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Clarifying Teixeira's childhood loyalties

In the visiting team's clubhouse this afternoon, the New York media seemed much more interested in this Joba Chamberlain DWI video, so when I saw Mark Teixeira alone by his locker, I knew I had my chance to clarify something that's made several Baltimore bar stools wobble with anger these past couple of days.

Two days ago, the Orioles' fans let Teixeira have it. I mean, it's still ringing in my ears. The boos echoed far beyond Camden Yards and further than the Bronx. Baltimore's reaction became a national topic for sports talk radio shows, blogs and national baseball columnists. But while outsiders pounced on the idea that Orioles fans were responding to Teixeira jilting the Orioles, fan after fan filled my inbox with an explanation. Essentially, they said, they were venting their frustration with some of Teixeira's comments. They will not forgive him for appearing at a news conference in New York and professing his lifelong love for the pinstripes.

I asked point-blank whether he rooted for both teams growing up, and Teixeira said no. But he quickly added an asterisk.

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"I rooted for Don Mattingly, though, whenever he came here,"Teixeira said. "He was my favorite player growing up. When the Yankees came to town, that's who I rooted for. I loved him. He was my guy. I wore No. 23 every chance I got. So the only time I was allowed to wear Yankees stuff was when Mattingly was coming to town and playing the O's."

So every other day, you were in Orioles' gear?

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"Oh yeah. My favorite team was always the Orioles. I've always said that," he said. "But when the Yankees were in town, I'd wear a Mattingly T-shirt and a Yankees hat and root for him."

OK, so I'm sure that puts that little Bmore controversy to rest. Or not.

Teixeira said he avoided media coverage of the booing yesterday. He wouldn't say whether it was louder than he expected, but he doesn't anticipate wearing earplugs or anything tonight.

"I think the fans here are great," he said. "They're so passionate about the O's, the Yankees are in town and I didn't sign with the Orioles -- I think it's great for Baltimore that fans are so into the Orioles."

I asked whether he found himself hearing boos while walking around town on his off-day, but it doesn't sound like he was hanging around the Inner Harbor wearing his Yankees uni or anything like that.

"Just hanging out, catching up," he said of his free day. "I haven't seen too many friends. I'm going to catch up with some of them after the game tonight. I'm sure they were some of the ones giving me heck the other night."

For what it's worth, Orioles manager Dave Trembley had no problem with the boos. In his pregame meeting with reporters, he endorsed Baltimore's behavior.

"The fans have a right. That's their right," he said. "They pay their money and that's their right."

Clarifying Teixeira's childhood loyalties

Photos: Associated Press; Karl Merton Ferron / Sun

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