May weather, October dreams Opening Day: Baltimore Orioles and their fans enter season filled with great expectations.

March 31, 1998

TYPICALLY, baseball's Opening Day arrives in Baltimore after a long winter of cold, snow and emergency runs for toilet paper and milk. The day isn't just about baseball; it cradles revival, renewal and rebirth.

Opening Day '98 isn't so burdened. This Chesapeake winter has been one of the mildest on record; highway crews have more salt in stock than pretzel vendors.

Indeed, today's Orioles game vs. Kansas City is expected to be played in midseason heat, if not form. Temperatures in the 80s mock remembrances of openers past that were powdered with snow or last year's, when winds postponed the game a day.

Majority owner Peter Angelos only wishes he could manage his occasional critics as efficiently as Mother Nature, who quickly silenced I-told-you-sos about the season starting too soon.

While outer garments will be fewer today, expectations will be greater.

The frustrations Oriole fans experienced, pre-Camden Yards, in the late 1980s and early '90s, have given way to a heady anticipation more akin to the powerhouse 1960s and 1970s teams. Then, Baltimore baseball fans basked in a sense of noblesse O-blige.

Today's Orioles, paradoxically, were built on baseball's new economics that flow from a new stadium built to look old to watch a team led by a new manager, Ray Miller, said to represent old baseball values.

Both players and fans must beware of overconfidence, often a self-unfulfilling prophecy. But they can take comfort that hopes for world championships -- and gentle winters -- sometimes come true.

Pub Date: 3/31/98

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