVER .500 AND STAYS THERE.

Lowenfish’s First Law of Baseball Dynamics, noted here in past seasons, remains:
NO FOUR-RUN LEAD IS SAFE UNTIL THE GAME IS OVER.

Always remember, most of all: Take it easy but take it!
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