This is a great infographic from the Orioles providing stats on the first 2,000 games played at Camden Yards:
The other night I decided to watch the Yankees-Red Sox game on ESPN. Probably because I was upset about the report of fan violence last week at Camden Yards. Apparently Orioles fans were harassing a Yankees fan during the Orioles-Nationals series last week. The Yankees fan ended up getting hurt. I wasn’t there, so I’ll just defer to the CNN report of the incident. The whole thing was disturbing. It brought to mind the incident of fan violence in Los Angeles in 2011. (Click here for the update on that incident.)
We like to pretend things like that don’t happen in our ballpark. How a fun outing to the ballpark can end up in violence is hard to understand. And much of the sociological literature on sport and violence really doesn’t explain individual instances of fan violence; it’s better at explaining instances of crowd violence and rowdiness, such as celebratory riots after a game. For example, sport sociologist Jay Coakley states that general violence at a sporting event is related to three factors: (1) the action in the sport itself, (2) crowd dynamics among the spectators at the event, and (3) the historical, social, economic, and political contexts in which the event is played. This might explain some of bad behavior, but not all of it.
Sport psychology also looks closely at crowd behavior. According to a recent article in Louisiana’s Health and Fitness Magazine, “Despite all of the positive bonding and emotional experiences that can occur rooting for a sports team, there are a number of ways in which the passion turns decidedly ugly. Being in a large crowd of emotionally charged people and having a tangible “enemy” in your presence can trigger terrible behavior. The nature of being in a crowd can affect the psyche of an individual. People lose their sense of inhibition (often aided by large quantities of alcohol).”
Thus, one explanation – from both sociology and psychology – is that identifying with your team provides a sense of belonging, and being at a stadium surrounded by other fans of your team can lead an individual to act differently than he or she might otherwise do. (And, yes, the alcohol may help alter one’s behavior.) If your sense of belonging or identity is threatened, you may act out violently to protect yourself or your team. Individual factors, such as emotions and personality, can also play a role. Emotions run high at sporting events – sometimes they get out of control. While this provides some explanation – and certainly no excuse – for fan violence, it doesn’t quite explain it all to me. More research needs to be done on this issue so solutions can be found.
As much as many of us love to hate the Yankees, we need to learn to separate our emotions from the game and realize that all fans share a love of the game. Besides, as President Obama once said, “the Yankees [are] easy to love.” That goes for their fans as well.
Camden Yards was rocking last night as the Baltimore Orioles took on their arch-rivals (who shall not be named) in the first game of the American League Division Series. The Orioles this year have been called upstarts, surprising, and even lucky. Maybe that’s why they represent this area and the city of Baltimore so well. We are completely underestimated.
Of course, one reason the fans love the Orioles so much, is that the team loves us back. It’s a beautiful relationship. Check out the video the Orioles are now playing on the scoreboard during games. I caught it for the first time at last night’s game, and it gave me chills and smiles:
July 11: Babe Ruth plays his first game with Boston, pitching a 4-3 win against Cleveland, however strikes out in his first at-bat (1914); Earl Weaver becomes the manager of the Baltimore Orioles (1968); Nolan Ryan becomes the first pitcher to record 4,000 strikeouts (1985); Cal Ripken, Sr., becomes the first manager to manage two sons when Billy Ripken makes his debut with the Baltimore Orioles joining brother Cal (1987).
July 12: Cy Young records his 300th victory with a 5-3 victory over the Philadelphia A’s (1901); Larry Doby, Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, and Don Newcombe are the first black players to appear in an All-Star game, held at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn (1949); fans overrun the field at Comiskey Park during “Disco Demolition Night,” causing the Chicago White Sox to forfeit the second game of a doubleheader (1979).
July 13: At the age of 43, Early Wynn wins his 300th game against the Kansas City Athletics (1963); the All-Star game is played at night for the first time at Shibe Park (1943); Kirby Puckett wins the MVP award at the All-Star game at Camden Yards (1993).
July 14: Hank Aaron hits his 500th home run (1968).
July 15: Johnny Bench breaks Yogi Berra’s record for home runs by a catcher when he hits his 314th home run (1980); the Seattle Mariners play their first game at Safeco Field after spending 22½ years at the Kingdome (1999).
July 16: Time Raines becomes the first switch hitter in Montreal Expos history to hit a home run from both sides of the plate in the same game at Olympic Stadium (1988).
Today the Orioles take on the Detroit Tigers for their home opener. I couldn’t let this important day go by without taking notice. Generally, I would take the day off and honor it appropriately. Unfortunately, that is not the case this year. However, my handy-dandy smart phone and I are ready and waiting for the 3:05 first pitch! Check out the latest news:
Happy Orioles Home Opener!