On a roll with my wheels of justice

The Baltimore Sun

One of the best parts about a holiday is knowing the bosses are nowhere to be found, and executive privileges become plentiful among us common folk. I'll let those on other newspaper pages wring their ink-stained hands over White House news; we have our own rulings to make today.

Commuted: Barry Bonds' infinite sentence in baseball purgatory, reduced by one day. Sure, it's easy to dislike baseball's notorious mound of hardened creatine, but have you looked around the sports landscape lately? How would we get through the next few weeks without him and his illegitimate chase?

Bonds deserves the home run record like Michael Vick deserves a humanitarian award. But with nothing else going on, we'll have to find contentment in betting on which ESPN commentator can scream the loudest whenever a Bonds blast leaves the infield.

Commuted: The Ravens' sentence as NFL's bad boys. As headlines blared about NFL wrongdoings these past few months, you'd think the Ravens spent their offseason gardening and walking old women across the street. With the exception of Steve McNair's contested driving under the influence-related charge, the crime blotter has had little reason to mention 1 Winning Drive.

With Jamal Lewis gone and Ray Lewis reminding us that God and Ray Lewis are steering the ship together, should we assume NFL fans in other cities will finally retire the silly notion that the Ravens are little more than a chain gang in pads?

Extended: Dave Trembley's term as interim manager. There are few reasons for Orioles officials to rush into selecting a replacement for Sam Perlozzo, and they're wise to take their time. Doesn't hurt that under Trembley, the Orioles are playing decent enough. And don't think someone in the warehouse hasn't observed that it's more cost-efficient to allow a bullpen coach to lead the team to a sub-.500 record over the second half of the season than a more experienced manager who might command another comma on his contract.

Extended: Miguel Tejada's recovery time. Let's see, in 10 games without Tejada in the lineup, the Orioles are at .500. And in 3 1/2 seasons with him in there every day - a combined 52 games under .500. I'm just sayin' ...

Let's hope some time watching from afar sparks something in Tejada. Your most valuable player should ultimately be much more valuable than Tejada has been.

Pardoned: Anyone who feels like throwing an iTantrum at the very next iMention of the iPhone.

Pardoned: Billy Hahn. The former Terps assistant basketball coach has recently joined Bob Huggins' staff at West Virginia. It's good to see Hahn get another chance at coaching, as he took a much bigger fall than he deserved for the La Salle scandal.

Pardoned: Danys Baez for past transgressions committed on the mound. Fans are eager for a decent pitcher in the bullpen, and Baez's past sins will be washed away if he can just get a couple of guys out each night. By my count, Baez earned about $100,000 for each inning he pitched over the first half of the season. (If you want to really have fun with numbers, consider this: The way the figures average out thus far, Baez earned more in two innings of work than Jeremy Guthrie did for the entire first half of the season.)

Here's hoping Baez can come back healthy and earn his keep in a bullpen that could use another capable closer.

Pardoned: Anyone guilty of universally praising the NFL marketing machine. The NFL dropped the ball in sticking with a rule that bars media Internet sites from showing more than 45 seconds of video each day. Ultimately, this doesn't punish newspapers or electronic media outlets; it hurts the fans who are hungry for every morsel of information they can find on their favorite players and teams. By restricting access to reporters and to independent news Web sites, the NFL is restricting access from its fans.

Pardoned: Mike Hargrove of any grief he might get for bailing on the Seattle Mariners midway through a decent season. Sure feels like there's more to this story, but I have no problem accepting his vague reasoning. The pressure and demands placed on some sports figures is rarely in proportion with the charged task at hand.

But what I really want to know: Hargrove lasted four years working under Peter Angelos in Baltimore, but it was the 2 1/2 seasons in Seattle that made him lose his passion for the game?

Commuted: The reign of Takeru Kobayashi, who redefined hot dog eating over the past six years and enters today's Nathan's International July Fourth Hot Dog Eating Contest as an underdog. Not only is Kobayashi suffering from severe jaw pain, but American Joey Chestnut set the world record a month ago and appears to be at the top of his game.

Pardoned: Pac-Man. We want to make sure this lovable video-game character is formally cleared. It's a shame his good name has been dragged through the mud by a football player who has the self-control of an untrained house pet.

Pardoned: Alex Rodriguez's wife, Cynthia, who dropped an F-bomb on Yankee Stadium this week. The mock outrage by the New York media is always fun to watch from afar, but how could they drool over Anna Benson's antics yet castigate C-Rod? Truth is, they live for this stuff, and a little controversy sure helps pass time in the summer. In fact, we need a progress report on Kris Benson's rotator cuff. By my count, Anna Benson owes me at least two columns.

Commuted: The remainder of July, which historically is rough on sports fans and much rougher on sportswriters.


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