Survived the famous Sports Illustrated...

CAL RIPKEN JR.

January 06, 1992

CAL RIPKEN JR. survived the famous Sports Illustrated jinx. Often, players or teams highlighted on the cover of that publication suffer swift falls. But Cal found his picture on the front of the magazine and kept right on having the best year of his career as the Orioles' shortstop.

Now comes a tougher challenge -- the Marylander of the Year jinx. For five years running, The Sun has honored one resident for contributions to the state. All followed with, in Cal's terms, the equivalent of a .230 season.

First to be named was Steven Muller, then president of Johns Hopkins University. Soon, the university ran into financial

problems, and Mr. Muller resigned. Out of the lineup, so to speak.

nTC Next was Vincent DeMarco, who helped lead the successful referendum to ban "Saturday Night Special" handguns in Maryland. Mr. DeMarco continues to be active in gun-control efforts, but he has attracted little public notice since his designation. The law has failed to stem the tide of gun violence, as drug dealers and other thugs turned to more powerful weapons. One might say the opposition took the series.

Then came Anne Tyler, fresh from the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Her latest novel, "Saint Maybe," got lukewarm reviews, about the equivalent of a fourth-place finish.

R. Robert Linowes, who chaired a commission that recommended reforming Maryland's tax structure, was the 1990 honoree. He had less wins during the 1991 season than former Oriole Jeff Robinson; his commission's proposals drew slim General Assembly support.

So now it's Maryland's favorite baseball hero facing Maryland's toughest editorial jinx. A great matchup, but Cal's equal to the task. We hope.

* * *

THE BREAKUP OF the Soviet Union may have a little-noticed benefit for President Bush as he prepares for re-election.

It should help him that the Evil Empire collapsed on his watch. Beyond that, by recognizing Russia as the successor to the Soviet Union and establishing diplomatic ties with five other former-Soviet republics, Mr. Bush has created the opportunity to name five new ambassadors.

While some ambassadorships go to career diplomats, many go to big contributors and loyalists of the party that controls the White House.

Not only does Mr. Bush now have five more such plums to award immediately, but the United States is delaying establishing formal relations with six other now-independent Soviet republics.

For now, the Bush administration is saying it will exchange ambassadors when the new republics meet certain criteria: democratic processes, free markets, human-rights guarantees

and so on. But maybe Mr. Bush is simply waiting for the big contributors to appear in the early months of the primary season. Interested would-be ambassadors can apply to the Bush campaign.

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