To others, beating U.S. feels like gold

August 30, 2004|By PETER SCHMUCK

Every time I read another angst-ridden column about the joy that the rest of the world has been taking in our Olympic failures, I can't help but wonder if anyone is old enough to remember anything that happened before the first day of the Iraq war.

Spanish fans cheering the loss of the U.S. basketball team to Argentina? Greek radicals protesting the visit of Colin Powell to Athens? General anti-Americanism in Europe?

Resentment of the United States in the major non-English-speaking countries in Europe dates to the 1950s, soon after America saved the continent from Adolf Hitler. It has bubbled up on several occasions since. There is no doubt that divisiveness over Iraq is contributing heavily to it right now, but it won't go away when somebody else is president and American troops return home.

It is the natural result of American hegemony (Note to Eagles fans: Don't even bother). The United States is the prevailing power in the world and that makes other countries understandably uncomfortable, especially when we're throwing our military weight around.

There is nothing wrong with them taking joy in defeating us on the athletic field, and we should be proud that they consider that such a great achievement. That's part of the fun of international competition.

Trust me, they will love us again when they need us.

If Peter Angelos was looking for help in his effort to prevent the Montreal Expos from moving to the Washington/Northern Virginia area, he may have gotten some from a very surprising place.

Jack Evans, the finance committee chairman for the District of Columbia Council, said the other day that Washington might ban the Expos from playing temporarily at RFK Stadium if Major League Baseball chooses to relocate them to Northern Virginia instead of the nation's capital.

Obviously, Evans is hoping to preempt further discussion of Northern Virginia as a compromise location that would bring baseball back to the greater Washington area without placing a team too close to Baltimore. But the veiled ultimatum may not sit well with baseball commissioner Bud Selig, who is stuck in a seeming no-win limbo between what's best for the Expos and Orioles.

Instead of forcing Selig's hand, Evans may have given him an excuse to dither even longer, which could leave baseball with no choice but to keep the Expos in Montreal another year and make me look very, very smart.

It also can't be helpful that the latest stadium poll indicates that a majority of voters in Washington are against building a new downtown ballpark with public funds, though city officials say they are confident that financing for a new stadium will be finalized as soon as Major League Baseball delivers a team to play in it.

The Orioles are flying so low that Miguel Tejada has all but disappeared from the radar screen in the debate over who will end up as American League Most Valuable Player.

Tejada leads the major leagues with 118 RBIs, which should be enough to keep him in the conversation, but there are enough strong candidates on winning teams to drop him well down the ballot.

Prediction: Red Sox outfielder Manny Ramirez and first baseman David Ortiz will split some first-place votes and Angels star Vladimir Guerrero will win the plaque.

Tough night for my top-ranked USC Trojans on Saturday. Thought I would be eating some serious crow (which is becoming a habit around here) when they went into halftime trailing Virginia Tech at FedEx Field.

Quarterback Matt Leinart looked like anything but a Heisman Trophy candidate in a rocky first half, but made some big plays down the stretch to avoid a major season-opening upset. I wouldn't be surprised if the Trojans drop out of the top spot in the next Associated Press poll.

Contact Peter Schmuck at peter.schmuck@baltsun.com.

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