After looking so long at sea, O's climb onto solid ground


I don't know if Jay Gibbons is worth $21.1 million. I don't know if anybody is really worth that kind of money, but it's good to see the Orioles moving swiftly and decisively to create a solid long-term foundation where there once was only instability and chaos.

No, no, I'm not wasting away again in Jimmyville. Only time will tell whether this franchise is on solid footing again. I'd still have to pick the Orioles to finish fourth if the season were to start today, but there definitely is a different front office mindset today than there was a year ago.

Though it largely passed under the radar, one of the things that stood out to me was the way the Orioles got five other arbitration-eligible players signed over the past couple of weeks. Now, they've hunkered down and locked up Gibbons for four years.

If this keeps up, the club might just have Melvin Mora and Brian Roberts signed to contract extensions soon, stabilizing the nucleus of the ballclub for the next three or four seasons.

There's still plenty of work to do to make the Orioles a contending team in the tough American League East, but they're beginning to act like a successful team again. Mike Flanagan and Jim Duquette weathered the Miguel Tejada controversy, signed several free agents (albeit no superstars) and just completed a deal for starting pitcher Kris Benson.

Not a bad start.

The reader response to Monday's column about flamboyant baseball wife Anna Benson was mixed. About half of the e-mails on the subject were from people who think Anna is a boorish attention hound who is an embarrassment to her husband and his team. The other half were from people who think Anna is a boorish attention hound who is an extremely sexy embarrassment to her husband and his team. I feel strongly both ways.

Anna was on CNBC on Monday night talking about her plans to entertain Baltimore over the next couple of years. She's also scheduled to do Dan Patrick's ESPN radio show tomorrow and a couple of Baltimore radio shows later this week. My biggest fear is that she might become, er, overexposed.

One of my coworkers already thinks her act is wearing thin.

"Thinner than Kate Moss on a hunger strike," he said.

I also got some mail from people who didn't understand what Anna meant when she said in a news release that she was looking forward to "christening" the parking lot at Camden Yards.

Sorry, but if you can't figure that out, it's not my place to explain it to you. I haven't had that talk with Maese yet.

Now, does anyone know where I can get a deal on a used pair of night-vision goggles?

Stop thinking what you're thinking. Barry Bonds' decision to forgo the World Baseball Classic makes perfect sense. He's an aging player, and he's got a chance to break Hank Aaron's home run record, and he doesn't want to risk an injury that would endanger the opportunity to do that.

The guy is coming off a career-threatening knee injury (Now that I think of it, how threatening does it have to be to be career-threatening when you're 41 years old?) and the San Francisco Giants are coming off a disappointing season.

If you're thinking that it has something to do with the enhanced steroid testing in international play, you're probably one of those people who's convinced that there was somebody behind the grassy knoll and Miguel Tejada was trying to force the Orioles to trade him to Boston.

I'm something of a conspiracy buff myself, but I think Barry just figured out that he could have three weeks of relative peace in spring training while much of the national baseball media are covering the WBC.

Local documentary film producer Steve Johnson continues his search for fans of the old International League Orioles who want to share their memories of the team for a project called "The Forgotten Birds." Fans who wish to contribute to the effort can do so on a Web site devoted to the subject (

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