Recalling when the O's took a hack at foreign relations

The Baltimore Sun

News item: Saturday was the 10th anniversary of the historic baseball game between the Orioles and a Cuban all-star team at Havana's Latin American Stadium.

My take: It doesn't seem as though it has been that long since Peter Angelos and the Orioles tried to play a small role in bridging the wide ideological divide between the United States and Fidel Castro's Cuba. Not sure whether the goodwill series - which concluded with a game at Camden Yards several weeks later - had any effect on U.S.-Cuba relations, but it was an eye-opening experience for everyone who took part in it.

News item: The Orioles will assign top prospect Matt Wieters to their minor league facility effective Monday and keep him at Triple-A Norfolk for at least the first few weeks of the season.

My take: There's a little more to this than keeping him from becoming a free agent for seven years, but it would be fine with me if that were the only reason. Wieters got a $6 million bonus to walk through the door. He can wait an extra year to own the world, and he might just be a better player for the brief exposure at Triple-A.

Related news item: The Tampa Bay Rays have demoted their top prospect for the second year in a row, even though pitcher David Price played a starring role in the Rays' first postseason appearance last year.

My take: Obviously, the Rays know what they're doing. Not long after slow-playing Evan Longoria, they signed him to a long-term deal that was highly favorable to the club.

News item: Orioles manager Dave Trembley said Monday that he would love to see owner Peter Angelos spend more time around the team and its players but feels he keeps his distance because he is "rather shy."

My take: I've heard Angelos described a lot of ways, but "shy" isn't one of them. I think he's just way too busy to hang around the Orioles' clubhouse and holds a fairly traditional view of the relationship between a CEO and the rank-and-file employees.

News item: Former Orioles pitcher Curt Schilling announced his retirement, saying he has "zero regrets" as he ends a career that included three 20-win seasons, three 300-strikeout seasons and three world titles, with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Boston Red Sox.

My take: The 216 career victories don't scream out at you, but Schilling's role in the 2004 Red Sox world championship and his other numbers make him a Hall of Famer. Whether he gets in on the first ballot remains to be seen.

News item: The Orioles plan to open the season with a 13-man pitching staff, hoping to cover themselves for the possibility of a string of short starts by the uncertain rotation.

My take: For the most part, I happily defer to the baseball professionals, but I think this is a mistake. Keep a good utility infielder and call somebody up if there's an emergency at the end of the first week of the regular season. Planning for things to go bad might turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

News item: The Florida Marlins finally got approval for a new ballpark to be built on the site of the Orange Bowl. When the Marlins move into the new retractable-roof stadium in 2012, they will change their name to the Miami Marlins.

My take: The name change is a smooth move for a team that has had trouble capturing the imagination of South Florida baseball fans. I wonder whether they're going to put Miami on the road jerseys.

News item: Former Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada has been sentenced to one year's probation and community service for making misleading statements to Congress.

My take: Do I have to say it again? There's a guy serving 30 months for leaking BALCO testimony to the media. Everybody who was caught actually using or distributing steroids has gotten a slap on the wrist by comparison. Do they still call it the Department of Justice?

News item: New Buffalo Bills wide receiver Terrell Owens has informed coach Dick Jauron he will not take part in the team's voluntary training activities.

My take: Well, they are voluntary, but it might be nice if T.O. at least acted as if he were happy to be part of the team instead of making it clear months before training camp that he's just a hired gun.

News item: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell continues to push football owners to lengthen the regular season to 17 or 18 games and reduce the number of preseason games that are forced on season-ticket holders at regular-season prices.

My take: If this passes, Stan White will never get to see Troy Smith run the offense.

Listen to Peter Schmuck from spring training every weeknight at 6 on WBAL (1090 AM).

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