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Orioles, Nationals fans enthusiastic about playoffs - for a change

August 20, 2012|By CALEB CALHOUN | caleb.calhoun@herald-mail.com

For the first time since the modern World Series era of Major League Baseball began in 1903, a team from Baltimore and a team from Washington, D.C., could both make the playoffs.

“I’ve been a fan of the Orioles ever since Cal Ripken Jr., and I’m glad to see that they’re doing better this year,” Falling Waters, W.Va., resident Cory Penrod, 29, said. “The Orioles and Nationals are proving to everybody that the underdog can come up, and that’s what’s great about America.”

The Baltimore Orioles were 66-55 and in the second wild card position Monday afternoon. If the season ended then, they would have played Tampa Bay in a one-game playoff for the wild card spot.

The Washington Nationals were 75-46 Monday afternoon and five games ahead of the Atlanta Braves for first place in the National League East.

The success of both teams has generated buzz among some area residents.

“A lot of people living here have been waiting for a baseball team they can root for that actually has a chance to make the playoffs,” Williamsport resident Robbie Vinson, 18, said. “Every time I talk to an Orioles or a Nationals fan, they say how much young talent they have, and it’s probably rewarding to see that young talent prosper.”

The Orioles have not made the playoffs since 1997, when they lost to the Cleveland Indians in the American League Championship Series.

The Nationals have not made the playoffs since they moved to Washington from Montreal in 2005, and no baseball team from Washington has reached postseason play since 1933, when the Washington Senators lost the World Series to the New York Giants four games to one.

Zach Palmer, 21, of Waynesboro, Pa., said he is a Nationals fan, but he also likes the Orioles, and he said that he enjoys seeing both teams have success.

“I think the Nationals are better all around right now with their pitching and batting performances, and I know everybody wants to see a Nationals-Orioles World Series, but I just don’t see that happening,” he said. “The Orioles pitching is just up and down so much, it’s hard to tell.”

Tony Hose, 39, grew up in Hagerstown an Orioles fan but said he moved to Covington, Tenn., in September, 2011. He lamented the fact that the Orioles appear to have gotten better since he left, but he is still supporting them.

“If the Orioles go to the playoffs and get to the World Series, then no matter what, I’ll take that 14-hour drive back up here again to watch them play at Camden Yards,” he said. “I’ve been an Orioles fan since I was a kid.”

In addition to both teams being in the playoff hunt, both teams are also among the younger teams in Major League Baseball. The Washington Nationals are the sixth youngest team in baseball with an average age of 27.4, and the Baltimore Orioles are the 12th youngest team in baseball with an average age of 28.5, according to espn.com.

Hagerstown resident Roger Finn, 70, said he has been an Orioles fan since he moved to Hagerstown 45 years ago, but he enjoys watching both teams being in the playoff hunt.

“Most of the people I work with (at Antietam Tree and Turf) are Orioles fans, but there’s no dislike for the Nationals,” he said. “We just think it’s great.”

In six games against each other during the current season, the Orioles won four games and the Nationals won two.

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