Stick a fork in it

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:41 AM ET

Rabid fans of the Baltimore Orioles have taken their worship of Sammy Sosa to a new level.

No longer do they just shower him with praise.

Now they have started presenting him with meat.

Behind the right-field bleachers at the Orioles' home park sits Boog's BBQ, the well-known outdoor eatery operated by former Baltimore Orioles great Boog Powell. Whenever the wind blows in, the mouth-watering aroma of fresh barbecue pork and beef wafts around the stadium, reaching the flaring nostrils of players and spectators alike.

On more than one occasion, those bleacher creatures fortunate enough to be toting one of Boog's delicious sandwiches have even shown a willingness to share their chow with Sosa, the Orioles' right fielder.

"They have offered," Sosa confirmed last night before breaking into laughter.

Yes, the love affair with Sammy is indeed alive and well in Baltimore.

But how long will the honeymoon last, especially if Sosa continues to struggle during his first season with the O's?

There are questions circulating throughout baseball concerning a potential decline in Sosa's skills.

The former Chicago Cubs star was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts last night in the Orioles' 6-2 loss to the Blue Jays, dropping his average to .246. He has just nine homers and 26 RBIs this season.

SCOUTS NOT IMPRESSED

During the Orioles' batting practice last night, a number of scouts watched Sosa take his hacks in the cage. After seeing Sosa smack a ball to the warning track, one of the trained observers remarked that "it was the best ball he hit -- and it didn't even get out of the park."

Sosa, who last season failed to drive in 100 runs for the first time in 10 years, claims he still is enduring growing pains during his return to the American League, a circuit with more breaking-ball pitchers than the National League.

"That is something you have to deal with," Sosa said. "There is no question that I have to make adjustments each and every day.

"The main thing is, we have a good team that is winning."

Sosa belted his 583rd home run on Saturday, tying him with Mark McGwire for sixth on the career list.

"When my career is over, I can look back on those numbers with pride," he said. "Right now I just want to win."

And maybe munch on some barbecue while he's at it.


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