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Don't get me wrong, the Orioles are still mediocre. They're inarguably playing above themselves in compiling a .500 record for the first half of the season. I attended the game tonight, and noted that no Oriole hitter was batting over .290. None of the pitchers has impressive stats either. My group of friends tried to determine who the lone All-Star should be, and we really had no idea beyond possibly closer George Sherrill.
Honestly, Baltimore becomes more like New Orleans, where I spent three years, every day. The music and food aren't there, but there is the unofficial competition to out-weird whatever came before. And yet, somehow, none of it is forced. It's just the product of a bohemian, educated-but-underpaid, socially liberal white population meeting a black population that has always been fun-loving and proud of the city despite its obvious flaws. Unlike gentrification conflicts in other (neighboring) cities, Baltimore's experience has been respectful and, I think, welcomed.