Baltimore Blast coach Kenny Cooper had a sobering thought yesterday as he prepared his team for a third trip to Richfield Coliseum this season to play the Cleveland Crunch.
"The way the playoffs are set up, we might have to play them aCleveland in the opening round," he said.
If Baltimore doesn't overtake the Kansas City Comets for firsplace in the Eastern Division, it would meet the third-place team -- currently Cleveland -- in a best-of-three series.
The Crunch has creamed the Blast by a combined score of 20-in two games at the Coliseum this season, a turn of events that has resulted in Baltimore owner Ed Hale taking some verbal shots from Cleveland owner George Hoffman.
Hale said that after the Crunch routed the Blast, 9-3, Jan. 25 iCleveland, Hoffman repeated to him some uncomplimentary things he had said about the Blast after an 11-2 rout by the Crunch on Nov. 30.
"George said to me, 'I told you Baltimore is gutless,' " said Halewho had walked up to Hoffman to say goodbye and congratulate him on the victory.
Hale said Hoffman's attacks on the Blast have worn his patiencthin.
"I don't believe George Hoffman has the guts to come to thBaltimore Arena and say those things," Hale said.
Cleveland public relations director Scott Hood said yesterdathat he has told Hoffman to "cool it."
"The last thing this league needs is two owners fighting," Hoosaid. "If this was the NFL, they both would have been fined heavily by now."
Baltimore, which will meet Cleveland tonight at the Coliseum a7:35, has gained a measure of revenge this season with three wins over the Crunch at the Baltimore Arena.
But Cooper has spent the past two days trying to "figure out way to win at Cleveland."
"We have to find a way to shorten the field, take advantage oour early chances and have good ball possession," the coach said.
NOTES: MSL commissioner Earl Foreman was in Buffalo, N.Y., yesterday meeting with Mayor Jim Griffin about that city's bid for an expansion team. There are two groups of prospective owners in Buffalo.
Opponent: Cleveland Crunch
Site: Richfield (Ohio) Coliseum, 7:35 p.m.
Radio: WCAO (600 AM)
Outlook: Baltimore will be without second-leading scorer F Domenic Mobilio (sprained left ankle) and MF Mike Stankovic (sore right foot) tonight. Their absence will enable all three Blast rookies, F Chris Simon, F Dominic Feltham and F Chris Haywood, to make a road trip for the first time this season. Coach Kenny Cooper said yesterday that he plans to use the rookies a lot tonight. Baltimore leads the series over Cleveland, 3-2.