Saturday, November 24, 2001

Noble: Mark McGwire, Baseball’s retiring all-star of sportsmanship.St. Louis baseball fans had every reason to be jazzed when the Cardinals acquired the slugger from the Oakland A’s in 1997. He didn’t give anyone the blues either. He hit more homers than anyone between 1996 and 1999, and during the 1998 season, he engaged in an epic home run duel with the Chicago Cubs’ Sammy Sosa, finally winning with a record-shattering 70.
His homers were as monstrous as his 20-inch biceps 500-plus-foot shots that seemed to sail into different area codes. Even his batting practices turned into infomercials for long-distance carriers.
Yet perhaps his greatest strength throughout his 15-year career was his humility. He rarely refused to sign an autograph, only asking that fans who found him dining wait until he was finished. After swinging for his 62nd homer, which broke Roger Maris’ longstanding single-season home run record, he shook hands with every opposing player as he rounded the bases and then hugged the members of the attending Maris family.
He retired with characteristic humility. Instead of enjoying the spotlight of an announced final season, he simply released a simple statement that he wouldn’t be returning to baseball because he had realized that he simply couldn’t perform the way he wanted to, the way he felt he owed his teammates and his fans. In doing so, he ensured the Cardinals wouldn’t owe him a dime of the two-year, $30 million contract extension that he had earlier agreed to.
Baseball fans everywhere will miss Mark McGwire, baseball’s king of swing and the noble of the week.
Knave: Peter Angelos: Baseball’s never-tiring all-star of selfish ownership.
The owner of the Baltimore Orioles apparently doesn’t believe that there should be sportsmanship in sports ownership. Otherwise Angelos wouldn’t be so opposed to the opening of a new baseball franchise in Washington D.C. He has been called the “Greatest obstacle to getting Major League Baseball in this area D.C. or Northern Virginia,” by no less than Gabe Paul, the executive director of the Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority.
Angelos maintains he is simply attempting to “protect the Orioles franchise.” But from what? Most demographic studies measure Washington and Baltimore as different markets, and besides, the proposed Washington team would be in the National League. Meanwhile, the Orioles franchise finished last year’s season with 63 wins vs. 98 losses a percentage unlikely to threaten even the White House tee-ball team.
So why is Angelos blocking the plate? He wants to keep cleaning up in personal earnings. He built his fortune on asbestos lawsuits, and he’s trying to grab at least a billion in tobacco settlement money from the Maryland General Assembly. Meanwhile, his law firm bills for a reported $15 million each year.
By relenting on District baseball, Angelos could increase his political clout more than his heavy-handed donations to the Democratic party have ever done. However, it could deprive him of potential earnings, making such a Parkway conversion only a hoped-for holiday miracle.

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