Fact: In their 47-game history, the Ravens have exactly three wins against teams that finished with winning records. They beat the Steelers in 1996, the Giants in 1997 and the Jets this year. Otherwise, they have beaten only teams that finished .500 or worse.
Opinion: The release of Willie Greene last week means the Orioles basically gave away Jeffrey Hammonds to the Reds, which is disgraceful. The whole episode is an example of how constant change in the front office can set a team back.
Fact: The Orioles have a higher winning percentage under Peter Angelos (.551) than any other owner in their history. They were .499 under Eli Jacobs, .509 under Edward Bennett Williams and .547 under the Baltimore Baseball Club group from 1954 to 1979.
Opinion: The Ravens shouldn't hire a college coach to replace Ted Marchibroda. Their underachieving team needs a coach who knows the NFL, not one who needs to learn the pro game on the job.
Fact: In the past five years, the Orioles have spent $281.7 million on player payroll, second only to the Yankees' $308.4 million. The Braves are third at $260 million.
Opinion: Forget records, polls, bowls, computers, whatever. Here's college football's five best teams, in order: Ohio State, Kansas State, Florida State, Tennessee, Florida.
Fact: Former Terps update: Rodney Elliott is playing in Belgium, Sarunas Jasikevicius is playing in Lithuania, Johnny Rhodes is playing in Taiwan, Duane Simpkins was recently cut by a CBA team and Exree Hipp has signed with the Globetrotters.
Opinion: This is the year for the Ravens to spend a high draft pick on a quarterback to groom. A handful of intriguing choices are out there. How about Syracuse's Donovan McNabb?
Fact: How bad is baseball's large market/small market divide? Kevin Brown was worth $30 million more than the entire Kansas City Royals' franchise on the open market. A group led by a New York attorney is set to buy the Royals for $75 million, pending approval by the other owners. Brown signed with the Fox Dodgers for $105 million.
Opinion: The baseball owners have no right to complain about Rupert Murdoch's breaking the $100 million salary barrier. What did they think when they approved his purchase of the Dodgers, that he was going to usher in a new era of fiscal restraint?
Fact: The Ravens will play interconference games against the Falcons, Saints and Panthers next season if those teams hold their places in the standings. The Ravens also will play the teams that finished third and fourth in the AFC East and fourth in the AFC West.
Opinion: Baseball's interleague experiment is getting stale, with the Orioles set to play the Phillies, Expos, Marlins, Mets and Braves yet again in 1999. It's time for some new opponents.
Fact: Just six years ago, the Orioles ranked 23rd out of 26 major-league teams with a payroll of $23.9 million, ahead of only the Expos, Astros and Indians.
Opinion: Bully for the Tigers for reinstalling Ernie Harwell, 80, as their play-by-play voice for 1999. It was a terrible mistake to oust him in the first place.
Fact: The favorite in the MGM Grand's Kentucky Derby future book, at 10-1 odds, is Exploit, an undefeated colt trained by Bob Baffert, winner of the past two derbies. Exploit has already won two stakes at Churchill Downs.
Opinion: If I'm running the Blue Jays, I've got major doubts about manager Tim Johnson after hearing him confess that he'd lied for years about serving in Vietnam.
Fact: The day after Dan Reeves underwent heart surgery last week, he was on the phone to the Falcons offices.
Opinion: Local college basketball rankings: UMBC, Loyola, Morgan, Coppin, Towson. (Please don't throw anything.)
Fact: The Bears haven't had a player make the Pro Bowl since 1992.
Opinion: Who is profiting most from the absence of NBA games? College basketball, major-league baseball and the NHL, in that order. The NFL doesn't need the help.
Fact: Packers GM Ron Wolf rationalizing his team's quick demise: "The 1958-59 Baltimore Colts might have been the greatest team ever assembled. Two years, they were done. Fell apart in 1960."
Pub Date: 12/21/98