Queen Elizabeth's visit to Memorial Stadium Wednesday left one thing abundantly clear. Without an expansion team in Washington, it could happen again.
The queen probably won't be back any time soon, but somewhere there is a monarch just aching to see the Baltimore Orioles leave a dozen or so runners on base -- even if it means staying at the stadium for a full three innings.
That will mean more traffic snarls, more Secret Service and more of your tax dollars at play. It would be difficult to guess how much QE II's 48-minute baseball lesson cost, but it had to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars in local, state and federal security expenses. Last time anyone looked, there wasn't enough money for schools around here.
Admittedly, the queen generated a lot of excitement at Memorial Stadium Wednesday night. Baltimore was honored by her visit, and the city obviously enjoyed the fleeting brush with royalty. But President Bush could have saved the country a fortune if he had just taken her out to the Rose Garden for a catch.
It was obvious that the Bushes and the royal couple did not come to see a game. They came to be seen at one. Perhaps this won't be a popular opinion, but here's one baseball fan who would like to see the public image-makers take it somewhere else.
That's just one reason why baseball in Washington seems like a great idea.
Outfielder Mike Marshall wants out of Boston. The Red Sox front office wants Mike Marshall out of Boston. The fans want Mike Marshall out of Boston. Even his teammates want Mike Marshall out of Boston.
So, why is he still in Boston?
Because no other team will take a chance on him now that he has gotten a reputation as a malingerer and a malcontent. Even Marshall will admit that.
"I'll probably have to go to Japan next year," he said. "Nobody's going to want me the way my reputation is now. There would have to be some kind of major crash for a team to want me. A plane would have to go down or something."
The Red Sox have offered to let Marshall out of his contract, but only if he agrees to forgo the rest of his $1.3 million salary. He isn't willing to do that.
The situation came to a head last week when he refused to go into a game as a substitute, citing a sore back. Teammate Jack Clark ripped him for "insubordination" and team leader Mike Greenwell told reporters that the club would be better off without him.
"Mike wants to get out of here," Greenwell said. "He's doing everything he can to get out and management is going to have to do everything it can to get him out."
The New York Mets are so baffled by catcher Mackey Sasser's throwing problem that general manager Frank Cashen is ready to send him to a hypnotist. He has done it before, right here in Baltimore, when as an Orioles executive he called in a hypnotist to help outfielder Paul Blair regain confidence at the plate after he was hit in the head by a pitch.
The San Diego Padres were on top of the world a few weeks ago, but everything seems to be coming unravelled.
During a recent nine-game homestand -- during which the Padres won only two games -- they made 10 roster moves, four significant lineup changes, placed three players (Marty Barrett, Gerald Clark and Larry Anderson) on the disabled list and two pitchers (Anderson and reliever Pat Clements) on the operating table.
Sounds awful, doesn't it? But the Padres are 16-19, a record that would be considered downright promising in Baltimore.
So far, the Seattle Mariners are proving that a dominant relief stopper isn't necessarily the key to a successful season.
The club has been without short relief specialist Mike Schooler all season because of an injury, but the bullpen has converted 11 of 12 save opportunities.
Earlier this year, manager Jim Lefebvre sought out Pittsburgh Pirates manager Jim Leyland for advice on how to run a bullpen by committee. Pittsburgh won the National League East last year, even though it needed saves from nine relief pitchers.
Lefebvre must have gotten some sound advice. The Mariners already have gotten at least a win or a save from each of their five relievers.
By the book: The ponderous proliferation of scouting and statistical manuals has left little room on the baseball bookshelf for a common-sense approach to the game, but there's no need for despair. The mythical Schmuck Baseball Analyst can't take up room on your shelf because it doesn't exist outside the mind of one slightly demented sportswriter, but it will come in handy any time conventional baseball wisdom needs a poke in the ribs. Some examples:
Unwritten rule: Never put the tying or go-ahead run on base.
Schmuck Baseball Analyst approved strategy: Putting the tying or go-ahead run on base admittedly is risky, but has to be considered a percentage move against the Orioles, who hit much better without runners on base.
Unwritten rule: Never pinch hit with a midget.