In N.Y., fate of rotation turns on Key

Opinion: If Jimmy Key is healthy, and it appears he is, the Yankees have a better starting rotation than the Orioles. David Cone, Kenny Rogers and Key. Yikes.

Fact (From the Mayflower Div.): Of the eight teams scheduled to play the Baltimore Modells at Memorial Stadium next season, two (Raiders, Rams) have moved to new cities in the past year, one (Oilers) has announced a pending move and two (Bengals, Patriots) have contemplated moving because of stadium woes.


Opinion: The Modells need help at linebacker more than any other position, but they should take Leeland McElroy with their first-round draft pick. He has speed, strength and good hands. Could become another Eric Metcalf.

Fact: Key to the Orioles' season? Pitching? Offense? Defense? "Staying healthy," says general manager Pat Gillick.


Opinion: Vinny Testaverde is the least of the Modells' problems. He was fine in '95.

Fact: Gillick on Roberto Alomar: "When he sets his mind, he can do just about anything on a baseball field."

Opinion: Don't be surprised if Chris Hoiles shows up in the lineup as a DH more than occasionally. The Orioles aren't sure about his shoulder.

Fact: Joe Smith has more offensive rebounds than every other NBA player except Dennis Rodman, David Robinson, Shawn Kemp and Jayson Williams.

Opinion: If Magic Johnson wants to play on Dream Team III, he should get to play. He certainly is good enough. He cares. His sheer joy for the game is unmatched. End of story.

Fact: Atlantic Coast Conference teams are 3-11 against teams from the Atlantic 10 and Big East this season.

Opinion: The Seahawks will not make it to Los Angeles. Too many obstacles.

Fact: Utah's John Stockton on whether holding the NBA career assists or career steals record means more to him: "Well, really, neither."


Opinion: Armando Benitez is a major-league pitcher this season.

Fact: The sound of Spanish has finally become commonplace in the Orioles' clubhouse. Latin American ballplayers make up more than a quarter of the 40-man roster.

Opinion: Slickest glove in the Orioles' camp? Might belong to minor-league shortstop Juan Bautista.

Fact: Unbridled's Song, the favorite in the Kentucky Derby future-book betting, is 0-for-2 this year after getting nosed in the Fountain of Youth Stakes last weekend.

Opinion: Trades such as the one the St. Louis Blues made for Wayne Gretzky invariably help the team that gives up the superstar.

Fact: Early word on Livan Hernandez, the Cuban pitcher for the Marlins, is that he is ready to help immediately.


Opinion: NBA power ratings: 1) Bulls, 2-29) others.

Fact (from the Oops Dept.:) Rocky Coppinger's third pitch is a slider, not a curveball. The other two are a fastball and changeup.

Opinion: If Mount St. Mary's wins its conference tournament, it will enter the NCAA tournament as no worse than a 15th seed.

Fact: Since coming to Maryland, Gary Williams has not beaten Mike Krzyzewski.

Opinion: Just a hunch, but fining Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley $10,000 apiece probably doesn't teach them a lesson. They tip their golf caddies $10,000 apiece.

Fact: "Not even Thomas Muster believes Thomas Muster is the No. 1 player in the world," says John McEnroe.


Opinion: Deion Sanders is a much better football player, anyway.

Fact: Lefty Driesell is going to finish with a losing record for the first time since the first year of John Kennedy's presidency.

Opinion: Maryland alums can only hope that the senior-itis that struck down Scott Milanovich and Exree Hipp doesn't spread to Brian Dougherty, the Terps' senior All-American lacrosse goalie.

Fact: Coming off three straight World Series wins, the Oakland A's began the 1975 season with six front-office employees and four scouts.

Opinion: Charlie Finley deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame.

Fact: "I guess I was a little too juiced," Dwight Gooden said after overthrowing in a Yankees intrasquad game the other day.


Opinion: Maybe, considering his recent history, he should describe his condition differently.