Orioles' postseason run leads to some juggling of schedules

For Nancy and Bob Reigle, the call came down to America's Colonial showplace versus the Orioles in the playoffs.

"We have wanted to go to Williamsburg for some time," said Nancy Reigle, a retired teacher in the Baltimore County public schools who had scheduled a trip to begin Oct. 20 — the day before the start of the World Series. "I was keeping an eye on the schedules, and then I noticed that the American League has home field advantage [for the World Series], and that they could be playing in Baltimore that Tuesday and Wednesday."

It was no contest. That trip to Virginia will just have to wait.

Like plenty of O's fans throughout Baltimore, the Reigles and their well-laid plans found themselves at odds with Orioles magic. Saturday's Das Best Oktoberfest, set for the parking lots outside M&T; Bank Stadium? Moved to Rash Field. Saturday morning's American Heart Association Heart Walk, set for the stadiums area? Moved to Nov. 2.

Got big plans for the next three weekends? You just might want to start thinking about alternatives.

That's what the Reigles did. Sunday night, just one day before they would have had to pay to change their hotel reservations, Nancy Reigle made the call — clearly expecting the O's to make it past the Royals to the World Series. Williamsburg would have to wait a couple of weeks, until the O's playoff and World Series runs are safely in the rear-view mirror.

"When they won the division, I realized there could be trouble," she said, her playoff tickets for this weekend safely in hand. "I just didn't want to be out of town when things were going on here."

Not that anyone, outside of the most churlish, is complaining. Orange-and-black fever is raging throughout the city, and if that calls for a little rescheduling, no sweat.

"We're a team of very loyal and devoted Orioles fans," says the heart association's Danielle Clifford. "I'm going to be at the game myself."

Things, of course, remain fluid. Barring nasty weather, the schedule-makers at Major League Baseball have decreed that Games 1 and 2 of the American League Championship Series will be played Friday and Saturday in Baltimore. If the series is extended beyond Game 5, Games 6 and 7 are scheduled for Oriole Park at Camden Yards for next Friday and Saturday, Oct. 17 and 18.

Then, if the O's make it to the World Series, Games 1 and 2 will be set for Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 21 and 22, with Games 6 and 7 (if necessary) slated here on Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 28 and 29.

And don't forget the away games. You'll definitely want to catch them on the TV or radio — regardless of any other plans you might have.

Like getting married.

"Our DJ will be updating us with the score during the reception," says Jeff Mahady, 35, who will be marrying Katherine Backoff, 29, on Oct. 25 — the same day as Game 4 of the World Series — at Westminster Hall, just a few blocks from the ballpark. "Also, all the groomsmen will be wearing orange dress socks. We are hoping to add some Oriole Magic to an already memorable evening."

Even births are affected by the playoffs: Orioles closer Zach Britton and his wife, Courtney, had to schedule the birth of their son around the team's postseason schedule. Zander Lee Britton was born late Tuesday night in Burbank, Calif.

Jan Hardesty, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Stadium Authority, said schedulers there always consider the possibility that events set for the stadiums area might not come off as planned. Such scenarios are included in contracts governing use of the property, with the understanding that stadium events — like playoff games —take precedence.

"Our facilities folks are very forward-thinking and always plan contingencies," Hardesty said in an email. "We are in constant communication with our partners to find ways to accommodate event planners when there is a change in plans."

Case in point: the Oct. 18 Baltimore Running Festival, set to start just outside Oriole Park at Camden Yards, at South Paca and Camden streets, and end on the parking lots between the park and M&T; Bank Stadium. Since that's the same day as a possible game 7 of the ALCS, plans changed.

In short: Start times for all festival events will be moved up an hour, with races going off between 7 a.m. and 8:45 a.m. Should there be an ALCS game 6, and because race officials cannot afford to wait until that game is over to make a decision on the Oct. 18 race, finish lines will close at 1 p.m. and runners who are not finished will be asked to move to the sidewalk; the race course will be shifted to avoid going along Eutaw Street through Camden Yards; and the Runners Only Compound and Maryland Live! Casino Celebration Village will be relocated.

Also affected will be the second day of the festival's Health and Fitness Expo, which runs Oct. 16-17 at the Convention Center. If there's a Game 6 on Oct. 17, festival officials say they will be unable to provide parking or shuttle services that day; they suggest using light rail or coming another day.

For some people, the playoffs coming to Baltimore is nothing but good news. "You're going to tell me there are going to be 40,000-50,000 people in the neighborhood? I'll take that any day," says Ben Hyman, executive director of Pigtown Main Street, sponsors of Saturday's Pigtown Festival, taking place just three blocks from the stadium. He's counting on foot traffic to bring lots of extra people to the festival; from noon-4 p.m., they'll even be offering a pregame all-the-beer-you-can-drink pass for $20.

Likewise, Kevin Butler, president of Hammerjacks Entertainment Group, predicts the game will be all good for the Hammerjacks Rocks the Firehouse music festival he's putting on from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday at the International Association of Firefighters Union Hall on Ridgely Street. "We're definitely looking for a postgame kind of crowd," he says.

Even the Ravens are getting in the spirit. The team's annual Purple Evening, catering to female fans, is set for Monday at M&T; Bank Stadium — the same night as Game 3 of the ALCS in Kansas City.

"We will have the game up on the jumbo screen," said Ravens spokeswoman Heather Blocher. The game will also be showing on TV screens throughout the stadium. "We want to do whatever we can to support the Orioles' run."

Happily, the Ravens dodged a bit of a bullet. They're away Sunday and Oct. 26, when postseason baseball could be played in Baltimore, and when the Ravens play the Falcons at home Oct. 19, there is no major league baseball scheduled anywhere. That is, unless there's a Game 7 of the ALCS and it gets rained out Oct. 18, in which case it could be rescheduled for Baltimore on Oct. 19, and the nightmare scenario of having O's and Ravens games on the same day becomes reality.

In that case? "MLB would work it out with the NFL," said Jeff Provenzano, director of facilities for the stadium authority. But, added Hardesty, "The O's, heroes that they are, will spare Camden Yards this conundrum by winning out next week."

As for those who have yet to reconcile their existing plans with the Orioles' schedule, Jeff Hinton offers some advice. Back in 1996, his wedding was planned for the same day as an ALCS game pitting the O's against the Yankees in Baltimore. What was a true Orioles fan to do?

"We were able to get our wedding pushed to a day wedding, and afterwards, we took the entire wedding party, eight bridesmaids and eight groomsmen, to the playoff game," Hinton said. (His bride's cousin was head of ticket sales for the O's, Hinton said, which explains how he was able to get so many tickets.)

Eighteen years later, he and his wife, Julie, are still going strong, living in Sykesville and rooting hard for the Orioles. Jeff Hinton runs the HomeGamers sports store in Westminster.

So, what to do if the choice comes down to an O's postseason game or anything else? That's easy.

"Go to the game," Hinton said. "That's the most important thing. Go to the game."

Baltimore Sun reporter Eduardo A. Encina contributed to this article.


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