Wire-to-wire feat won't be important if O's are KO'd

September 27, 1997|By John Eisenberg

Opinion: Holding down first place for six months and 162 games is a terrific feat, a much tougher task than winning a playoff series, but the Orioles' accomplishment will lose a lot of its luster if they get knocked out of the American League playoffs.

Fact: Only two of the Ravens' 12 remaining games are against teams with winning records now (Redskins and Jaguars).

Opinion: Seems like a weekend of meaningless games at the end of baseball's regular season would be a good time for a guy fighting a sore back to take a rest and get ready for the playoffs, but, well, guess not.

Fact: The team formerly known as the Cleveland Browns also started 3-1 in 1993 and 1994. They faded badly and missed the playoffs in '93, then made the playoffs as a wild-card entry in '94.

Opinion: If Pat Gillick is still working for the Orioles in 1998, look for one of his favorite players, Paul Molitor, to join the team as a designated hitter. Molitor, 41, is batting .305 with 89 RBIs for the Twins this season, and his contract is up.

Fact: For those scoring at home, pitchers and catchers report to spring training in less than five months for the '98 season, and baseball's bigwigs still haven't decided on a schedule or league and divisional alignments. (Other than that, everything is fine.)

Opinion: The Orioles' MVP? That's easy. It's closer Randy Myers, for converting 44 of 45 save opportunities. His success ratio, as opposed to Mariano Rivera's 43-for-52, represents the difference between the Orioles and Yankees in the standings.

Fact: The United States held golf's Ryder Cup for 28 straight years (1957-1985) when the opposition was restricted to British players. Jack Nicklaus was the one who talked the British PGA into expanding its team to include all of Europe, leveling the playing field and leading to the event's exponential growth.

Opinion: Look for Tiger Woods and the rest of the American team to win back the Cup this weekend. (Tiger was a legendary match-play specialist as an amateur.)

Fact: Andre Agassi has given $5 million in three years to children's charities in his hometown of Las Vegas.

Opinion: If Marv Albert ever interviews Mike Tyson, they could share their experiences in, well, a really biting subject.

Fact: The Ravens have produced points on all 13 of their drives inside their opponents' 20-yard line, scoring seven touchdowns and six field goals.

Opinion: Jimmy Johnson has a 10-10 record as the Dolphins' coach, which means Dan Marino's days are numbered.

Fact: The Orioles were the only team in baseball to have three minor-league affiliates win titles this year. The winners were Bluefield, Delmarva and Rochester.

Opinion: Out of the many prospects the Orioles have unloaded in recent years, they will most miss pitcher Garrett Stephenson, who is 8-6 with a 3.15 ERA in Philly this year.

Fact: The Ravens are the second-youngest team in the NFL (behind the Colts), and the 49ers are the oldest by far.

Opinion: For the first time in years, Navy's football team has a legitimate shot at beating Notre Dame this season.

Fact: The Yankees' home attendance jumped about 15 percent this season in the wake of last year's World Series title.

Opinion: Maryland's winless Terps probably have to go 7-1 from here to achieve coach Ron Vanderlinden's stated goal of playing in a bowl game, and, well, maybe next year.

Fact: "We're a team of outcasts," says closer Roberto Hernandez of the San Francisco Giants, who are closing in on an improbable division title despite being ranked 10th in the National League in pitching and 11th in hitting.

Opinion: When the quality of major-league pitching gets even worse next season with the arrival of two expansion teams, Ken Griffey and/or Mark McGwire should finally break Roger Maris' record.

Fact: One more sack will give Peter Boulware five this season, more than any Raven had in 16 games last season.

Opinion: My AL Manager of the Year is the Brewers' Phil Garner, who did the most with the least. Same with the Pirates' Gene Lamont in the NL.

Fact: The Orioles are 70-5 when ahead after six innings.

Opinion: AL playoff predictions: Orioles over Mariners in four, Yankees over Indians in five.

Pub Date: 9/27/97

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