Team for sale: Who's apt to buy?

MIKE LITTWIN

September 06, 1992|By MIKE LITTWIN

The Orioles, who never like to put on paper any agreement they might be able to amend in their favor later, have signed a 30-year lease on Camden Yards when they had agreed originally to only 15 years.

Why?

To show how much they really appreciate the new stadium and the folks who built it for them and who also fill it up night after night?

That is, I guess, a possibility.

Or, how about this: Because Eli Jacobs wants to get his affairs in order so he can sell the team before the repo man knocks on the door?

My guess is that the lease, which the Orioles uncharacteristically pushed the Maryland Stadium Authority to get completed, is just one more piece of evidence suggesting the team really is for sale.

So, our project for today is to figure out who might actually buy the Orioles.

The requirements are fairly simple. The person needs a lot of money.

By a lot of money, I mean even more than Bobby Fischer is getting to play chess in the former Yugoslavia, which, I understand, is beautiful this time of year. Just bring your flak jacket.

The only requirement other than money is a willingness to negotiate with Jacobs. Just bring your flak jacket.

Some candidates:

* Prince. He has the money. Just signed a $100 million record deal, and look at all the bucks he has saved over the years on shirts. I know I'd love to hear "Little Red Corvette" on the PA. That's got to beat anything John Denver ever sang. And if you've ever seen any Prince video, you could imagine what the ball girls might look like. Sheila E. will be dropping by. The only downside I can see is that he'd want to change the team colors to purple.

* Fay Vincent. He needs a job. He's going to get a nice settlement from the owners. And then, as an owner himself, he would get the chance to hate the next commissioner. Already a close, personal friend of Eli Jacobs, putting him in pretty rarefied company.

* Woody Allen. Big baseball fan. Has always had a peculiar fondness for baseball players' sliding. May need a different outlet to express his creativity. Ever hear "The Star Spangled Banner" with a clarinet solo? I see very early in his ownership a family values night promotion.

* George Bush. Not George W. Bush, who owns the Texas Rangers. George H. W. Bush, who runs the country. If you believe the polls, he's going to need a job soon. And jobs, these days, are pretty hard to find, which would be why he'd need one. He's perfect for this job. The former Yalie first sacker loves baseball. Knows the stadium. Knows the fastest helicopter routes in from Washington. And if the queen comes to another game, he's already on a first-name basis. In fact, most of the people regularly seen in Jacobs' box are Bush appointees. One awkward moment would be if the new president visited on Opening Day. But, hey, this is baseball. Nobody is asking them to debate.

* Princess Di. Looking to relocate. Couldn't find baseball as boring as she finds Prince Charles.

* David Letterman. Word is out he's going to go syndicated. Then watch the bucks come in. One day he's a late-night host with a top-10 gimmick, the next day he's running neck and neck with Oprah. He'd be a great owner. The top-10 list would be the lineup -- perfect in the AL with the designated hitter. And when a player is in a slump, he could do a little warm-up with the top 10 reasons that, say, Cal Ripken can't hit homers. No. 10: Worried about possible hair loss.

* Speaking of Cal Ripken. Magic Johnson wants to buy a basketball team. Why shouldn't Cal Ripken own his own baseball team? We know how much money he's getting. Cal can pick his own teammates. He can make his dad manager again. He can get the fences pulled in. He can get them pulled way in. And he won't have to worry about David Letterman buying the team and making jokes about his hairline.

* Susan Sarandon. Ideal for Orioles. Famous baseball Annie. Has background in working with seafood. In fact, Boog's Barbecue would have a heck of a time competing with Sarandon slicing open clams. And Tim Robbins could throw out the first pitch.

* The Boss. No, not George Steinbrenner. Bruce Springsteen. Has baseball background. You know the song. Throw that speedball by you, make you look like a fool, boy. Maybe Ben McDonald could learn something from Bruce's music. Throw that speedball by you -- you see, "by you" being the operative phrase.

* Boogie. Well, just in case the football thing falls through. Baltimore is missing a great chance if Boogie doesn't get to own some sports team, if only so Barry Levinson can do the highlight film.

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