Sunday, September 08, 2013

Adventures In Baltimore 2013: Day One

Note: The following entry was written on Friday night, September 6. My laptop doesn't have WiFi, so I thought I'd write it out and upload it on a computer at the hotel. Well, that didn't work . . . and that's why you're reading this two days later.

            Here I am. In Baltimore. Again. Going to the Baltimore Comic Con for – I believe – the fourth time.

            I’m not being that fair. Sure, I’d want to go to a bigger show, but San Diego was out of the question this year, and Toronto wasn’t doable. On the bright side, I didn’t go to Wizard World Philadelphia for the second year in a row. After going there for so many years, I felt it lost a lot of luster. And that’s where Baltimore comes in . . . I stay at a nice hotel for two nights, drive both ways, and maybe get some tourism in. Last year, I managed to get in a visit at the Ripley’s Museum before seeing the Yankees whack the Orioles, thanks in part to Alex Rodriguez’s 300th homer as a Yankee. His 300th jack-up, PED-tainted home run. But enough about that.

            This time, I wound up getting out of the house early. The biggest bad news: I lost my good camera, leaving me with my cell phone and Bloggie; the latter was a Christmas present from my mother, a camera that is decent as long as there’s light. At the dim confines of TARCon? That’s not a good place for it. I can’t get a physical connection for my laptop, but I did bring an iPad that I won at a raffle. I’m breaking it in slowly, and I’m sure as hell not bringing it to the convention with me. I blubbered the time I lost a Camcorder and my sketchbook . . . imagine losing a state-of-the-art piece of hardware I lucked into. Anyway, getting out early was what I needed . . . according to my pedometer, I walked 14,170 steps today, and I have the chapped thighs to prove it.

Sheraton Inner Harbor

            Like most hotels, it’s too good for the likes of me. I have two double beds to choose from, four pieces of art on the wall, and a view of the Orioles’ and Ravens’ respective homes. I used to stay close to the airport, where I could get a shuttle there, and then take the light rail into the city. Today, I splurge for two days at a convention rate, then get out to play tourist.

National Aquarium: Baltimore

            I wound up going further into the Inner Harbor than ever before. I never had time to go there before today. It’s all indoors . . . bad news if you’re looking for seals or penguins. The last time I visited an aquarium was when I hit Coney Island last year, before Hurricane Sandy wrecked the New York Aquarium. The biggest memory I have was the overwhelming musk of an up-close female walrus. In Baltimore, most of the animals are behind glass. There was a dolphin show, which was fun, but most of the exhibits weren’t that up close. There was a lot to see, and I took too many pictures . . . up to and including the feeding of the puffins. By the way, when I told my mother about them, she told me about how a co-worker went to Iceland and ate puffin. Why, Mom?

Sports Legends Museum

            If you’re into sports, this is a good place to go . . . unless you’re a Browns fan, bitter how Art Modell carpertbagged the original team to Baltimore, and that the Ravens have won two Super Bowls. Or if you’re a Giants fan still bitter Ray Lewis wasn’t in jail during Super Bowl XXXV, winning MYP honors.

            Baltimore has a rich tradition with sports, going back to the original Baltimore Orioles of the 19th Century, before they moved to New York and became the Highlanders (the ancestor for the Yankees). The Orioles’ exhibit broke the city’s history with baseball into nine innings, going through the city’s minor league Orioles, the former St. Louis Browns that moved to Baltimore in 1953, and the Orioles’ titles in 1966, 1970 and 1983. Natch, there’s also a lot on Cal Ripken, among other legends. The Museum also holds the Orioles Hall of Fame. I wound up taking a picture of a small exhibit dedicated to Davey Johnson, who won several Gold Gloves and two World Series rings long before leading the Mets to their last title in 1986.

            There were also exhibits dedicated to such things as the Colts, college sports, the Ravens, the soccer team known as the Blast, and Babe Ruth. While the Bambino is usually connected with Boston and New York, he was born and raised in Baltimore. And for a few extra bucks, you can follow a trail of baseballs on the sidewalk past Camden Yards and towards . . .

Babe Ruth Museum & Birthplace

            I vaguely remember coming here with my folks in 1994. It’s rather small with two floors of exhibits. It’s worth visiting if you’re in the area, with pictures of players who have hit 500 home runs (including some of the more stained members), lots of stuff on The Babe (including two banners’ worth of nicknames he had), and a theater. Today, I got to see how “The Star-Spangled Banner” was first connected to baseball. Fittingly, it was during World War I, at the 1918 World Series. It was played in the middle of the seventh inning, normally reserved for “Take Me Out To The Ballgame.” The winning pitcher? Babe Ruth of the Boston Red Sox. It all comes back to the Sultan of Swat, it seems.

Orioles Park At Camden Yards

            If the Orioles are in town, I have to see them. It’s my one Major League game of the year. I got an affordable seat, and I wound up eating a “Beer Can Chicken,” which was a giant leg and thigh. I would’ve gotten a hot dog, but I stupidly got one at the Aquarium because it was cheap. For the second year in a row, the O’s are in contention for the postseason, and they get the hapless Chicago White Sox for a four-day weekend series.

            This time, I have the time to write about the game. Because I’m a geek, I kept score. I always keep score. I had to run out of my seat and back to get ice cream, just so I don’t miss anything. It’s a sickness. Anyway, the game started as a duel between pitchers John Danks and Scott Feldman. Danks managed to get the first eight Orioles out, all on fly balls. But then he gave up a homer to designated hitter Danny Valencia, putting the O’s up, 1-0. Feldman got into trouble in the fourth inning, giving up a two-out hit to Jordan Danks (any relation? No clue). That would’ve drove in Jeff Keppinger from second base, but Adam Jones threw a one-bounce strike to the plate to nail Keppinger and end the inning.

            Last year, I groaned seeing A-Rod go deep. Tonight, I got to see Chris “Crush” Davis go deep for his 49th homer in the fifth inning, just as Jenks’ odometer went past 100 pitches. Jenks followed that up with another bad pitch to Matt Wieters, who made it back-to-back homers. Combined with another Valencia RBI (infield hit in the fourth inning), the Orioles went up 4-0, and Jenks was taken out.

The rest of the game was relatively uneventful. Relievers Jake Petricka and Daniel Webb stopped the bleeding for the Pale Hose, but it was too late. The star of the game was Feldman, who pitched a complete game, five-hit shutout for his twelfth win. The crowd was into it . . . I saw patches of empty seats, but it wasn’t as bad as seeing Rogers Centre from above in the CN Tower back in 2011.

Tomorrow should be another full day as I go to the convention. I got references printed up, and I should be well-rested. I don’t think I can top 14,000 steps tomorrow, but I’m sure it won’t be dull

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