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Orioles, Nationals give fans a reason to celebrate [Editorial]

Baseball's playoffs start Thursday, and for local 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 a baseball cliche, found ways to win. Their play under manager Buck Showalter has defied the accepted logic that a small-market team can't win against teams from New York and Boston that boast larger payrolls and more national media attention.

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For the team to the south, the Nationals have found success in just a few short years in the nation's capital. With maybe the best pitching in the game and some timely hitting, no longer does the old baseball adage, "Washington: First in war, first in peace and last in baseball" apply. With Howard County smack dab in the middle of Baltimore and Washington, it's going to be a time of split allegiances for a lot of friends and family. Even county government is getting into the act with the county office building in Ellicott City bathed in orange light for the Orioles (the county exec's a big O's fan) and the North Laurel Community Center lit in orange and red (for the Orioles and the Nationals.)

It's an exciting time. And area sports fans deserve it.

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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 had 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 suspension of Oriole slugger Chris Davis for his use of Adderall and Michael Phelps' second DUI, and it would be understandable if local sports fan were disenchanted. 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 community can be galvanized in a way that only sports can do.

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 struggling in the harsh glare of the national spotlight, sports coverage is returning to the game. It's good that the Orioles and Nationals are giving fans something to brag about.

Let's hope the celebrations last well into October. Maybe even an Orioles-Nationals World Series? Now that would be a lot of fun.

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