The fans react

Prevailing attitude seems wait-and-see

The Sosa Trade

Oriole Advocates

February 03, 2005|By Mike Klingaman | Mike Klingaman,SUN STAFF

What do Orioles fans think of the trade that brought Sammy Sosa to Baltimore?

They are sitting on the fence, waiting for Sosa to clear it.

The wait-and-see attitude prevailed Tuesday night at a meeting of the Oriole Advocates, a nonprofit group that promotes interest in baseball in Baltimore.

"Cautiously optimistic" is how George Bollock of Fallston said he felt upon hearing of the swap that sent Jerry Hairston and two minor leaguers to the Chicago Cubs for Sosa, 36, the slugger who wore out his welcome at Wrigley Field.

"The Orioles need the firepower because they never got a pitcher [in the offseason]," said Bollock, 59, a computer director for a chemical company. "It's a good trade if Sosa hits 45 home runs [he hit 35 last year].

"There's a risk if he is as much a head case as has been reported, but hopefully that could be moderated by the Latin influence of Miguel Tejada."

Tejada, the shortstop, and Sosa both hail from the Dominican Republic. But Bollock wondered if Tejada would have the upper hand in the clubhouse.

"I don't think he has the influence to `rein in' players like [linebacker] Ray Lewis does with the Ravens," he said.

What the Orioles don't need, fans said, is a power-hitting flop. They thought they had sworn off the likes of Glenn Davis and Albert Belle, the big-name sluggers who rode into town but failed.

They're hoping Sosa won't join that club.

"He's a bargain, for what's out there," said Brian Carter of Towson. "Chicago was frustrated with his antics - the corked bat, the `injuries' and his walking out during the last game - but Sosa has a lot left in him. He just needed a change of scenery."

Better that the Orioles didn't mortgage the farm system to sign the right fielder, said Carter, 42, a corporate personnel trainer:

"I'd rather the Orioles take a chance on Sosa, for $9 million, than on [free-agent first baseman] Carlos Delgado for $14 million.

"Besides, if at the end of summer Sosa is close to hitting his 600th home run and [Rafael] Palmeiro has nearly 3,000 hits, you'll see a lot of people in the stands."

Sosa won't cure the club's ills, said Bob Murphy of South Baltimore.

"He gives us that `pop' that we haven't had in a while, but we need pitching," said Murphy, 51, a bankruptcy manager. "Teams like Texas have shown that you can hit and hit and hit, and still lose by scores like 9-8."

Still, Murphy said he is happy Sosa's baggage isn't deep-seated.

"The negatives are all fairly fresh in peoples' minds. You don't hear about older stuff that's bad - and that's good," he said. "People do talk about him running around the bases after 9-11 while carrying an American flag.

"Something like that shouldn't be forgotten."

Scott Zimmerman, 47, a manufacturing engineer from Arbutus, said the fact that Sosa stands at a crossroads could help the Orioles.

"He's at a point in his career where he needs to make a statement. If he does it, good for him. If not, then he's done."

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