WHAT WITH ALL the controversy over the NAACP's temporary slight of this city's bid for a new pro football franchise, and all the early season complaints about lackluster enthusiasm at Camden Yards, one can only hope that the fans lucky enough to attend this year's All-Star Game don't embarrass Baltimore by giving Cal Ripken Jr. anything less than a rousing ovation when he's announced in the pre-game ceremonies.
There's been a lot of hand-wringing among baseball fans, even by Mr. Ripken himself, about whether the Oriole shortstop deserved to be elected to the starting All-Star team for the American League due to his meager batting average this season.
Yet it's customary for the host city's audience to give representatives from their team a rousing, even uncomfortably long ovation, before the All-Star Game.
Whether or not Mr. Ripken is having a disappointing season at bat (or even a couple of them in a row) should be beside the point to the hometown fans. He should be greeted by thundering applause Tuesday night for his "body of work" over the past 11 years -- for his two spectacular MVP seasons, his endurance in the field and, above all, for the grace with which he carries himself and represents his native Maryland in an era when true athletic role models are becoming rarer all the time.
So when they introduce Cal (and teammate Mike Mussina), let 'em hear ya all the way to Shrewsbury.
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HERE'S ONE view of the recent arrest of the Muslim cleric implicated in the World Trade Center bombing and other terrorist plots, from a July 7 editorial in the Philadelphia Daily News:
"Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman somehow managed to get into the United States a step ahead of Egyptian police who wanted to discuss various murders.
"Within moments, he had a green card, which allows non-citizens to live, work and flourish here.
"But our cops think the sheik had a lot to do with plots to blow up major American real estate, along with its inhabitants.
"So the sheik was clapped in irons, where 'insensitive' guards treat him 'like a common criminal.'
"Hey, it's a start."