- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 23, 2002

In treacherous times, the same question always arises: Should we give even a random thought to ordinary concerns? It arose on Dec.7, 1941, on Nov.22, 1963, and on September11, 2001. Now it arises again locally. Is fantasy which, after all, is what spectator sports are a legitimate excuse for escaping excruciatingly painful reality?

Well, as a wise man once said, you pays your money and you takes your choice. On the radio yesterday morning, an announcer introduced his sports broadcast as "the toy department," a phrase I haven't heard in a long time. But there's nothing wrong with that; after all, toys are fun. So

I feel for Patrick Ramsey. Thirteen sacks in two games? You could go to any elementary school in the area and recruit a better offensive line. And I don't want to hear about injuries all football teams have injuries. You remember the Hogs? These guys up front should be called the Piglets. Where the heck is Joe Bugel when we need him?

Now the Redskins have re-signed Tre Johnson, who probably could qualify these days for George Allen's Over the Hill Gang. Any minute now I expect Vinny Cerrato, the well-known front-office wizard, to bring back Al Demao, Russ Grimm and, yes, Jim Lachey.

In all his public pronouncements, Ramsey has said the right things after he tore up Tennessee in his debut, then threw a bunch of dying ducks against New Orleans and Green Bay. In fact, he has sounded a lot more mature than his coach, who continues to let his frustrations show.

(And by the way, Steve, why do you bother hiding your face from the TV cameras while barking plays into your headset? Considering the quality of your quarterback play this season, do you suppose defensive coordinators really care what's coming?)

I will give Spurrier credit for this: Yanking Ramsey is the right move, before his confidence is as battered as his bod. Older Redskins fans will recall the beating Norm Snead took as a rookie starter here in 1961; some suspect that he never really recovered. Probably, Spurrier was wrong to anoint Ramsey as his QB in the first place, but that can happen when the only alternatives are two journeymen who basically have stunk up the joint as NFL starters.

Hang in there, Patrick. I don't know if you'll be another Sonny Jurgensen or another Jay Schroeder, but you deserve to be ready when you get your chance next year, the year after or the year after that.

Meanwhile, there's always Maryland. I don't know about the Terrapins. I've seen them lose three times in 2002 (including the Orange Bowl), and they've been outscored 115-33. Otherwise, they're 5-0 in games I haven't seen. From now on, I think I'll just go see the little games.

But seriously, folks, give Ralph Friedgen a big hand for bringing the Terps back nicely after those early clobberings by Notre Dame and Florida State. True, some of their victims haven't exactly been powerhouses, but Maryland was awesome in last week's blowout of Georgia Tech. And isn't it nice to see Scott McBrien developing into a left-handed version of Shaun Hill? That might even be a left-handed compliment, because Scott could be better. Clearly, the Fridge has his Terps on the road to a second consecutive bowl game, which is the kind of continuity that wins attention from blue-chip recruits.

And if you're really looking for good news from Terptown Gary Williams' defending national champions open the season a month from tomorrow.

Like so many other baseball fans in these forsaken parts, I thought for quite a while that October would be our month of deliverance the return of the so-called National Pastime to the nation's capital after 32 years.

I should have known better. In a word or two, forget it.

Not to worry, though, we've still got the Orioles and Peter Angelos the owner who makes Dan Snyder look like a real winner.

By the way, did the O's ever end that losing streak? And did Mike Hargrove ever commit hara-kiri?

It's a bit of a shock to realize that the Wizards might be winners this season, no matter how much His Airness plays. The apparent emergence of Kwame Brown in preseason, the additions of Larry Hughes, Jerry Stackhouse and Charles Oakley, plus the presence of draftees Juan Dixon and Jared Jeffries give Doug Collins a great deal and possibly a great hand.

Who knows, the Wiz might even survive the playoffs in the powder puff Eastern Conference and become eligible to be demolished by the Lakers or Spurs in the NBA Finals.

Yep, the Wizards are a potential ray of sunshine and lord knows we can use a few these days.

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