For worried call-in fans, bailing out O's...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

For worried call-in fans, bailing out O's beats basement any 0) time

You're worried about the Orioles. This start wasn't what you expected. And the team's problems have affected your outlook on life.

Maybe you find yourself a little short-tempered. Maybe you get into silly arguments with your spouse, who should realize that you'll get around to cleaning up all the water in the basement from the last rain just as soon as Gregg Olson saves a few more games.

And, anyway, what difference does it make if that box with her wedding dress got wet -- what, she's going to be wearing it again soon?

And you're really going to cut the grass just as soon as Glenn Davis gets in a groove and why, in the meantime, couldn't the kids just wear really tall hats when they play in the yard?

However, there is an outlet for your angst. Yes, it's the Angst Outlet Center. Just off Route 108 in Columbia. Follow Dainty Deer Drive to Crafty Crustacean Court, left on Rollicking Reindeer Road and a half-mile on Bantering Baboon Boulevard.

Hey, just kidding. Columbia doesn't have any streets named after baboons.

The outlet is the radio talk show. You call your favorite host and express your concerns. Perhaps you feel a little better afterward. Perhaps you stay on hold for a half-hour and end up feeling even more anxious. But it's all part of the healing process, a way to get in touch with your inner baseball fan.

So, what are callers telling Baltimore's three daily sports talk shows?

"I think there's major, major disappointment," said Nestor Aparicio, host on WITH, soon moving to a new station (more on that later). "But the people who are down on the team are the same people who were calling three weeks ago and saying they were going to stink."

"People jumped out of the gate even when they were 0-2 and 0-3," said Stan "The Fan" Charles of the WCBM (680 AM). "I attribute it to post-1988 syndrome," worries about another 0-21 start.

"The thing that fans are upset with in the first week of the season was the Orioles' inability to cash in with runners on," said Jeff Rimer of WBAL (1090 AM). "And that was the same problem they had late last season."

But fans are worried about more than just failed scoring opportunities.

"What aren't they concerned about?" Rimer said. "Glenn Davis, Gregg Olson, you name it. When Mike Mussina got rocked in Texas, it was another area of concern."

"Johnny Oates is taking a whole lot of heat. . . . The stopper thing [Olson] has become a really big thing," Aparicio said. "People have been on Glenn. The callers have been saying he's healthy but incompetent."

"They really jumped on Olson right away," Charles said. "Glenn Davis and Olson are the two guys people call about.

"There's some question about Oates' handling of Glenn Davis. It's not really that he's playing, but where he should be batting."

Not every caller, though, is giving up on the season.

"Only 5-10 percent are saying this symbolizes they're out of it," Charles said.

Aparicio said his calls are about evenly split between those worried and those not concerned, and Rimer said about 60 percent of his callers are upset.

Then it's up to the hosts to be -- as WBAL Radio's Ron Smith calls himself -- the Voice of Reason.

"I am trying to find the silver lining rather than trying to be a pessimist," Aparicio said.

"[The callers] are a little nervous," Charles said. "You think it's going to stop tomorrow, and then it doesn't."

"It's very, very premature to get concerned," Rimer said. "But it makes for interesting talk."

Moving down the dial

Aparicio's show is joining the rest of WITH's programming on its move to 1360 AM, what is now WHLP, starting Monday. His program will air an hour later, running 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Aparicio, a former member of The Evening Sun sports staff, said his show will have a reporter live at Camden Yards each day during every homestand. He also plans a promotional push, including a sign at Memorial Stadium to catch the eyes of Baysox fans, T-shirts and sponsors' coupons at Camden Yards and weekly drawings for Orioles tickets.

The new time puts him directly against Rimer's show on WBAL, and, with his usual brashness, Aparicio says he's out to slay the flagship dragon (OK, he didn't exactly use those words). Aparicio is nothing if not full of hustle, and his still-evolving style -- marked by youthful enthusiasm and some of its accompanying excesses -- offers quite a contrast to Rimer's more traditional approach.

Don't expect WBAL's tower to tumble off TV Hill, but here's hoping Aparicio can make a go of it. A wise person -- was it Rich Little? -- once spoke about the importance of a multitude of voices. That goes for sports talk shows, too.

Uh, uh, uh, uh, stayin' alive

Now, tell the truth, when Brooks Robinson was holding in his earpiece at the beginning of the Orioles telecast from Texas the other night, didn't he look like one of the Bee Gees? . . . Favorite comment from last weekend: NBC's Bill Walton saying that the )) ZTC Seattle SuperSonics picked up Sam Perkins just to make it look as if Derrick McKey were playing hard. . . . Unfortunately for CBS, the highlight of its final-round Masters coverage on Sunday was the opening, the well-done "Reflections of a Champion," in which Fred Couples recalled his triumph at Augusta last year. It's not the network's fault that Bernhard Langer didn't stumble. And I suppose some viewers just get a kick out of announcer Ben Wright's sounding so British (though Wright did have a nice line about the green jacket being for export again) and saying "level par" instead of "even par" as we do in the States. But why does everybody have to say so-and-so made a great "golf shot"? Hey, the guy's standing in the fairway at Augusta holding a 7-iron -- what other kind of shot can he make? A slap shot? A rim shot? An I'm ready for my close-up now Mr. DeMille shot? Just asking.

We got the beat

Stan Charles has begun a weekly program on Home Team Sports on Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m., "Stan the Fan's Baseball Beat." The show is broken into three segments -- a round-table discussion with sportswriters (Wednesdays are good for me, Stan), an interview with a baseball personality and questions for Charles from fans. . . . Yet another channel is poised to compete for space in the cable television world. A group in Indianapolis plans to launch The Scores Channel this summer. The channel's programming is to consist of constantly updated sports scores and related information 24 hours a day. . . . CBS acknowledges that the baseball season has begun with its regular-season debut tomorrow at 1 p.m. (Chicago White Sox-Boston Red Sox on Channel 11). . . . "American Gladiators," the show that presages the end of civilization as we know it, presents the "Gold Medal Challenge of Champions" tomorrow at 2 p.m. on Channel 13. Several athletes, including the Los Angeles Clippers' Danny Manning, heavyweight boxer Tyrell Biggs, speed skating gold medalist Cathy Turner and ex-basketball All-American Nancy Lieberman-Cline, will compete against the pumped-up Gladiators.

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