Among the first challenge of the day for the Orioles, even before they try to beat the New York Yankees, is to navigate that long run down the orange carpet. Every year O’s players joke about not tripping on that jog in. But in reality, it’s just a very special moment for each and every player.
They bask in the cheers of over 40,000 fans and soak it in on another Opening Day in Baltimore. Today Ryan Mountcastle is taking in his third opener in Baltimore.
“It’s crazy. I remember last year doing it," he said. "It’s definitely something that is a once in a lifetime type thing. It’s really cool. Gonna be happy to experience that and all these young guys too. Should be pretty exciting."
Outfielder Austin Hays, who has run down a few orange carpets, was asked if he has any advice for the young players going through their first Opening Days in Baltimore.
“Just enjoy every second of it,” he said. “Watch your step on that carpet, you can get caught up on it, it has happened in the past. So, watch your step and enjoy every second of it. It really is something special here in Baltimore. Been able to open up a couple of parks now and there is nothing like Camden Yards and the orange carpet is really cool.”
Hays said there is a bit of a different vibe for this opener with the club having won 83 games last and now poised to contend for the postseason.
“Just the amount of confidence this club has, from top to bottom (is big),” he said. “The young guys, the veteran players, everyone is meshing right now. We do expect to win every game. Something I couldn’t say in years past. It’s a really exciting time to be a Baltimore Oriole.”
And that might make Opening Day even a bit different in the stands this year, he said.
“Might be a little bit louder this year who knows," said Hays. "We’ll see if the fans are louder today, I think they will be. Driving to the field this morning, there were jerseys everywhere and fans everywhere. That is how it was before the Covid days. To just see the streets of Baltimore be covered in Orioles jerseys is really nice. We definitely feel the support as players and we’re excited."
Kyle Stowers is one of those young guys experiencing his first Baltimore opener.
"I've heard all about it. Seen videos of it. I'm excited to experience it myself. You can just feel the energy around the team and clubhouse and in the city especially. We can't wait," he said.
Another player going through his first opener here is bullpen pitcher Logan Gillaspie. A player that has pitched in just 20 MLB games, three this season.
What does today mean for him?
"Right now it's just another day. But probably when I get out there it's going to hit differently. Kind of excited," said Gillaspie.
Manager Brandon Hyde, during his pregame press conference today, talked about the vibe he feels from the fans around town, just since returning home from Texas yesterday.
“Just walking around a little bit, there are a lot more people that come up to you in a positive way about your club. That’s really nice, honestly. You want your fanbase to feel good about your team and you want people to want to watch your club. This is uplifting for the city too. People are following us and like our players and that’s really important."