Soft admission, booming bat carry Giambi past Palmeiro


September 30, 2005|By PETER SCHMUCK

If you were looking for a perfect postscript to this strange Orioles season, maybe it was the moonshot that landed on Eutaw Street in the first inning of the last home game at Camden Yards this year.

Jason Giambi, who held a news conference in February to deliver a non-specific apology to Yankees fans for his alleged involvement in the BALCO steroid scandal, launched a towering three-run shot off Erik Bedard and got an enthusiastic ovation from the pro-pinstripe crowd that has long since forgiven him for whatever it was he did that required forgiveness.

Somehow, Giambi was able to walk a verbal tightrope and avoid self-incrimination while sincerely accepting responsibility for his role in the BALCO mess. He managed to be forthright without confirming that he had admitted to using illegal performance-enhancing drugs in his testimony before a grand jury last year.

If Rafael Palmeiro had done the same thing on Aug. 1 ... if he had just come out with an unequivocal apology for failing that steroid test in May, he might have been in the lineup last night and he might still have a reasonable chance of convincing a team to invite him to spring training next year.

He could have left himself some wiggle room, as Giambi did, but a little sincerity would have gone a long way. Instead, he's sitting home pondering his lost legacy and Giambi is going to get a bronze marker embedded in the cement on Eutaw Street and maybe the Comeback Player of the Year award.

Funny how things work out.

Glad to hear that Orioles owner Peter Angelos is committed to turning his troubled franchise around in time to contend for a playoff berth next season, but there's just one problem.

He said exactly the same thing in this column at about this time last year, and we all know what happened last winter. The Orioles came up short in their quest to shore up the starting rotation and beef up the batting order, needs that now carry over into a thinner free-agent market.

I don't doubt that Angelos wants to improve the team, but it has reached the point where he's going to have to pay dearly to squeeze enough talent out of this market to make the Orioles a contender.

"We are coming back strong next year," he told The Sun 's Dan Connolly on Wednesday. "I know you have heard that tune before, but this time it will literally come true."

Can't wait.

The news that former manager Lee Mazzilli had landed as the baseball analyst for ESPN's morning show Cold Pizza did not surprise fellow Italian-American Sam Perlozzo, who thinks that he'll do a great job.

"He'll be the best," Perlozzo said. "Cold Pizza. Anything that says pizza, he's in there. I might join him."

Redskins fans continue to take issue with the occasional brickbat that I throw in their direction, and some of them have suggested that I have a "Baltimore inferiority complex."

Of course, that's impossible, since I'm not originally from Maryland. I am, however, quite sensitive about my Southern California background. How would you feel if you had to grow up surrounded by orange groves and beautiful white sand beaches? It was hell.

Just one more reason I'm glad I'm not a distance runner. The Kansas City Marathon, which took place on Saturday, turned out to be 25.8 miles - or nearly a half-mile short of the official distance (26.2 miles).

The mistake in the course layout is more than just a civic embarrassment. It could mean that the race will be decertified, casting into doubt the eligibility of some runners who thought they had qualified for the more prestigious Boston Marathon.

Rangers pitcher Kenny Rogers said this week that he's "pretty certain" that he won't return to the team next year, which makes him a great candidate for the Orioles' rotation.

OK, maybe not a great candidate, but there are a couple of television cameramen in town that I really don't like, so I think the Orioles should pull out all the stops to sign him.

Final thought: There was one good thing about the obnoxious pro-Yankees and pro-Red Sox crowds at Camden Yards. I never ran into any traffic headed south on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway after those games.

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