Hale sees Blast as just 5-3 finish away from making playoffs

The Inside Stuff

March 12, 1992|By Bill Tanton

The Blast, with its 15-17 record, may be winding down another disappointing season but there's still realistic hope of making the playoffs.

"We have home games tomorrow night [against Cleveland] and Saturday afternoon [San Diego]," says owner Ed Hale, "and we're expecting 9,000 to 10,000 for each. If we win both games we'll be 17-17 with six games left, three of those at home.

"There are two playoff spots left and four teams are fighting for them [Blast, Cleveland, Tacoma and Wichita]. We think with 20 wins we can get in the playoffs. Once you get in, everybody's 0-0."

Here's an amazing fact about pro indoor soccer:

If the Blast should make the playoffs and draw at all well, the team could become the first in the Major Soccer League to break even since Cleveland in 1984. As it is now, Hale stands to lose $100,000 this year.

Even that would be an improvement. Last year the Blast lost $674,000. The year before that, Hale's first as owner, the team lost $1.1 million.

Says Hale: "I think that's a pretty good business story, taking a business that's losing more than $1 million a year and reducing the losses to zero in two years.

"I'm not interested in making money on soccer. I just don't want to get killed like I have been. If we can break even or make a little money, it would be a great thing for the league's expansion efforts."

Even the Blast's record is an improvement over last year's 21-31.

One reason coach Kenny Cooper and his team are optimistic about the upcoming weekend is that goalie Cris Vaccaro is healthy. Vaccaro missed two games with a virus last week. The Blast lost both.

* Agent Ron Shapiro and his assistant, Michael Maas, have been in Florida primarily to service two clients -- the Orioles' Cal Ripken Jr. and the Twins' Kirby Puckett. Both are up for new contracts after this season.

The combined total of the contracts Ripken and Puckett will sign is likely to be at least $50 million. Other players say Shapiro takes 5 percent, half what many agents get. Still, that would be $2.5 million for Shapiro's firm, which represents numerous other athletes and broadcasters.

* Eddie Murray, who will be here with the Mets for the April 3 exhibition game with the Orioles, owns a mansion in Los Angeles with 11 bedrooms and a six-car garage. The place is only half-furnished.

Eddie's favorite house is still the one he owned in northern Baltimore County when he was an Oriole. He sold it to Phil Bradley, another ex-Oriole, who still owns it. Eddie stays there whenever he comes to Baltimore.

* Marvin Miller, the first full-time executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, reveals some interesting figures in his book, "A Whole Different Ballgame."

When Miller took over in 1966, the average player's salary was $6,000. The only players who had reached $100,000 since World War II were Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays and Stan Musial.

Today the average player's salary is $1 million and one, Ryne Sandberg, is in the $7 million class. It was Miller more than anyone who led the players to this promised land.

* Reality check: The salary cap for the entire Baltimore Blast squad, 17 players, is $550,000.

* Loyola College is pushing basketball hard, but a lacrosse game to be played there Saturday against defending NCAA champion North Carolina probably will draw twice as many people as any basketball game the Greyhounds played at Reitz Arena all winter. Loyola has only four home games on its 11-game lacrosse schedule.

If you're not aware of the drawing power of lacrosse, be advised that the season opener at Johns Hopkins against Princeton last weekend drew more than twice as many spectators (4,490) as the East Coast Conference championship basketball game did two days later at UMBC (1,918) even with a local team, Towson State, in it.

* You have to give ex-Loyola basketball star Mike Morrison credit for stick-to-it-iveness. Since leaving college in 1989 he has been with 11 pro teams including Phoenix, Washington and Philadelphia of the NBA. He's now with the Raleigh (N.C.) Bullfrogs of the Global Basketball Association.

Morrison's Raleigh teammate, Chris Corchiani, was moved up to the Orlando Magic six weeks ago, giving the ex-Greyhound encouragement concerning his own chances of getting back in the NBA.

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