Not enough credit for the Orioles' improvement is given to manager Johnny Oates. The Cubs' Jim Frey is quick to help correct that.
Frey, who has watched Oates develop for more than 20 years, has long known what a lot of fans are only now learning about Oates.
Many Baltimore baseball fans recall that Oates was the Orioles' No. 3 catcher in the early '70s when Frey was Earl Weaver's first base coach -- and only a seer would have picked Frey or Oates to go on to become big-league managers.
Not many O's fans realize that in the mid-'70s Oates and Frey were together in Chicago.
"John coached for me when I managed the Cubs," says Frey, who later became GM of the Cubs and now serves as their American League scout.
"I'm not at all surprised he is doing well with the Orioles. He has what's needed for this job.
"He's smart enough. He's experienced enough. And he has TC way of talking to the players that they're comfortable with. That's not easily accomplished with today's players.
"And John is tough enough. By that, I mean, that sometimes in this game there are decisions to be made that you know are right, but they're tough to make anyway -- and John can make them. He can make the tough decision."
* Baltimore's Pam Shriver, who was to play 16-year-old Jennifer Capriati in the second round at Wimbledon today, told me in 1988 -- after she had experienced the thrill of winning an Olympic gold medal in Seoul, South Korea -- that she thought she would continue to play singles only through the Barcelona Olympics in '92.
That made sense to me. Shriver, who turns 30 on July 4, has been on the pro tour since she was 16. She has accomplished a lot, earning millions, and once rising to No. 3 in the world. But she won't be following the script she wrote four years ago -- going for another gold at Barcelona.
Shriver wasn't chosen for the Olympics by the U.S. Tennis Association, which is too bad. Though her singles ranking now fluctuates around No. 40, she is still one of the best doubles players in the world. What's more, she has been a great emissary for this country and would be that again next month.
* The lacrosse world is very surprised that Princeton's Bill Tierney didn't wind up as Virginia's new coach after he went to Charlottesville and interviewed for the job. Brown's Dom Starsia will succeed Jim Adams at UVA starting Aug. 1.
Tierney, who coached his Tigers to the NCAA championship on Memorial Day, will remain at Princeton -- much to the delight of the Princeton lacrosse family, including returnees such as All-America goalie Scott Bacigalupo. Bacigalupo, a St. Paul's School product, has two more years under Tierney.
Says Tierney, who'll be in Baltimore all next week at the 205 Camp he runs at Loyola College with Dave Cottle and Tony Seaman: "I'm not disappointed because I'm very happy at Princeton. I may have out-priced myself at Virginia. Sometimes it takes looking at another job to know how good you've got it."
In Starsia, Virginia is getting a good man who is well liked and respected, but a coach who in 10 years at Brown has never made the NCAA Final Four. Tierney, who took Princeton from the bottom to the top in five years, is considered a better coach, and Virginia is considered an easier place at which to win than any Ivy League school.
* Almost as surprising as Princeton's NCAA lacrosse championship this season is the Maryland Lacrosse Club's winning the U.S. Club Association championship. The M.L.C., which upset Mount Washington to win the Southern Division title, beat Northern Division champ Brine, of Boston, 14-12, at Hempstead, Long Island, earlier this month. Because the game was played late on a Saturday night, it received scant publicity anywhere.
Says M.L.C. coach Arly Marshall, who coached the United States to the World Games title in Australia in 1990: "It certainly was an upset that we could win the club title and do it without John Tucker, who injured a couple of vertebrae and missed the game."
Tucker, coach at Gilman, was an All-America midfielder at Hopkins. "Tucker is the best player in the world, in my opinion," said Marshall. "John is the only player in the game who could play any position and make All-America."
Chris Colbeck, in his first year out of Loyola College, scored six goals in the title p game for M.L.C.