BaltimoreBaseball.com publisher Steve Cockey covered the Orioles’ first intrasquad game on Wednesday night at Camden Yards, and we asked him what the experience was like.
Question: Were you tested when you came into the stadium?
Answer: I wasn’t tested for Covid-19, but there was an extensive health screening process in place. My temperature was taken and recorded. I was also required to fill out a document ensuring that I hadn’t experienced any symptoms, previously tested positive or knowingly been in contact with someone who had.
Q: Were you required to wear a mask and given guidelines about where you could go and where you’d sit to watch the game?
A: Yes, masks were required in the parking lot and ballpark at all times. The print media was only allowed in the press box and nowhere else. Stadium officials were on hand to ensure that media members went directly to and from their designated areas. A seating chart was also posted to ensure that everyone was adequately spaced within the press box.
Q: Did the environment feel strange because of the protocols?
A: It did feel strange being so restricted, and so distanced from many others in the press box. But the process seemed appropriate and made me feel like my safety was taken seriously.
Q: Could you hear the conversations of the players, coaches and manager Brandon Hyde?
A: I couldn’t hear any conversations, and the ballpark was incredibly quiet overall — including in the press box. It was a bit eerie at first but seemed more normal as the game progressed.
Q: Did the players joke around with each other, or did they treat it like a real game?
A: I’d say there was a little of both. Players definitely took the game seriously and were trying to get their work in. But there was some joking around as well. The funniest moment came when Renato Nunez hit a long home run to left field in the third inning. As he rounded first base, he gave “air high-fives” to the non-existent first base coach. At home plate, he and Chance Sisco — the on-deck batter — exchanged elbow bumps from a sizable distance.
Q: Once the game started, did it feel more natural to you and allow you to enjoy baseball being played again?
A: It took a bit of time to get accustomed to the situation. We were only allowed in the press box for two hours from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Upon entering, the game had already started, and no lineups were posted. So it took a little time to discern each batting order and the defensive alignments. But after settling in, it felt normal to be watching some semblance of a baseball game again.
Q: What were you overall impressions of the Orioles and how they’re handling this situation?
A: I was impressed with how the Orioles handled things. The process was well thought-out and organized from start to finish. It made me feel that the team is treating everyone’s safety as seriously as possible.