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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Scandalous Orioles Ready for the Bronx Cheer

NEW YORK -- Controversy often follows the New York Yankees, but this time it is their opponent in the American League Championship Series, the Baltimore Orioles, making the juicy headlines.

The Yanks host the Orioles to open a best-of-seven series for the right to represent the American League in the World Series. The Series champion Atlanta Braves entertain the St Louis Cardinals in the NL version starting Wednesday.

The spotlight of the post-season so far has focused on Baltimore's All-Star second baseman, Roberto Alomar.

Alomar triggered a storm of outrage and protest after spitting in the face of an umpire on the last weekend of the regular season, then escaping immediate suspension. He has since taken rousing advantage of the leniency.

Showing nerves of steel and great concentration as boos and jeers rained down on him, Alomar put the Orioles into the playoffs and through the first round with his bat.

"I expected boos from the crowd," Alomar said Monday before a workout at Yankee Stadium. "You have to be tough mentally and prepared. I just went out there and focused on the game. I shut out the boos as much as possible."

Alomar slashed an extra-inning homer in Toronto to clinch Baltimore's berth in the playoffs the night after spitting on umpire John Hirschbeck following his ejection for arguing a third strike.

He completed the ouster of the defending league champion Indians by tying the last game of their divisional series in Cleveland in the ninth with a single and then winning it in the 12th inning with another crucial home run.

Alomar, whose case nearly resulted in an umpires' boycott of the playoffs, will certainly not escape the notice of Yankee fans, who long ago gave birth to the Bronx cheer -- a scornful vocal sound reminiscent of flatulence.

One can only hope that protest is limited to verbal expression and signage.

Texas Rangers right fielder Juan Gonzalez had objects thrown at him from the stands of Yankee Stadium in the division series after belting home runs against the home team.

Fortunately the infield, where Alomar takes up his fielding position, should be out of throwing range for all but the strongest-armed fans. Orioles manager Davey Johnson, who piloted the New York Mets to World Series victory in 1986, said: "The New York fans are vocal. We are behind Robbie Alomar 100 percent. The crowd in Cleveland really gave it to him, but it slowly died down.

"When he got the tying hit in the ninth inning, it was very low, and when he got the big home run in the 12th no one could hear anything."

As for the games, the East Division champion Yanks appear to hold an advantage over the wildcard Orioles. The Yankees beat the Birds 10 of 13 times this year, including a 6-0 mark at Baltimore's Camden Yards.

The Yankees boast a more consistent starting rotation and a dominant bullpen that has been nearly flawless in making late-game leads stand up.

But the long-ball threat in the Orioles lineup is dangerous enough to swing any series. Baltimore, whose leadoff man Brady Anderson slugged an astonishing 50 homers, broke the record of the 1961 Yankees for most homers in a season.

In a mild surprise, Yankee manager Joe Torre tabbed lefty Andy Pettitte (a Cy Young candidate with a 21-8 record) as the opening game starter instead of David Cone (7-3). Torre said this would enable Pettitte to pitch a seventh game if needed. The Orioles counter with Scott Erickson (13-12).

"We beat them 10 of 13 in the season but most of those games could have gone either way," said Torre. "Now we are even."

?Shortstop Alex Rodriguez of the Seattle Mariners was named player of the year by The Sporting News.

Rodriguez, 21, hit .358 and was the third-youngest player to ever win the American League batting title. (AP)