Relief map: In new locales, '99 O's 'pen men stand out


Fact: While the Orioles' current bullpen craters, four members of the club's deposed 1999 bullpen are thriving. Heathcliff Slocumb, Mike Fetters, Ricky Bones and Arthur Rhodes have a combined 2.43ERA in a combined50 appearances through Monday night's games. And Jesse Orosco will be pitching again soon for the Cardinals after a trip to the disabled list.

Opinion: An appropriate punishment that would devastate Indiana's little dictator, Bob Knight? No, don't fire him and make him a martyr. Force him to sign a three-year contract to coach the Los Angeles Clippers.

Fact: The Orioles' current team ERA, 5.65, is more than a half-point higher than the club record for highest ERA in a season,5.01, set in 1987.

Opinion: Delino DeShields is playing fabulous baseball, but if the Orioles could trade him for a more dependable closer or reliever, they should.

Fact: If your golf game has you down - and whose doesn't? - here's some solace courtesy of the National Golf Foundation: Only 22 percent of America's golfers routinely break 90.

Opinion: What should ABC do with its "Monday Night Football" broadcasting-booth vacancy? Fill it each week with a different "guest" analyst. This week, Robin Williams; next week, Ashley Judd, etc. That's better than Bill Parcellszzzz.

Fact: Of the nation's consensus top five high school basketball recruits, two (6-foot-9 Zach Randolph and 6-3 Marcus Taylor) are going to Michigan State, one (6-9 Eddie Griffin) is going to Seton Hall, one (6-7 Gerald Wallace) is going to Alabama and one (6-9 Darius Miles) is jumping straight to the NBA.

Opinion: Maybe it's a shame, but there's only one potential boxing matchup that will get anyone even remotely excited: Mike Tyson vs. Lennox Lewis.

Fact: Nine major-league teams are playing in ballparks built since Camden Yards opened eight years ago, and four new ones are on their way up.

Opinion: As good as the Orioles' attendance is, you know they're getting at least a little more concerned when you open your Val-Pak direct-mail coupon packet and find an offer for game tickets.

Fact: Combined, Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez are12-1 in 13 starts with142 strikeouts in 102 2/3 innings and a 1.05ERA.

Opinion: It's shocking, shocking, that Roberto Alomar isn't playing nearly as well in his second season in Cleveland as he did in his first.

Fact: Almost-Oriole Aaron Sele is2-2 with a4.50 ERA for the Mariners, having allowed 54 base runners in38 innings. Pat Rapp, signed for one year (instead of the four he agreed to from the Orioles), hassimilar numbers.

Opinion: The four teams left in the NBA's Eastern Conference playoffs certainly aren't going to beat the Lakers, so it's basically up to the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference finals.

Fact: The Cincinnati Reds can field a lineup featuring Pokey Reese at second base and Gookie Dawkins at shortstop. (For those scoring at home, that's "Gookie to Pokey and on to first for the double play.")

Opinion: You know Dick Vermeil is relaxed and happy to be out of coaching when he casually drops little tidbits like the one about some of the St. Louis Rams' players getting fined for hiring hookers on the road last season. Like that didn't cause a stir in the ol' locker room.

Fact: College football's Hall of Fame has dropped the requirement that you have to get your college degree to be eligible for induction.

Opinion: The wasssssup commercials were outrageously funny at first and getting less so every day.

Fact: More than $100 million, an all-time high, was bet on the Kentucky Derby Day racing card at Churchill Downs and off-track betting sites around the country. Now, that's a handle.

Opinion: Only one question regarding the Knicks-Heat NBA playoff series: Is it possible for both teams to lose?

Fact: Five more RBIs would give Mike Bordick 37 for the season, as many as he had in the entire 1994strike-shortened season.

Opinion: Good luck finding the next generation of American men's tennis greats. None off the four U.S. players ranked in the top 50 (Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Michael Chang and Chris Woodruff) is younger than 27.

Fact: The definition of experience? Patrick Roy, goalie for the NHL's Colorado Avalanche, has played more than 11,000 minutes of playoff hockey.

Opinion: Hiring Frank Robinson to handle on-field discipline is such a good move, it's hard to believe Major League Baseball did it. He has total respect among the players and managers, and despite what Red Sox fans might think, he knows a brushback from a beanball.

Fact: The 2000 NFL season will mark the first time in Ravens quarterback Tony Banks' college and pro career that he's had the same offensive coordinator in successive seasons.

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