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Suns have provided a new aroma around town

September 06, 2005|By BOB PARASILITI

My name is Bob Parasiliti.

That's me, over there on the right. I'm the Don Ho-Fernando Valenzuela-looking dude who looks like he needs a strategically placed cattle prod just to crack a smile for a picture.

The reason I wanted to clear that up is because usually when I'm writing, I mention two words that drive those watchdogs of fiscal responsibility off the deep end of a pool of red ink.

Hagerstown Suns.

OK, I said it. Ju$t $ettle down. The$e $entence$ aren't about rallying $upport for $ucking fund$ from the private $ector to $erve up a new $tadium for the $un$.

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Or so I have been oft accused.

This time, it's time to pay the team back.

Even if the bean counters and naysayers of the world want to admit it or not, the Suns have added a different kind of energy to this town this summer.

A new affiliation complete with new faces, new leadership and a new attitude have brought the Suns as close to the mainstream as Hagerstown dares to go.

The New York Mets have breathed fresh, exciting air into the lungs of a franchise which has wheezed and geezed through the last stages of the prima donna Oriole era, the last half of the crumbling Blue Jay era and the disinterested Giants era to get to where it is today.

It's the South Atlantic League playoffs, which begin Wednesday in Salisbury, Md., against Delmarva before returning here for the possible final two games on Friday and Saturday in the best-of-3 series.

And those could be only the starting steps on the way to the SAL best-of-5 final and only the second championship in Hagerstown's latest professional baseball history.

The first came in 1981, the first year that minor league baseball returned to town. Almost fittingly, these Suns are heading to the playoffs as the final page of the 25th anniversary season.

The natural setup is there. What the Suns have done may have been as well-hidden as any 25-foot single in a box score.

First, these Suns have packed 75-year-old Municipal Stadium for much of the season. The team reported a 20-percent increase in attendance from 2004.

Some of that can be attributed to the promotions by the team's front office. But a lot of it has to go to one big thing the Suns did in the first half.

They won.

Winning brings out people.

The threat of winning keeps them coming.

It sweeps up fans to clap to the catchy Six Flags theme song every time the team scores.

The Suns got into the playoffs by winning the North Division's first-half title in a playoff. They have limped through the second half, mostly because of cannibalization of the winning team for the betterment of the organization and players involved.

Still, in the wake, these Suns ? thanks to the Mets ? have become part of the community. The players have taken part in clinics and baseball camps, public appearances and reading programs. They have gone out to meet the fans and put a favorable face on what is good about pro baseball players.

Winning and good behavior ? that's great public relations.

And now, they have a chance to mold Hagerstown in the mold of a winner.

This town and county revel in its state titles. Now it has an opportunity to secure a national title. Hagerstown's last trip to the playoffs was in 2001. Its last trip to the league finals was in 1994.

The last championship âEUR¦ 1981.

Historically, playoff games are poorly attended. There is so much going on, people forget about the baseball team in the postseason.

This time, it should be different. Here's hoping fans will give back to the team that gave a lot to the summer of 2005.

It's time for the fans of fall to meet the boys of summer.

And if that wasn't convincing enough, you don't want to go and make me sing "Tiny Bubbles" now, do you?




Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Morning Herald. His column appears every other Tuesday. he can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2310, or by e-mail at bobp@herald-mail.com

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