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More than Zero

Posted 4/17/2002

Kudos on a stellar presentation of the Most Useless Orioles of All Time ("Zeros of Birdland," April 3). As a lifelong O's fan, I have stood by my belief that 1995 ranks as the most dismal and disappointing year in franchise history. For me, nothing summed up that season better than a mid-August trip I made to Boston's Fenway Park for a Saturday-afternoon game, with the Orioles having already dropped the first two of a four-game series.

Admittedly, I had knocked back a few adult beverages by the time I moved down to the third row behind the O's dugout for the game's final two innings. As Regan walked back to the dugout after a pitching change, I stood up and yelled, "Why do [Kevin] Bass and [Bret] Barberie play? Why?" He made eye contact with me before disappearing into the dugout.

As luck would have it, the next play resulted in a close call at first, prompting Regan to take the field to argue. As he sauntered back to the dugout, I stood up and yelled out the same exact question, to which he responded (and my brother was there to bear witness), "I make the decisions here. Fuck you," as he held his right hand against his chest and discreetly, but clearly, gave me the finger. I was enraged, not about someone having just flipped me the bird, but at the fact that I rooted for a team whose manager was so insecure, incompetent, and thin-skinned that he felt the need to defend his managerial decisions to a random fan in the midst of a game.

My brother and I had tickets for the Sunday game but decided to bag it. It turned out to be a good decision, being that it was the seventh inning before the Orioles mustered a hit against Tim Wakefield. The loss ran Boston's win streak to 11 games and dropped the O's 14 games out of first. The Orioles' record for the month, which started with the infamous Aug. 1 Doug Jones meltdown you mentioned, stood at 3-10. I'm still bitter that Regan wasn't fired immediately after Boston's four-game sweep.

The Rat himself, Jesse Orosco, summed up the situation perfectly in the paper the next day, when he was quoted as saying: "How do we get seven games under .500? Look at this team. We've got a good pitching staff, depth on the bench. That's what kills me. That's what kills all of us, to see how far it's sunk. We talk all the time how it's time to get it going. I can't solve it. The skipper can't solve it. Nobody can solve it."

Thanks for the trip down memory lane. In this time of mediocre pitching and inept offense, it is indeed important to keep in mind that things could be much worse.

Scott Gramling
New York

I know you couldn't fit everyone in your Most Useless roster, but what about pitcher Jeff Robinson, who joined the O's in the 1991 season and finished 4-9?

Brian Tsai

Loved your article, but I couldn't let one thing pass. Didn't third baseman Glenn Gulliver run through Cal Ripken Sr.'s stop sign in the final game of the 1982 season to be thrown out at the plate? Perhaps my memory fails me (or is making things up), but if not, it is my humble opinion that Mr. Gulliver should knock Todd Cruz off the all-time useless team. Had we taken the lead in that game early, I do believe that the Orioles would have won the game and entered the postseason hotter than hot.

Thanks for listening. I loved your article and have e-mailed it around to a bunch of friends and family who are longtime Orioles fans.

Michael Marr
New York

How do you include Jim Traber when by your own definition you say that a good month removes you from the list. I quote: "A player who did his job well at all, even if he later turned bad, doesn't count as having been useless." I think 13 home runs in 65 games qualifies as a good run--why don't you agree?

I appreciate your humor in light of our impending doom this season, but perhaps you could have abided your own definition, and perhaps even shown some intelligent restraint in degrading someone who still has family in the area (albeit a very small area to which your paper is distributed).

Who would you pick for owner?

Robert Zura
Augusta, Ga.

The Zeros of City Paper respond: Eli Jacobs.

The Straight dope
The letter in response to the story on medical marijuana (The Mail, March 3; "Grass Roots," March 27,) makes several valid points. There are additional key reasons why prohibitionists insist on not allowing medical-marijuana laws to be passed.

If the federal government lets states allow legal access to medical marijuana for an extended period, three realities will emerge after just a few years of patient analysis: Medical marijuana patients will not move on to use more dangerous illicit drugs, thus proving the "gateway theory" to be the myth that most researchers already recognize it as. Patients will not rob or commit other crimes to fund their "habit," nor will they sell marijuana to our children--both common concerns expressed as reasons to oppose legal and regulated access to marijuana for adults. And finally, those patients not fully crippled by their illnesses will lead full and productive lives while including marijuana as part of their regular regimen.

Marijuana use has risks, as does all drug use. However, in comparison to heavy-duty and addictive narcotics, or to alcohol, it is far less dangerous. Therefore, there is no rational reason to arrest adults who use it responsibly.

Stephen Heath
Public Relations Director,
Drug Policy Forum of Florida
Clearwater, Fla.

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