Atlanta general manager John Schuerholz shrugs off his team's 0-2 start against Minnesota in the World Series.
"This is right where we want to be," says Schuerholz, "with our backs to the wall. Our guys seem to respond better when they're in that position. That's the way they've been all year."
Schuerholz, in his first year with the Braves after serving as GM at Kansas City, offers more than bravado to justify his optimism.
"We're at home now and we have two of the hottest pitchers in the game going the next two nights [Steve Avery and John Smoltz]," says the graduate of City College and Towson State.
"We can win in the Metrodome. We could have won Sunday night. The call at first base by Drew Coble against Ron Gant was, not only a bad call, it was one of the worst calls in World Series history."
Gant, who had rounded the base after a hit in the third inning, retreated to first ahead of a throw but appeared to be pulled off the bag by Twins first baseman Kent Hrbek.
Schuerholz learned long ago when he was at Kansas City what his players are saying now about the Metrodome -- that it's a terrible place for baseball.
"When they built the place, I said they ought to blow it up and start over," Schuerholz says. "It's a football facility. I don't think anybody would design a ballpark where you can't see the ball from the outfield."
* The NFL, which some call the No Fun League, is not doing anything new when it tries to make its participants act like automatons.
Earl Hudson, a local football official, held the first-down sticks foyears at Colt home games. In the mid-'60s the NFL office called the Colts to get Hudson to stop his high-stepping when he and the chain gang ran on the field for measurements. Said Hudson: "That's the only way I know how to run. I've run that way since I played at Poly." And that was the end of that.
MA * Thoroughbred racing must provide more upsets than any sport.Laurel certainly was the scene of one in the 40th International run there Saturday.
The race was won by a French horse, Leariva, the longest pricewinner in the event's history. The filly paid $90.60. Jockey Edgar Prado became the first local rider to win the International in 28 years. Though born in Peru 24 years ago, Prado is local because he rides at Laurel and Pimlico.
Leariva had to pass 11 horses in the stretch to win. Says Pradof the whole experience: "It was hard to believe."
* They said last year at Garrison Forest School that tall, rangninth-grader Liza Shoemaker would develop into an outstanding high school athlete. It looks as if she already has as a 10th-grader. She scored the only goal in Garrison's 1-0 upset of neighborhood rival McDonogh in field hockey last weekend.
"Liza is outstanding in all three sports she plays -- hockeybasketball and lacrosse," says her coach, Micul Ann Morse.
Garrison probably will have its toughest test next Monday wheundefeated St. Paul's pays a visit.
* World Series TV ratings are a little off from last year, but onthing CBS could do to enlarge its audience would be to start the games before 8:35 p.m.
The 11-year old baseball fanatic who lives in my house has to gto bed after the second inning. There must be a million school kids in the East who have the same problem.
* Calvert Hall, 6-0 and ranked No. 1 in The Baltimore Sun's Top 20, is going to be even tougher the rest of the season.
The Cardinals got 240-pound defensive tackle Joe Antonelli back last week. He's the team captain and president of the student body, which tells you something about his leadership ability. Antonelli missed the first five games while recovering from mononucleosis.
"Joe couldn't have come back at a better time," says his coach, Bill Mackley. "We're playing a huge Forest Park team this Friday (3:30 at Calvert Hall). Then we get City, McDonogh, Poly and Loyola.
"If I were ranking the teams, I'd make City No. 1. We saw them at Hanover (Pa.) High and they're very good. If you'd asked me in August about our team I would have said we'd be lucky to go 5-5. But we're happy to be No. 1. I tell the kids to enjoy success while you can."
* It cost Skipjacks owner Tom Ebright $250,000 to buy his American Hockey League franchise in 1987. That seemed like a lot of money at the time, but minor-league sports are doing well. The St. John's AHL franchise recently sold for $750,000. Tom Ebright is no dummy.