Here's the Scoop: May 16, 2012

I’ve got this one covered
Although I don’t do that much sports reporting these days, I recently volunteered to attend a game.
“I’ll cover the team that wears the orange and black, if that’s OK,” I said to the assignment editor.
Then, I added an extra generous offer, “You don’t even need to pay me, just pick up my expenses.”
He nodded absently, not concerned with the mileage bill for what he assumed was a round-trip to Roxbury.

As I had hoped, the “orange and black” comment had worked. Can I help it if the team I had in mind played in the best stadium in the country, Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore? I guess maybe I could have been a bit more specific.
Nevertheless, I figured it would all work out.

Coincidentally, even before getting the OK for this “assignment,” I had secured tickets for a contest pitting the Texas Rangers against my beloved Os. Or, as they have come to be known early in the season, “the surprising first-place Os.” The “first-place” part may not last, but I’m certainly enjoying it so far.
 
Getting crushed
In the first two games of the series, the Os hit a stumbling block on their march to the World Series. It seemed that Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton had decided to decimate a few home run records — and had cranked four long-range bombs in one game and led the Rangers to a couple of routs.

The next night, rain mercifully fell and washed out the contest. This was a chance for the Os to recover a bit. A doubleheader had been scheduled for the following day. Hmmm, this presented what I like to call an opportunity.

“Um, Dear, the Orioles are playing an extra game tomorrow when we’ll be in town. And, well, I really like baseball. And, um…”

“Yes, I’d love to go to the other game as well,” she responded before I could finish my plea/request.

That was easy, as they say at Staples.
So, we headed south with visions of plenty of baseball dancing in my head.
 
No charge
When we arrived at Camden Yards, something truly magical happened. We approached the ticket window and explained that we had seats for the nightcap (that’s baseball lingo for the second game of a doubleheader) and would like tickets for the opening contest.

“It’s an old-fashioned doubleheader. If you have tickets for today’s game, the first game is free,” the attendant informed us. This was said as he handed us our free T-shirts as part of a promotional giveaway.

I was momentarily dazed before blurting to my wife, “We’re not in New York anymore!”

The added benefit for the Catskill Mountain News was that the publisher wouldn’t need to pick up the tab for another set of tickets. While ticket prices are considerably less than those charged by the New York clubs, the concession stand rates can quickly reduce one’s appetite. And bank account.
Still, this was the ballpark and we were getting a free game, so I had to fork over some dollars for a few obligatory treats.

Before taking my bank account into dangerously low territory by purchasing a couple of frosty beverages, I asked the attendant about one particular brand of suds being offered. When I had paid the ransom — I mean the fair market value — for the brew, she asked me what I thought.
“I don’t really have an option at these rates,” I laughed.
 
Home team homers
Truthfully, I didn’t really care that much — knowing that my expenses for covering this game would be reimbursed.

At this point, it was time to sit back and enjoy the action. The Rangers went meekly. Now, it was the Orioles’ turn to bat. While I enjoy an old-fashioned pitching dual, I like to see some offense from my favorite team. I got my wish.

By the time three Baltimore players had batted, the team had three runs — each coming via a solo home run. This game marked the fourth time in the history of baseball that a team had started a game with three straight homers.

This was indeed special. Now, if I could just think of a painless way to present the mileage bill for the 660-mile trip and the refreshments…perhaps an orange and black T-shirt from a record-setting night would soften the blow.
Brian Sweeney

Editor’s note to Mr. Sweeney. I take an XL in the T-shirt category!