|by Darrell Carter|
All eyes will be on the Georgia Dome in Atlanta this month, as the ultimate in collegiate sports goes into high gear for its season climax. The NCAA men's basketball tournament is an unofficial month-long holiday in March.
Tournament competition has been minimal over the past few years for Baltimore area teams, except for the University of Maryland and the Naval Academy. Coach Gary Williams' teams made it to the NCAA or NIT tournaments throughout the 90's into the 21st century. Maryland's advancement this year to the "Final Four" was a first for the school. Entering the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, Maryland was ranked #2 in the country. Seniors Juan Dixon and Lonny Baxter will lead the Terps charge.
Coppin State College, in Baltimore City, surprised the college basketball world when the tiny college on North Avenue made it to the big dance twice in the last decade. Coppin's first trip stunned the world, when they advanced to the second round.
OriolesäIn February, we explored the pitching staff of the Baltimore Orioles. Let's take a look at the infielders and outfielders.
Minor league talent Eddy Garabito and prospect Eddy Rogers (at press time, both are having visa problem' entering the US from the Dominican Republic) will compete to serve as the utility infielder for the major league club. Also benefiting from Garabito and Rogers visa problems are former Minnesota Twins utility infielder Mike Moriarty. He will get a long look in camp, though the odds of the journeyman ballplayer making the club are slim.
The heir apparent to Cal Ripken at third will be Tony Batista. He hit 25 homeruns between Baltimore and Toronto last season. Batista is the only player on the team to have hit over 40 homeruns in his career. Rounding out the infield will be second baseball Jerry Harriston, whom the club is looking to lead off.
Injuries to Chris Richard will open the door for prospects Luis Matos, Larry Bigbie, and Tim Raines, Jr. All three contributed significantly to the ball club last season. In most baseball circles, executives questioned Bigbi'se and Raines, Jr.'s rapid climb to the majors, fearing potential harm to their confidence as they went up with the more established pro's.
Also entering the equation are non-roster invitee and former Minnesota Twins Chad Allen. Allen is recovering from knee surgery. His major league experience will make him a prime candidate for the fifth outfield position--or a ticket to Triple A.