Here are some assorted thoughts about my trip to Camden Yards on Friday night...
- It has been stated many times already on this site, but there were a lot of Reds fans at the game Friday night. We got there early and had seats behind the Reds dugout about 25 rows up. There were gobs of Reds fans standing along the 3rd base wall watching the Reds stretch. While we were there, the only Red who signed any autographs was Mike Leake, who signed for 4 kids (including my 6-year-old son's Reds hat). Still, Leake never spoke, and he didn't smile. MLB ought to be encouraging players to interact with the fans more than this before the games, especially hard-core fans (and their kids) from visiting teams that travel from hundreds or thousands of miles away.
- The stadium is wonderful. I've been many times before, so I knew this. Unfortunately, the sound system is way too loud. I spent all night telling my son, "Speak up, I can't hear you!" This was probably my least favorite aspect of the trip (besides the Reds losing, of course).
- If the sound was my least favorite aspect, the souvenirs were a close second. I'm there with my 6-year-old son. Like me, he's a Reds fan. There were no souvenir shops that sold anything but Orioles stuff. Now, inside the stadium, I get that. But how can there not be some enterprising soul who can stand on the street and sell caps or tee shirts of the opposing team??? Is this not allowed? What am I supposed to do? I can either tell my kid he'll get nothing and like it, or I can buy him Orioles crap and hope he doesn't decide to become an Orioles fan. I ultimately sucked it up and forked out 6 bucks for some silly bands. He wanted them because they were silly bands, and definitely not because they were for the Orioles. I can live with that.
- When we first arrived, the usher asked if it was my son's first Orioles game. I said it way, so he directed us to Fan Assistance. We went in, and they presented my son with a certificate labeling him the "Most Valuable Orioles Fan." They asked if he wanted the Orioles button that went with it. He said no. We threw the certificate in the trash later. (Although we did keep a pocket schedule from the packet. My son was quite adept at making use of the seating map on the schedule to find where we were.)
- They had a pretty nice firework show after the game. We didn't see it. We left as soon as Lee's homerun left the yard.
Game notes (in no particular order):
- Chris Heisey didn't look great on one fly ball that was hit over his head.
- Brandon Phillips tried to make a spectacular behind-the-back flip to first on one play. He was too far from first for that to work, and he had plenty of time to just throw across his body for the out.
- Ramon Hernandez must be taking base-running lessons from Edinson Volquez. He didn't get thrown out, but he was very sloppy out there a couple of times giving the O's a chance to get him where there really shouldn't have been any question. (To be fair, on his double, Markakis made a shockingly awesome throw that looked like it was going to be cut off. Hernandez didn't see the throw coming through, but neither did any of us.)
- Paul Janish looked overmatched all night. Considering I was really hoping to see Cozart starting at short, it really made the weak at bats of Janish stand out. Stubbs also looked terrible at the plate. They each had a hat trick, I believe.
- There were several bad calls on the bases - most of which went against the Reds. Jonny Gomes was thrown out on a ground ball that it looked like he beat out. Still, it shouldn't have been close, as the pitcher took forever to react. I think he thought the 3rd baseman was going to make a play on the ball.
- From the angle we were sitting at, it appeared that the plate umpire was calling a very low strike zone. It didn't help Volquez any at all though. He couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. He seemed to start out behind on every batter. He walked four in the first two innings before giving up a home run to Adam Jones in the third. He clearly wasn't getting the job done, but I would have only gone to the bullpen one batter earlier than Dusty did. Volquez walked a batter in the 5th, and I would have made the change there. Dusty left him in for Lee to double over Heisey's head. Fortunately, Dusty brought in Sam LeCure with the two runners on.
- LeCure was awesome! I never hear anyone talk about his stuff, but he looked great. By far, he was the best pitcher to throw on the night. He has a wicked curve that was about 71-73, a change 82-84, and a fastball 91-93. Everyone he faced looked overmatched.
- I mentioned this in comments elsewhere, but Jay Bruce was really playing a long way off the line in right. He was a good 25 feet farther off the line than Nick Markakis was playing for the Orioles. Even with a left-hander up, he shaded more toward left than Markakis was playing on the righties in the Reds line-up. It didn't seem to help either. The ball that the O's second baseman hit to drive in the first two runs hung up in the air forever, and it felt like Stubbs or Bruce one should have been able to get there. I don't think Bruce should have been able to get there if he was playing where he belonged, but I wonder if his positioning also leaves Stubbs out of position to make plays that he should make.
- Speaking of Stubbs, he flat-out dropped a ball in extra innings. There's no excuse for that.
One last thing. I sat next to a guy from Dayton. He said he had a partial season ticket plan to see the Dragons. I asked him about a few of their guys. He liked D'Anna at first, but he indicated that Billy Hamilton has a LONG way to go to be anything. I think we all know that, but he was far more skeptical than I have been about Hamilton eventually figuring it all out.