Next we wandered down to the bullpen picnic area, where Jim Hunter and Rick Dempsey were recording the live pre-game show. Todd gave us some more information on MASN (they've been increasing the number of games broadcast in high-definition each year, and next year they're hoping to get the go-ahead from the cable providers to air each and every O's and Nats game in HD; they'd be interested in providing more original content like documentaries and talk shows, but for the first few years, just producing and airing the games took most of their focus; and so forth).
Various MASN talent stopped in throughout the night. Rick Dempsey watched most of the game on the flat screens in the suite and seemed to take copious notes. I briefly talked to him about the season-long infusion of young talent. In the middle innings, I introduced myself to longtime O's reporter Roch Kubatko. While we were talking, Orioles GM Andy MacPhail appeared on-camera in the broadcast booth and a hush fell over the suite. I didn't realize it at the time, but he'd just announced that top prospect and mythological hero Matt Wieters would officially be making his major league debut in this Friday night's home game against the Tigers. That explains why Roch rushed off almost immediately afterward. But the most unexpected moment came when I spotted Al Bumbry across the room, helping himself to a meal. When he walked over to the partition between the suite and the adjoining balcony to watch the action, I came over to say hello and to ask him what brought him there. "Just hanging out", he replied. Such are the perks of being the 1973 A.L. Rookie of the Year.
Speaking of the ballgame...believe it or not, I did find time to watch it! Of course, with a temperature in the fifties and a steady light rain for a Tuesday night game against the Blue Jays, I didn't have much company. I was part of a Camden Yards-record-low crowd of 10,130 (paid attendance; my eyeballs told me that the butts in the seats were even fewer). I was thankful to be able to retreat indoors, but I did sit outside for most of the first and last few innings, as well as the odd moment in between. O's starter Jason Berken didn't light the world on fire in his big league debut, but he kept his cool and Houdini'd his way out of ten Toronto baserunners, allowing just two runs in five innings. Perhaps bolstered by the news that Matt Wieters was on his way, the Baltimore bats picked up the slack from the middle of the game onward. Aubrey Huff, Adam Jones, and Nolan Reimold all hit no-doubter home runs, and Matt Albers and Jim Johnson slammed the door shut with four innings of scoreless relief. It was the perfect capper to an exciting night of VIP treatment.