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An Honest
Day’s Word

By Joe Edwards

Wednesday, May 5, 1999


Camden is heavenly
for baseball fans

HIS and that to chew on over lunch:

There's nothing like a perfect, sunshiny Saturday afternoon at a big-league ballpark to help you relax.

I was fortunate enough to spend one in Baltimore about 10 days ago. If Oriole Park at Camden Yards is what all the new ballparks are like, I say the people in Seattle, San Francisco, Houston, Detroit and Milwaukee are in for a treat.

It's a mistake to say these new parks hark back to the old days of baseball, because the new ones are part shopping mall and part amusement park when you get right down to it.

All that is nice, but it's the game I care most about. And there's where the new parks have it all over the old ones.

I've been to Fenway Park, for example. Red Sox fans worship the place as though it were Jerusalem, but let's face it, unless you're in the box seats, it's no great shake. The seats are too close together for anyone taller than 6-feet. Sight lines can be blocked. If it weren't for the Green Monster and all that choked up tradition and heartache, the place is the Metrodome with grass.

Camden, on the other hand, is one of the more comfortable parks where I've ever seen a pro game. Sight lines are fantastic. Lots of room to sit comfortably. The vendors really hustle. It's just a great place to watch a game -- even if the Orioles are the worst team in the American League.

I picked a heck of a week to go, too. I saw the O's play Oakland twice, Kansas City and Minnesota, so I've seen how the bottom feeders of the AL survive. It's not pretty. At least the owners from the visiting three teams don't have $80 million payrolls to deal with.

Not that I'm against spending money on your employees, mind you. But Baltimore clearly made some poor personnel decisions, starting with manager Ray Miller.

I guess I shouldn't be too hard on the Orioles. Peter Angelos was kind enough to let a group of us sit in a team suite the night we were there to see the Royals pound his lads.

Now that the Orioles are through cozying up to Fidel Castro, maybe they can get down to the business of playing fundamentally sound ball.

Lord knows they need it.

Tapa

One sight missing from what will probably be my first and last trip to Camden was No. 8 at third base for the O's.

Cal Ripken is on the disabled list with an aching back. He says it feels better and that he's optimistic about his future, but when a 38-year-old guy starts to get mysterious back pains, you can pretty much count the days left in his career.

Somehow it would be almost fitting, given the retirements of Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky and John Elway.

I wish Cal could play forever, but I have a feeling he's done.

Tapa

The NBA season ends today. I'll be the first to admit I was way wrong about the Dennis Rodman experiment in L.A.

Rumors are flying around Washington, D.C., that Shaquille O'Neal will be the next exile, possibly for Juwan Howard of the Wizards.

That wouldn't surprise me too much, since they make similar money. More and more, the Lakers look like they are putting their stock in Kobe Bryant. I'm not sure if that's a good move, but Shaq hasn't paid off like they thought he would.

As for the playoffs, I still like Miami in the East with Indiana a possibility.

In the West, Portland and San Antonio are nice, but Utah knows it can get the job done.

And confidence wins.



Joe Edwards is sports editor of the Star-Bulletin.



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