Calm down

no rush in O's plan


News item: The offseason is heading into its second month, and the Orioles have given little indication whether they will (a) sign Mark Teixeira or A.J. Burnett; (b) get a contract extension completed with Nick Markakis; or (c) trade or re-sign Brian Roberts.

My take : The natives are understandably restless, but it's still early. Andy MacPhail came here with a reputation for being a deliberate, careful administrator. Now he's under fire for not falling into the same kind of knee-jerk, reactionary mind-set that got the Orioles into this mess.

News item: Newsday reported in Thursday's editions that the New York Yankees are ready to increase their offer to free-agent pitcher CC Sabathia to $150 million if the Los Angeles Angels get involved in the bidding.

My take: Normally, I would be skeptical of something like this because the Yankees' supposed initial bid of $140 million has not been confirmed, but because we're talking about the Yankees, it makes perfect sense. I mean, why wouldn't you start bidding against yourself at the mere mention that somebody else might make an offer?

News item: Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb threw four touchdown passes in Thursday night's lopsided victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

My take: This has to be a tough time to be an Eagles fan. I just have this picture in my mind of them digging through all that slimy Thanksgiving dinner garbage to get their McNabb jerseys back.

News item: The Ravens play the hapless Cincinnati Bengals today with a chance to improve to 8-4 and solidify their playoff position.

My take: This is what the NFL wonks call "a potential trap game" because of the possibility of a letdown after the big win over the Eagles. I'm not worried about John Harbaugh's team taking anybody too lightly, but it's still a division game on the road, so there might be scary moments.

News item: Former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell said in a recent Associated Press interview that he feels his steroid report played a significant role in reducing the abuse of performance-enhancing drugs in major league baseball.

My take: Though some positive steps resulted from his recommendations, the report was a multimillion-dollar boondoggle that piggybacked on two existing drug investigations and produced little fresh information. It did, however, succeed in making baseball look like the gooey center of the steroid universe while the other professional sports - most notably the NFL - dodged most of the negative publicity.

Related news item: U.S District Court Judge Susan Illston has unsealed grand jury testimony from the BALCO investigation to make it available to the lawyers preparing for Barry Bonds' federal perjury trial.

My take: Great news. This will allow Bonds' attorneys to pore over thousands of pages of documents at a billing rate of probably $500 an hour when you can get most of the same information by picking up a copy of Game of Shadows for $6.95 on the bargain rack at Barnes & Noble.

News item: The clamor for an eight-team playoff to decide the college football national championship seems to be gaining steam as the regular season winds down with eight undefeated or one-loss teams (other than top-ranked, undefeated Alabama) still able to make a case for one of the spots in the Bowl Championship Series title game.

My take: I was fine with the old bowl system, and I would be fine with an eight-team playoff, though there would still be controversy at the cutoff point in the rankings. The current system, however, is a bad joke that seems to get worse every year.

News item: Boise State crushed Fresno State, 61-10, on Friday night to finish the regular season with a 12-0 record but probably will not play in a BCS bowl game because the one compulsory non-BCS bid will likely go to Utah (also 12-0).

My take: That would be a crime, but if there was an eight-team playoff, No. 9 Boise still might be on the outside looking in. Just reinforcing the point that there will never be a perfect system.

News item: The University of Tennessee reportedly will hire former Oakland Raiders coach Lane Kiffin to replace Phillip Fulmer, who was fired after spending 35 years as a player, assistant coach and head coach with the Volunteers.

My take: And you thought that letter of recommendation from Al Davis wouldn't make a difference.

News item: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said on a radio interview that if the New York Jets and New York Giants reach their respective conference championship games, one game would be moved from Sunday to Monday night to solve the Meadowlands scheduling conflict.

My take: I know you're all relieved.

Listen to Peter Schmuck on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon most Saturdays and Sundays.

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