Root, root, rooting for a winning season

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Hope springs eternal in the hearts of true baseball fans. With the start of the Orioles' 2003 season just days away, some loyal fans are asking themselves, "Why not? Why can't the Orioles rebound after five consecutive losing seasons? Why can't this be the season our boys of summer come up winners again?"

In fact, some of these fans, whom we found in Baltimore and beyond, feel it to their orange-and-black core that the Orioles will take wing and rise above the magic .500 mark this year.

Shake your heads, oh ye of little faith, but they've got some darn good reasons. Read on.

The Oriole Bird

"It's a little known historical fact that the Orioles always seem to have a great year after a harsh winter. After the great blizzard of '96, the O's went to the playoffs for the first time in over a decade. We also had several winter storms before we won the World Series in '83. So by the tons of snow we've received, we're truly destined by nature to clinch the pennant!"

Sedonia Martin, publicist for the College of Fine Arts and Communication, Towson University

"I believe the Orioles are going to have a winning season because there's no place to go but up!"

Alan Hirsch, co-owner of Donna's coffee bars and cafes

"I believe the O's will win because I believe there is a God in heaven."

Mark Hyman, contributing editor for sports business at BusinessWeek

"Jay Gibbons will hit 45 homers, Jerry Hairston will swear off the bad pitches. And Jim Palmer, tiring of his role as spokesman for a vitamin supplement, will return to the mound to win 20."

Lori Lewis, afternoon-drive host / assistant program director / music director for B104.3

"It's simple. I'm a new Orioles fan, and now that I am, every season will be a winning season, regardless of how many they win. I just spent the past five seasons watching and rooting for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. That was rough!"

Tracy Baskerville, public-relations director for the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts

"The Orioles will win because, as the city's special-events agency, we already have great ideas planned for an Orioles victory parade after the World Series. The Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts produced the Ravens Super Bowl Victory Parade in 2001 and the Maryland Terrapins Celebration Rally in 2002, so 2003 is the perfect time for the Orioles to bring home a winning season. A trifecta!"

Eric Tharrington, operations supervisor for Sysco Foods

"The Orioles will win because I will stay away from the ballpark this season. Every time I go to a game, they lose. I'm an avid Oriole fan and I hate to see to them lose."

Alvin Gillard, director of the Baltimore City Community Relations Commission

"I think the Orioles will have a winning season because ... there's nowhere else to go but up."

Alain Nu, ESP mentalist and O's follower from the age of 8

"I have a lot of faith in the O's this season. Despite their losing streak, my psychic senses tell me that their luck will magically change to a fantastic winning streak this year! First off, it's impossible to [be] as bad as last season. But this year, I sense a perceptual shift that will take them well above 500! Call it mumbo jumbo, but mark my words!"

Carla Hayden, executive director of the Enoch Pratt Free Library

"The Orioles will have a winning season because the Orioles are readers and readers are leaders."

Gayle V. Economos, president, GVE Media / Public Relations

"Baseball players and Greeks have one important thing in common -- we're superstitious. But rather than wear the same socks until the O's win, I've decided to put a 'mati' (a blue-eye charm to ward against the evil eye) on my O's schedule, ensuring them a great season. And since Peter Angelos is also Greek, maybe I should send him some matis to give to all the players and coaches and to put up in the dugout!"

Dr. Robert Scaffidi, cardiology fellow at the University of Maryland Hospital

"They are a relatively young team and they worked hard last year. And if the fans come to the games and show their support, it will push them to win. Seeing that fans are supportive regardless of what they do will be positive for the team."

Pastor Millard Knowles of the Old Otterbein United Methodist Church, whose members have been selling roasted peanuts to fans ever since the O's moved to Oriole Park at Camden Yards

"I am an eternal optimist. I always believe that better days are coming. ... We had a meeting about peanut sales the other day and there were good vibes all around."

Sue Knauer, Hooters waitress

"Now that we have managers that are going to keep the players we have, we have a real chance. We have a lot of good, young players."

Sister Veronice Schumm, retired nun, School Sisters of Notre Dame

"We haven't won for so long that now lots of people are praying for the Orioles to win."

Peter V. Berns, executive director of the Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations

"The O's will have a winning season this year because they owe it to the kids -- their greatest fans. Every child deserves to have at least one year where the home team wins the league championship and goes on to win the World Series."

Jonathan Carney, concertmaster of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, former concertmaster of London's Royal Philharmonic and a former New Yorker

"Contrary to the belief that I moved myself, my family, my dog and a house full of furniture 4,000 miles across an ocean to play with the Baltimore Symphony and Yuri Temirkanov, the truth is that I came here to achieve a lifelong ambition of becoming an Orioles fan. They have a strong young team this year with great prospects -- they're bound to have a winning season."

Gary Vikan, director of the Walters Art Museum

"I've heard some people say that the team is too young. What are these guys -- 20? Orson Wells was 24 when he made Citizen Kane. John Keats was 26 when he died! Youth means creativity, passion -- I think they're going to have a great season!"

Tim Stansbury, plant manager, General Motors Corp., Baltimore Assembly Center

"The Orioles will have a winning season because my son will be working in their advertising / PR department this summer as an intern!"

Pat Fields, freshman third baseman for the Towson University Tigers

"The Orioles will win this year for a couple of reasons. The group of young guys they've had around the past couple of years have shown progressive improvement. They've had a lot of experience. I think all they needed was that. They just needed to learn how to play such a long season and get used to the major-league atmosphere and what it's all about. And the acquisition of a couple of free agents [will help]. Omar Daal, the left-handed pitcher -- I think he brings some good starting pitching."

Rob Brager, managing director of the law firm of Beveridge & Diamond, P.C.

"Why will the Orioles have a winning season? It is self-evident. There is a new addition to our state-of-the-art stadium. It is a little-known fact that the O's installed a wind device to pull O's fly balls into the bleachers, and to knock down would-be home runs hit by our opponents."

Foster Tuck, coach of the C-League Pirates in the Northwood Baseball League

"The Orioles will win because they've got a couple of good kids coming back from last year. Hopefully, the pitching holds up. Good pitching stops good hitting every time."

Taylor Branch, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Orioles season-ticket holder since before he moved to Baltimore in 1986

"The Orioles are going to have a winning season this year for three reasons. 1) We deserve one. We've been long-suffering long enough. 2) If we don't win, there'll be even more Yankees and Red Sox fans in our seats. 3) We've never had a GM from Dartmouth before Jim Beattie. We'll win because we'll have strong management from an old Oriole (Mike Flanagan) and a GM from Dartmouth."

Pat Zimnawoda, store manager, Stadium Sports

"The Orioles will win because they're young and they're hungry. Also, because of the blizzard. The Orioles always play well the season after a major blizzard. It happened in 1996."

Xavier Dandridge, salesman, the Sports Shop

"The team will win because no one is expecting much from them. Not the fans -- I mean the other teams. The Orioles aren't considered to be a threat, like the Yankees. They can work this to their advantage."

The quotes for this story were compiled by free-lancer Lisa Wiseman, Sun interns Miesha Lowery and Mike Morris, and Sun staff member Helen B. Jones.

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