Next Tuesday, I will be going somewhere I haven't been to in almost nine years--I will be attending a baseball game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
I won't go into detail, but when Cal Ripken Jr. retired, it kind of ended things for me as an Orioles fan. Once Cal was gone, it was as if the last link to their great past was severed. I guess I picked a good time to bail out, since the team has been painfully bad for years. I don't know if I could have handled a 30-3 drubbing at home. They're still my team, but I will need some encouragement to start going to games regularly again. Like Cal becoming the GM.
All of that said I do really miss Camden Yards. It is still my favorite place on earth to see a baseball game. Oriole Park is still the standard even as 19 beautiful new ballparks have sprung up since. It is somehow both reverent to its predecessors and at the same time completely original.
But I digress. For the 2010 season, the Orioles are giving away a free ticket to fans for their birthday months, and my wife (who, God bless her, was kind enough to be born in April as well), my sister (born in March) and I will be taking advantage of the opportunity to see a free ballgame.
Go to the Orioles' website, specifically the birthday section, enter a bunch of personal information in order to receive approximately 10,000 promotional e-mails per month from the Birds, and they send will you an e-mail voucher. You can then take this voucher to the ticket office on game day for a free upper reserved ticket. What's a better birthday gift than a ballgame?
The Atlanta Braves offered this promotion last season, but I couldn't find anything saying it was being offered this year, so I assume it isn't unless they're keeping it a secret (I could e-mail them and find out I suppose, but I'm not going to Atlanta anytime soon). Given that the Braves are likely to be competitive this season, they're probably expecting not to have to give tickets away just to get people in the park to buy souvenirs and hot dogs. The Orioles, having had 12 straight losing seasons, suffer no such quandary. No other team that I know of is offering this, but I haven't checked them all, and chances are if a team is bad, they might.
The best part is I can take a bunch of pictures for my Oriole Park chapter that is more or less complete, check out whether all of the tips in it are valid, and get a free Matt Wieters T-shirt for showing up on a "T-shirt Tuesday", all without spending a dime except for gas and parking. The only green I'm likely to part with inside the place is at Noah's Pretzels, where I can buy the celiac-afflicted love of my life a gluten-free soft pretzel.
The Orioles could stand to cut a fan some slack after they charged me to watch Matt Riley get his lunch from the Yankees back in 1999. There should have been a refund for O's fans that night. Heaven knows the Orioles made a bunch of money, and not all of it deserved, from this fan. I should be in their Hall of Fame as a benefactor.
Nevertheless, I'll take this, and it's a pretty cool thing for the Birds to do.
Free birthday ticket from the O's here: www.orioles.com/birthdays
Ballpark Insider Blog: http://ballparkinsider.mlblogs.com/