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Draw of Nationals hasn't hurt Orioles' attendance picture


OPINION: You can't suggest the Nationals are seriously hurting the Orioles' attendance when the Orioles are running about 3,000 fans a game ahead of their 2004 pace through June, according to Major League Baseball attendance figures.

Fact: The Nationals are drawing about 900 more fans per game than the Orioles - 32,467 to 31,571 through Wednesday.

Opinion: With Steve Reed and Jorge Julio struggling mightily, the Orioles have gone from wanting to get Jason Grimsley back to desperately needing him (like, now) to provide a safe bridge to B.J. Ryan.

Fact: The deeper you dig into Sammy Sosa's numbers, the worse they get: He was at .201 against right-handed pitching and .210 with runners in scoring position going into last night's game..

Opinion: With the rebuilding Los Angeles Lakers clearly a few years away from title contention, Phil Jackson's return might be more interesting in theory than in reality.

Fact: A junior outfielder named Jeffrey Maier - yes, the same one - hit .350 for Division III Wesleyan (Conn.) University in 2005. He led the team in hits and runs.

Opinion: Cinderella Man is a fine movie, but filmmaker Ron Howard should be ashamed of its slanderous depiction of former heavyweight champion Max Baer Sr., who is made into an evil figure, which he was not. You'll find a more accurate portrayal of Baer in a new book titled Cinderella Man by ESPN's Jeremy Schaap.

Fact: Baer's son, Max Jr., who played Jethro on The Beverly Hillbillies, has lashed out at Howard, who, of course, played Opie on The Andy Griffith Show. So, for those scoring at home, Jethro is mad at Opie.

Opinion: Terrell Owens is never going to be traded to the Raiders for Jerry Porter (a Philadelphia radio station "reported" the rumor last week) but it's fun to imagine Owens and Randy Moss fighting over catches and camera time as Oakland teammates.

Fact: A can't-miss read due in bookstores soon: Lenny Moore's autobiography, All Things Being Equal.

Opinion: It's refreshing to see the best team in the American League (Chicago) ranked near the bottom of the league in hits but near the top in ERA.

Fact: Terrible news out of Florida: Former Orioles player and manager Davey Johnson's daughter, Andrea, the youngest of his three children and a former professional surfer, died last week at the age of 32. The Orlando Sentinel cited "complications from a mental illness" as the cause of death.

Opinion: When I saw the tape of Rangers pitcher Kenny Rogers' outburst at a cameramen, I didn't see a brat going out of his way to be a jerk. I saw an adult with a problem, a guy who needs to get help before he returns from his 20-game suspension and pitches again.

Fact: As of yesterday, the Atlantic Coast Conference is now broken into two six-team divisions, the Atlantic and Coastal. The Terps are in the storied Atlantic Division with Clemson, North Carolina State, Wake Forest, Boston College and Florida State.

Opinion: It's too early to figure out the effect of the divisional split, but not being in the same division as Duke and North Carolina figures to make life easier for Gary Williams' basketball team.

Fact: Maurice Cheeks' hiring means Allen Iverson will be playing for his fourth coach since Larry Brown left the Philadelphia 76ers 26 months ago.

Opinion: I'm glad the NBA has established a minimum age, but I wish it were 20, not 19. Don't get me wrong, the minimum of 19 will have an effect, forcing many young stars to play at least a year in college, benefiting both the pro and college games as well as the players themselves. But a minimum of 20 would have really forced them to stay and mature before turning pro. Oh, well, maybe next time.

Fact: It didn't make headlines, but Frank Zupo, the youngest player in Orioles history, died of a heart attack earlier this year at the age of 65. He was 17 years and 305 days old when he debuted with the Orioles as a catcher in 1957.

Opinion: Venus Williams over Lindsay Davenport today at Wimbledon.

Fact: Cliff Drysdale, former tennis pro and longtime announcer, said on ESPN the other day that current No. 1 Roger Federer's game was the best he'd ever seen.

Opinion: That's high praise, but I'm sticking with Rod Laver.

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