Reading time, two minutes: It is now clear who is running the Orioles -- stand up and take a bow, Ron Shapiro -- as the club moves to humor Jim Palmer and truck him down to spring training for a look-see. While Jimbo hasn't pitched in six years, has been less than impressive tossing the ball around down south and is already damaged goods (sore elbow and blisters), 10 percenter Shapiro reveals the only sticking point right now is the pitcher's salary should he make the club. Think of it fans, Palmer spouting analysis over Channel 2 as he attempts to wriggle off a none-out bases-loaded hook.
On a hunch, a call was put in to Dave McNally last night. The moose who answered said he couldn't come to the phone, he was busy throwing in the cellar of his Billings, Mont., lodge. Mac reportedly has his heater up over 60 mph already.
* And speaking of comebacks, Houston McTear won a 60-yard -- in Stockholm yesterday, beating Calvin Smith among others. You had to figure he was about ready to start competing with the Alan Cranston crowd.
* Faced with paying massive one-year contracts to Doug Drabek, Bobby Bonilla and Barry Bonds totaling more than $8 million, you lament along with Pittsburgh Pirates president Carl Barger when he says, "Wouldn't it be tragic if it reached the point where you couldn't afford to win?"
Thing is, when it happens, and it appears inevitable, it will be nothing new. After dominating in 1929-30-31, Connie Mack had to unload Lefty Grove, Rube Walberg, Max Bishop and Mickey Cochrane to keep the Philadelphia A's afloat. Earlier, after finishing first in 1914, Mack had had to sell off another slew of Hall of Famers to carry on.
And while you're still reeling at the sight of all those zeroes on the contracts of present day players, be advised it was 50 years ago this week that Dolph Camilli, coming off a year in which he hit .287 with 23 homers and 97 runs batted in, gladly signed for the same money.
* It was fitting indeed that many hundreds were on hand last night to hear the inspiring words of Mr. Pete Rose. So jammed was the Western Hills Country Club, closed-circuit TVs were set up in separate rooms so the multitudes could be privy to Pete's every thought and emotion. No doubt Cincinnati womenfolk were upset being excluded since it was a stag affair. The evening no doubt proved a forerunner to next month when Rose, free as the proverbial bird, will be appearing at a baseball card collector's show near you. It's what makes America great.
* As Adam said to Eve, "Records are made to be broken." Still, it takes a ton of forbearance these days to accept some of the stuff going on, particularly in college hoops.
Just a couple of nights after setting an NCAA Division II record by scoring 187 points, Troy (Ala.) State runs up 103 in a half for another record. The latter feat came against DeVry Institute, well known refrigerator repair establishment that wasn't even on Troy's schedule at the beginning of the season.
Pete Maravich's 69 points against a pretty good Alabama team in 1970, forget it. That was erased by some U.S. International basket-hanger scoring 72 in one of those 165-159 games Loyola Marymount is famous for.
* New on the market this year is a book as big as a Volkswagen entitled the Official Major League Stat Book (MacMillan). It answers such pressing questions as what player had the biggest disparity between home and road batting averages last season.
Why, Tom Brunansky, of course. The Red Sox outfielder hit .333 in Fenway Park and .180 on the road. Tom just signed for $8.1 million for three years. Just think if he could travel. Right behind him was teammate Wade Boggs with his .359 and .205. Insert Margo Adams joke here.
* Oklahoma, a school long rumored to be headed for the Ivy League -- whose president once said, "I want a school the football team can be proud of" -- had a women's basketball game scheduled against Iowa State tonight. It was canceled because the Sooners already have played 26 times, they have two more games scheduled, plus the Big Eight tournament and there's a 28-game limit. Stupefying that neither the school nor the conference picked up on this until today. Details, details.
* A guy as happy as anyone in the Terry Norris camp when the super welterweight champ buzzsawed his way past Sugar Ray Leonard was English promoter Mickey Duff. See, Mick has 20 percent of a couple of Norris title defenses after he beat Duff's man John Mugabi. What has ethics got to do with boxing?