Several fans said they hope the playoffs will offer an important opportunity to showcase Baltimore to the rest of the country in the same way that the Grand Prix has done. Never mind the man who stood on a corner hitting himself with a blowup bat, threatening to "spank the Yanks."

A group of young women stopped to take their picture with him.

Richard Lyles, who gathers with his friends every week in front of Cross Street Tobacco to smoke a cigar and people watch, said the electric atmosphere that builds every Friday and Saturday night in Federal Hill was far more powerful. For one thing, it took him nearly 45 minutes to find a parking spot.

"It's a lot different," said Lyles, who swung around to monitor the game through the tobacco shop's window every time cheers echoed down the street. "Everybody has Orioles spirit."

In addition to lifting the city's morale, the win could help one local Democrat raise campaign cash. Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger scheduled a fundraiser in a suite at Camden Yards on Sunday, Washington-based "Politico" reported. It wouldn't have been much of an event without a game.

"Proud to be an Orioles fan," Ruppersberger posted on Twitter early Saturday. "Let's keep it going."

Freddie Chalmers walked out of Cross Street Market clapping loudly — but it was the relieved look on his face that set him apart.

"Fifteen years of futility," the 32-year-old Perry Hall man said when asked why the win was so important to him personally. "It's absolutely invigorating. We're the best town in America tonight."

john.fritze@baltsun.com

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