Orioles fans raise toast to team after wild ride to wild-card slot Some can even forgive Alomar for spitting at ump


Baltimore Orioles fans are thrilled -- to say the least -- that their team clinched a berth yesterday afternoon as the wild-card team in the American League playoffs.

No one was happy that Roberto Alomar spat in an umpire's face in the first inning of Friday night's game, though some fans were in a forgiving mood after yesterday's 3-2 win over Toronto -- a victory achieved after Alomar hit a dramatic 10th-inning homer.

"It's about time they came up in the big time," said Dave Gaytos, 29, of Baltimore, as he drank a beer at the Downtown Sports Exchange on Lombard Street. "Alomar may have been out of line [in Friday's incident], but he hit the game's winning homer [yesterday], so that's all right."

Adam Jones, 26, of Catonsville, who has gathered with his usual crew of about eight friends at Pickles bar on Washington Street for the past four years to cheer on the team, said he didn't miss a minute of the game.

"It feels excellent to win," said Jones, as he tried to use his cellular phone to get tickets to this week's playoff games. "[Orioles owner Peter] Angelos didn't give up on the fans or the Orioles. Wild card or pennant, it doesn't matter, as long as we're there, going to the playoffs."

The Orioles did not win their division, the American League East -- the New York Yankees did.

But the O's made the playoffs because they have the best record among second-place teams in the league.

Of Alomar's actions Friday, Jones said, "Man, the game gets heated. He was out of line, but it was in the moment."

And Don Brenneman, 25, of Bel Air said, "Yeah, the umpire may have gotten in his face, and I can see it was out of rage and in the fit of anger, but [Alomar] should be kicked out" for a few games.

At the Wharf Rat, patrons debated the Alomar incident.

"Spitting on someone is not a classy thing to do," said Jim Conley, 37, of Columbia. "But we'll forgive him."

Patrick Read, 26, of Baltimore added: "Either way, Alomar was wrong to get so heated, but we can overlook that."

Read added, "The Orioles have had an uphill battle all along. Just as Baltimore is a city full of working people, they've been a working team. And their win was awesome, and it shows."

As he sipped a beer at the Charles Village Pub on St. Paul Street, Tom Robinson, 36, of Baltimore said he considered himself a bit of a "disgruntled Orioles fan" after losing $500 worth of tickets during the 1994 baseball strike. But making the playoffs was "great news for Baltimore and the Orioles."

"It's kind of a kissing-your-sister thing," said Robinson.

"We've never had a wild card," he added. "It doesn't mean as much, but anything can happen in the playoffs. So, I guess no matter how they get there, I'll always be an Orioles fan."

Pub Date: 9/29/96

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