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Jim Henneman Shares Observations From Orioles Spring Training: Feb. 27

February 27, 2018
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Some odds 'n ends; some this 'n that; some spring training; some Winter Olympics; some sports geography (OK, that's a stretch):

I have to admit, when right-hander Kevin Gausman went down during the second inning of his first spring training start Feb. 26, the first thought through my mind was: "Well, it didn't take long to identify the first starting pitcher to hit the disabled list."

Like just about everybody else in the park, I didn't see what happened, but when the play was over, it was just starting for the Orioles. Gausman was on the ground, and at first it looked he was holding his knee, so right away you're thinking 4-6 months. It turns out the on-deck batter didn't give the right-away, and Gausman's ego (he was charged with five runs in less than two innings) took as big a hit as his ERA.

However, it should be noted that a rite of spring training, especially for the Orioles, is that a starting pitcher opens the season on the DL. You might remember the time left-hander Zach Britton was that pitcher, but he's a reliever now, so he doesn't count.

One reason the O's are still looking for a starting pitcher is because of that rite of spring. The saying you can never have too much pitching is actually a fallacy. In reality, you can never have enough pitching, which is why the O's are in at least their second decade of looking.


This one is for all my shuffle-boarding friends out there. I don't think many people realize it, but America winning the men's curling gold medal over Sweden is every bit as much of a miracle on ice as the hockey team's victories in 1960 and 1980. It's just that so few in this country had any idea what the curlers were doing -- or why.

We look at the sport as the upper Michigan peninsula version of slow-pitch softball, where the loser buys the beer, but it is the Winter Olympics, and in case you hadn't noticed, the U.S. generally doesn't do too well in cold-weather sports.  I mean, we could put together a good bocce team from Baltimore's Little Italy, but Curling? C'mon.

John Shuster, who shot the rock (is that were Dick Vitale gets that phrase?) that stuck the Swedes with the silver, has been to the Olympics as often as Michael Phelps, but he got relegated to the ice bin after the U.S. melted badly in 2010 and 2014. Not willing to skate away quietly, he recruited some other non-qualifiers and put together what has become known as "Team Reject." I seem to remember being on a few slow-pitch teams like that -- shuffleboard, too. 

When Shuster cleared the guards and stuck the rock on the bull's eye in the eighth end (think bottom of the eighth) this old "Horse Collar Player" could feel the vibes so clearly I swear I heard Al Michaels in the background asking, "Do you believe in miracles?"

I doubt that "Miracle On Ice 2" is in the works, but for one week Shuster and his so-called misfits (Tyler George, John Landsteiner and Matt Hamilton) sure had me more interested in curlers than hurlers. It was an upset of golden proportions. I do expect an outbreak in East Baltimore at any time.


I have been paying a lot of attention to the poll that The Baltimore Sun has collaborated on with the Babe Ruth Museum and have very mixed emotions about the project to come up with four names for a "Mt. Rushmore of Maryland Sports." In the interest of full disclosure, I was part of the panel delegated to whittle an original list of 175 down of 20 that was submitted for polling on The Sun's website.

My feeling was that any such project should be limited to native Marylanders, an idea that was overwhelmingly rejected. Now that we're about to get down to four (I believe voting ends Feb 28), my feeling hasn't changed.

It's not that I think we shouldn't appreciate what great athletes like Brooks Robinson, John Unitas, Eddie Murray, Raymond Berry, Wes Unseld, Lenny Moore, Frank Robinson et al have meant to the city and the state. But let's face it, Brooks, Johnny and most of the others are already in enough "Halls" to last several lifetimes, including, in many instances I might add, their home states.

There is enough home-grown talent to present a very authentic "Mt. Rushmore" for Maryland -- and the very real possibility that Babe Ruth could be the only native on the list, in my opinion, would be embarrassing. Based on some informal polling, it would appear that either Michael Phelps or Cal Ripken Jr., maybe both, will not make the final four. Plus, we already have many various Hall of Fame members who did not make the cut from 20 to 10.

The "Mt. Rushmore of Maryland Sports" will accomplish what it was supposed to 
-- attract some attention and stir a little controversy, which is not necessarily a bad thing. But we could have shown a little favoritism and done the same thing, I do believe. Any thoughts?


It's reassuring to know that Ron Darling, who knows a little bit about pitching, is among those baffled by Billy Wagner's low numbers in the Hall of Fame voting. "He was the Aroldis Chapman of his day," Darling told John Harper of the New York Daily News. I don't know if Chapman will ever last long enough to get to the Hall of Fame, but Darling put him in some fast company.

Those who played with or against Wagner seem to share the opinion of Darling, former New York Mets ace and one of the best TV analysts in the business. The knock against Wagner among those who disdain relievers being equated with starting pitchers, is that he logged less than 1,000 innings. His 422 saves is well behind the total of Trevor Hoffman, who is part of this year's induction class at Cooperstown, N.Y., but his other numbers, including a 0.998 WHIP, are off the charts.

Jim Henneman can be reached at 

Photo credit: Courtesy of Patrick Cavey