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July 4, 2010

BP Unfiltered

Five Minutes with Jason Berken

by David Laurila

Sports are a staple of American culture, so it is only fitting that a full slate of baseball games are being played on the Fourth of July. One of them is at Fenway Park, where the Red Sox just played host to Jason Berken and the Orioles. Berken, a 26-year-old right-hander who grew up near Green Bay, Wisconsin and attended Clemson University before coming to Baltimore, offered his thoughts on three fan bases, and the World Cup.

On Green Bay Packers fans: “The biggest thing with them is that they’re so loyal. I wasn’t a part of the days when they weren’t very good, like the ‘70s and ‘80s -- I’ve been fortunate to be a Packers fan for the good years -- but I know that they’re very dedicated and very loyal. It’s one of the few places where you’ll be there at eight o’clock in the morning and there will be people tailgating. It’s kind of that way with Midwest fans in general, because in Minnesota it’s the same thing. They’re very avid fans, very loyal fans, who love to have fun.”

On Clemson Tigers fans: “In Green Bay, there isn’t a whole lot going on sports-wise, besides the Packers, so you have a lot of interest in the team. Clemson is kind of the same way because there are no pro teams in South Carolina; it’s pretty much Clemson fans and South Carolina fans. They’re also very loyal and I think you kind of grow up as a fan because you were born into it.”

On Baltimore sports fans: “They’re avid and you can tell that they’re ready to see us winning and have a great team out there, which we hope to do. I’ve never been to a football game there, so I can’t really speak in terms of the Ravens, but they’re very invested in the team and huge fans.”

On playing in a non-winning environment: “It can be tough at times, but I think the biggest thing for us is that we’re just trying to stay positive. We know that things are going to get better. It’s just a matter of us playing a little better baseball, and we have been lately. I think that the second half is going to be good for us.”

On the World Cup: “I’ve been watching it, although I was paying more attention when the U.S. was playing. Once we got eliminated it’s been a little less, but I’ve still been keeping up with the teams. I think that because the U.S. has so many sports, it’s tough for people to get really crazy about it, but this year there has been a huge following. It’s obviously one of the biggest sporting events in the world, if not the biggest, and you can see how much it means to each country just to compete and have a chance to win that World Cup.”

On what it would be like to play in the World Cup: “It would be pretty incredible. We’re playing here in Fenway Park, on the Fourth of July, where it’s sold out and there are close to 40,000 fans, but I can’t imagine playing in front of 100,000 fans. It would be pretty intense, to say the least, especially when I’d be representing my country.”

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