Orioles can expect new grassroots support


November 04, 2005|By LAURA VOZZELLA

Who says Peter Angelos turns a deaf ear to critics?

After that lousy Orioles season, armchair owners said the club needed rebuilding from the ground up. And Angelos is responding - by tearing out the sod at Camden Yards.

For only the second time since the ballpark opened in 1992, the club is pulling up every blade of Kentucky bluegrass and putting down new sod - 12 tractor-trailer loads of it.

"As everybody knows here in town, we could use something to change our luck a little bit," jokes Dave Nehila, head groundskeeper at Camden Yards.The real reason for the extreme landscaping makeover has to do with five years' worth of grass clippings clogging ballfield drains like so much razor stubble in the bathroom sink.

"The organic matter is built up enough now that it's starting to impede our drainage," Nehila says.

The last time the club ripped out the grass was in 2000, after another "rebuilding" season.

Tearing out the old grass and putting down the new - a chore that involves a laser-guided grader and about $160,000 - will take about three weeks.

Let's hope it doesn't rain hard before the job is done, or the place will be a mess. Bad enough that it feels like Mudville.

Steady now, big fella

Certain kinds of crime, even law-abiding citizens concede, have glamour and panache. I mean, how many movies have been made about elaborate art heists?

Well, move over, Thomas Crown.

Make room for whoever stole $75,000 worth of bull semen this week from a Shorthorn cattle breeder near Smithburg, in northern Frederick County.

"The stolen semen, which is from three prominent sires, is very rare and used to breed registered Shorthorn cattle," the county Sheriff's Office says in a news release.

Now there's a crime story Hollywood hasn't done to death. Just the kind of thing that could get John Waters to branch out from Baltimore.

The car, the waistline, the race -- all gone

Down one car and 11 pounds, Bill Burlison decided to cut his losses this week and quit running for Congress.

The one-time 3rd District hopeful had lost more than hope.

Burlison's car was stolen while he campaigned door to door, according to the news release announcing his decision to drop out. The vehicle - make and model were not disclosed, and Burlison, an Anne Arundel County councilman, did not return phone calls seeking comment - was never recovered.

"He claims the only other negative from the campaign is his body weight," the release went on to say. "`My weight has been a constant 180 pounds since early college days. I now weigh in at 169.'"

Not bad, considering Burlison is 74.

Get those windmills out of my sight

T. Boone Pickens, the Texas oil tycoon, shared his insights on the energy business at a Legg Mason Trust luncheon at Center Club last week.

With demand for oil outstripping supply, he sees a brighter future for nuclear energy and coal. What about windmills? Pickens was in that industry for "about a minute."

"Those things were so damn ugly," he said, "I didn't want to be a part of it."

Left at the gate waiting for Rosa

Some Baltimore politicians who went to the airport the other day to meet Rosa Parks' body said they left feeling like someone relegated to the back of the bus.

A delegation of state officials, led by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, went to BWI on Sunday to meet the chartered plane carrying Parks' casket and about 100 relatives, friends and political leaders traveling to her funeral.

State Sen. Verna Jones and City Councilwoman Helen Holton heard about the state's plans - announced the night before at the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus gala - and headed for the airport, expecting to take part. They found themselves stuck in Concourse A while Ehrlich and Steele did their meeting and greeting at the gate.

"I was there as a representative of the black caucus," said Jones. "It's just like they plug into the African-American community when it is convenient."

Jonathan Dean, the airport spokesman who helped coordinate the event, said he didn't know anyone from the city was coming.

"To get individuals through security and to an aircraft gate is a process," he said. "The U.S. Capitol Police were very concerned about security."

Mayor Martin O'Malley was among those left in the concourse, but his office says he wasn't offended.

If you're thinking the gate was exclusively a Friends-of-Bob zone, think again. Among those allowed past security was Kweisi Mfume, the former congressman and NAACP head who is running for Senate against Steele.

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