Though it wasn't far-sighted, Schilling deal looked good

April 09, 2006|By PETER SCHMUCK

Every time Curt Schilling pitches against the Orioles, I feel like I have to set the record straight.

Maybe that's because every time Schilling shows up around here, the grumbling starts about all the great pitchers that the Orioles have let get away ... and that grumbling usually includes a reference to the deal that sent Schilling, Pete Harnisch and Steve Finley to the Houston Astros for power-hitting first baseman Glenn Davis.

It was a horrible deal. Everybody knows that now. Davis never lived up to the expectations that came with him from Houston and the three players the Orioles gave up all went on to have success elsewhere. But on Jan. 10, 1991 - the day it was announced - everybody thought it was a watershed event for the organization.

I know I did. The Orioles needed a big-time power hitter to put behind Cal Ripken, and Davis had put up big-time power numbers in the cavernous Astrodome. Nobody imagined that he would fall apart physically and leave the team with little to show for such a big chunk of its young talent.

Schilling wasn't recognized yet as a tremendous talent, but there was one person in the organization who objected to including him in the deal. Manager Frank Robinson knew he wouldn't miss Finley and Harnisch, because the Orioles had a surplus of young, speedy outfielders and good young pitchers.

There was something about the goofy middle reliever that prompted Robinson to warn against trading him, but no one listened ... and no one - not even Robinson - was against making the deal.

That includes the two main Baltimore beat writers covering the Orioles at that time, myself and current Fox Sports baseball analyst Ken Rosenthal.

"Nobody thought it was a bad trade," Rosenthal said yesterday. "I don't care what anybody says now."

It may be hard to imagine now, but the Orioles had a ton of young pitching talent at that time. Ben McDonald and Mike Mussina were both in the rotation and both considered big stars of the future. Gregg Olson was established as one of the best young closers in the business.

McDonald's arm went south and the Orioles eventually did let Mussina get away, but the Davis deal was the right thing to do at the time.

It's bad enough being an Eagles fan, but it's even worse being a baseball fan in the Keystone State right now. The Pirates and Phillies are a combined 0-10. Breaks my heart.

There was every indication early yesterday that Brett Favre finally had made up his mind and would announce at a morning news conference whether he would return for one more season with the Green Bay Packers.

Even a spokeswoman for the Favre family predicted that the veteran quarterback would deliver a "scoop" to the media before the start of his charity golf tournament in Tunica, Miss., but the only revelation at the news conference was that Favre will be having at least one more news conference, since he announced that he was still undecided about his future.

"I know people are impatient," he said, "but enjoy baseball right now."

In a related non-development, Roger Clemens also did not announce his retirement yesterday.

Wisconsin sports fans certainly are enjoying the national pastime. The Brewers came from behind yesterday to defeat the Arizona Diamondbacks and improve their record to 5-0. They are the only remaining undefeated team in the National League.

The Brewers are on the upswing and have been projected as a sleeper team this year, but I'm guessing that local fans will be ready for football by the time Favre reports to training camp this summer.

If I were a betting man, I would like to know what the odds are against Barry Bonds retiring before either Favre or Clemens. I'd take anything over 3 to 1.

Final thought: The crowd for yesterday's game at Camden Yards was so thin I'm starting to think that Red Sox fans are getting fed up with Peter Angelos, too. peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

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