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As a "recovering" middle school teacher with a unique outlook on life, I stopped active teaching in 2010 and moved into another career path... writing! Here goes! In addition, I am a travel buff, forever baseball addict, movie fan, music fan, foodie extraordinaire, NCIS devotee, gardener, and more.

Just love writing for kids, travel writing and basic journalism. Pretty unusual, since I taught Home Economics! But there's a story here too - a non-fiction one or more...

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Majors or Minors?

Rule # 15 – Write your observations

     Decisions… decisions… Do I want Oriole Magic? Or do I want someone to “Knock my ‘Sox off”?
Does it really make a difference? I mean, it’s only baseball, right? Well…you be the judge.
     We live in nirvana for baseball fans. We have two major league teams, Orioles and Nationals. Add to that the many minor league affiliates all over Maryland and Virginia. So, a true baseball fan doesn’t need Comcast or FiOS to get MASN or MASN2 to get their baseball fix. Live games are all over. But at what price? Is this the arena for the rich or occasional fan? Or can anyone play?
Mile post for minor league teams and locations
     The answer is a definite yes…and no. Let’s take a look at this dilemma starting with true numbers and a sample set of teams.
     The Bowie Baysox are the local (like down the street from me local) Class AA team for the Orioles. They play in Prince George’s Stadium in Bowie, just off Routes 3 and 50. Drive down to PG Stadium and park for free. Tickets to the games range from $10 to $18, depending on where you sit. The stadium itself is smaller in size, so it doesn’t take many tickets for a sellout.
Prince George’s Stadium – home of the Bowie Baysox
     The venue is geared toward children. There is a carousel in the right field concourse area, along with a playground. The game I was at also had Bugs Bunny, Tweety Bird and Sylvester the Cat in attendance. Louie, the Baysox mascot, was all over the crowd, talking to the children, taking pictures with them, and as the centerpiece for many of the between-inning games.
Bugs Bunny greets Baysox fan
Louie leads dancing between innings
     By comparison, Oriole Park at Camden Yards is “the Bigs”. Here is where the players make some big money, and the prices for items show it. Tickets can run from $20 to $75 dollars, depending on your seat – and the team the O’s are playing. Yankees, Red Sox, and any other division winners from the year before command higher ticket prices. Parking isn’t free downtown. Lot prices fluctuate from $35 dollars at the Hilton garage to $9 for distance parking and a nice hike to the ballpark. Some of the garages are hooked into Parking Panda, so you can get a discount by purchasing ahead online.
Oriole Park from the left field seats
     Camden Yards does its best to be totally fan friendly, no matter the age of the fan. The Little Bird playground area has batting cages, pitching practice, picture areas, and more. The Orioles have many kids’ days in their home schedule, where kids can run the bases after the game. Many players sign autographs by the dugout during pre-game warm-ups.
     Food at both stadiums is comparable in price. I bought a cheeseburger, fries and a beer at the Baysox game for $17.50. I didn’t find any crabcakes, or ethnic foods at the Baysox stadium like there is at Camden Yards.
     Basic economic theory says that the more competition in an area, the better it is for the consumer. Well, there’s plenty of competition for consumer’s sports dollars around here. With the Nationals and Orioles at the major league level and a variety of minor league teams within an hour or two from home, this area is saturated – and for our benefit. Oriole Park becomes Yankee Stadium south when the Yankees come to town. It becomes Fenway south when the Red Sox come in. It’s actually less expensive for a Boston or New York fan to take the Amtrak to Baltimore, get a Camden Yards ticket and stay over here than it is to go to a game in their own home park.
     For baseball purists, though, it doesn’t matter where you play the game. The Baysox play exciting baseball, just like the Orioles. The game I saw recently saw the Baysox jump out to a 6-0 lead. They held a big lead until… the 8th and 9th innings when Portland came back and made it close. The Baysox play like their big brother Orioles in that respect. Many Orioles are sent to Bowie as part of Buck Showalter’s revolving door policy for players. On any given evening, you could see Matt Weiters or Jonathan Schoop working their way off the disabled list at Bowie. The Baysox boys are making names for themselves. I recognized many of them from spring training in Sarasota. Here’s a familiar one – Yaztremski. Yes, Mike Yaztremski is the grandson of Red Sox legend Carl Yaztremski. He’s working his way to the bigs at Bowie.
Pregame fanfare at Camden Yards

     So which location has the best deals in baseball? It depends on what you want. Close up and small stadium leads you to a minor league park, like Bowie. Lower prices for a family event takes you to a minor league park, too. If you want the big league party experience, a major league park like Camden Yards is your place. Plan your visit to either type of park through mlb.com. Here you can scroll to your favorite major league team's website. Within your team's site, you can get to their minor league affiliates. From there, just pick your seat, buy your ticket and enjoy your baseball experience.
     I'll see you at the Ball Park!

Pictures are the property of Marge McGugan. No reuse without permission.

Text also appears in “A View from the Passenger’s Seat”, Arden on the Severn Newsbuoy, July 2015

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