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Baseball fever has struck the Mahoning Valley.
If the playoffs started today, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cleveland Indians would both be in. The Pirates have the best record in Major League Baseball at 65-43, while the Tribe are in the thick of things in the AL Central with a record of 60-48 and holding one of two Wild Card spots.
Those successful seasons have led to packed houses at both PNC Park and Progressive Field, and have fans flocking to the stores, where jerseys and hats have been flying off the shelves.
“Its really taken off. If you look at the jerseys we have up there, all of our Pirates jerseys are gone except the Clemente, but the sales for the Indians and the Pirates have been fantastic,” said George Dubos, manager at Sports Fanatics in Boardman.
Neither team has won a World Series in more than 30 years. The Pirates were the last to win the championship in 1979, while Cleveland’s last World Series win was in 1948. But current fans said they are just enjoying the ride of this year’s teams.
“I think everything so far has been great. The pitching staff has been great, the hitting has been there. We will just see how it goes,” said Pirates fan Chris Meta.
“Yeah, its great. They keep going back and forth with Detriot, a lot of exciting games,” said Indians fan Michael Lantz.
Dubos said that bandwagon fans have bought a lot of the Pirates and Indians gear this season, but it also gives a new generation of fans to pick the black and gold or the red and blue.
“It’s awesome because we can just sit down together and watch the game. We can talk about it. She learns about the players, learns about the team,” Meta said.
It is still a little early, but fans think these two teams could battle for the ultimate prize in October.
“I think it would be pretty awesome to see a Pittsburgh-Cleveland world series,” Lantz said.
“I think that would be pretty neat to see. It would be pretty hard to get a ticket around here,” Meta said.