Millions for mediocrity doesn't wash with some Orioles fans


A LOT OF FANS are upset that the Orioles were not major players in the free-agent market at this week's winter meetings, but their sentiments are not shared by all. Among those I've heard expressing the opposite view were three good Orioles fans at a clothing store in Cockeysville yesterday.

"I'm glad the Orioles didn't get involved in that," said Harry Danillen, the store's owner. "These other teams are crazy paying millions for a player who hits .260 or for a pitcher with a losing record. Imagine George Bell getting $13 million from the Cubs. I wouldn't object if the Orioles paid a lot of money for a really good player. But not for the guys getting all this money now. The Orioles went into the free-agent market when they got Fred Lynn and those guys. What good did it do? I'd rather see them bring along the young players they have now."

Said Bunky Roche: "It doesn't bother me a bit that the Orioles didn't spend those millions. I'm an Orioles fan from way back and I'm still going to be a fan. They'll be entertaining and competitive next year. I'm already looking forward to the new ballpark."

Dave Caplan, one of Baltimore's leading baseball trivia experts, also had a strong opinion on Orioles spending. Said Caplan: "I don't see why they're even thinking about spending millions to keep Mickey Tettleton. He strikes out more than anybody in the league."

* One thing was certain as baseball's owners and executives left Chicago after wrapping up the meetings: They won't be sued for collusion after this week.

Compared to the megabucks tossed at baseball free agents these days, the most money ever paid a Pittsburgh Steelers player -- $1 million a year for three years to Rod Woodson -- sounds almost cheap. Which illustrates why football owners keep fighting to keep free agency out of the NFL.

* George Steinbrenner, complaining he was not allowed to call the free-agent shots for his Yankees (he says he could have kept Dave Righetti in New York), is like an old sore that won't go away. He still owns the Yankees but he's not allowed to run the club. As long as he owns the club, George will keep complaining about commissioner Fay Vincent's barring him from day-to-day operations. Vincent no doubt is very sorry now that he didn't make George sell the club. Limbo is no place for a take-charge guy like Steinbrenner.

* Steve Stenersen, director of the Lacrosse Hall of Fame and Foundation, is just back from meeting with the U.S. Olympic Committee in Colorado Springs. He's trying to get lacrosse made an Olympic sport by 1996 in Atlanta. At this point he's not optimistic. Ballroom dancing, he feels, has a better chance of being added. That tells a lot about the Olympics.

* If lacrosse ever takes hold in Asia, some of the credit will go to Baltimorean Nolan Rogers. He leaves tomorrow for Singapore to spread the gospel. He'll take along sticks, helmets, balls and pads supplied by manufacturers. Rogers will take the game to China and the Soviet Union in June. In '92 he'll take members of the U.S. World team to China, the Soviet Union and Japan for clinics.

* Scott Hargest, the new president of Towson State's Tiger Club, believes fund-raising for athletics at TSU will be easier now after the school's highly publicized budget crisis. "Before," says Hargest, "when people were asked to contribute, they thought, 'Why? Football is doing OK. So is basketball.' Now they know why."

* Most football coaches love being the underdog, but Navy's George Chaump can't understand why Army (5-5) is a 6 1/2 -point favorite over his Middies (5-5) tomorrow. Says Chaump: "When you study the two teams' records and look at comparative scores, there's not much to separate us. I think the game should be a toss-up."

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