Billick left feeling disarmed with straight-shooting Sharpe

Commentary

November 25, 2005|By PETER SCHMUCK

One of the most enduring images of the Ravens' Super Bowl season was Shannon Sharpe, streaking down the field at Network Associates Coliseum on the way to one of the longest touchdowns in playoff history and a victory over the Oakland Raiders in the AFC championship game.

No wonder Brian Billick is conflicted about him.

It's hard not to like Shannon. He's loud and funny and articulate and opinionated and he's a major Ravens hero, even though he only played for the team for a couple of years.

He's also one of the more vocal critics of Kyle Boller and Billick is required (I think by law) to be Boller's most vocal defender, so you can see how our beleaguered ball coach has to walk a fine line in dealing with this televised tempest in a teapot.

Maybe it's true that - to paraphrase Billick - Shannon Sharpe the player would not particularly care for Shannon Sharpe the commentator, but what Sharpe said last week on his radio show was not particularly off base.

Boller is a nice young man and a talented athlete, but unless he suddenly morphs into Ben Roethlisberger, and I mean real suddenly, he's got an excellent chance to fulfil Sharpe's prophecy that he is just good enough to get himself cut and his coach fired.

I'm not in the business of reading minds, but I've got to wonder if Billick - deep in heart - isn't thinking exactly the same thing.

If I were in the business of reading minds, I'd be making a lot more money. I can tell you that with some assurance.

Some dear friends of mine decided to go see psychic John Edwards a couple of weeks ago and the tickets were only $175 apiece. I guess he just wants to help people, but for that price, you'd think the guy could come up with more than your dead grandmother's first initial.

The great thing about Sharpe is, you don't have to read his mind. He's never had a thought that remained unspoken long enough to wonder what he might be thinking. My friends - who once nicknamed me "The Tower of Babble" - might say that Shannon and I have a lot in common.

The results of a SportsBusiness Journal reader poll are in, and Orioles owner Peter Angelos was voted the third-least effective owner in Major League Baseball.

That's an outrage. Angelos has never been a third-place kind of guy, except for one of the past eight Orioles seasons. The poll ranked Tampa Bay Devil Rays managing general partner Vince Naimoli as the least effective owner (22.3 percent) and Kansas City Royals owner David Glass (9.6 percent) in second place, just marginally ahead of Angelos (8.7 percent).

Since Naimoli was recently replaced, that means that his 22 percent of the vote is up for grabs, and there is hope that Angelos could jump to the top of the rankings in next year's poll. Maybe he could get Texas football coach Mack Brown to make a few phone calls and remove all doubt.

The poll also asked fans to rate their favorite stadiums, and we came in third in that category, too. Fenway Park (15.7 percent) edged Wrigley Field (15.2 percent), with Oriole Park at Camden Yards (11.9 percent) third and the San Francisco Giants' SBC Park a close fourth (11.2 percent).

Once again, my powers of prediction have proven to be paltry. I have been saying for the last week or two that arbitrator Richard Bloch would reinstate Terrell Owens after his four-game suspension.

My feelings were based, in part, on Bloch's past history in sports arbitration, which includes a pair of stints as the chief arbitrator for Major League Baseball and a series of rulings in favor of misbehaving players.

He shortened the drug-related suspensions of Willie Wilson, Jerry Martin and Willie Aikens after the Pittsburgh/Kansas City cocaine scandal of 1983 and also ordered the California Angels to reinstate Tony Phillips after a crack arrest in 1997.

Bloch's decisions probably reflect more on the differences in the collective bargaining agreements of professional baseball and football than on any personal tendencies as an arbitrator, but that didn't keep NFL Players Association chief Gene Upshaw from blasting him for misinterpreting the NFL labor agreement and promising to replace him as arbitrator at the next opportunity.

Thanksgiving headline from SportsPickle.com, the sports satire site on the Web: "Entire turducken pulled from John Madden's throat."

Final post-Turkey Day thought: Since Sun columnist Rick Maese is new in town, I thought it would be nice to invite him to the plush Schmuck estate in Millersville for Thanksgiving, but I had to withdraw the invitation when he insisted on being seated at the big people's table.

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

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