Neal Shaffer: What draws you to Camden Yards?

One thing we know for certain: Fourteen years of poor performance has taken a toll on the fan base. It has thinned the ranks of casual fans, of course; that much is obvious. But I believe it has thinned the ranks of die-hards as well. Across the board, there just aren't as many Orioles fans as there used to be.

The evidence is anecdotal but extant. That the O's are off to a decent start and the NFL draft still dominates sports talk radio says quite a bit. That online comment forums are often filled with naysayers says something, as well. That game attendance is routinely disappointing says the most.

And yet, even on a chilly Tuesday night in April against the Blue Jays, there is activity in the Yard. Not a lot and not as much as we'd like, but activity nonetheless. The 13,000 or so fans (that's a rough guess) aren't as many as it could be, but it's still a lot of people.

Which is to say, there are always reasons to see a live sporting event that extend beyond just a deep and abiding love of the team.

Let's say that of those 13,000, maybe 3,000 are die-hards - true fans who go whenever they can no matter what. That leaves most folks with their own reasons. Even if my made-up math is fuzzy beyond belief, it's still pretty clear that on any given night a majority of the fans in attendance are there not because they live and die with the team but for something else.

Maybe it's simply entertainment. Maybe it's the atmosphere and the fact that Camden Yards is an amazing place even under adverse circumstances. I have a feeling that a lot of it comes down to the natural pull that baseball has on many of us. The game is great even when the team isn't, and every trip to the Yard - or any stadium - represents a chance to see something you've never seen before and never will again.

That, however, is admittedly just me. And so I'm curious: What are your reasons for heading to Camden Yards in spite of the losing? And, as importantly, will you be doing that this year or have you reached a breaking point?

Neal Shaffer regularly blogs about the Orioles at The Loss Column, and his work appears here as part of MASNsports.com's initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our pages. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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