Deck of wild cards and O's non-aces


Fact: (excerpted from the 1994 baseball season): ". . . needing just two more wins to lock up that wild-card spot . . ."

Opinion: You could have gotten some pretty terrific odds on the Orioles' making this run with three starters (Rick Sutcliffe, Jamie Moyer, Fernando Valenzuela) who were discarded by their former employers.

Fact: Seven major-league teams are experiencing drops in attendance this year, as opposed to 16 last year. Oakland is the biggest loser so far.

Opinion: This year's top four NBA picks (Chris Webber, Shawn Bradley, Anfernee Hardaway, Jamal Mashburn) would get cleaned out by last year's top four (Shaquille O'Neal, Alonzo Mourning, Christian Laettner, Jimmy Jackson).

Fact: The Indians might draw 2 million fans this year for the first time since 1949.

Opinion: The middle-aged, miserable '93 Mets bear more than a faint resemblance to the '88 Orioles.

Fact: Jose Canseco gets $13 million through 1995, busted wing or not.

Opinion: If the AL West was a fish, it would be wrapped in newspaper.

Fact: Says 76ers GM Jimmy Lynam about Shawn Bradley: "He's where he is with minimal, minimal exposure against big-time competition."

Opinion: A line I would love to have on my resume: "Head coach, Mighty Ducks."

Fact: Andre Agassi on Barbra Streisand: "To say we are, like, just friends, you know, I know what everybody's definition of friend is. They use it so loosely. So I like to say, she's my version of a friend."

Opinion: What I would give for Pete Sampras' slice backhand . . .

Fact: When Troy Aikman said he had an aching back, the Cowboys wouldn't let him take an MRI.

Opinion: Bobby Hurley has the quickness, toughness and shot for the NBA.

Fact: At his peak, Don Drysdale pitched an astounding 1,259 innings in four seasons ('62-'65). That's the sum of David Cone's 6 1/2 -year career, almost.

Opinion: The two greatest baseball inventions credited to sportswriters and/or editors: 1) the All-Star Game, and 2) the phrase "toed the slab for the visiting nine."

Fact: From the Yankees' Buck Showalter: "David Segui . . . could be the best first baseman in the league someday."

Opinion: If Jeffrey Hammonds proves to be the real thing, you will see Mark McLemore at second base next year and Harold Reynolds in another uniform.

Fact: Seen in this space last November: Bulls over Suns in NBA Finals.

Opinion: The Blue Jays clubhouse, one of baseball's great sour spots for years, has become downright pleasant with John Olerud, Paul Molitor, Joe Carter and Dave Stewart hanging around.

Fact: The Nippon Ham Fighters have played three ties this season. Thought you'd want to know.

Opinion: Four NL first basemen deserve to be All-Stars: Andres Galarraga, John Kruk, Gregg Jefferies, Mark Grace.

Fact: Before Canseco pitched his inning in Boston, he threw 50 hard warm-up tosses in the bullpen, which is where he probably did the damage.

Opinion: Ben McDonald has turned a major corner. I believe it.

Fact: Mike Mussina has given up more homers than McDonald.

Opinion: You won't see many better women's matches than the Wimbledon final between Steffi Graf and Jana Novotna, but you also won't often see a player give away a match more gruesomely.

Fact: The Oriole Advocates will once again collect gloves for kids in the Dominican Republic this year. They'll have a night at the ballpark this season.

Opinion: Gregg Olson is an All-Star.

Fact: Only five current NBA head coaches never played professionally: Chuck Daly, Randy Pfund, Garry St. Jean, Mike Fratello and Brian Hill.

Opinion: The most amazing aspect of Mark McLemore's season is that, unlike many experienced outfielders, he hits the cutoff man and throws to the right base.

Fact: Scott Simpson was at a theater watching "The Firm" when he was supposed to be teeing off in the third round of the Western Open the other day. A mix-up. (His movie review: "Not bad.")

Opinion: The Redskins are losing too many good players.

Fact: Bret Saberhagen is 4-0 against the Rockies and Marlins and 0-7 against everyone else.

Opinion: Mussina isn't hurt. He's just not perfect.

Fact: When the Mets finally won two games in a row, manager Dallas Green exulted: "It's a two-peat!"

Opinion: Monica Seles, with all her style and spunk, is badly missed.

Fact: Twenty-eight shopping days until the bankruptcy judge makes his call . . .

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