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Anderson's super swing could be hair to stay


He is the Samson of baseball, a figure growing from mythical to Biblical proportions, a hitter displaying super-human strength.

Woe to any Delilah who makes Brady Anderson shave his sideburns.

"I would wilt," Anderson said.

Let the hitting experts debate his stance, his swing, his bat speed. Your local barber can figure out why Anderson now ranks among the AL leaders in 10 offensive categories.

Without sideburns, he was a borderline major leaguer.

With them, he's a future Hall of Famer.

"It must be nice to be in his shoes right now," Mike Flanagan said.

No, Flanny.

It must be nice using his razor.

All Anderson did last night was go 3-for-5 with a stolen base and a two-run homer in the Orioles' 6-2 victory over Minnesota, tying California's Junior Felix for the AL lead with 24 RBIs.

Manager Johnny Oates keeps saying he doesn't want his leadoff hitter to play Cecil Fielder's game. For once, no one can accuse Anderson of stubbornly ignoring an elder's advice.

Why should he play Fielder's game?

Cecil has only 23 RBIs.

Cecil always finishes second for MVP.

The last Oriole to drive in as many runs after 27 games was Cal Ripken, who had 30 at this point in 1987.

Anderson now has more RBIs than both Ripkens combined.

For those scoring at home:

Anderson, 24; Ripkens, 22.

"He's hot, man," Minnesota's Kirby Puckett said. "He's on fire."

"I hate to be around him," the Orioles' Randy Milligan said. "He's so hot, I burn my fingers."

Anderson last night matched his career-high of four homers in only his 102nd at-bat. He is now one shy of his career-high in extra-base hits (18), and three shy of his career-high in RBIs (27).

Without sideburns, he was a .219 lifetime hitter.

With them, he's batting .308.

Incredibly, that might be his least impressive statistic. Batting average is one of the few departments where Anderson isn't listed among the AL leaders.

Are you ready?

With the season one-sixth complete, he ranks first in triples (five), and second in extra-base hits (17), stolen bases (10) and total bases (tied with Roberto Alomar, 62).

That would be more than enough, but Anderson is also third in slugging percentage (.596), sixth in runs (19) and ninth in on-base average (.413).

For the uninitiated, slugging percentage is total bases divided by at-bats. Anderson trails only Mark McGwire and Chris Hoiles in that category. Not bad for a 185-pounder.

"I don't think any of us expect him to play to the level he's playing at for 162 games," Oates said. "I'll take anything near it."

That's mighty sporting of Oates: At this rate, Anderson will finish with 60 stolen bases, 102 extra-base hits and 144 RBIs.

Without sideburns, he celebrated his walks.

With them, he has reached base 21 straight games.

To think, he started the season 0-for-9 without clearing the infield. Since then he's batting .337 -- including .429 (12-for-28) with runners in scoring position and .600 (6-for-10) with men on third base.

All of his hits last night came with two strikes. The home run came on a 3-2 changeup off Kevin Tapani with two outs in the fourth inning. It gave the Orioles a 5-0 lead.

Inexplicably, the fans in the leftfield stands weren't bowing when Anderson returned to his position after the inning ended.

How can they look themselves in the mirror?

Anderson said the fans cheer him, "but not like they do with Devo [Mike Devereaux] in center. They've got a shrine for him out there. I get a few little golf claps once in a while."

That's polite applause.

It simply will not do.

The Samson of baseball merits nothing less than a "Brady Bunch" fan club, not to mention a cameo appearance on "Beverly Hills 90210."

Rest assured, this newspaper will soon offer a five-part series on the evolution of sideburns, complete with full-color pictures and eye-popping charts.

Careful with that razor, Brady.

And watch out for Delilah.

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