Dunbar High School's basketball team will have no trouble keeping its No. 1 ranking in the nation after annihilating Loyola, 93-47, this week, but the Poets are in for a much more severe test tomorrow night.
That's when Dunbar travels to Erie, Pa., to meet Oak Hill Academy, which may sound like something from the country day school circuit but is actually good enough to hand the Baltimoreans their first defeat.
"I'm really pulling for Dunbar to get by this one," says Bill Spotts, promoter of the Charm City Classic to be played at the Towson Center Jan. 17-18. "I sure hope Dunbar [12-0] will be undefeated coming into our tournament, but Oak Hill is a powerhouse."
According to Spotts, Oak Hill has recruited players a little older than Dunbar's from all over the country. All of Dunbar's players are local, of course.
Oak Hill, Spotts says, has five players who are going to be Division I players next year.
Actually, I don't think it will hurt the Charm City Classic that much if Dunbar does come into it with one loss (betcha Dunbar beats Oak Hill anyway). No matter how you slice it, the event will showcase four of the best high school teams in the country.
Besides top-rated Dunbar, the tourney will feature St. Anthony's, of Jersey City, N.J., St. Raymond's, of The Bronx, N.Y., and Baltimore's Southern High.
Southern, which is not nationally ranked although many feel it should be, will have more to prove than anyone. After its 73-41 crushing of Cardinal Gibbons this week, don't bet that the Bulldogs won't prove it.
Charm City tickets are beginning to move briskly. Buyers were in line at the Towson Center ticket office yesterday. The place holds 4,553.
* The Orioles haven't signed any Bobby Bonillas or Frank Violas, but they have made some moves this off-season that are at least encouraging, to their own players as well as to their fans. That was apparent in a chat the other day with O's outfielder Mike Devereaux.
"Signing Glenn Davis early sent a good message," Devereaux said, "and bringing in pitchers like Storm Davis and Rick Sutcliffe can only help us. No one knows if they can be as effective again as they used to be but they know how to win. They've proved that."
Devereaux, by the way, is one fine young gentleman and should be even more popular with the public than he is. To stay in shape this winter, Mike plays basketball three times a week. Where?
"Cal's gym," he says. (The gym at Cal Ripken's home in Worthington Valley.)
* Explain this one:
Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Larry Doughty gets fired this week after having won NL East championships the last two years.
Orioles GM Roland Hemond, whose team has finished fifth and sixth, respectively, in the AL East the last two seasons, gets a two-year contract extension and will receive the Edwin Rommel Award tomorrow night at the 39th annual Tops in Sports banquet at the Towson Center.
* There were some chuckles in the room at the pep rally for returning the NFL to Baltimore this week when the very proper Herb Belgrad, in praising the local sports fans, said:
"The Orioles' attendance record speaks for itself -- and you know it's not based on performance."
Now, now, Herb -- no digs at the city's only major-league team, even if the O's did lose 95 games this year. Let's see what Baltimore's expansion football team's record is. If we get one, that is.
* John Elway's name is still cursed by some Baltimoreans because of the way the Denver Broncos quarterback spurned this city when the Colts made him the No. 1 draft pick in the NFL in 1983. But Maryland Club squash pro Jim Taylor, who came here from Denver, sees the whole thing from a different perspective.
"Baltimore is a great place to live," says Taylor, "but what Elway did had nothing to do with Baltimore. It had to do with the Colts owner, Bob Irsay. Elway didn't think Irsay's organization would ever win, so he balked and got himself traded to Denver."
I agree. Frankly, Elway's ploy was one of the greatest career moves I've ever seen. Irsay's organization never did win, and now, in Indianapolis, is still the worst in pro football. Meanwhile, Elway is one victory away from going to his fourth Super Bowl.