Reviewing '07, with regret

If area sports teams could have a 2007 do-over, here are some of the moves, strategies, words, pitches, passes and carries they may have handled differently.

December 28, 2007

Rangers score 30

Perhaps the Orioles should not have gotten out of bed Aug. 22.

The day bloomed promisingly enough with the announcement of Dave Trembley's permanent hiring as manager and the struggling Texas Rangers in town for a doubleheader. The Orioles even jumped to a 3-0 lead in Game 1.

But a nine-run Rangers sixth wiped the good will away and replaced it with mocking applause from fans who were just happy the inning finally ended.

Little did these bedraggled rooters know that the worst - 16 Rangers runs over the final two innings - was yet to come.

By the end of nine, the Orioles had become the first team since 1897 to allow 30 or more runs in a game. Worse yet, they had to come out for the nightcap (they lost that one, 9-7).

The 30-3 loss marked a historic low point in the club's 10th straight losing season.

- Childs Walker

Point of no return

It's quite likely that the stars that aligned so nicely in 2006 to deliver Maryland its first women's basketball title in school history weren't going to fall in place similarly in 2007, even if coach Brenda Frese had pushed every button correctly again.

But Frese didn't help her cause when, on the eve of last season's tournament, she pulled point guard Kristi Toliver from the starting lineup out of concern that she needed to be a more vocal leader and that Toliver tended to let her occasional shooting woes affect her quarterbacking duties.

Toliver - whose sophomore numbers were slightly better than those of her freshman year, when she hit the three-pointer that forced overtime in the title game - had committed more than five turnovers only twice in the regular season. However, in the season-ending loss to Mississippi, a team the Terps had defeated by 31 in November, Toliver had 10 miscues coming off the bench.

All has been forgiven because the Terps are off to a blazing start this year, but Frese might always wonder what might have been if she had waited until the offseason to have a heart-to-heart with Toliver instead of right before the most important part of the season.

- Milton Kent

Stripped Bear

Morgan State's promising football season still held playoff potential at 3-1 when the Bears traveled to Dover, Del., on Oct. 20 for a key Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game with Delaware State. Then it all unraveled. Leading 17-16, the Bears were poised for a clinching touchdown at the Delaware State goal line. Tailback Courtney Anderson seemingly got that score when he dived over the pile into the end zone.

But somewhere between liftoff and touchdown, Anderson lost the ball. It wound up in the hands of Delaware State's Akeem Green, who ran 100 yards for a go-ahead touchdown as Bears players watched in disbelief. Officials ruled it a fumble and allowed the play to stand. Morgan never recovered from that 25-17 loss.

Several days later, MEAC commissioner Dennis Thomas acknowledged the ruling was in error and said the Bears should have had their touchdown. Delaware State rode the mistake into the playoffs, while Morgan stumbled home to a 5-6 finish.

- Ken Murray

Incomplete pass

After seeing the impact Randy Moss has made in New England with the unbeaten Patriots, it appears Brett Favre had a right to be upset when his Green Bay Packers didn't pull the trigger on a proposed trade for Moss.

That was in the summer, when the Oakland Raiders were trying to dump Moss and found few takers. Most teams were concerned Moss would become a distraction and questioned whether he had anything left, based on how poorly he played in Oakland.

The Packers were the most prominent team to talk about a deal, and Favre campaigned publicly for it. But in the end, it was Patriots coach Bill Belichick who swooped in to acquire Moss, who has been the picture of decorum during New England's perfect season.

- Ken Murray

Swing and miss

All-Star shortstop Miguel Tejada first asked the Orioles to trade him after the 2005 season. But they waited, figuring their best player could be soothed.

At the 2006 trade deadline, they had chances to flip him for talent-laden packages from the Houston Astros or Los Angeles Angels. Again, they waited.

Tejada's play remained generally excellent, but the club could never build a winner around him.

When the Orioles finally decided to move their star after the 2007 season, they found that teams wouldn't dangle top-shelf prospects for an expensive veteran with declining range in the field and diminished power at the plate.

So the Orioles made the best deal they could, taking five decent-to-good players from Houston. They had to do it, most fans seemed to think, but the whole saga reeked of missed opportunity.

- Childs Walker

In denial

Orioles Jay Gibbons and Brian Roberts reacted angrily in 2006, when their names were linked to an affidavit in which former teammate Jason Grimsley named steroid and amphetamine users.

It turned out they weren't named in the document.

But a year later, both Gibbons and Roberts admitted they had used performance-enhancing drugs.

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