How was your Saturday? Improbably enough, mine included an audition for a MASN Orioles commercial. Several weeks ago, I was contacted by someone at MASN. Apparently, they were planning an ad campaign focusing on regular fans sharing their memorable Orioles (and Nationals, ehh) moments. I'd participated in a discussion thread at Camden Chat on just that very topic, and they liked my response enough to bring me in for the audition. So at noon today, I dolled myself up in my new "Baltimore" road jersey and my Angry Bird hat and drove up to Fall Road to the studio. I got a bit flustered because I had trouble finding the building (poor signage), which made me a few minutes late. But it turned out that they weren't ready for me yet, so I had a chance to sit in the waiting room and gather myself.
When I got there, there was an older man in Nationals gear ahead of me. We talked baseball for a bit. His memorable moment was Ron Belliard's walkoff home run against George Sherrill, which I remembered all too well. It was another crushing loss during the O's inexplicable streak of Sunday defeats, and I was watching it on TV at our hotel in Ocean City. Not the best start to vacation. While we waited, the woman who had signed us in passed out our checks. I was thrilled with the promise of $150 just for showing up and talking about the Orioles; I would have done it for free. (I can safely say that now that I have the check!) Shortly after I arrived, another young guy with an orange Orioles warmup jersey bustled in. He sat next to me and I happened to mention that I'd been contacted after posting on Camden Chat. It turned out that this guy, whose name was Joe, was a fellow Camden Chatter! With that as an icebreaker, we passed the time chatting about the O's and football. After about an hour, I got called in to face the casting tribunal.
My jersey got some attention right away, as one of them mentioned to the others that the jersey should definitely be in the wardrobe for the commercial shoot (scheduled for mid-February), because it's part of the new uniform, and the "Baltimore" across the chest hasn't been there for 20 years and it's "a big deal". I just couldn't help myself, and I piped up that it was more like 35 years. First, Peter, who was operating the camera and doing most of the talking and instructing (and whose name was the only one I remembered), prompted me to tell my story. I'd rehearsed it in my head all week, going to Baseball Reference to fact-check the little details.
It was June 19, the final game of a six-game interleague homestand in which the Birds had come from behind to win four of the first five. (They'd also battled back from 4-0 in the one loss before dropping it in extra innings.) The point was that I believed, for the first time in years, that they could win any game, no matter what the circumstances. After falling behind 2-0 early in this one, they used three home runs to take a 7-3 lead going into the ninth inning. Dennis Sarfate loads the bases with one out, and George Sherrill is brought in to save the day. I turn up the bill of my hat to flatten it, for good luck. He coaxes a fly ball for the second out. So it's 7-4 and Miguel Tejada is up. He singles, it's 7-5 and I start to sweat it. Lance Berkman, one of the best hitters in the National League, is up representing the winning run. George gets two quick strikes and Camden Yards comes alive. I'm on my feet now, whipping my hat around in my hand (here I act it out), chanting, "Sweep! Sweep! Sweep!" Sure enough, it's a shallow fly ball to left, Jay Payton camps out under it, and makes the catch. Game over!
Okay, I wasn't quite that verbose, but it was close. They seemed impressed with my level of recall, so I admitted that I'd checked up on myself. Now Peter helped me condense it to the meat and potatoes, essentially jumping to the two-strike pitch. Then he asked me to work with a crude script centered around the previous Friday's game against the Pirates. It was a bit strange, since it was a moment someone else had submitted. He had me improvise a scenario in which I watched the game with a friend who was down on the Orioles and giving me a hard time about them falling behind 6-0. There was some youthful banter he was looking to get, probably trying to place me in a "smack-talking young guys" demographic. I was encouraged to get fired up, and to use colloquialisms like "Dude". I pushed through it a few times, feeling a little more awkward and less genuine, but I realize that if I get the commercial I'm not going to be doing 100% of my own material. As we wrapped up, Peter tossed out a few shouts of elation that I might want to work in, and I took his cues. Caught up in the moment, I let out a loud hoot of joy, which is the sort of thing that I really would do if the O's pulled out a big win, regardless of whether I was at the stadium or in front of the TV. That got a good laugh from the group, and I hope it was a good note to leave on.
There are more auditions next weekend, and I assume that I'll know the verdict shortly thereafter. For now, it looks like my acting background and my obsession with sports have intersected in an unexpected way.