Hunter's rose-colored view of O's spreads as season starts to bloom

April 10, 2005|By PETER SCHMUCK

WE'RE ONE WEEK into the baseball season and it's one new problem after another.

The Orioles apparently are going to put padding on the new brick walls at Camden Yards, and grumpy Sidney is pitching great (so please, don't anybody try to cheer him up), but if the Orioles bounce back from yesterday's bullpen collapse to take this series at Yankee Stadium, we're going to be faced with another early-season crisis:

Skyrocketing property values in Jimmyville.

I know, everybody is saying that the real estate bubble is going to burst, but a rubber-game victory over the evil Yanks today and the sales people at Jim Hunter's imaginary oasis of optimism may have to start a waiting list. I could have sworn I saw him standing outside the new development after Friday night's big win with a sign that said, "If you lived here, you'd be home right now ... and I'd be telling you how good the Orioles are going to be this year."

That's great, because you could have gotten an infield-front home site there for a song on Thursday night. The talk-show crowd was ready to jump off the Key Bridge after the Orioles scored just one run in the final two games of the Oakland series.

Seven straight losing seasons will do that to you, which is why I think Hunter has gotten something of a bad rap the past few years. Can you imagine how dark it would have been around here if there weren't somebody to keep trying to turn the light back on?

Cal Ripken will be honorary chairman of the Constellation Energy Classic for the third straight year, and he said during Wednesday's kickoff luncheon for the Champions Tour event in September that the best part is playing in the two days of pro-am events.

"The most fun was playing with Steve Bisciotti and Gary Williams last year," he said. "You know the way Gary gets up and down the court and how intense he gets. He does that same thing on the golf course, and he calls himself really bad names."

Ripken also played in a foursome with Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., Constellation CEO Mayo Shattuck and senior tour pro Bruce Fleischer. If I remember correctly, Fleischer had a really good-looking caddie.

Though my experience as a movie critic is restricted to a couple of really lame reviews in my college newspaper (The Daily Titan), I'm giving a qualified thumb up to Fever Pitch, the new Farrelly Brothers film about an obsessed Red Sox fan who finally finds love.

Jimmy Fallon, who used to do Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live, does a nice job of conveying universal Red Sox angst even though he grew up a Yankees fan; Drew Barrymore does what she always does (which is make me wish that she were Heather Graham), and it all fits together just fine.

There are also a ton of cameos, including a brief appearance by former Orioles communications director Charles Steinberg, who now holds a similar position with the Red Sox.

Some Red Sox fans aren't thrilled with the new movie about them, and one writer in Boston charged the filmmakers with "Soxploitation."

Of course, if you're going to take yourself that seriously, maybe you deserve to wait another 86 years for your next world championship.

We're getting close to suit-up-or-shut-up time for the Ripken Baseball Minor League Bus Trip in May. I had to turn in my uniform sizes this week, so I went to Orioles equipment manager Jimmy Tyler for some help.

He determined that I wear a size 52 jersey but said that I could probably go down a size, unless I wanted to breathe.

The last time I put on a real baseball jersey was for a charity game in 1986 and it was a size 42, which means - in the parlance of the pollster crowd - that I'm trending sharply in the wrong direction. But I've still got a month to get in shape, with or without Sidney's expert assistance.

SportsPickle.com headline of the week: "Yankee Fans Give Jason Giambi Standing Ovation After He Apologizes for Killing A Hobo"

Former Orioles pitcher Dave Johnson had to battle for every ounce of respect he earned in the major leagues, but he didn't think it would carry over into fatherhood.

He was thrilled to see his son Steve (St. Paul's) mentioned in Street & Smith's baseball preview magazine as one of the top high school players in the nation, until he noticed that young Steve was listed as the son of former Orioles manager Davey Johnson.

I don't think it's that big a deal. I covered Dave's pitching career, and it's pretty obvious that Steve got his velocity from his mother.

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