How very Zen of them: O's take trip down path of enlightenment

June 15, 2005|By PETER SCHMUCK

THE ORIOLES apparently have turned to Far Eastern culture to get through this rough patch in their breakout season.

Outfielder Larry Bigbie revealed Monday that he has settled on a little green Buddha for his good-luck charm this year, and he came off the disabled list to hit his first home run of the season Monday. Pitcher Sidney Ponson has a much larger Asian statue (though I think it might be a sumo wrestler) sitting next to his locker.

I won't say anything about the resemblance.

I'm just happy to see the club getting in touch with its spiritual side, and not just because the talk-show types keep demanding that manager Lee Mazzilli ascend to a higher level of consciousness in the dugout. Maybe the Orioles could ask the Dalai Lama to throw out the first ball one of these nights.

(He'd probably refuse but grant everyone on the team one moment of perfect peace and contentment at the end of the season. So they'd have that going for them ... which is nice.)

The whole thing dovetails nicely with the news yesterday that the Los Angeles Lakers have rehired "The Zen Master" - Phil Jackson - to rebuild their flagging dynasty.

I'm just wondering how long it will be before he changes his mantra to "Pass the damn ball, Kobe."

Nice of the Boston Red Sox to rename the left-field foul pole after Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk, whose famous home run down the left-field line in the 1975 World Series remains one of baseball's most exciting moments, but couldn't they have been just a little more alliterative?

The right-field foul pole is called "The Pesky Pole" after diminutive infielder Johnny Pesky. "The Fisk Pole" doesn't really have the same ring to it. I would have preferred "Carlton's Corner" but - once again - I wasn't consulted.

Despite years of criticism that the All-Star balloting is little more than a popularity contest, the most recent American League vote count reflects a fairly objective national fan following. Brian Roberts is the leader at second base, and shortstop Miguel Tejada is well ahead of popular Yankee Derek Jeter. Most of the other positions are also reflective of the league's top statistical performers.

My only gripe: What's Tino Martinez doing with 130,000 more votes than Mount St. Joseph's Mark Teixeira, who entered the week ranked third in the league in home runs and fifth in RBIs?

Got a great book in the mail, titled Tour de France for Dummies. It's one of those ubiquitous "for dummies" books that tells you everything you need to know about the greatest bicycle race on Earth.

I just wish there really were a Tour de France for Dummies. It would give local radio wrangler Jerry Coleman something to do when he isn't rousting me out of bed for one of his WBAL morning sports reports.

(Note to Eagles fans: I would define the word "ubiquitous" for you, but you wouldn't remember when you wake up anyway - especially those of you who are still wandering around Jacksonville and wondering how you got there.)

I goofed the other day when I assumed that Mike Tyson was talking about a generic mediocre fighter when he said that he "couldn't beat Junior Jones." Junior Jones, as several of my boxing-savvy readers were quick to point out, was a very good fighter who held the World Boxing Association bantamweight title before he retired a couple of years ago.

That kind of careless error is inexcusable, especially from me, since I also have a name that many assume is just a figure of speech.

Don't usually join crusades, but Baltimorean Jim Kotmair has been working to persuade Major League Baseball to designate July 4 as Lou Gehrig and ALS Research Awareness Day. Gehrig, who was stricken with the devastating disease, made his famous "Luckiest Man" speech July 4, 1939.

Kotmair, who is battling ALS, has been contacting baseball officials (including Peter Angelos and Bud Selig) and trying to get them to donate 50 cents from every ticket sold that day each year to ALS research. Sounds like a pretty good idea.

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