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Orioles' Advance Work Seems to Be a Bit Too Thrifty


If things weren't rotten enough for the Baltimore Orioles, whose spend-and-lose stench must have gotten onto the clothing of Kevin Malone and Davey Johnson, their trade-deadline deals also have become rather gamy.

Lesli Brea, a pitcher estimated by de facto GM Syd Thrift to be the critical piece of the trade that sent shortstop Mike Bordick to the New York Mets, made his major league debut last Sunday. Then he told reporters that he is not 21, as the Orioles announced and believed, but, rather, 26.

Another pitcher, Luis Rivera, obtained from Atlanta in the trade that sent away B.J. Surhoff and Gabe Molina, arrived with a nasty case of shoulder tendinitis. Thrift admitted he hadn't checked the medical reports, largely because he hadn't requested them.

A third pitcher, Mark Nussbeck, who came to the Orioles from St. Louis for Mike Timlin, also is battling shoulder tendinitis and also isn't pitching.

Oh, and Brea also pointed out that his name isn't even Lesli, as the Orioles officially called him. It's Leslie, with an E. Fitting, actually.

Eeek, it's Todd-zilla! After all that early excitement, Colorado's season has boiled down to Todd Helton, and will he or won't he hit .400.

Two things about Helton--he wears No. 17 to honor Mark Grace, and he was the Tennessee quarterback before Peyton Manning.

On the Grace thing: "I like the way Gracie plays," Helton told the New York Times. "All-out, and with a full-range game. . . . I'd shave my head like he does, if my ears weren't so big."

And, on the theory he is a better defensive first baseman because he was a quarterback: "I doubt it. You have to remember, I wasn't a very good quarterback."

A DH in every spot: New York Yankee Vice President Mark Newman, on his ballclub's sudden affection for designated hitters: "Everybody should have six."

He had nine wives, uh, lives: Jose Canseco, one of the aforementioned Yankee DHs, on what he considered his biggest mistake as a young star: "Do we really have time for all those?"

Get the lead out: High levels of lead were found in keychains the Colorado Rockies gave to their fans in 1998-99. At least one little girl became ill after sucking on the promotional item.

Given the Rockies' traditional lack of team speed, we couldn't help but wonder if some of their players didn't accidentally sit on the keychains.

So much could go wrong: The Chicago White Sox lead the AL Central by nine games, so you know what the people of Chicago are feeling right now.

Total, utter, crying-in-the-streets, wetting-in-the-pants panic.

"Six weeks!" Chicago Sun-Times columnist Ron Rapoport shrieked. "Good grief, the Sox could be fighting for their lives within one week if they're not careful. And tell me the truth, if that were to happen--if they didn't make the playoffs at all, I mean--wouldn't it be a blow from which the franchise might never recover?"

They're handling this so well.

Spit on that: After St. Louis, among the National League's better defensive teams, committed four errors in a loss to Atlanta, Cardinal Manager Tony La Russa said, "Even Sinatra had to clear his throat once in a while."

Black (and yellow) Sundays: Pittsburgh is 3-15 on Sundays. If the Pirates were even 10-8 on Sundays, they'd be, well, they'd still be horrible.

But the poor Sabbath record has the locals wondering exactly who is angry with the Pirates, and if their bottom-of-the-order slap hitters aren't crossing themselves enough before every pitch.

We think maybe the problem isn't with Sunday afternoons at all, but with Saturday nights.

Home runs not included: Bernie, the puffy German guy in lederhosen who slides into the beer stein after Milwaukee Brewer home runs, will accompany the team to its new Miller Park digs next year.

The mascot's act will be livened up with a new attitude and a new slide, along with Bob Uecker's signature call in neon lights: "Get up, get up, get outta here! Gone!"

"Anybody can shoot off fireworks after a home run," a Brewer official said.

The club will dump the old chalet, beer barrel and mug, but keep Uecker.

Uecker said he was touched by the permanent tribute to his call.

"It should be exciting," he said. "If Bernie gets a little speed going down that slide, he could end up on the freeway. And I don't know what they're going to do with the chalet. That might look nice on my lawn."

Attention people in Ueck's neighborhood: Get up, get up, get outta here! Sell!

And about 9% of the baseball knowledge: A recent baseball survey found that women make up 46% of the average crowd at a major league baseball game.

The same survey reported that 43% of the women could not name a player on the home team.

One suggestion for those women: Next time someone asks, answer, "Mark Johnson." There are three of those.

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