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The San Francisco Giants have signed Russ Ortiz to a one-year contract.

You would think they'd know better.

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Watch him go 16-5, and some people around here will rip the Orioles for letting another good one get away.

Before I race out the door, and into a cold January morning that caused certain parts of my body to almost jump into my throat, I'd like to throw out this question. Feel free to take your time, kick it around a little, before responding:

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Is Cal Ripken the most popular figure in Baltimores sports history?

More popular than Brooks and Johnny U?

More popular than Russ Ortiz?

Here's a leftover quote from Brady Anderson. Few of us could argue:

"It's easy and logical to mention Cal Ripken and Lou Gehrig in the same sentence, not just because of the respective playing streaks, but also because of their great character."

Anderson, by the way, was in the process of writing a book about his experiences in the minors, right up to the time that the Triple-A Portland Beavers released him and ended his comeback.

"That's why getting released by the Portland Beavers was a heartbreak, besides the fact that I was hitting .292, leading the league in on-base average, and had five steals in three weeks. Oh yeah, and we were in first by about six games. I was writing a book in the same style as Ball Four," he said.

"I had great charactors, too. Man, it was unbelievable. That was so fun playing there."

I still think there's a book to be written, especially by somebody who was so close to Ripken and mingled with so many celebrities.

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