Stadium name gives Baltimore freedom of choice


October 17, 1991|By JOHN EISENBERG

The great irony about the conclusion of the stadium-naming imbroglio is that, of course, it was no conclusion at all.

The new ballpark has a name, but we still don't know what we're going to call it.

It certainly won't be Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the given name.

Believe me, I have tried to envision it. Since the name was announced, I have spent much time in front of a mirror, much as Travis ("You talkin' to me?") Bickel did in "Taxi Driver," trying to make it sound right.

(Pretending I'm loitering at the office coffee machine:) "Hey, the Yankees are in town. Let's cut out of here and go to Oriole Park at Camden Yards. . . . "

No way.

(Imitating a radio anchorman giving the score from the night before:) ". . . dealing the Orioles a 5-2 loss last night before a full house at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. . . . "

No way.

It isn't just that the name is too long. There are other stadiums with longer names.

Oriole Park at Camden Yards is eight syllables. It gets blown away by Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, a dozen syllables. It can't even beat out Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, also eight syllables. (Yes, another near-miss for ol' Hubert.)

The problem is that it isn't a name, it's two names. It is the first stadium in history with a name that takes a -- screeeeech! -- sharp right turn halfway through.

All of the others are short and to the point. Ebbets Field. Texas Stadium. SkyDome. Somethingsuch Memorial.

Ours is Oriole Park (screeeeech!) and Camden Yards.

It is the first stadium ever given a name that sounds like a high school football game. (Oriole Park at Camden Yards? Camden Yards 17, Oriole Park 14.)

It reminds me of those parents who can't decide between a couple of names for their kid, so they used them all.

William Robert Joseph Stephen "Billy Bob" Smith.

At Camden Yards.

OK, so there is some precedent. We do live in a country called the United States of America. That's two names in one.

So you want to blame someone for waffling on the ballpark name, blame George Washington. He did it first.

But, honestly, how often in casual conversation does anyone other than Pat Buchanan call it "the United States of America"? Not often.

They call it America, or the United States, or the U.S., or the U.S.A.

The given name is just too formal for normal conversation. As is Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which people call "the Coliseum," or Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, which people call "the Hump."

We could try the initials route, like U.S.A., but I can tell you right now it wouldn't work. Our ballpark -- OPACY -- would sound like a chain of frozen-yogurt stores. (Oh Please Accept Crummy Yogurt.)

Nope, what we need is a simple name. A name like every other name of every other ballpark that's been built since Rome ruled the world. One that can be used in normal conversation. The people's name.

Please allow me to point out the choices:

* Oriole Park

* at

* Camden Yards

* the new stadium

* the stadium

* my stadium (seeing as you paid for it)

All of those sounded perfectly reasonable when I stood in front of the mirror doing my Travis Bickel thing.

My economical choice would be "at," which would take us from one of the longer stadium names to the absolute shortest ever.

Just think, we could make grammatical history as the first people ever to name a stadium after a preposition.

I guess I can see where the other choices might be sexier.

Just so you'll know, I canvassed some baseball writers from around the country during the American League playoffs. These are people who would rather take in a Brewers-Mariners exhibition than a Caribbean cruise. They're a little excessive. But they're also the conscience of the game.

They didn't care for Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Loved the stadium when they toured it, laughed at the name when they heard it. Said they weren't going to use it.

A few said they were going to use Oriole Park. But most thought that was redundant and unoriginal.

Most of the ball writers said they were going to call it Camden Yards.

Me, I think I'll use "the new stadium." Or Camden Yards. Depending on how I feel.

I guess that's the beauty of the name Oriole Park at Camden Yards, if there is indeed any beauty. You can call it whatever you want. It is the first multiple-choice name in the history of stadium-dom. It is a symbol of freedom of choice.

Why, there might even be one or two people out there who call it Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

One or two.

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