The Brady bunch holds its breath Baseball: O's fans say the owner must be out in left field if he lets Anderson or Davey Johnson get away.

October 29, 1997|By Kevin Cowherd | Kevin Cowherd,SUN STAFF

El Nino is threatening to devastate the planet, the Dow Jones Industrial Average did a bungee-jump that snapped your neck just to watch, and the way they're talking about the flu going around, it might as well be the Ebola virus.

But if you're an Orioles fan, that's not what you're discussing around the water cooler today. If you're an O's fan, there are only two topics rattling around in your feverish little brain:

1) Will Peter Angelos bring back Davey Johnson?

2) Will the O's re-sign Brady Anderson?

"Every other issue," said James Clancy from Perry Hall, an O's season-ticket holder, "just faded into the background."

Recent events have given both matters a renewed sense of urgency.

In The Sun yesterday, a headline in the sports section screamed "Johnson: Extension or buyout" in a type size once reserved for: "Japanese Bomb Pearl Harbor." The O's manager's ultimatum arrived with all the subtlety of a safe dropping 10 stories: Extend my contract or let me go.

Then there was the story about Anderson filing for free agency, a step toward possibly leaving the team. The All-Star center fielder with the rodeo star sideburns reportedly wants about $8 million per season; apparently when those numbers are repeated to Orioles owner Angelos, he dials his cardiologist.

Whatever. For Orioles fans, the contract hassles of Johnson and Anderson represent twin harbingers of the apocalypse.

Last night on WBAL radio, sports-talk host Gerry Sandusky opened his show by intoning: "The only thing more dangerous than silence between Peter Angelos and Davey Johnson is when one of them talks."

For the next two hours, Sandusky fielded calls from a number of caffeinated callers concerned that the O's 1998 season was about to go down the drain.

"I think people are frustrated that the O's didn't get Brady signed before it became an issue," Sandusky said. "And with Davey, they're frustrated that it even became an issue."

Sandusky already knew first- hand just how consuming the "Brady issue" can be. It's something he learned when he returned home late one night from his other gig as sportscaster ** on WBAL-TV's 11 o'clock news.

His wife, Lee Ann, had been fast asleep. But when she heard Gerry come into the bedroom, she popped up and said: "Please tell me Brady isn't leaving."

Apparently, even deep into the REM phase of sleep, Orioles fans worry about losing Anderson to a team owner with even deeper pockets than Angelos.

In Bethesda, season-ticket holder Evie Altman-Orbach, 33, a free-lance writer, is having her worst fears realized.

Back in August, when contract negotiations between Anderson and the Orioles first broke down, Altman-Orbach and her husband, Scott, a government contracting consultant, went on the offensive.

"We didn't want to see another Jon Miller thing happening," said Altman-Orbach, referring to the popular, longtime O's radio personality, who left for San Francisco after a contract meltdown with Angelos last year.

So Altman-Orbach and her husband drew up petitions imploring Angelos to sign Brady for the good of all mankind -- or at least that segment of it that pledges allegiance to the Orioles.

She also got a permit from the city of Baltimore to sell "Keep Brady in Baltimore" T-shirts.

The shirts went for eight bucks apiece (two for $15). They sold more than 400 of them from a table outside Camden Yards, with the small profit they made going to charity.

Altman-Orbach vividly remembers the typical responses of O's fans who bought her Brady T-shirts last summer.

"The first response was, 'Oh, my God, they can't let Brady go!' And the second response was: 'There's no way Angelos will let Brady go.' "

At home yesterday, the realization that Brady could be swaggering up to the plate for another team next year had Altman-Orbach bummed.

"It's kind of sad the team had a fantastic season. It went wire to wire, it's a great team and it deserves another year [together]."

Back at WBAL, Sandusky was predicting that Anderson and Johnson would be topics 1 and 1A among his callers for many days to come.

"The third biggest topic," Sandusky added helpfully, "is what a crummy stadium the Redskins have after all."

Finally, a ray of sunshine in an otherwise dreary day.

Pub Date: 10/29/97

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