Low talent level keeps Orioles down

While critics of the Orioles bemoan the lack of a respectable farm system, they need to look only at the makeup of the Orioles' current roster, which is littered with minor-league talent.

Congratulations go out to snake oil salesmen Peter Angelos and Syd Thrift, who continue to bilk the public by disguising this team as a major-league franchise.

Ah, fourth place! It took them awhile, but the Orioles have finally reached their normal comfort level, one step ahead of Tampa Bay, Kansas City and Detroit, and miles behind the rest of the league.

Morton D. Marcus Baltimore

Under Angelos, O's driven into the ground

I admire Peter Angelos for buying the Orioles and being such a homebody. (I'm from Dundalk, and he's helped people in my community.)

But he has driven a once-proud organization into the ground. For what reasons, I don't know. Is it because he doesn't know what he's doing? Or is his ego so big he can't see beyond the end of his nose?

Sun columnist Laura Vecsey had it right in the loss of the Rochester Red Wings ["Orioles' minor-league loss is a major embarrassment," Sept. 19].

I don't know if it's Angelos' fault, but I think his kids should find a new job along with Syd Thrift.

Troy Tingler Dundalk

O's need to reclaim 'Baltimore' banner

The media was great recently in bringing out the man "who was larger than life," Johnny Unitas.

He excelled in football because we saw him every Sunday doing so. He also excelled in everyday life with his family as well as the countless number of citizens who came into his presence.

Perhaps more people have remembrances about him with a "Johnny Unitas story" more than any other person we know.

What was so great also was the "Baltimore" publicity that was given to Johnny Unitas. He represented the "Baltimore Colts" and he was a "Baltimore hero."

We don't hear that with the present-day Orioles. Nowhere do we see reference to the "Baltimore Orioles." We do hear about organization and Orioles players going to York, Pa., and to the many squares in Washington to sign autographs to try to increase attendance from a regional standing.

It is a shame, because the real reasons for the decline in attendance at Camden Yards are a poor product, poor management and a poor understanding of the Baltimore fans. It's no wonder that Baltimoreans are not filling Camden Yards because the "Baltimore name" does not exist at Camden Yards.

It is a shame because somehow or another, Baltimore connected to the Orioles name hits to the very heart of the citizens living in this region. When will the present owners realize this?

Raymond D. Bahr Ellicott City

Unitas family shows grace and eloquence

It's often been said during the past few weeks that John Unitas was NFL royalty. I was never fortunate enough to meet the man, but based on stories from my own family and the outpouring of affection from this city, I have no doubt it is true.

During the memorial service and funeral mass, as many of his children took to the microphone to eulogize their father, it occurred to me that I was indeed witnessing a royal family. Their grace and eloquence were inspirational, each clearly having learned from their parents the qualities of a life well lived.

At a time of such deep personal loss, when they rightfully might have said, "Please, finally leave us alone to mourn in private our husband, father, brother, grandfather, and friend," the Unitas family graciously allowed an entire city to mourn with them. They must have sensed the need.

Since his passing, Johnny U. has been honored as much for his demeanor off the field as for his accomplishments on it. While saddened at our loss, it is comforting to know that we still have royalty among us.

Ronald J. Topper II Columbia

It's not too soon to honor Unitas

Johnny Unitas chose to move to Baltimore, dedicate 14 years to a beloved home team, work in a local steel mill, operate a local restaurant and other businesses, raise his family, and remain here.

Baltimoreans young and old revere, respect, and idolize Johnny Unitas, and rightly so. Now with the passing of this Baltimore legend who helped define our city and remained an everyman, we have the opportunity to show that that kind of dedication and example should be rewarded.

Actually, we don't have that opportunity. The Ravens' ownership does.

Many have called for the now "nameless" Ravens stadium to be named after this great hometown hero. The ownership has responded that it is "too soon" to make such a pronouncement.

So what is it too soon for? Too soon to put sentiment before profits? Too soon for a corporate sponsor to pay 10s of millions of dollars to put its name where it should not go? Perhaps if the ownership waits, the fans will forget?

I, and many of my fellow Baltimoreans, will not forget. We haven't forgotten the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s or 1984. We won't forget John Unitas' contributions on and off the field for Baltimore. Baltimore should not forget him.

The Ravens' ownership should name Baltimore's stadium after Unitas.

Bill Burnham Baltimore

Off the field, Unitas showed true greatness

I never met John Unitas, but I wholly believe he was responsible for raising the collective self-esteem of a city that had an image problem. He made believers in a city where they thought they couldn't stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Washingtons and the Philadelphias.

I have been told that he and his teammates were part of the social fiber of several neighborhoods in and around Baltimore. They were heroes to those guys and girls in the taverns and bowling alleys, but much more importantly, they were friends. John and his fellow Colts attended those affairs because they wanted to, not because they were mandated to by team management.

Tens of thousands of John Unitas fans felt as if they knew him. We emulated him as children, and we attempted to conduct our adult lives with a modicum of the humility he had. No fanfare, thank you. Just get the job done, and leave the theatrics to someone less self-assured.

The more I read and hear since his passing, the more I believe his accomplishments on the football field pale in comparison to what he achieved and how he treated others off the field.

Patrick R. Lynch Parkville

Base college admissions on academics only

This past Friday's Sun contained an Associated Press article noting that college graduation rates of Division I scholarship athletes have improved to over 60 percent, a rate actually higher than the general student population. This is a laudable statistic, but, unfortunately, black male athletes still lag behind all others, with only 28 percent of basketball players ever making it to graduation.

Francis Lawrence of the NCAA said his academic task force needed to watch graduation rates closely and see if anything can be done to improve them. There is a simple solution. Separate the admissions department of colleges from the athletic department.

Students can be recruited and encouraged to apply by the athletic department with a promise of a scholarship if accepted. But the admissions department should act independently and make their decisions based on the academic credentials of the student.

By accepting only academically qualified students, graduation rates among all athletes should mirror those of the student population in general. Some may argue that this might prevent underprivileged students with athletic ability from attending college, but if they are ill-prepared to meet the academic burdens of university life, they will not benefit from the experience.

Big-time college athletics have blurred the reason for students to attend schools of higher education. There is no question that universities use scholarship athletes, especially in football and basketball, to produce revenues to support their athletic departments. But students should not view their college club as a farm team for the pros. Few ever find the pot of gold waiting for the elite in the professional ranks.

If colleges are consistent in their admissions standards for each student, including scholarship athletes, it will be a win-win situation for all involved.

E. Mitchell Arion Goldsboro

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