Elvis, Albert and Trent

Sports: Revolving door leads to Ravens QB change as career-ending injury deprives Orioles of slugger.

March 12, 2001

ELVIS HAS ENTERED the building. But Trent has departed. So has Mike. And now Albert.

It's hard to tell who's on Baltimore's sports teams without a program.

Just weeks after winning the Super Bowl for the Ravens, quarterback Trent Dilfer is looking for a job. That's because the Ravens signed up a superior passer from Kansas City named Elvis Grbac.

Get used to it. The salary cap - a ceiling on what each team can spend - forces clubs in the National Football League to release high-paid stars. Then they sign up other teams' stars with the help of some creative financing.

Meanwhile, baseball soon returns to Camden Yards. Cal Ripken will be there. But Oriole fans already miss ace pitcher Mike Mussina, who took more money from the Yankees of New York. Now they must adjust to life without Albert - as in Belle, the team's big home-run threat.

His degenerative hip forced him to hang up his cleats (but still collect $39 million owed him).

That leaves the Orioles without a prime slugger, yet with more room for promising prospects. Maybe that will be a silver lining.

Baseball and football are huge corporate industries. On that level, it's about money and increasing the value of your franchise.

For fans, though, it's about forming emotional attachments to athletes representing a city. It's about rooting for Trent Dilfer to pull off the impossible dream, Mike Mussina pitching a gem of a one-hitter, or Albert Belle walloping a three-run homer.

They will be missed. In time, fans will learn to love their replacements. And Cal Ripken's still here, at least for one more season.

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