Is the year half full ... or half empty?

July 11, 2004|by MARK KELLER / Sports Editor

Wow, the year is halfway gone and so is the baseball season. Be careful ... only 166 shopping days until Christmas. It'll be here before you know it.

Here are some short takes to hold you over for a couple of weeks.

-- The Baltimore Orioles have turned into the Texas Rangers - all hitting, no pitching.

The O's addressed their offensive needs in the off-season, but hitting has been the least of their problems since they lost Mike Mussina to free agency after the 2000 season.

The Baltimore rotation, with the exception of Mussina, was mediocre at best in his final years with the team and has gotten worse ever since.

Sidney Ponson seems like he's out to prove that last season was a fluke. (Apparently he's not aware that you're supposed to do that after a bad season).


So, there sit the Orioles at the bottom of the American League East ... behind the Blue Jays and the Devil Rays. In fact, only Kansas City and Seattle (which I think would be eligible to play in the Washington County Senior Softball League) have worse records in the AL.

I'm betting this isn't what Miguel Tejada and Javy Lopez had in mind when they signed on with the O's.

-- As bad as the O's have been lately, owner Peter Angelos would be best served to keep his cool and give manager Lee Mazzilli a chance to succeed.

It's not Mazzilli's fault that his pitching staff is second rate. He's doing the best he can with what he has.

Angelos was patient with Mike Hargrove, who had his hands tied as the team paid Albert Belle year after year while he was injured. Hargrove never quite delivered, but he was at least given a shot.

Mazzilli deserves at least that much.

-- I was as shocked as anyone when Bob Starkey walked away from South Hagerstown High School to take the job as boys basketball coach at Jefferson last month.

Not necessarily shocked that he left South, where he always seemed to be underappreciated by many fans, but more that he went to another school.

At 72, I figured Starkey was on the verge of retirement - not because he's too old, but because he's coached for long enough.

Instead, Starkey is taking on another challenge. And if there's anybody who can turn around the Cougars program, it's Starkey.

Given his pedigree, it's hard to deny that Starkey was a key reason South enjoyed such success over the last nine years. The Rebels were blessed with some great athletes during his tenure, but Starkey was the constant.

There's no doubt the game has not passed Starkey by. And those who think it has better hope they're not on Jefferson's schedule this winter.

Mark Keller is sports editor of The Herald-Mail. His column appears every Sunday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2332, or by e-mail at

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