For a lousy pitcher, Julio sure proves good trade bait

The Kickoff

May 26, 2006|By PETER SCHMUCK

Somebody is going to have to explain this to me. I thought that Jorge Julio was one of the biggest busts in recent Orioles history, yet he has been traded (twice) over the past five months for the top draft choice of 1996, baseball's self-proclaimed sexiest wife and one of the best postseason pitchers of this generation.

That's right. The Orioles got Kris and Anna Benson in the deal that sent Julio to the New York Mets and the Mets just got Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez from the Arizona Diamondbacks. In each case, the team getting Julio and his 98-mph fastball was hoping to catch lightning in a bottle. I guess that all depends on how you define lightning.

The trade Wednesday figures to spark some head-scratching in Baltimore, where frustration over Julio's unrealized potential has only recently been replaced by the realized potential of Benson, who remains the Orioles' winningest pitcher despite that six-run second inning Wednesday night.

It appears to be a deal that doesn't help either team, since Julio continues to struggle with his control and Hernandez is 2-4 with a 6.11 ERA. But "El Duque" is coming off a strong start and has proved he can handle the pressure that comes with pitching in New York, while the difference in the salaries of the two pitchers will save the D'backs a couple of million bucks.

Just a hunch, but I'm guessing that Hernandez helps in the fourth slot in the Mets' rotation and Julio will be playing for his fourth major league team next year.

It was hard enough watching the Texas Longhorns steal the national college football championship from a clearly superior USC team. Now I've got to deal with the notion that at least one Longhorns player doesn't even care enough about the victory to keep his championship ring.

The Associated Press reported yesterday that one of those rings showed up recently on the eBay Internet auction site and drew bids upward of $10,000 ... though there is no word on whether any of those bids were placed by Reggie Bush or Matt Leinart.

I can take some comfort in the knowledge that no USC player would ever do such a thing, but that's probably because no USC player would ever need the money.

In a burst of well-intentioned nonsense, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference has adopted a rule that calls for a one-game suspension for any high school football coach whose team wins by more than 50 points. The CIAC's football committee decided that routing an opposing team is unsportsmanlike conduct and now encourages something called "score management" to avoid embarrassing overmatched opponents.

Though I am totally against the bush league practice of running up the score (unless the Trojans are playing UCLA), the idea of passing a rule that forces high school teams to stop trying at some point in the game sends the wrong message to both teams. Not only that, but it might prevent some college from finding the next Steve Spurrier.

Don't know about you, but I'm glad that Jeb Bush is not interested in becoming the next NFL commissioner. It would have been really hard getting decent hotel reservations for that Ravens-Redskins exhibition game in Baghdad.

Obviously, they don't make volatile athletes like they used to. No matter who you believe in the Jake Plummer road-rage incident, the one thing that is indisputable is a police report that says there was only $25 damage to the other vehicle.

I can tell you right now, Albert Belle would have been embarrassed to walk away from a traffic altercation with such minimal damage.

This week's stolen sports headline from The Onion, the news satire site on the Web: Report: Danny Almonte's 30-Year-Old Wife May Have Lied About Her Age

"The Peter Schmuck Show" airs on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon on Saturdays.

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