I went to the Bosox/Orioles game on Wednesday afternoon with my two teenage sons and older brother. Camden Yards, although drawing a paucity of fans for teams not located in New York or Boston, is a still a splendid park to watch a game. After the fourth inning, in a close contest, I slipped off to an outdoor concourse for a smoke, when a younger guy asked for a light. We spoke for five minutes or so and he, noticing my Sox hat, said, "You know, I hope the O's win today. I just can't stand all this losing." Fair enough, I said, and we chatted about past great O's teams and the era, which he caught the tail end of, when Baltimore was the elite of American League East, both in play and class. We then heard the crowd roar and before heading back to our seats, shook hands and wished each other well.
Can you imagine that happening at Fenway or Yankee Stadium, where hostility is often the reigning emotion? After the game, in which the O's stunned the Sox with a grand-slammer by Jay Payton, I saw this fellow again. He smiled, and just said, "Man, that was a heck of a game." And I agreed, despite the fact my team lost. It really was an eye-opening moment; two serious fans talking without rancor about baseball.
For what it's worth, I think what Russ is describing is pretty common east of Baltimore, but yes, it is nice to see collegiality at the ballpark. As George Carlin once said:
In baseball, during the game, in the stands, there's kind of a picnic feeling. Emotions may run high or low, but there's not that much unpleasantness.Carlin wrote that in the early 80s. I get the sense that the difference these days is less stark than it used to be, at least along the east coast. Sure, drunken loutishness is way down from where it was in the 70s, but the intense emotion normally reserved for face-painting football fans is far more common than it used to be. Sometimes I think this is a good thing, sometimes bad, but as long as it isn't personal, I'm more or less fine with it.
In football, during the game in the stands, you can be sure that at least twenty-seven times you were perfectly capable of taking the life of a fellow human being.