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Fan's turn out for O's Fidel

April 01, 1999

Peter Angelos was sitting next to Fidel Castro in a TV shot during the Orioles' historic game in Havana on Sunday, and a friend asked "Who's that?"

I said "One is an egomaniacal dictator who has taken a once proud race of people and turned them into a poor assemblage of hapless, hopelessly behind-the-times stragglers. And the other is the leader of Cuba."

But seriously.

Watching the game was a bitter reminder that Angelos' biggest mistake was getting rid of broadcaster Jon Miller, who now broadcasts Giants games on the radio and Sunday night baseball for ESPN. When Joe Morgan got hot and indignant over the Cuban scorer who called an obvious error a hit, Miller melodramatically cried "Don't complain to me, Joe, complain to Fidel."

Indeed, Fidel had done a pretty good job choreographing the proceedings, down to the point of selecting each of the 50,000 fans who could be counted on to chant his name on his entrance to the stadium.

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Attending a ballgame based on privilege is hard for us to understand here in America, where any old shlub with $120 for tickets, $10 for parking and $60 for lunch can take his family to see the national pastime.

Granted, my heart isn't in it like a lot of Cuban-Americans and my knowledge of foreign affairs is pretty much limited to the duty imposed at the Canadian border on exotic French films. But after seeing the crowds, seeing the enthusiasm and fascination of the people with the window opened a crack, I couldn't help but think that if we would only open up to Cuba this tiny little bearded man would be swept away into insignificance faster than a cigar wrapper on a Caribbean tide.

I think openness would be the cruelest thing we could do to Castro, because it would prove him wrong in his lifetime. He'd be there to see how magnificently the island paradise would succeed once his economic and social pillars had been knocked out from under him.

Address all comments on this issue to T. "Henry Kissinger" Rowland, care of Neptune's third moon.

But I do know baseball, and I know that Cuba couldn't have picked a better opponent. This is because upon signing with the team, all Baltimore Orioles have this little computer chip implanted in their brains that forces them to strike out repeatedly when they are seeing a pitcher for the first time.

This phenomenon, which I like to call the "Wilson Alvarez paradigm," was evident Sunday. Newcomers Charles Johnson and Will Clark (who obviously haven't been fitted with the chip yet) were the only ones to do significant damage.

Now when I start throwing out random sports names, I know some ladies feel disincluded, so in the interests of "balancing things out" let me ask: Did you know you can freeze parsley?

The problem is that the recipe only calls for one tablespoon of chopped parsley, but the supermarket insists on selling it in bales of a size that would keep Mr. Ed in forage for a week.

The answer is to put the leftover parsley in a Ziploc bag and freeze it. Next time a recipe calls for a tablespoon, just crumble off what you need and return the rest to the freezer. Hope that helps. Now back to the game.

Forget the ballplayers for a moment, did you notice how much better the Cuban umpires are than the American umpires? Good, consistent strike zone, good consistent calls. You almost forget they were there.

Somewhere along the line somebody forgot to tell Major League umpires their job is to call a game, not star in a Broadway production of Les Miz.

Always in a snit about some perceived indignity, American umpires didn't want to bring their hurt feelings to Cuba to be a part of history.

Perhaps the Orioles could arrange a trade. Third baseman Omar Linares and the Cuban umpires for a dictator to be named later.




Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist

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