Olympic loss comes as no surprise

Commentary

August 29, 2002|By MIKE PRESTON

A DAY FOR rumbling and rambling:

Organizers for Washington-Baltimore's bid to play host to the 2012 Summer Olympics expressed disappointment about the U.S. Olympic Committee's decision to choose New York and San Francisco over them, but the outcome was as predictable as picking the Yankees to make the playoffs. They were teased just as much as the groups that sought NFL expansion here after the Colts left in 1984.

Let's forget about housing, transportation and stadium availability for a second. San Francisco is one of the most attractive cities in the world. Its Mediterranean climate is similar to those of Barcelona, Spain, and Sydney, Australia, two former host cities.

Where would you want to spend your vacation time?

Plus, San Francisco and New York are big-time cities. Baltimore, Washington and Houston, the other city that lost out, are wanna-bes.

Was it a political decision? When has anything connected with the International Olympic Committee not been political? When the IOC makes its final selection in 2005, it will be hard to predict what the political climate of the world will be toward the United States, particularly with a potential war against Iraq.

New York was going to get a final shot because that city has received much more sympathy from the Sept. 11 attacks than Washington. A revealing statement came from Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni on Sept. 19. "If New York is a candidate, I think all the other cities [Rome, London, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Toronto and Havana are among the bidders] should step back to allow New York to host the 2012 games," Veltroni said. "If the games go to New York, it means the athletes, the spectators, the whole world, we can all be together. This will show that the terrorists are defeated."

The IOC, though, would have felt right at home in Washington, especially after the bribery scandal involving the Salt Lake City Games.

It's safe to assume that Orioles pitcher Rodrigo Lopez needs to win about two to three more games to solidify his case as the American League Rookie of the Year.

Lopez has impressive numbers with a 14-6 record, a 3.31 ERA in 165 2/3 innings pitched, 50 walks and 113 strikeouts, but he has lost three of his past five starts. The late struggles are crucial because the voters prefer everyday players. Lopez's top competition is Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Eric Hinske, who is batting .280 with 20 home runs and 69 RBIs.

Orioles reliever Jorge Julio is also a candidate, having compiled a 5-5 record with a 1.78 ERA, and 25 saves in 31 opportunities. Julio also has 46 strikeouts and 23 walks in 60 2/3 pitched, but it's hard to select a closer on a non-contending team as opposed to a starting pitcher or an everyday player.

Washington Redskins fans are giddy about coach Steve Spurrier's Fun & Gun offense. In four preseason games, the Redskins have averaged 37.5 points and 339.8 yards passing.

According to several NFL scouts and assistant coaches, there might be something to Spurrier's genius label. But he might want to heed some advice: This is the East Coast, not the South. Weather conditions get sloppy and the winds unpredictable around here in December and January, and the Redskins don't play in a dome.

Eventually, Spurrier is going to have to break out the winter coat and a running game, or lose.

Is running back Stephen Davis still on the team?

Usually when football coaches wait until the last minute to name a starter, it's much to do about nothing. But Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen is making a smart move in naming his quarterback minutes before Saturday night's game against Notre Dame.

Neither has much experience, but word is Scott McBrien, a left-hander, has more accuracy and throws a "tighter" ball. Chris Kelley, who is right-handed, has more knowledge of the offense and is a better option runner, despite having two major knee surgeries.

Now, not only does Notre Dame have to be concerned about the starting quarterback, but it also must worry about who will start at tailback, Jason Crawford or Mario Merrills.

All this talk about baseball dying if there is a strike is ridiculous.

True, baseball has a bunch of problems, but the same people talking about boycotting will be the first ones to line up for tickets once play resumes if there is a strike.

Our society is sports-crazed. We need daily and weekly fixes of athletic competition. It's part of our self identity. We worship our sports heroes and schedule our lives around the Big Game.

It's sad in a sense, a poor commentary on our society.

Now, with all that said, when is the next game?

Even though John Unitas, Lenny Moore, Art Donovan, John Mackey and Raymond Berry never played a down at Camden Yards, they should be in the Ring of Honor at Ravens Stadium. It currently has only one member, former Ravens running back Earnest Byner.

This may be a new franchise with a new generation of fans, but it would be a fitting tribute to the old Colts greats who established the NFL legacy in this city. By the way, whatever happened to the idea of purchasing that $250,000 rotating Raven that was supposed to be looking down from atop the stadium?

Heck, if the Ravens don't want to pay rent at their present training facility in Owings Mills and get a freebie for land for a new one in another area in Baltimore County, they should at least treat the fans to the bird.

And try to make this one original, unlike the former logo, eh?

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