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Bucs and birds

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BALTIMORE — I lived in Maryland for nearly seven years after graduating college, so I can tell you for certain there are a lot of former Pittsburghers down here.

There’s a pretty heavy black-and-gold presence here at tonight’s interleague game against the Orioles. It’s the first meaningful game the Pirates have played in Baltimore since Oct. 17, 1979 — and we all know how that one turned out.

The Orioles decided to commemorate the ’79 World Series by wearing their retro hats with the cartoon bird tonight. The original plan was for both teams to wear throwback uniforms, but — oops! — the Pirates were never informed.

Before the game, Earl Weaver, Scott McGregor, Doug DeCinces and Grant Jackson were introduced on the field. Meanwhile, a fan wearing one of the Pirates’ yellow pillbox hats walked around the box seat area carrying a sign. The front of it read, “So fine in ’79″ and the back read, “We were family.”

I went to a lot of O’s games at Memorial Stadium and Camden Yards, and I always thought Pirates fans and Orioles fans were a lot alike — blue-collar folks, passionate about their teams, used to seeing things done the right way on the field. They still have a lot in common, but for some of the wrong reasons. Neither team has been successful the past decade (15 years, in the Pirates’ case) and both came into tonight one game under .500.

Who reaches mediocrity first? We’ll find out in the next two hours or so. The Pirates went down 1-2-3 in the first inning. Brian Roberts just led off with a double for the Birds …
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