Allow this to be your warning that Father's Day is June 19. This month, "The 15" is a gift guide for Baltimore sports fan dads. I offer a small disclaimer at the top -- this is a fun list. Please don't read this and think, "That's stereotyping! My dad is nothing like that!" or "Are you saying only dads can enjoy that? Moms can, too!" I'm very aware that there's a level of generalizing that is going into this list. I'm hoping that as a son, grandson and father myself, I can have some fun in the process. Here it goes.
1. Get him Orioles tickets. But get him nice tickets for a change.
It's rather common to get your dad Orioles tickets for Father's Day (or if you're particularly forgetful and don't remember until that morning you were supposed to get him a gift, you may just choose to promise him tickets). Get him the tickets right behind home plate or a suite this time. Dad has sat in section 330 a million times. Give him something a little better than that for one game. The Orioles are at home against the Toronto Blue Jays on Father's Day, but my suggestion is to do it on a Friday night. Sunday afternoons are excruciatingly hot. Friday nights are far more electric at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, because students fill up the upper deck and create an atmosphere. Take him then.
2. Or … perhaps he'd prefer the Conrad's Crabs & Seafood deck at an Aberdeen IronBirds game.
The IronBirds aren't at home Father's Day weekend, but they're back the following weekend. Dad hates having to pay $20 to park in a garage 15 minutes away from Oriole Park. But he loves the idea of being able to park directly outside Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium. What he loves the most is being able to devour hours' worth of all-you-can-eat steamed crabs, chicken, pork, etc. on the crab deck before taking off early because he doesn't care about the outcome of the game. He'll tell you he wants to leave early to beat traffic, but you'll chuckle because you know getting out of the parking lot in Aberdeen is cake.
3. Something related to Brooks Robinson. Like … literally … anything.
I don't care if he's 82 or if he's 28. Dad loves Brooks Robinson. It's like some sort of law here. The moment you become a father, you must have an absolute obsession with Brooks Robinson. If you visit shop.mlb.com and search "Brooks Robinson," the options are plentiful. I'm not sure where dad would put a miniature Gold Glove Award signed by Brooks, but he'll find a place. The Brooks Robinson Hall of Fame coin card looks like something to dupe old people into buying on HSN, yet I'm pretty sure dad would like it far more than that tie you were thinking about grabbing him.
4. Take him on a day trip to TopGolf.
You know how on Mother's Day, all your wife really wants is for you to take her to a vineyard and try a bunch of wine all day? This could become a similar tradition. The only issue is that, right now, the closest TopGolfs are in Northern Virginia, so dad has got to be up for it. If he enjoys hitting golf balls, drinking, eating ridiculously good food and/or watching sports, this will be the spot for him. It's part driving range, far more sports pub. It's spacious and climate controlled. The food is excellent, and he won't want to leave.
5. If he's not up for that, perhaps he'd prefer a backyard chipping basket.
I don't know how to explain this phenomenon. I don't play golf. It's a sport I'm terrible at. Yet, there's nothing I enjoy more than hitting golf balls. If dad already has a putting machine in his office, this is perfect for him. Even if the backyard isn't spacious, he'll enjoy working on his short game, whether he ever puts it to use. Get him a few sleeves of balls while you're at it and maybe warn his neighbors.
6. Just let him nap until the final holes of the U.S. Open.
For what it's worth, this year's tournament is just outside of Pittsburgh again at Oakmont Country Club. It would be the power move of Father's Day power moves to wake him at 5 a.m. and let him know he needs to get in the car because you're going to watch the final round. If that's out of the question, just arrange to celebrate at dad's house. He'd rather be there anyway. His bathroom is there; his recliner is there -- the whole deal. Bring some crabs over and sit out back. If dad has to do some grilling, that's actually fine -- he won't mind. But after lunch, let the man nap and don't change his channel. When the U.S. Open leaders hit the 13th hole, gently nudge him. He doesn't really want to watch any more than an hour or so of golf anyway.
7. It has nothing to do with sports, but get the man a Koolernaut.
Seriously, go search for it right now. If he enjoys a cold beer, this is his best chance of keeping said beer cold. How does it work? I dunno … science?
8. Another non-sports option? How about a boat?
I don't really mean you should purchase him a boat, although that would be pretty cool if you have the means. I'm actually suggesting that you spend the day on the boat. If he has a boat, spend it on his. If he doesn't, somehow procure a boat. Go fishing. Go swimming. Let him nap on the boat. Stop by a joint like Nick's Fish House and dock there. Dad would rather be on a boat. Try to invite T-Pain to join you.
9. He'd love a road trip to see the Ravens.
My own father isn't even the most obsessed Ravens fan, but when we took him to Carolina a couple years back, he had a great time on the trip. My suggestions this year are either Jacksonville Sept. 25 (perhaps dad enjoys the beach) or Dallas Nov. 20. (Texas A&M is home the day before, and the two-and-a-half hour trip is legitimately worthwhile to experience Kyle Field. Also … barbecue.)
10. Turf from M&T Bank Stadium.
The Ravens don't need it anymore, so they're selling it to you. I don't really understand the obsession, but I do know that as a dad, if I had some, I would absolutely show it to people the moment they walked into my house. It makes no sense. It makes perfect sense.
11. Get him something with the state flag on it. But probably not yoga pants.
If dad is a local sports fan, he loves the flag. But dad would probably prefer the flag to be the pattern for his grill cover or the covers for his golf clubs than he would necessarily enjoy it on a Speedo.
12. A new, bigger TV.
I don't care how new or large his TV is. Did he buy a 72-inch TV before last football season? He's ready for a new one for this season. Plus, the Ravens went 5-11 last season when he watched them on that TV. Obviously, he needs to upgrade. Get all the kids together and go in on it. There's always another room he could put the "old" TV in. Does he have a TV in his bathroom? He definitely wants one.
13. "Creed" on Blu-ray DVD.
If he's seen it, he loves it. If he hasn't seen it, he will love it. In fact, if there are any "Rocky" movies at all that he doesn't already have on Blu-ray, go ahead and get those, too. Even "Rocky Balboa."
14. Any sort of Under Armour polo will do.
At the end of the day, dad isn't exactly a fashionista. If there's a 5-year-old Under Armour style and they're selling the polos at 75 percent off at some outlet mall, go ahead and get him a couple. Don't really worry about the color. As long as they have the logo on them, he'll mention something about how he appreciates you supporting a local company. Ask the youngest member of your family if they know Kevin Plank played football at Maryland and then wear the shirt 10 times this summer.
15. If all else fails, just buy him a freaking boatload of meat.
Happy Father's Day, dads.