Reason No. 2 is that, although Bill Ripken is having a good year in Triple-A, what makes the Orioles think he's a different player from the guy they let go after the 1992 season? He's very good defensively -- as he was before. He's never going to be a great hitter for average -- he never was. He's not someone who's going to have an impact on the offense with speed or power, not that he ever has done that. Why now?
Finally, there is this -- what happens if they trade for Bill Ripken and he's a bust? What then? They can't really release him without rancor, because of who he is and who his brother is. Suppose he's hitting .180 after a month and they decide they want to use his spot to pick up a backup outfielder. Maybe you can trade Bret Barberie in midseason without much ado, because he hasn't been here that long, but not Bill Ripken. The Orioles could benefit from another short-term marriage with the second baseman, but the imminent divorce would hurt.
If they believe they need a stronger defensive second baseman to spell Alexander occasionally, or replace him in the late innings, get somebody else. Good-field, no-hit second basemen are almost a cliche in baseball.
0 But Bill Ripken. That's a whole other story.
ABC-NBC news not AOK
The importance of the decision by ABC and NBC to pull out of their affiliations with Major League Baseball cannot be underestimated. If the two networks are serious -- and their leaders say they are -- then only CBS and Fox would be left to bid on the rights to televising baseball, and that would, quite naturally, drive down the price of the rights fees. The rights fees go down, the revenue goes down, the amount of money allocated to each of the teams goes down, the payrolls go down, and player salaries go down. When the player salaries and owners' profits go down, the tension and mistrust between the two sides will increase and the entire situation will get worse -- unless the owners show initiative and get the labor talks rolling.
There seems to be little doubt, however, that the money paid to players is going to decrease drastically. No wonder the Orioles gave pitcher Mike Mussina a two-year deal instead of a three-year deal. Mussina likely would want between $4 million and $4.5 million for that third year, which, in the current market, would be an absolute bargain for a pitcher of his ilk. But in the revamped market, a scaled-back market, the Orioles might figure his relative value could be much less than that. . . .
Padres changing, charging
The Padres are making some changes as they close in on first place in the NL West. This week, they dumped left-hander Fernando Valenzuela out of the rotation and replaced him with rookie left-hander Glenn Dishman, who has masterful control with his changeup. And if first baseman Eddie Williams doesn't improve his run production, the Padres may platoon him with left-handed-hitting rookie Roberto Petagine. Andy Benes, who hadn't won in nearly one calendar year, has won his past two starts, including a 1-0 decision Wednesday. . . . Henderson is the latest Oakland star to butt heads with manager Tony La Russa, who benched the All-Star outfielder this week. "I think he's struggling," La Russa said. Henderson, hitting .245 through Wednesday's game, replied: "Struggling from what? What do you mean by struggling?"
Lamont argues back