It might have been the singing of Seven Nation Army (which by now you may think was written by a Baltimorean) or maybe the O-R-I-O-L-E-S chant led by the Oriole Bird. We may not know why Dan Schulman of ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball said “this might be the loudest baseball crowd we’ve seen this year,” but he did.
The “loudest stadium,” or “best home-field advantage,” or “hardest arena to play in” debate may never be solved in any sport. However, it sure was nice to hear some praise of Camden Yards, especially on national television.
Although many cities or college towns can make a case for their stadium or arena being the best environment in their specific sport, not many fans have multiple teams to boast about, something Baltimore fans are welcoming with open arms. It is easy to understand why a sub-par team would have sub-par fans, but not vice versa. Which is exactly why Miami fans were under such scrutiny when a mass exodus took place when the Heat were on the verge of elimination from the finals, only to come back to win. The current crop of Baltimore sports fans have proven themselves from their attendance and passion at Ravens games. So when the O’s gave the city something to cheer about, I think we all knew what the outcome would be.
Year in and year out, the atmospheres seen on television throughout the country when Game 1 of the division series rolls around impress me thoroughly. The towels come alive, in some cases the rally monkeys are flying through the crowd, and suddenly baseball stadiums are electric; a feeling that is seemingly not present during the regular season.
Baltimore is no exception. I witnessed – or better yet, heard first-hand – the Oriole crowd during Game 2 of the ALDS last season. Jim Johnson was facing Alex Rodriguez with a 3-2 count and 2 outs in the top of the 9th, ultimately striking him out to end the game. I have been to Ravens vs. Steelers and Maryland vs. Duke; this did not compare. According to Craig Sager, who was broadcasting the game for TBS, the noise reached 120 decibels and he too said, “this is the loudest crowd I’ve heard in sports.”
So when Schulman dubbed Oriole fans the “loudest baseball crowd,” what was he really saying? He was saying that the ball club was rewarded—playing on national television—and the city responded with a playoff atmosphere, on June 30th.
It is not realistic to expect that playoff atmosphere at 81 home games every year, but I think Schulman would agree that when your team is in the spotlight – which hasn’t been very often for the Orioles over the last decade – the team and city should show up.
While Robinson Cano was using toothpaste to get grass stains out of pinstripes, Chris Davis was living up to his own Sunday Night Baseball commercial, “crushing” homeruns off of Yankee pitchers. At a ballpark where you would normally see pinstripes in the stands when the Yankees come to town, this time was different. The green seats were filled with fans in orange – very loud fans in orange.