xml:space="preserve">

The first week of the Major League Baseball season didn't go so well for the two local teams, both of whom made the playoffs last year and have fans dreaming of a Beltway World Series again in 2015.

The Baltimore Orioles gave up 10 runs before they could get 12 outs in their home opener on Opening Day and lost, 12-5, to the Toronto Blue Jays. Two days later, on April 12, the Orioles lost again, 10-7, to the Blue Jays — who scored 23 runs in three games and were not so kind to Baltimore starting pitchers Bud Norris and Chris Tillman.

Advertisement

Then there are the Washington Nationals, a preseason World Series favorite according to many pundits. The Nationals lost two of their first three homes games to the New York Mets and then lost two of three in a series in Philadelphia to fall to 2-4 overall.

The Mets and Phillies combined to finish 40 games behind the Nationals last season in the National League East, which Washington won for the second time in three years.

Despite the rough start the advent of baseball is certainly a good sign for those who grew tired of the long, cold winter. And it is good economic news not only for the businesses near Camden Yards and Nationals Park, but beyond.

Rodney Currence, the co-owner of Sports Cards Heroes on Main Street in Laurel, said most of his baseball customers are Orioles fans — for now.

"I would guess it is probably 65-35 [percent] because you have to remember that Baltimore fans are older and all of those years Washington didn't have a team. It is getting closer to 50-50," he said. "The Nats are certainly growing fast because they are successful. You see a little uptick in business when the season starts."

The neighborhood around Nationals Park in Southeast D.C. continues to grow, and on April 6 MLB commissioner Rob Manfred announced that the annual All-Star game will be held at Nationals Park for the first time in 2018. That, conversely, may mean it could take longer for Camden Yards to be awarded its second midsummer classic if MLB doesn't want to give the same region the All-Star game in back-to-back years.

Each team has some feel-good stories among players that could probably go unrecognized if they walked down Main Street in Laurel.

One of the new pitchers for the Orioles is Jason Garcia, who had not pitched above the low Class-A level until this season. Garcia pitched in the minor leagues last season in the Boston Red Sox farm system in Lowell, Mass., and Greenville, S.C. Now he is in the majors.

The Nationals' Opening Day roster included journeyman outfielder Clint Robinson, 30, who had played in parts of eight minor league seasons but had only 13 major league at bats prior to this season. He started on April 12 against the Phillies and had three hits — the same number he had his Major League career prior to this season.

Another journeyman outfielder with the Nationals is Reed Johnson, 38, who has been traded or released three times in his pro career and eight other times signed as a free agent.

Johnson was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays out of Cal State Fullerton in 1999 and during the 2001 season he was teammates in the minor leagues with Washington outfielder Jayson Werth, who was drafted by the Orioles out of a high school in Springfield, Ill., in the first round in 1997.

"His wife was pregnant with their first child, who is now 13, which kind of ages you," said Johnson, standing in the Nationals clubhouse.

Werth played in the minors in Frederick, Salisbury and Bowie from 1998 to 2000, then was traded by the Orioles to the Blue Jays on Dec. 11, 2000 for pitcher John Bale, a Cheverly native who grew up in Florida and would go on to win just three games in a Major League career that ended in 2009. The Blue Jays got the best of that trade.

Meanwhile the Orioles continue to win the billboard battle with the Nats — one of the Birds' billboards can be seen driving on Route 1 south near the Laurel-Beltsville border.

Advertisement

Fans from both teams can only hope it will still be there if and when the teams meet in the World Series.

David Driver is a former Laurel Leader sports editor.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement