Bring on Bad News Barry! O's don't fear divas, controversy

The Baltimore Sun

What a relief! The agent for Barry Bonds has reassured us that Bad News Barry will return to play at least one more season, barring - I suppose - jail time, which means that he probably will break Hank Aaron's all-time home run record.

Now for the obvious question if you're a beleaguered Orioles fan:

Can he play first base?

The answer probably is no, but the thought of unfurling some more giant numbers on the B&O; warehouse has a certain appeal after nine straight losing seasons, and I'm guessing we won't be needing them to count down the magic number in 2007.

Bonds may need a place to play and the Orioles are one of the few franchises in baseball that would not damage its national reputation by signing the insufferable slugger. In that regard, there's no place to go but up.

It's really pretty logical when you think about it. The O's already have experience dealing with the steroid mess, thanks to Rafael Palmeiro. They also have experience dealing with a fading diva, and I think we all feel that the Sammy Sosa experiment went pretty well.

Barry could come here and eclipse Hank and maybe put a couple hundred thousand extra history buffs in the seats. Say what you want, but it would be a better signing than Sosa or Albert Belle and it would make the Orioles' clubhouse a living hell for the local media. So it would be a win-win for Peter Angelos.

Immediate disclaimer

No, I'm not serious, so don't bother to write. The Orioles learned with Sosa that they need to stop with the one-year quick fixes and start building a strong team the right way.

No. 1: Sign Alfonso Soriano, no matter what it costs. I'd throw out six years at $90 million on the first day of wide-open free agency and make the offer on a 12-hour take-it-or-leave-it basis. That might sound like "lunacy" to some, but it sounds like the first step toward true respectability to me.

No. 2: Make a strong run at every available quality setup reliever. The whole bullpen, except Chris Ray, needs to be rebuilt from the bottom up.

No. 3: Sign or acquire a top-flight starting pitcher. (This would be higher on the list if it was at all likely).

No. 4: Sign or acquire a productive first baseman.

That's six players and probably an additional $45 million in payroll, which would take the Orioles close to $110 million. I realize that I said earlier this year that the O's were only three good players away from being competitive, but that was before the organization's lack of bullpen depth was totally exposed the past several weeks.

T.O. needs a timeout

Let's stipulate right up front that all the facts are not in on the Terrell Owens situation, so it would be irresponsible of me or anybody else to try to make some long-distance judgment on his psychological state.

But one thing should be evident. Even if T.O.'s explanation of a bad drug/supplement interaction is absolutely true, he obviously needs some professional help - and I don't mean from the group of handlers who use him as their meal ticket.

The fact that the pain medications and supplements were legal is less relevant than the fact that, with all the trainers and advisers who hover around big-money professional athletes, he was mixing chemicals in his body with no educated idea of the possible consequences.

Whether it was a cry for help or simply a poor decision, the Cowboys should insist that Owens have a full psychological work-up before he can return to the team.

The curse of the curse

There are curses and then there are curses. The Boston Red Sox, who went 86 years between titles, were truly cursed. The guys who show up on the cover of the Madden video game are another story.

It's fun to talk about the Madden curse - and you can't deny that the past six cover boys got hurt during the ensuing season - but the likelihood of a high-profile running back or quarterback suffering a significant injury during the course of a 20-game (including exhibitions) season is probably in the 60-70 percent range. We're not exactly talking about some unlikely occurrence.

This just in ...

This week's funny headline comes from The Onion, the popular news satire site on the Web: Alfonso Soriano Regrets Joining 40-40 Club After Meeting Other Members.

The Peter Schmuck Show airs on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon on Saturdays.

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