If Soriano would play outfield, he could be a big hit with O's

September 03, 2006|By PETER SCHMUCK

Pending free agent Alfonso Soriano tied a Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos franchise record with his 44th home run yesterday ... and now for the $80 million question that should be on the mind of every Orioles fan:

How much would it take to convince this guy to play left field at Camden Yards?

Of course, the real issue is whether Soriano would be willing to play left field anywhere. He openly rebelled when Nats manager Frank Robinson originally decided to play him out there instead of second base, so it's probably fair to assume that he will seek to return to the infield if and when he heads into the open market in November.

The O's can't offer him second base - Brian Roberts has become a fixture there - but they might be able to offer him enough money to play the position that a lot of smart baseball people think he should be playing anyway.

If he's willing, he might be a better option than fellow 40-homer threat Carlos Lee of the Texas Rangers, though the Orioles couldn't go wrong either way.

Don't know about you, but I'm starting to get a complex about our country's performance in international competition. The USA basketball team lost to Greece on Friday and settled for a bronze medal in the FIBA World Championship yesterday, which pretty much dashed any hope of restoring American hoop hegemony in the foreseeable future.

This latest indignity, coupled with our loss in the World Baseball Classic, could put a dent in the popular notion that we are - as human beings - superior in every way to the rest of the people on the planet.

Seriously, though, the ascension of the rest of the world in the two most American sports is merely a sign that the globalization efforts of Major League Baseball and the NBA have been very successful. In fact, the emergence of several highly popular international stars actually creates a situation where some American kids may be rooting for the teams from other countries.

We've heard a lot the past few years - particularly from Terrell Owens - about the unfairness inherent in the NFL salary structure, since players can be released in the middle of supposedly guaranteed contracts. But the release of receiver Charles Rogers yesterday by the Detroit Lions illustrates that teams also can fall victim to the vagaries of the current system.

Rogers was the No. 2 overall pick a few years ago and received a $14.2 million signing bonus, but he has caught just 36 passes for 440 yards during his first three years in the NFL. Factor in an annual salary of about $1 million per year and then divide his total compensation by his receptions and yardage and he was paid about $475,000 per reception and $39,000 per yard.

Those figures are estimates and don't factor in the unpaid four-game suspension Rogers received for a drug violation, but you get the idea.

If you share my amusement at the silly mismatches that take place on the first Saturday of the major college football schedule, you'll enjoy the pre-game fan reaction story published on the Web site of the local CBS affiliate in Austin (eyeTV.com) about yesterday's opener between the defending national champion Texas Longhorns and the University of North Texas Mean Green.

Not only did it include typical boastful fan quotes from local Longhorn fans, but one quote from a former North Texas student.

"Oh, I think it's going to be a massacre pretty much," Jake Norman said. "UT is going to walk all over them."

Oh ye of little faith. The Mean Green managed to hold Texas under 60 points, which ought to count for something.

In a related development, the University of North Texas lost an unofficial mascot recently when a hawk killed a rare albino squirrel that students consider a campus good luck charm.


The Tennessee Titans quarterback situation got even murkier when all three QBs played well in a 35-21 victory at Green Bay on Friday. No. 3 overall draft choice Vince Young moved the offense well and veterans Billy Volek and Kerry Colllins also were productive.

Volek, who seemed destined to be traded after the Titans signed Collins, completed a 54-yard touchdown pass in very limited playing time, which will only make it more controversial when coach Jeff Fisher passes him over to start Collins in the opener.


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

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