Is spring training enough time to whip RFK into playing shape?

February 14, 2005|By PETER SCHMUCK

THE BASEBALL offseason went by so fast, I'm starting to suspect it was on steroids, too.

The newly relocated Washington Nationals are scheduled to report to their spring training base in Viera, Fla., tomorrow and open pitcher and catcher workouts Thursday.

The Orioles aren't in quite the same hurry. They report Saturday and hold their first official workout a week from today, with all the position players due in camp late next week. But it's still difficult to believe they're already breaking out the bats and balls again.

Has anybody arranged for Sammy's limo yet?

I may not be the only one who thinks the offseason was a little too short. I've seen the pictures of RFK Stadium, and it certainly doesn't look like it will be ready for the first exhibition game there 47 days from now, but club officials insist the renovation is on schedule for the April 3 game against the New York Mets.

Gotta take their word for it. Everything else involving the relocation of the former Montreal Expos has gone down to the wire, and it's not like the fans in D.C. are expecting Camden Yards.

Despite all the speculation to the contrary, don't be surprised if the National Hockey League and its players union find a way to get back on the ice now that most of the regular season has been lost. It may seem from a distance that there is little point in trying to salvage 2004-05, but that's because the fans actually care about the integrity of the regular season.

If the league can save enough games for teams to jockey for the playoffs, the revenue derived from postseason play would soften the economic blow from the work stoppage, and the drama of the playoffs (tainted as they might be) would help the league change the subject before next season.

And, best of all, now that there's time for only about 20 games, regular fans can afford season tickets again.

Despite Jason Giambi's recent act of public contrition, the New York Yankees still appear to be looking into the possibility of trying to void the huge remainder of his seven-year, $120 million contract.

That won't be easy, especially in light of the recent revelation that the team replaced a steroid clause in his contract with a more general drug prohibition, but both sides might benefit from a compromise that reduces the Yankees' long-term obligation and proves Giambi is truly sorry for embarrassing the team with his admission of steroid abuse.

No doubt, the Major League Baseball Players Association would balk, but faced with the possibility (however remote) that an arbitrator might strike down the contract, the union might eventually decide that half the remaining $80 million loaf is better than none.

I've never thought much of what some psychiatrists call "repressed memory syndrome," but I became a believer after a reader asked me recently if there was some traumatic event buried deep in my subconscious that might explain my seemingly visceral aversion to Philadelphia Eagles fans.

I denied it at first ... until the awful memory came flooding back. When I was 5, I was jumped by seven brawny guys in makeshift Norm Van Brocklin jerseys, all of them at least 25 years old. I managed to subdue four of them, but somebody cold-cocked me from behind and I woke up a bruised, beaten lifelong Eagles hater. Mystery solved.

It is with no small amount of sadness that we bid farewell to Sun national baseball writer Joe Christensen, who has decided to return home to the great white north to fill a similar role with the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Obviously, we'll miss Joe's work ethic and his solid grasp of the national pastime, though his fixation with the University of Minnesota hockey team got a little weird. We'll also miss the slightly Scandinavian lilt in his voice, which will make it impossible to watch Fargo without thinking of him.

Bet You Didn't Know Dept.: There are only two manmade objects that can be seen from space: the Great Wall of China and Barry Bonds' head.

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