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Jumping the gun to a high caliber of leap-year activity

December 26, 2003|by DAN KAUFFMAN

Did you know there were NBA games played on Christmas?

Did any of you care?

Me, neither.

(How's that for a weak column opening?)

With 2004 less than a week away, here are a few things I'm looking forward to (obviously, my next trip to Hagerstown Community College isn't on this list ... just kidding, folks):

n Nick Adenhart's final high school baseball season. It should be one to remember.

I was a sophomore in high school when Waynesboro's Matt White was making headlines on the way to being the first pick of that year's major league draft. No one can say for sure if Adenhart will be the top pick (we can say pretty safely he will be a high first-round pick), but the excitement over him will be the same.

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Adenhart has been in the news since he was playing at Halfway Little League, leading the league's All-Stars to a state tournament appearance in 1999. The following year, he helped the Hagerstown PONY League win a United States championship and make the World Series title game, and has only gotten better since - as anyone who watched his epic battle with Allegany's Aaron Laffey in last season's playoffs can attest.

As excited as all of us are to watch Adenhart this year, I'm sure Adenhart is even more excited. It's hard not to be when all your dreams are close to being realized.

n The new-look Orioles taking the field. For the first time in a long time, there will be genuine excitement at Camden Yards.

As a guy who's known as "skeptical" at best and "traitorous" at worst when rooting for his favorite teams, it's no surprise I'm "concerned" about this club's chances of meeting all the raised expectations that will be placed upon them.

Reason One: The Yankees. No explanation needed.

Reason Two: The Red Sox. No explanation needed.

Reason Three: So who, exactly, are the O's counting on to pitch?

Doesn't the new (and still-changing) Orioles roster scream "Texas Rangers II?" Oh sure, Baltimore's gonna hit some teams out of the building some nights - even more if Vladimir Guerrero, the best free agent to hit the market since, well, A-Rod, lands in Charm City - but on others, the Orioles will post double digits and still lose.

Sidney Ponson may well return to Baltimore, and with the current crop of free-agent pitchers, that's a wise move for the Orioles. But Ponson has never proven to be a top-of-the-rotation pitcher - even with his "breakout" 2003 season.

The other starting options - Kurt Ainsworth, Rodrigo Lopez, Omar Daal and John Parrish - are shaky. Yes, Lopez had a good 2002 season, but he's currently getting torched in winter ball in Mexico. Ainsworth is talented, but untested. This sentence might be the most Daal and Parrish have written about them all year.

That means for most Orioles games, the race will be on to see which team can score 10 runs first. That's usually not a good thing.

n Two more North Hagerstown-South Hagerstown boys basketball matchups. Area high school sports at its best. 'Nuff said.

n In the same vein, Hubs coach Tim McNamee's 300th victory at North.

McNamee is 13 games away from the milestone with 16 regular-season games (and, of course, the playoffs) left in his 20th season as head coach.

Even if he doesn't get win No. 300 this season, chances are it'll come at the start of next season, before we turn the calendar on 2005 and I likely blow the dust off the same stale New Year's column theme.




Dan Kauffman is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. His column appears every other Thursday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 7520, or by e-mail at kauffman@herald-mail.com

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