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Fox analyst: Ideal World Series pits O's power, Braves finesse

The dream World Series matchup of American League power against National League finesse is there, just achingly out of reach, mind you, but there for the taking, and Fox studio analyst Steve Lyons can feel it.

"I'd rather see a Baltimore-Atlanta matchup to see the offensive attack of the Orioles go up against that Atlanta pitching staff. That would be a great series," Lyons said yesterday.

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Yes, it would be a great series. Trouble is, both the Orioles and Braves have to win their respective League Championship Series for it to happen.

The Orioles would appear to have the tougher road to the World Series. Their AL opponent, the New York Yankees, handled them quite easily in the regular season, winning 10 of 13 games.

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But those were different times, and different teams, according to Lyons, who will be working the Atlanta-St. Louis series this week (Channel 45, tomorrow, 7: 30 p.m.), but watching the AL with interest.

"That [the regular season] doesn't mean a whole lot in the postseason," said Lyons. "I really felt they [the Orioles] underachieved all year, but they've taken off. The Yankees have a great bullpen with [Mariano] Rivera and [John] Wetteland. They both use other pitches, but they throw the fastball. Well, the Orioles can hit a fastball. They've got a real good shot."

NBC's Bob Costas, Joe Morgan and Bob Uecker will call the action for the ALCS, beginning with Game 1 tonight (Channel 11, 8 p.m.). Jon Miller will return from his ESPN duties to work the radio end of things, with Fred Manfra on WBAL (1090 AM).

Finding middle ground

By now, we all know that the media are wonderful at giving us the black and white of a controversy -- the who did it, who is impacted and what everyone is saying about it.

What is often missing, as was the case in the Roberto Alomar flap, are the shades of gray -- like why it happened.

As a qualifier, nothing that appears in this space should be taken by anyone as an excuse for what Alomar did to umpire John Hirschbeck. There is no defense for Alomar's reprehensible conduct and his five-game suspension was at least 15 games too short, from this perspective.

But a reasonable person viewing the tape of the fracas, shown ad nauseam like the Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination, might ask what provoked Alomar -- known by many to be a likable and decent man -- to act so despicably.

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There are at least four men -- Alomar, Hirschbeck, Orioles manager Davey Johnson and Toronto catcher Charlie O'Brien -- who can definitively answer what words triggered Alomar to behave in that manner, but for various reasons, they can't -- or won't -- speak to the matter.

So most reasonable people are left to guess what specifically led to what we've seen. And in the absence of concrete facts, a gross excess of opinion-givers has succeeded only in creating more misinformation.

Here's an example: There's a perception that Alomar wasn't apologetic about his actions until three days later. In fact, the next day, he was moments away from expressing contrition when an angry Hirschbeck charged into the Orioles' clubhouse at SkyDome in Toronto, threatening to kill the second baseman for his Friday night comments that the umpire's perspective had changed since the death of his son.

Though Hirschbeck was clearly wronged, anyone who has paid attention to baseball recently knows that the on-field relationship between players and umpires has grown more contentious, with little room for compromise on either side. But we haven't heard much about that this week either.

And in the midst of this imbroglio, the people of Baltimore have been tagged, as they were by ESPN's Dick Schaap on Sunday's "Sports Reporters," "as somehow countenancing Alomar's actions by their applause during the introductions at Game 1 of the Division Series."

Schaap wasn't here Tuesday, so he couldn't hear the scattering of boos mixed with the overwhelming applause for Alomar during the introductions.

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But even if he had deigned to come, Schaap probably would have missed the point that Baltimoreans seem to grasp: Even when something appears to be a matter of extremes, reasonable people can look for the middle ground.

Pub Date: 10/08/96


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