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

Ticket sales for Rockies games keep expanding at a record pace

THE BALTIMORE SUN

It has been 100 years or so since there has been a mother lode like this in the Rockets. Colorado's expansion franchise may not look like much on the field, but the new team's home attendance numbers have far exceeded any reasonable expectation.

No one was terribly surprised at the major-league record crowd of 80,227 that attended the Rockies opener on April 9. Mile High Stadium had the capacity and who in the Denver area didn't want to be there for the first game ever played by the club. But there was room to wonder if the Cleveland syndrome would set in soon thereafter.

The Indians draw more than 70,000 fans to their home opener every year, then are fortunate to pull in 15,000 for the second game of the season. The Rockies have averaged 58,940 through their first 13 home dates and already have sold 220,000 tickets to this weekend's four-game series against the Atlanta Braves.

The club has sold about 3 million tickets and is on pace to blow away the Toronto Blue Jays' all-time single-season attendance record.

There is little chance of the Rockies keeping up this pace, but here's their projected season attendance total at the current rate: 4,774,140.

The Orioles can have their 65 straight sellouts. The Rockies are enjoying their early-season gold rush so much that they may redraw the blueprints for the new stadium that is going to be built for the team.

Coors Field was going to be a cozy little place that held 43,500 fans, but the attendance explosion may force planners to increase capacity to as much as 50,000. They are taking a lesson from Camden Yards, which could fill another 5,000 seats for almost every game.

What next?

Baseball players turn to all sorts of people to solve their problems -- trainers, physical therapists, even psychologists and hypnotists -- but Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Tom Candiotti ought to win the Fickle Finger of Fate Award for this one.

Candiotti has turned to a manicurist in hopes of getting his knuckleball under better control.

Actually, it isn't as strange as it sounds. Candiotti is 0-3 with a 6.54 ERA, and the root of his problems may be a twice-broken fingernail on his pitching hand. Hence the trip to the manicurist to see if there is anything that can be done to strengthen the nail.

"If I can let it grow out, I'll be all right," Candiotti said. "I don't like talking about it, because it's some what embarrassing."

Unmanageable

Was there a full moon, or what?

On the same night last week, Kansas City Royals manager Hal McRae declared war on small appliances at Royals Stadium and Orioles manager Johnny Oates held a meeting in Chicago that was so long that the new Comiskey Park had gone out of warranty by the time it was over.

The two incidents were not directly related, except in the way that they were turned into significant news events. Oates' meeting became the subject of tremendous curiosity, though it was nothing more than a clubhouse encounter group. McRae's tirade was nothing that Dodgers manager Tom Lasorda hasn't done 10 times in his career, but Lasorda never drew blood.

The only common link between Oates and McRae is the frustration both have experienced during the early weeks of the season. The Orioles were supposed to be an American League East contender, but got off to one of the worst starts in club history. McRae has waited a long time to field a competitive team, but the Royals only recently have begun to play competitive baseball.

The mild-mannered Oates has had his outbursts, too. Both managers have had otherwise easy-going personalities transformed by the intense pressure to win at the major-league level. Can anyone who has gone home and yelled at the kids after a tough day at work really blame them?

Rockies infielder Charlie Hayes struck out for the first time this year on Wednesday -- in his 80th plate appearance of the season -- to become the last regular player in the major leagues to record his first K.

Perhaps this wouldn't be newsworthy if Hayes was a noted contact hitter, but he struck out 100 times last year and has averaged one strikeout every 5.8 at-bats during his major-league career.

Boddicker gets his chance

Former Orioles pitcher Mike Boddicker had disappeared into the Royals bullpen when the Milwaukee Brewers acquired him last week for a minor-league player to be named.

"I was in limbo there," Boddicker said. "I didn't know what was going to happen. It wasn't a good situation for me in Kansas City. There are no hard feelings. I just wasn't in their plans. This is all I want. I'm going to get the ball every five days."

That is the plan, but Boddicker didn't do much with his first opportunity. He gave up 12 hits over six innings in a loss to the Chicago White Sox on Thursday.

California dreamin'

The Angels continue on their merry way, riding the tremendous performances of rookies J. T. Snow and Tim Salmon to one of the club's best starts in history. Perhaps it won't last, but manager Buck Rodgers thinks that several of his young players are coming into their own at just the right time.

"I'm very hopeful that we're not seeing a fluke," said Rodgers, who was given a contract extension through 1995 on Thursday. "I'm hopeful we're seeing the beginning of some outstandings careers. I'm hopeful they aren't 30-day wonders. The best thing about them is that they are all tough kids who won't be intimidated. No one is going to play mind games with them."

Snow, who came over from the New York Yankees in the much-debated Jim Abbott trade, entered the weekend hitting .365 (23-for-63) with six home runs and 17 RBI. Salmon was batting .268 (15-for-56) with five home runs and 14 RBI.

"They're both the type of kids who control their own fate," Rodgers said. "They both are the type who say, 'I'll get it done' rather than asking every coach, writer, equipment man and peanut vendor what they are doing wrong."

Big man in Boston

Boston Red Sox first baseman Mo Vaughn is building his own legend, and local fans think it's about time. He was touted as the club's newest superhero when he came up to the major leagues a couple years ago, but only recently has he started to make his presence felt in the lineup and the community.

Vaughn made headlines last week when he promised a home run to a sick kid and delivered. Four days later, he launched a long home run into a section at the Oakland Coliseum where fans had unfurled a banner proclaiming the area the "Mo Vaughn Fan Club."

Fame has followed in a hurry. One of the tabloid television shows showed up at Fenway Park on Friday to feature Vaughn in a segment.

Trivia quiz

Who was the first Orioles pitcher to come up on the losing

end of a victory by future Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan? For a bonus point, who was the last Orioles pitcher of record in a Ryan victory?

Dodger discontent

There are rumors that Lasorda will change some horses over the next few days in the hope of injecting some life into his lineup. Outfielder Eric Davis had two hits in 27 at-bats on the club's recent 1-6 road trip and shortstop Jose Offerman continues to be a disappointment.

That has prompted speculation that shortstop Kevin Elster will be brought back from an injury rehabilitation assignment at Double-A San Antonio to play short and Triple-A outfielder Billy Ashley will get a chance to break into the Dodgers' outfield.

Ashley entered the weekend with six home runs in 19 games for the Albuquerque Dukes. He had 24 home runs at San Antonio last season.

Former Royal flush

This might be one for the book. On Thursday, no fewer than seven former Kansas City pitchers started games. Boddicker (Brewers), Charlie Leibrandt (Texas Rangers), Luis Aquino (Florida Marlins), Greg Hibbard (Chicago Cubs), Danny Jackson (Philadelphia Phillies), Bret Saberhagen (New York Mets) and Bud Black (San Francisco Giants) not only started -- but each got a decision. They combined for a 3-4 record and 4.75 ERA.

Since there were only 11 games played on Thursday, the ex-Royals made up 32 percent of the starting pitchers in the majors that day.

Leibrandt, Jackson, Saberhagen and Black pitched on the 1985 world championship team, and none of them missed a start that season.

Quote of the week

Boddicker had announced earlier this season that he would retire at

the end of the year, but that did not keep the Brewers from making the deal to put him in their starting rotation.

"Well," said general manager Sal Bando, "if he wins 20 games, we wouldn't be able to afford him anyway."

Losing control

Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Tim Wakefield threw 171 pitches in a 10-inning performance on Monday night, walking 10 in a 6-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves. He has walked 35 in 39 innings this year after walking just 35 in 92 innings during his 8-1 half-season in 1992.

"He gives you your money's worth," quipped Pirates manager Jim Leyland, "and he's making me earn mine."

Trivia answer

The first Orioles pitcher to be the losing pitcher in a victory by Ryan was Dave McNally, who came up on the wrong end of a four-hit Ryan shutout on Aug. 22, 1972. The last Orioles pitcher to lose to Ryan was Mike Mussina, who lost a 6-2 decision July 26 last season.

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