I'm outside Camden with a huge mob of fans in black "Free the Birds" t-shirts. We just walked here from the Hard Rock Cafe. "Hey Hey Ho Ho Greedy Petey's Got to Go," they shouted. "Yankees Suck!" they shouted. "Pull Peter Out!" they shouted. '"Sell the Team!" they shouted. "Bring Cal In!" they shouted. "We Want Earl!" they shouted. "Free the Birds!" they shouted. "Pee-ter, Pee-ter," they shouted. "Where are the Hooters girls!" they shouted. The shouts were occasionaly louder when the TV cameras were pointed in the right direction.
The crowd apparently started gathering around 11:30 a.m. When I arrived, there were two people dressed like Pirates wandering around, hundreds of people drinking beer and "Welcome to the Jungle" playing on the radio. The centerpiece was the "Peter O Meter," a meter whose various levels included "No Baltimore on Away Uniforms," the Albert Belle signing, the Jon Miller/Davey Johnson/Pat Gillick firings, the nine straight losing seasons, and at one extreme, "Free the Birds" and "Peter Must Go." Then they played "We're Not Gonna Take It."
Nasty Nestor Aparicio, the organizer from WNST, took the mic. "I'm hoping no one gets arrested," he said. "I certainly hope no one resorts to violence....It's one of the great days of my life....It feels like Opening Day....The New York Times has called. ESPN's called. Sports Illustrated has called....Let's have 15 more minutes of hard drinking, and then we're gonna walk all together. Drink two more beers, we'll walk over, we'll buy some hot dogs, we'll raise some hell."
A few folks were wearing t-shirts that had a picture of Angelos in Nazi gear, with a Hitler moustache and a Hitler salute. "Adolf Angelos," the shirts said. "Mein Teampf." Noted without comment. ("It's not about Hitler, it's about him being a dictator," the shirt's creator, Tom Jones, said when I asked.)
I asked Nasty Nestor how many protestors would be here. "We'll find out, won't we?" he said. "It beats what we've been doing, which is nothing."
I asked him to compare Angelos with Mister Snyder. "Daniel Snyder's winning right now," Nestor said. "He'll get away with it until he doesn't win, but he's a bad person. Ask any of his ex-employees. He's a bad man, and I don't know if you need to be bad to get money. Peter Angelos has wealth and he's the most hated man in Baltimore. Is that wealth? That's poverty, man."
As usual, I asked random people to explain why they were here, in 20 words or less.
Philip Misey: Too many childhood memories with my father.
Brian Palmer, 29: I love the Orioles. I love Baltimore. And I want the Orioles to love Baltimore again.
Greg Palmer, 27: Can I use words like 'bad' and 'sad?' I'm sick of being apathetic.
Anonymous: How 'bout one word: Angelos.
Nasty Nestor: I'm here because I love the Baltimore Orioles, and the Baltimore Orioles have been gone a long, long time.
John Grang, 37: I miss the old Orioles. I want 'em back.
Tommy Wimmer, 21: Very simple; we are sick of losing to the Blue Jays.
Tim Wise, 36: Farm system, farm system, farm system. F, F, F.
Jolene Chelden, 35: Wanna beer?
Tina Yarish, 27: We're the laughingstock of the American League.
Dan Yarish, 28: This guy's just as bad as Irsay.
Yoni Rosenblatt, 24: It's been 24 years of misery.
Cassie Storrer, 28: What are they trying to free, do you know? I'm from New York so this doesn't mean much to me. I only care about pinstripes.
Anonymous usher: I've been here for 14 years; there's not one face in this crowd that I recognize.
By the way, I'm glad that I paid $9 for a ticket, and $3.25 for a "total convenience charge," and $3.25 for an "order processing charge, and $2 for "TicketFast delivery" for a game that I'll be leaving after an hour.