It's almost time for baseball's other big comeback.
Chicago White Sox outfielder Bo Jackson will test his damaged hip at both the Class A and Class AA levels before a possible return to the major leagues after the Sept. 1 roster expansion.
Jackson's schedule includes two games with the Class A Sarasota White Sox and at least four with the Class AA Birmingham Barons. Last night's Sarasota game was rained out and rescheduled as part of a doubleheader today. Though he has worked all year to reach this point, the minor-league &L rehabilitation assignment will be a real test -- not just a conditioning period.
The White Sox still don't know how the hip will respond to the rigors of live competition. Taking batting practice is one thing; exploding out of the batter's box with a full head of steam is another.
Jackson is confident in his recovery, but he is certain of only one thing: He won't be one of the fastest players in baseball when he returns, and he has a noticeable limp to prove it.
"I'm used to being the fastest guy on the field," Jackson told reporters recently. "Right now, I'd say my speed is between one-quarter and one-half. You won't be looking at a speed demon."
The Kansas City Royals might think they are looking at a ghost in a week or so. Jackson's comeback could coincide with their visit to Comiskey Park. The White Sox will play host to the Royals in a four-game series Sept. 2-5.
"My No. 1 goal now is to go to Florida," Jackson said. "I'm not worried about Kansas City. If I'm here when they come to town, that's super."
With more apologies to talk show host David Letterman, here's list of top 10 reasons the new stadium should be named Camden Yards:
10. Oriole Park sounds like a minor-league field sponsored by Nabisco.
9. No need to antagonize animal-rights activists with further exploitation of Oriole for commercial gain.
8. Short-sighted rush to employ traditional architectural style rules out silly space-age theme.
7. Gov. William Donald Schaefer's parents never ran a saloon where left field is going to be.
6. People probably will remember Babe Ruth, anyway.
5. Will give boost to sagging rail industry.
4. If Robert Irsay owned the local baseball team, he'd want the place called Oriole Park, too.
3. Can always change name later and raise ticket prices.
2. Schmuck Stadium groundswell never materialized.
1. Will make Camden, N.J., a mecca for world's dumbest baseball fans.
Speaking of new ballparks, the Texas Rangers recently called on local architects to submit their ideas for the new stadium that will be built in the Arlington area soon, but some of the plans went a little too far.
Rangers president Tom Schieffer asked for something "more than just a ballpark," and some of the architects took him at his word, submitting plans including extras that would require as much as three times the $165 million budgeted for the project.
"Some of the architects obviously took a poetic license or budgetary license and described a project that would cost considerably more," Schieffer told the Dallas Morning News last week.
But don't take that to mean the Rangers and the stadium authority are out looking for more conservative estimates. Just the opposite. They're out trying to find more money.
They apparently have been stricken by an affliction known as SkyDome Syndrome, which manifests itself in an uncontrollable urge to take a baseball stadium and turn it into a shopping mall.
It didn't take long for Cleveland Indians outfielder Albert Belle to get under the skin of new manager Mike Hargrove.
Belle, you might recall, was disciplined for throwing a ball at spectator earlier this season, then sent to the minors for lack of hustle. But all that was during the John McNamara administration.
Hargrove yanked Belle out of Thursday's game at Fenway Park, but there was some difference of opinion over what prompted the disciplinary action. The manager said it was because Belle didn't run out a fly ball. Belle said it was because he made an obscene gesture at a fan behind the visitors dugout.
"I thought I was taken out for making the gesture at the fan," Belle told the Cleveland Plain Dealer after the game. "No one told me it was because I didn't run -- I ran like I usually run -- but they don't tell me anything around here."
Did you get that? The guy can't even keep his infractions straight. Even Rob Dibble usually has an idea why he's being punished.
"No matter what I do," Belle added, "for the rest of the year I'm going to be under a microscope."
Ten-second editorial: The controversy that has grown up around the name of Baltimore's new baseball stadium is much ado about nothing, but name it Camden Yards just the same.
Former Orioles catcher Rick Dempsey had a single, a double and home run in his first three at-bats Wednesday and came up in the ninth inning with a chance to hit for the cycle for the first time in his career.