It wasn’t a typical spring Friday in Baltimore. Usually, the streets are filled with people, some wearing Orioles garb. Today I saw only one.
There haven’t been many people walking around downtown, patronizing restaurants or stores. While I would have preferred this weekend’s series against Tampa Bay be at home, the decision to play in St. Petersburg with all the oddities it brings was clearly the right one.
Even though this town is sports crazed, and could use a diversion, we’re probably not ready for games. Wednesday’s empty house was the best solution, and it worked out well, but to have three games with crowds this weekend, was just not the right thing.
Some fans would have preferred to have the games played in Washington. The Nationals aren’t home, but there were ticketing and staffing issues, and the games may not have drawn very well.
If there were night games, fans from Baltimore couldn’t have attended because they’d have to be back in town by the time the 10 p.m. curfew hits.
It’s best the team is away. At least everyone can have some fun joking about the poor crowds this weekend and the Orioles being the home team.
Seeing the National Guard riding in their armored vehicles or walking the streets with their guns isn’t terribly comforting. It’s alarming, but necessary.
I wish the constant whir of helicopters circling above my house would disappear, but we need them now.
The Orioles don’t have another home game scheduled until May 11. By then, the hope is things will have calmed down.
Fifteen days from now while the team is getting ready to play the Angels, the biggest sporting event in Baltimore, the Preakness, is scheduled.
That day requires an enormous police presence. Well over 100,000 fans crowd Pimlico, and it’s a big money maker for the city’s hotel and restaurant business, businesses that have taken a huge hit this week.
The Orioles have in effect lost five home games this week. There are 18,000 general admission seats in the lower bowl of Tropicana Field on sale for this weekend’s series.
Had the events of the past week not occurred, perhaps 100,000 fans would have been at the ballpark. The guess here is that maybe 10,000 show up this weekend.
As a longtime Baltimorean, I can only hope that baseball fans, conventioneers and other tourists aren’t scared away from the wonderful ballpark and our unique and diverse city.
But, that’s the optimist in me. Sadly, I know that it’s bound to have at least some effect.
Watching the Orioles play is my job, and a huge part of my life, but I’ll not be in St. Petersburg this weekend. I would have liked to have been there for the strangeness and the easy jokes my colleagues and I would make.
I’ll be viewing on TV, eager to focus on something else.