Capital Gazette wins special Pulitzer Prize citation for coverage of newsroom shooting that killed five

Unless the goods are found, the only penalty for scuffing is scoffing

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Stop with all the outrage already. The injury to Chris Hoiles was unfortunate, perhaps even pennant-threatening. It was a crime, but it isn't as if cheating is not a time-honored tradition in baseball.

Gaylord Perry had to spread Vasoline all over himself to slip into the Hall of Fame. There were enough scuffed balls collected during Don Sutton's career to fill a wing at Cooperstown, but he will be there soon instead.

The thing that galls the Orioles is that they caught Tim Leary of the New York Yankees in the act -- or at least they think they did -- and he's probably going to walk. There is no smoking gun. There was only a bag of hand-carved baseballs and a piece of videotape in which Leary is acting very suspicious.

The whole thing would have been settled in a hurry if one of the umpires had walked to the mound, grabbed Leary by the nose and forced him to cough up the evidence, but that's not the way the system works. You can't just go sticking your fingers in someone's mouth in front of 45,000 people. It's gross, for one thing, and it's a violation of the player's right to privacy.

If Leary was cheating, he did what any self-respecting scuffballer would do in the same situation. He ate the evidence. Just be glad he wasn't using a glob of Brylcream. He might have done to umpire Terry Craft what President Bush did to the Japanese prime minister.

The Orioles protested the game and built a case to support that protest, but even American League president Bobby Brown has to adhere to a standard of evidence that will make it difficult to get any action. The umpires didn't do anything. The videotape does not show any foreign object, even if it suggests that there was one. The verdict has been slow to come, but it isn't hard to figure out what it will be.

There has been plenty of evidence collected against baseball's suspected cheaters over the past several years, but the only ones who have been disciplined were those caught with the goods. Rick Honeycutt once was caught with a tack fastened to his hand. Joe Niekro was caught with an emery board. Kevin Gross was caught with a piece of sandpaper attached to his glove.

If Leary was cheating last Sunday night, he got away with it. That's baseball.

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Strange but true: Just a few weeks after Major League Baseball approved the sale of the Seattle Mariners to an investment group headed by a Japanese businessman, the Mariners held a pre-game ceremony Thursday to honor departed star Al

vin Davis, who was in Seattle with the California Angels. Davis announced afterward that he was leaving the Angels to finish the season with the Kintetsu Buffaloes in Osaka, Japan.

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From the home office in Arnold: With the usual apologies to talk-show host and Terry Craft Umpiring Academy guest instructor David Letterman, here's my top 10 list of entirely plausible reasons why Leary appeared to stick his hand in his mouth during last Sunday night's game at Camden Yards.

10. Only way to make sure uvula was still in place.

9. Wearing grape-flavored wristwatch.

8. Just making sure he didn't swallow that Black and Decker cordless drill he keeps in his mouth for unexpected household repairs.

7. "Martha Raye was right, that Dentu-grip really holds."

L 6. One taste of that resin stuff and you're hooked for life.

5. Adult thumb-sucking -- society's hidden scourge.

4. Would do anything to get on "America's Funniest Home Videos," even eat own hand.

3. Had to check the grit count of his Skoal.

2. Forced to chew fingernails because emery boards are not allowed on mound.

1. Trying to keep from throwing up at thought of how he was pitching before he discovered sandpaper.

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Stone Age stadium: The proposed stadium project in Milwaukee remains on hold pending further environmental-impact studies. The project originally was delayed when a rock formation was discovered that is thought to date back 400 million years. Several months later, stadium planners still are between a very old rock and a hard place.

"They just found Fred Flintstone's footprints," Milwaukee sportswriter Tom Haudricourt said. "The stadium is going to be delayed another two years while they look for Dino."

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Missing at sea: The Orioles Advocates sponsored a midnight cruise to celebrate the induction of Gene Woodling into the Orioles Hall of Fame last weekend, but somebody missed the boat.

It was Woodling, who was a no-show at his own party.

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More stadium stuff: Brewers officials admittedly are green with envy over the new ballpark in Baltimore. Members of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, the organization that is working with the Brewers to build a new stadium, will visit Camden Yards this week to meet with Orioles officials and community leaders to see how they brought the project together.

"From a distance, the stadium in Baltimore seems to be the closest thing to what we want in Milwaukee," GMC executive director Robert Milbourne told the Milwaukee Sentinel last week.

Club spokesman Laurel Prieb agreed that a "new-old" ballpark was just what Brewers owner Bud Selig had in mind.

It appears that there will be three new stadiums built soon that will emulate the Oriole Park concept. Stadium projects in Cleveland and Texas also have drawn from the old-and-new approach that has been so successful in Baltimore.

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Very superstitious: Cincinnati Reds outfielder Paul O'Neill hoped that a brand-new uniform would help pull him out of a three-week batting slump, so he wore a new jersey, new pants, new underclothes, new shoes and new socks for Monday night's game against the Houston Astros.

Nothing changed, but that didn't change O'Neill's superstitious nature. Now, he's wondering about the new house he moved into shortly before the slump began.

"I'd hate to have to move out," he said. "I like the house. I guess I'll give it another week."

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Ceremonial All-Stars: Hall of Famer Willie Mays and longtime California Angels coach Jimmie Reese have been named as honorary coaches for next month's All-Star Game in San Diego. Both are excellent choices, but it would have been nice to have Reese involved in next year's midseason classic at Camden Yards. Reese, on the New York Yankees in 1930-31, roomed with Babe Ruth on the road. He would have been a great addition to All-Star festivities that will take place so close to the Babe's birthplace. But, alas, Reese's travel schedule was curtailed a couple of years ago because of health problems.

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Knee-jerk reaction: It looked as if the Orioles were going to get through two series against the Brewers without having to face Chris Bosio, but he has been moved back to start Tuesday's game at Camden Yards.

Bosio had to be scratched from his scheduled start on Thursday because of a hyper-extended left knee. He originally was moved back to yesterday's game against the Boston Red Sox, but manager Phil Garner decided to skip that start entirely and move him back into his regular slot on Tuesday. Not that the Orioles were especially pleased with the alternative. Ricky Bones took Bosio's place and shut them out for eight innings on Thursday.

A modest proposal

The All-Star Game always touches off a debate over the selection process, but there is a way to avoid the annual bickering that results from the fan ballotting. Go back to the double All-Star Game setup.

That's right. Go back to the good old days when there were two All-Star Games every year. The fans could choose one set of teams. The players, coaches and managers could choose the other.

How would it work? The All-Star break could be lengthened to five days, with a schedule of events to rival Super Bowl week. The fans' game would be held on the traditional Tuesday. The second game would be held Thursday.

Why would anyone agree to such a thing? Because the television and gate revenues from the second game would be split between the owners and the players' union. Because it would be fun for the fans and good for the sport. Because it would give the game another revenue angle without resorting to the ridiculous concept of an extra playoff tier, something that has been under consideration for the past few years.

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