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Tejada must endure pain of O's ultramarrathon

December 15, 2005|by ANDY MASON

I completed the JFK 50 Mile ultramarathon for a second time last month.

People are still asking me how I did it.

Lots of training and hard work, I tell them. And on race day, you just have to suck up the pain and suffering and find a way to persevere.

Being a Baltimore Orioles fan also has helped with my preparation. Running 50 miles almost seems easy compared to sticking with the O's for a 162 games a year, through eight straight losing seasons. And the aid stations at the JFK don't even offer any shots of vitamin B-12.

All-Star shortstop Miguel Tejada, it seems, might be better suited for a 5K. He's only spent two seasons with the Orioles and already he wants "a change of scenery," as we learned last week. Hearing that hurt, even more than the spill I took on the Appalachian Trail in the early miles of the JFK.

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Tejada is, without question, the Orioles' most valuable asset, on and off the field. He plays the game like JFK champion Howard Nippert tackles miles, with a fiery flare, inspiring those around him to behave similarly.

Unlike Nippert, however, Tejada can't seem to visualize the finish line - assuming his is the World Series, or maybe just the playoffs - on the course he's traveling in Baltimore. And if he can't see it as the leader, all the teammates and fans who are following him are likely to lose sight of it as well.

It's a long race, for sure, and Tejada still has four years remaining on his contract. It's also a race that still seems winnable, once he and the O's build more endurance and figure out how to properly pace themselves.

Tejada led all of Major League Baseball with his 150 RBI in 2004 - his first year with Baltimore - as the O's started to show some promise. He began last season with a monstrous April, hitting .347 with eight home runs and 31 RBI as the O's seized first place in the AL East and appeared to be for real.

Tejada is not to be blamed for all the injuries and turmoil that eventually wrecked Baltimore last season. As the leader of the team, however, he needs to help pick up the pieces and move the O's forward.

Maybe his threatening to leave is his way of motivating the franchise. Or maybe he truly would rather play for the Red Sox.

I know I'd be having more fun if I were a Red Sox fan. But if that were the case, I also might be too fat and happy for a 50-mile run.




Andy Mason is assistant sports editor of The Morning Herald. 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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