The Orioles Ruined Camden Yards

The ballpark was the only thing they had going for them.

Twitter @MASNOrioles

Remember all of the hubbub when the Mets messed with Citi Field back in 2011? When they made some tweaks to a park that was only three years old by bringing the walls?

I don’t know about you, but I remember quite a stir.

Then they did it again three years later — bringing the right field walls in even closer. They said it had nothing to do with the team’s performance, but the goal of baseball is to score more runs than the other team and the Mets just weren’t doing that.

The outcry! I remember a lot of, “We can just put the walls wherever we want to help our team?” when some changes look specifically designed for David Wright’s power.

That’s nothing compared to what the Orioles have done to Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

OPACY has long been known as one of the best ballparks in the game. Forbes ranked it #2 in 2018. NBC Sports ranked it #5 in 2020. Fox Sports also ranked it #5 in 2021. And those are just the bozos who get paid to rank them — it’s also a big hit with the fans. Whenever I tell someone that Camden Yards is my home ballpark, I’m usually met with words like “perfect” and “cathedral” and “patty melt.”

Even the world’s most famous ballhawk, infamous professional fan Zack Hample, the man who has snagged over 11,000 baseballs in 61 MLB parks, was quoted multiple times saying that Camden Yards was his favorite place to take in a game. (Here he is in 2016, 2018, and 2019 saying just that.)

Well, not anymore:

Not only does Zack take issue with the COVID excuse gate times that only allow fans in one hour before first pitch, but he, and many others, are shocked with the changes that the Orioles organization made to the left-field wall at Camden. In January 2022 they announced some changes:

The club told The Baltimore Sun it began construction this week to alter Oriole Park at Camden Yards’ left-field dimensions to try to reduce the stadium’s propensity for home runs. The changes — the first to the size of the iconic ballpark’s playing area in two decades — will raise the wall’s height from 7 feet to about 12 feet and move it back as much as 30 feet, according to information provided by the team. Major League Baseball approved the adjustments, which will cover the area from the left-field corner to the bullpens in the left-center field.

For a long time, Camden was known as a home run park. Sex sells, violence sells, and home runs sell — but when the home runs are being hit by the visiting team, they do anything but sell.

It went from being one of the best ballparks for long bombs to one of the worst overnight.

And this all came to head when the Stanky Yankees came to town for a four-game series. In game 2, Aaron Judge hit two home runs but was robbed of a third (and his first 3 HR game) when he sent one directly to the dead zone that is the new left field in Camden.

That double, which he tried stretching to three bags but was thrown out at third, would have been a home run in 29 of the 30 MLB parks. Only Camden Yards could hold that one in.

Despite winning the game, Judge and the Yanks boo-hood about “create-a-park” (the irony!) and how this new change is hurting teams.

Baseball Twitter started passing the memes around:

But forget the Yankees, forget the Orioles, and forget the fans — this change is about the institution that is a ballpark and what that means. You never saw them push back the left-field wall on one of the Great Pyramids — did you?

There are two things that those who like baseball can agree on about baseball.

First, the history of the sport.

Baseball is the sport with the richest history. Despite only being thirty years old, Camden is the 9th oldest park in the majors. We’ve torn down the places where Willie Mays made The Catch (Polo Grounds), Hank Aaron hit 715 (Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium), Lou Gehrig told us he was the luckiest man on the face of the earth (Old Yankee Stadium), and the disaster that was Ten Cent Beer Night (Cleveland Stadium).

As your favorite team gets a new ballpark every few decades (The Braves have played in three different parks over the past 30 years), I think it’s important to preserve the good ones. Keep the ones with history. Why are we ruining the reputation of the place where Cal Ripken played #2,130 or where Chris Davis tried to fight his manager? This is a sacred place.

And the second thing: don’t forget that baseball should be fun. It is a game after all.

Following in the footsteps of AL East rivals Boston and Toronto, the O’s wanted to come up with their own home run celebration. Something to pump them up, if nothing else. They’ve started wearing a home run chain with the logo on it. They’re kinda like Jerry Beads.

They’ve even started selling knock-offs in the team store.

But the question begs to be asked: How often will it get worn? The Orioles currently rank 23rd in home runs.

They said they pushed back the wall to cut down on the other team’s home runs, but what about their own? Sex sells, violence sells, and home runs sell. And they need something to sell if Ryan Mountcastle is on the injured list, Cedric Mullins is ice cold, and Adley Rutschman is stuck in Norfolk.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The park wasn’t broke — the team was. And is.

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Want to keep updated with the column? Find it on Instagram @theboywholovedjoekelly and Twitter @boywholovedmlb

You’ll also be able to read an extension of this column somewhere very exciting in the near future. Announcement as soon as next week.



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