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  •   You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet

    By Tony Kornheiser
    Washington Post Columnist
    Tuesday, April 26, 1988; Page E1


    Tell the truth, Washingtonians, you're not really that despondent about the Orioles, are you? Down deep, aren't you smirking just a bit on the grounds that if we don't have major league baseball it's only fair Baltimore doesn't either?

    How about them O's?

    0 and 16, 0 and 17, 0 and 18 . . .

    This must be what Qaddafi meant when he warned us not to cross The Line of Death. You end up in Birdland.

    They say any team can win on any given day, but I'm not sure about the O's on any day ending in "y." They could become the first team in baseball history mathematically eliminated from the pennant race by Father's Day. By the Fourth of July, they may be asked to leave the country.

    You notice how nobody in Washington wants anything to do with the O's these days? When they were going good we tried to Bogart them. Now everyone's careful to refer to them as the Baltimore Orioles. Let's make sure about that 45 miles between us. This is an election year. The last thing anyone in Washington wants on him is the smell of losing.

    Who's having a bad year? You think Gary Hart's having a bad year? The only person in my lifetime having a worse year than the O's is the district attorney on "Perry Mason." Last week a friend of mine said he was going on the road with the O's until they won. I asked if he had enough clothes to last until fall.

    In horse racing there's a handicap system. By now all the other horses are carrying 126 pounds, and the O's have a chihuahua on their back. Then again, if this is horses, they shoot the O's, don't they?

    What are they waiting for with Frank Robinson? When are they going to fire this guy? (Steinbrenner would have fired, rehired and refired Billy already.) They fired Cal Ripken Sr. at 0-6. Frank's 0-12. What's the deal here? Does Frank have incriminating photos of Roland Hemond? Speaking of Hemond, what makes anyone think he's the man to get the Orioles out of this? He was the White Sox general manager for 15 years, and in all that time they won one AL West title. Who was knocking on his door bidding against the O's, Pete duPont?

    The Orioles should fire Frank Robinson and hire Brooks Robinson. When that doesn't work, they should fire Brooks Robinson and hire Mrs. Robinson. When the O's don't hit, postgame news conferences can begin with the question, "What's that you say, Mrs. Robinson, Joltin' Joe has left and gone away?"

    The really horrifying aspect of this 0-18 start is that the O's haven't yet played any of the real contenders. They haven't even gotten a sniff of the Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays, Tigers or Athletics. Sure, Cleveland looks ace so far. So would you if you'd played seven against the O's. Cleveland dropped 101 games last year. Take away their games against the Orioles and the combined record of Cleveland, Kansas City and Milwaukee is 12-20. Playing the Orioles means never having to say, I'm drowning. This upcoming O's-Twins series should be a doozy. The O's have a collective 6.01 ERA, the Twins 6.36. If it goes any higher the mercury explodes.

    Have you listened lately? What a shame for Jon Miller. Having him broadcast these O's is like forcing Rembrandt to paint houses. The other night Miller was talking wistfully about how well the farmhands are doing at Rochester. It seems every pitcher's ERA is 0.50, and every hitter is over .400. Okay, exchange the teams. Bring the Red Wings up, send the O's down. You going to try and tell me things will be worse?

    Get rid of Mike Boddicker. He's counting the days until he's a free agent? Fine, ship him out. This is such a big loss, at 0-4 with a 7.40 ERA? Who died and told Boddicker he was Early Wynn? Since 1984, he's 36-45, and his ERA has never been below 4. If this guy's going to Cooperstown, who's flying the plane, Amelia Earhart?

    Did you read where Fred Lynn was disgruntled about the lack of bonding on this team? "You want to know everyone's pulling together," Lynn said. "You need to know your teammates. We didn't even know each other's names at the end of spring training." Excuse me if I don't weep for Free Agent Freddy. Here's this career Hessian who'll go anywhere for the right price and stay until 12:01 a.m. on the day his contract expires, and he's worried that this team doesn't have an identity? This is a guy who cares about building a family attitude? This is a guy with roots? He's the first hydroponic ballplayer.

    I only hope Eddie Murray feels uncomfortable, too. Murray is getting $2 million a year to play baseball, for crying out loud, and he acts as if he's working the night shift at an assembly line. He brings no joy to his work. He's diffident and pouty, and on the field he stands haughtily, detaching himself from any emotional interchange with the fans. Honestly, what's his problem?

    For 20 years the Orioles were the best in baseball. Now they're awful. But there's a bright side: When you're rancid, like the early Mets, or you lose all the time, like the Cubs, people are sympathetic. America loves a real loser. To lose big time, to go 0-18, is almost thrilling. Who loses every day? That takes a special skill. Far worse is mediocrity. If there's one thing the American fan can't stand, it's to be bored. Washingtonians ought to know. Every four years we get to play our one real sport, presidential politics. As discouraging as it might seem seeing a lineup of Rowdon, Landrum, Stone and Peraza, imagine facing a full summer of Bush and Dukakis.

    © Copyright 1988 The Washington Post Company

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