Shorter expectations should help Palmer


Perhaps no one is better qualified than Brooks Robinson to judge Jim Palmer's chances of making a successful comeback at age 45 after a layoff of nearly seven years.

Here's what he said regarding the likelihood his longtime teammate and TV broadcast partner will pitch again this year:

"It's a long shot, but you only have to be a five-inning pitcher these days."

That, of course, is one of the major differences between today's game and baseball when Palmer was in his prime. Proof: The Orioles staff had only four complete games all last season; Jim Palmer went the distance 25 times in 1975, and in eight seasons had 17 or more complete games.

A lot of people, instead of accepting the Palmer situation for what it is, a great story, are hung up on the fact that he'll be a distraction and he could take the place of a younger player. No one to my knowledge has considered what we should all understand about competition. If Palmer makes the club, the club will be strengthened. Nobody -- especially Palmer -- wants him on the team for any other reason.

* Ernie Accorsi, the onetime Colts executive who now helps Art Modell run the Cleveland Browns, said yesterday that after two weeks of observing his new head coach, Annapolis-born Bill Belichick, he is "happier than ever" about the choice of the 38-year-old former New York Giants defensive coordinator.

"As you get to know Bill," said Accorsi, "you realize that he has prepared all his life for this moment. He was breaking down film at the age of 10 or 12."

Belichick got his early start because his father, Steve, had been on the football coaching staff at Navy since Eddie Erdelatz coached the Middies in the '50s. Bill Belichick grew up in a football family.

"We had an old coaching staff last year with Bud Carson," Accorsi said, referring to the coach the Browns fired in November. "Bill is bringing in all these young guys on his staff. It's like the Kennedy administration after Eisenhower."

* In his roles as Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner, which he is now, and before that athletic director at Notre Dame and Virginia, Gene Corrigan has participated in hundreds of hall of fame ceremonies for other people.

The situation will be reversed for the Baltimore-reared Corrigan on March 23 when he goes in the hall of fame at his alma mater, Duke University. This is hardly a first ballot choice. Corrigan graduated in 1951.

* Andy Enfield, Johns Hopkins' senior basketball star, looks as if he'll finish his career -- maybe tonight at Franklin & Marshall in the Middle Atlantic Conference playoffs -- as the country's No. 1 free throw shooter. Enfield has made 92.2 percent of his shots from the line. His closest challenger is Kent Andrew, of Division II McNeese State, at 91.6 percent. Hopkins is in Division III, but Enfield could set the career record for all divisions.

Says Bill Nelson, Enfield's coach: "Andy is only 58 points short of a 2,000-point career. I guess he'd need three more games to get that." Which means Hopkins will have to win two playoff games.

* Washington College finished its basketball season at 9-14, its first losing year since 1979-80. The Shoremen would love to be involved in postseason action because of the way the team came on down the stretch -- particularly 6-foot-9 sophomore Darren Vican.

"He looks like a franchise player," says Ed Athey, retired Washington athletic director, who still sees every game. "Tommy [coach Tom Finnegan] is really bringing this kid along. Darren had 31 points in our win over Widener last week. He had 19 when we lost to Hopkins [73-71] last weekend. If we can get a shooting forward and a point guard, we'll be tough next year. We've never had a center this big at Washington College."

* The Washington Bullets are disappointed in the turnouts for the three games they've played at the Arena this year, particularly the 8,800 for Indiana last month and the crowd of just over 10,000 last Sunday for a big promotion (basketball giveaway) with Cleveland. They're beginning to wonder if the novelty of having Bullets games back in Baltimore is beginning to wear off.

The truth of the matter is, they wouldn't have had any more than the Arena crowd Sunday if they had played the game at the Capital Centre.

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