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Orioles give Baltimore fans a reason to celebrate [Editorial]

Baseball's playoffs start this week, and for Baltimore sports fans, it couldn't come at a better time.

For even the occasional fan, the resilience of the Orioles has played to the kind of script that Hollywood producers love. Losing two top players to season-ending injuries and another oft-injured player to a suspension, the Birds have, to borrow an old baseball cliche, found ways to win. Their play, under manager Buck Showalter, has defied the accepted logic that a small-market team can't possibly win against teams from New York and Boston that boast larger payrolls and more national media attention.

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But the euphoria that will accompany the (hopefully) weeks of postseason baseball stands in sharp contrast to the kind of media attention local sports fans have witnessed over the last several months since Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice hit his then-fiance in a domestic violence incident in the elevator of a New Jersey casino. The attention from this, and the reaction to it by the NFL and Ravens' management, has drawn the attention of the local sports fan from the field to the courtroom.

Couple this with the recent news of Oriole slugger Chris Davis' suspension by Major League Baseball for his use of Adderall and it would be understandable if the average local sports fan lacked the enthusiasm for which Baltimore fans are known. Yet, when you think of the homecoming the Ravens received after they won the Super Bowl a little over 18 months ago, you can see how a town can be galvanized in a way that only sports can do.

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Which brings us back to the Orioles' season. Picked by many so-called baseball experts to finish in last place this year, this group of underdogs ignored the critics and put together one of the more impressive seasons in the team's 60-year history. Led by stars such as Adam Jones, Nelson Cruz, J.J. Hardy, Nick Markakis and Chris Tillman, and some not-so-big names such as Zach Britton, Steve Pearce and Caleb Joseph, this year's team has given Baltimore a lot of reasons to be proud.

Sports are often lifted up as a reflection of society; we see our best qualities and occasionally our worst in our athletes and ourselves as fans. After months of stuggling in the harsh glare of the national spotlight, it's good to that this group of Orioles is giving fans something to celebrate.

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