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Time can wait

Numbers prove O's for real

May 05, 2005

"Talk to me in August" was the response of my cousin, a Boston Red Sox fan, after the Baltimore Orioles completed a three-game sweep of the New York Yankees a few weeks ago.

He wasn't about to entertain the idea of the Orioles being American League East contenders in April.

But I sure was. Still am in May.

With Brian Roberts on base, Melvin Mora at the plate and Miguel Tejada on deck, anything seems possible these days.

Sure, we're only a month into the season, but the statistics already are on the Orioles' side. And these numbers run even deeper than Roberts' improbable amount of home runs and Tejada's league-leading RBI total.

The Orioles went 16-7 in April for a .696 winning percentage. I recently read on ESPN.com that out of the 46 teams which have finished April with winning percentages between .600 and .700 since 1976, 24 (52 percent) have gone on to make the playoffs.

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Now, let's round the O's winning percentage up to .700, which seems easy and fair enough to do. They were at .708 after beating Tampa Bay on May 1. Since 1976, 10 (77 percent) of the 13 teams which have ended April at .700 or better have advanced to the playoffs.

So go ahead and keep telling me that the Yankees and Red Sox are still the teams to beat. I'd like to think that they are. The O's are 7-3 against them already.

If May is anything like April, I will go out and buy my orange-and-black face paint. It will cost more in October.

ยท Lance Armstrong is nothing like the New York Yankees, at least not in my eyes. I hate the Yankees.

But after sluggish springs, both are expected to turn up the heat in July. The odds seem stacked against them.

The Yanks finished April with a .417 winning percentage. Since 1976, only two (6 percent) of the 36 teams which have finished April between .400 and .449 have gone to the playoffs.

In more than 100 years of the Tour de France, no rider has won cycling's biggest race seven times, as Armstrong will be aiming to do. Of course, no rider had ever won it six times before Lance.

But is this the same Lance? In March, he dropped out of the Paris-Nice race after three stages. Last month, he finished fifth at the Tour de Georgia, a race he dominated last year. And his new Discovery Channel team is missing key members from last year's U.S. Postal squad, such as three-time Olympic medalist Vyacheslav Ekimov (injured) and Tour de Georgia time-trial winner Floyd Landis (now riding for Phonak).

What are Armstrong's chances? Probably still greater than the ones many doctors gave him to survive cancer.

Talk to me in August.




Andy Mason is assistant sports editor of The Herald-Mail. His column appears every other Thursday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2334, or by e-mail at andrewm@herald-mail.com

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