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Camden Yards: ‘Like a European Vacation Compared to D.C.’

Here with a guest post is Mr. Irrelevant Writer at Large JP Finlay. Happy 4th, everyone.

In what had been way too long, I returned to Camden Yards last night. Walking down Eutaw Street, I was struck with the offsetting combination of nostalgia and remorse.
Nostalgic about those Cal & Moose teams of the 90s, playoff runs, and trying to buy beers on fake IDs. Remorseful that despite at least a decade age difference, Camden Yards is still the far superior ballpark than the $700 million generic Nats Park.
But, such is life, things change. Camden Yards was not quite the same, and not for the better. The first thing that hit me – and this is old news so don’t knock me for it – is the Hilton in centerfield. What was an awesome view of the Bromo-Seltzer tower was replaced with an f*n hotel?!? The hotel is aesthetically pleasing enough, but it removes the Baltimore skyline, the dignified-yet-odd Bromo tower and the open-air feeling you got looking out upon Charm City. I understand, time marches on, hotels are built, and the dollar always wins.

At least I knew the centerfield backdrop had changed. What I didn’t know was Boog’s changed. For a while now my go-to order at Oriole Park has been the pork sandwich platter. The platter included a pork sandwich, and I think some combination of baked beans, chips and/or cole slaw for around $8-$10.
After 29 years and visiting about 10 Major League parks, I considered this the best food deal in baseball. No mas. Last night I shelled out $17.50 for a sandwich and a beer, no chips, no baked beans, no cole slaw. Again, I get it, but I thought Boog did too.
What is still so very right about Camden Yards will never change, regardless of Snyder-ian (or is it Angelos-ian) tactics. The sightlines are the best of any stadium I’ve ever seen. The centerfield scoreboard and outfield walls lay out just the way they should. And, even though it was the opposing team, watching Lance Berkman’s homer fly out of the stadium with the slim prospect of hitting the warehouse was a goosebump moment. If the Field of Dreams crew was to walk out of the corn fields and onto any modern field, it would be Camden Yards.
For the tobacco-inclined crowd, it’s also nice to be able to smoke a butt without feeling like a criminal. Whether it was lax enforcement or different rules, hanging out by the Warehouse bar with a cig felt like a European vacation compared to the tight-ass smoking policies enforced in DC. But that shouldn’t be a surprise.
Leaving the game, I’m not sure if I felt better about Nats Park, worse about Camden Yards, or maybe I just didn’t need that last beer during the 7th-inning stretch. Whatever it was, I wanted to let the comparisons go.
I want to be able to drive up to Baltimore for a game, enjoy the O’s, remember Cal, and root for the team of my youth. But I also want to be able to hop on the Green Line, watch Morse go BeastMode, and wait for the influx of talent the Nats have coming.
Let me unequivocally say I root for the Nats first, but now I can root for the O’s too. And I don’t want to feel torn or constantly compare the stadiums. They are different. One doesn’t have to be better. One doesn’t have to be worse. Just different.
On a rare Mid-Atlantic summer night with no humidity and a nice breeze, all seemed right in the Baltimore-DC sports axis. But that will change. Football season should kick off in just two more months.
Fuck the Ravens.

D.C. sports fan and digital media guy that's been doing this since 2004. Once threw a football further than Chris Cooley.



  1. kip

    July 4, 2011 at 11:46 AM

    Great post with a perfect ending!

    Fuck the Ravens

  2. Phil

    July 4, 2011 at 1:02 PM

    Just wanted to say that Bryce Harper was promoted to AA Harrisburg. ^_^

  3. eric

    July 4, 2011 at 8:00 PM

    Gotta love Deadskin fan being jealous of the Ravens.

  4. Trousers

    July 5, 2011 at 8:47 AM

    Being a lifelong O’s fan who’s been warming up to the Nats the past few years, this post is especially awesome.

    I went to Nats Park for the first time a couple weeks ago and the Wolf Trap-like smoking corner really blows. And so does the Steak and Cheese stand. The line is short for a reason.

    I also was hoping for a lemonade and hotdog like you can get outside Camden Yards, are outside vendors not allowed at Nats Park? I did get there late..

  5. matt

    July 5, 2011 at 9:48 AM

    Great post. The parks are just very different, thats a good thing. Do we really need another retro-park? And the Nats are actually showing signs of progress. Fuck the Ravens.

  6. AE

    July 5, 2011 at 1:43 PM

    Camden Yards was great for its time. But the shine has worn off. But if the best thing you can point out is the warehouse, then you’ve already lost the debate.

    In 2011, Nats Park is just a nicer place to see a game. The sight-lines for all over the concourse are good. In the past 2 seasons of going to both parks, I was blown away how dirty Camden was even before the game started. It was like they don’t really clean from the night before, especially the bathrooms.

    Not a knock on Camden Yards overall. Just saying that the uniqueness of it has kind of faded for me while it seems the Nats are continuing to improve the fan experience. Having better vendors outside Nats Park like they do in Baltimore would be cool. But having Ben’s and Hard Times inside evens that out quickly.

    I 100% agree about the product on the field.

  7. Me

    July 5, 2011 at 2:00 PM

    I like that Nats Park is continuing to tweak/add things to make it better. The scoreboard terrace/food pavillion may not be iconic but its a fun place to get food and sit in some shade.

    The pre game drinking options are still awful for Nats Park. And by awful I mean walk from Eastern Market.

  8. Joey

    July 5, 2011 at 4:03 PM

    Fantastic post. I’m still an O’s fan, but live in the DC area so I follow the Nats now. Nothing wrong with liking both since they won’t play a meaningful game against each other until 2046.

    The gameday experience at Camden is ten times better than Nats Park, even with the Boog’s price increase. One additional observation: in Baltimore, there are some real people who may have paid for their tickets, as opposed to Nats Park crowd which is half attorneys and Cap Hill intern douches having conversations which shouldn’t be allowed in baseball stadiums.

    Also, Ravens fans are miserable cunts.

  9. Terps77

    July 6, 2011 at 2:31 AM

    “The hotel is aesthetically pleasing enough, but it removes the Baltimore skyline…”

    That hotel is a fucking abortion. It looks like a fucking prison and if it hant been built with tax dollars I would have it torn down as soon as humanly possible. The site of it makes me throw up in my fucking mouth.

  10. Johnny Blades

    July 6, 2011 at 7:43 AM

    Comparing Oriole Park (or most any ballpark) & Nationals Park is like comparing apples & diarrhea…so yeah, I guess they are “just different.”

  11. Trousers

    July 6, 2011 at 11:58 AM

    I <3 you all

  12. Fushezzi's Mom

    July 6, 2011 at 1:03 PM

    Understanding the partisanship of these two teams and parks-this was a cool and appreciated perspective.

    (Terps77 you’re an angry drunk, lay off the booze before posting).

  13. Terps77

    July 7, 2011 at 4:23 AM

    I may be all of those things, sir, but I despise that hotel.

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