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September 1998
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Orioles, Vets, Get Meaningless Win (9/26)

Look, ma! We won a game! I mean, okay, so the game had no meaning for either team, with the Orioles officially eliminated and the Red Sox having clinched the Wild Card. Still, they do have to play the games; might as well win them. Scott Erickson pitched seven strong innings, recording his team-high 16th win for the second straight season, and Mills and Benitez finished up the last two scoreless innings, Benitez recording his 22nd save. Meanwhile, BJ Surhoff hit two home runs for the second time this week, and Roberto Alomar and Eric Davis homered, and the Orioles won, 5-2.

On the other side of the coin, Dennis Eckersley made his 1,071st appearance, breaking the record held by former Oriole Hoyt Wilhelm. Eckersley's career is probably over, so current Oriole Jesse Orosco should pass Eckersley sometime in the second half of 1999.

A scary moment came when Mike Bordick was hit in the head with a pitch, but he seems to be okay. We were kind of hoping that Ray Miller would get hit in the head with a pitch, actually. (Or maybe the problem is that this happened to him too many times already.) Today's lineup featured 8 veterans (and Cal Pickering) on the moronic grounds (as DUOP noted yesterday) that Erickson deserved the right to have the veteran losers behind him. Apparently Ray Miller has another scapegoat, though, besides Benitez. Roberto Alomar has been lazy this year, according to Miller and the Os, and just hasn't played hard enough. So, Alomar's going to depart, while players of lesser talent remain. Alomar's a bad clubhouse presence, according to Miller and "club officials," because he didn't play hard long after the Orioles were out of the race for a manager he didn't respect. Of course, he has played on five playoff teams (91-93 Toronto, 96-97 Baltimore) this decade, so how bad could his clubhouse presence be for a team?

But Miller blames everybody except himself. Turmoil in the front office receives some blame. Everyone in the organization wasn't on the same page. It's not Peter Angelos's fault, according to Miller; Angelos never interfered with how the team was run. Injuries, of course, played a role, according to Miller. Now the team is deciding what to do about surgery for Brady Anderson, Eric Davis, Willie Greene, Chris Hoiles, Arthur Rhodes and Lenny Webster. It couldn't have anything to do with the collective age of this group, could it? Listening to Miller, you'd never believe that he made bad decisions about the talent of players. Indeed, the word "talent" never comes up when Ray Miller talks. As DUOP has said a million times, he Just Doesn't Get It.

Os plunge continues; Miller still clueless (9/25)

At this point, why even bother? The Orioles have already been eliminated, have already clinched fourth place, and the Red Sox have already clinched the Wild Card. So why bother? Just forfeit, and get the season over with. Today's game, Ray Miller actually tried some young players, after talking about doing so three days ago but not actually bothering to do it. It didn't help. Chris Fussell had no command of the strike zone, walking five (and giving up 3 hits) in just 1 2/3 innings. And the relievers didn't help, either. Doug Drabek, who Ray "Braindead" Miller brought in in relief, did manage to get out of a two-out bases-loaded jam in the second inning, but after 2 scoreless innings, gave up three runs without getting an out in the fifth. Now, what on earth was the point of bringing Doug Drabek into this game? Why not hand the ball to Coppinger? Why is Doug Drabek on the roster?

In any case, not only was the pitching a disaster, but the offense was helpless against knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, as he allowed just six hits and two runs in his six innings of work. Danny Clyburn homered, but Jerry Hairston Jr. was 0-4 (and made 2 errors in the field). The media blathered about this being a "rookie lineup," but it wasn't. Those were the only two starters. (Charlie Greene, too, but he's an old rookie and hits like Rick Dempsey would if he were still playing in his 50s.) The almost-30 Lyle Mouton was also in the starting lineup. Cal Pickering and Ryan Minor each came into the game late and got one AB.

It all added up to an 8-3 loss to Boston, the team's sixth straight and tenth in their last eleven. The loss ensured that the Orioles will finish with a losing record for the first time since Ray Miller was manager in 1995. Oh, wait, that was Phil Regan. It's hard to tell the difference. Both long-time well-regarded pitching coaches who wouldn't know talent if it hit them with a baseball bat.

Even that one game soured Miller on youth: "I think both Erickson and Mussina deserve the right to have the best possible lineup behind them to start the game... I'm not going to put a secondary lineup [behind them]." It's not clear to us what the hell he's talking about: how do players "deserve the right to" anything? The job of the manager is to make decisions for the good of the team, not to pad the stats of veteran players because it will make them happy. Fans are the only people who deserve anything.

Speaking of veteran players, Eric Davis got two hits on Friday, leaving his batting average at .327. He's not going to win the AL batting title (barring some sort of miraculous 10-10 weekend), but he has a chance to set the all-time team single-season record, currently .328, by Roberto Alomar and Ken Singleton.

And speaking of which, Miller has officially weighed in with his opinion on what the team needs. Yep, you guessed it, the most overrated baseball skill: speed. The Orioles are near the bottom of the league in stolen bases. Guess which two teams are below them? Boston and Texas. Both in the playoffs. Guess what team's just above them? Anaheim, which almost made the playoffs. He also wants more pitching, despite the Orioles' abundance of talent: Mussina, Erickson, Guzman, Coppinger, Ponson, Fussell. And perhaps Kamieniecki, who's still under contract and might be healthy next year. He doesn't understand the concept of a trend. The pitching will be solid next year, once again. The hitting is going to keep declining, as the lineup gets older and older. (Does anybody really expect youth, except maybe Danny Clyburn, in the 1999 lineup?)

Orioles Crash Faster Than Bill Clinton's Credibility (9/24)

They may not be good, but one thing you have to say for the Orioles: they're consistent. They can lose to New York, they can lose to Toronto, and they can lose to Boston. For a change, they did score some runs -- getting two home runs from BJ Surhoff, one from Calvin Pickering, and one from Chris Hoiles. Unfortunately, three of the four homers were solo shots, and two of them were hit after the game was already a blowout.... Unfortunately, fresh off an excellent start, Sidney Ponson wasn't sharp, allowing 9 hits and 5 runs in less than 5 innings of work, and Doug Johns and Pete Smith were worse, combining to allow 4 runs in just two innings of work. Nomar Garciaparra hit two homers to help him in his MVP quest, and the Orioles lost, 9-6, as the Red Sox clinched the wild card spot. The loss was Baltimore's fifth straight and ninth in their last ten games, and ensured that the Orioles will not finish with a winning record this year, for the first time since Phil Regan was manager in 1995.

Because of that, it's time for people to start assigning blame now. According to Tom Boswell of the Post, the problem is that the team quit on Ray Miller. It's not Ray Miller's fault; his only flaw is his inability to motivate this particular group of complacent veterans. This team may very well not be motivated, and that may very well be Ray Miller's fault, but regular readers already know DUOP's view: this team isn't very good. We predicted that the Orioles would finish at .500 before the season began, just by looking at the talent on the roster. With mediocrities (or worse) through most of the lineup, with most of them being very old, why did people expect this team to be so good? Just because the team was filled with Big Name Players?

Meanwhile, Ken Rosenthal of the Sun has put the focus where it belongs: on next year. What are the Orioles going to do? Are they going to sign Williams or Piazza? Brown or Leiter? Davis or Surhoff, Palmeiro or Alomar? (Ha! -- The one player who seems to want to return is Alomar, and he's the one player the Orioles won't even talk to.) Will Jimmy Key come back, and will he agree to be a reliever? Rosenthal thinks that the Orioles need a Big Star like Williams or Piazza to help take the pressure off the younger players, the Pickerings and Hairstons and Minors and such. We at DUOP don't disagree, though we're concerned much more with their on-field production than their psychological effect. But the team needs to make decisions about the Big Picture beforethey make personnel decisions. Are they going to try to win in 1999? How? Do they really still think the solution is to sign some expensive old guys every year? In 2000? Are they willing to sacrifice 1999 for 2000 and beyond? Of course, before they can make these decisions, they need to figure out who's going to make them. Davey Johnson thinks Jim Bowden would be a good choice. Johnson worked with Bowden in Cincinnati before coming to Baltimore.

Toronto Sweeps Orioles; Miller Still Confused (9/23)

We noted it before, but it's still ironic. In July, Juan Guzman was traded from the "noncontending" Blue Jays to the "contending" Orioles, despite the fact that the Orioles were only a game and a half ahead of the Blue Jays. People in Toronto griped, while people in Baltimore acted as if they had just won the lottery. Guzman made his first start against his former team on Wednesday, starting against the young pitcher called up in his place after he was traded. To the shock of Ray Miller, the umpires didn't immediately declare the Orioles a winner just because their starting pitcher was older. Not even when they found out that the Orioles' starting lineup was older. The teams actually had to play the game. Guess what? The younger team won, 6-3. Guzman couldn't make it through the fifth inning, while Toronto's Kelvim Escobar went eight strong innings, as the Orioles fell two games under .500 and a season-high 32 games behind the Yankees. The Blue Jays outhomered the Orioles 7-0 in the series, and outscored the Orioles 16-7. The Orioles now need to win all four of their remaining games to finish above .500 for the season.

You know those people who laugh ten minutes after the joke, when they finally get it? That's Ray Miller. It has taken him until now to realize that, just perhaps, the Jurassic Park lineup may not be the optimum one. He still thinks the problem is motivation rather than talent, though, which proves that, all-in-all, he still really doesn't get it. He still admits that he doesn't really understand what's going on, and his biggest guess is that he thinks the team needs speed.

If you're tired of reading about Ray Miller's "thinking," take a look at this interview with B.J. Surhoff, where he provides some thoughts about his career and the things he's seen.

For those of you sick of watching overpaid has-beens run by a befuddled old manager, you may want to look into the future of the Orioles. With the demise of the Hawaiian Winter League, many prospects will now be playing in the new Maryland Baseball League. As noted earlier this year on DUOP, several Orioles prospects will be participating in the new league.

Orioles Continue Slide; Free Agent Questions (9/22)

When things go right, they really go right. And when things go wrong... you have the 1998 Orioles. Ace Mike Mussina on the mound, the Orioles should win almost every time, right? Or at least be in the game, right? Nope. Mussina gave up four walks and eight hits, including two homers to Jose "The next Dave Kingman" Canseco, and Toronto scored seven runs off him. (One of those runs was courtesy of Willie Greene's "fielding" in left field, as Tony Fernandez hit an inside-the-park home run when Greene was unable to catch his ball.) Meanwhile, young pitcher Chris Carpenter held the Orioles to three runs on six hits, and the Blue Jays defeated Baltimore, 7-3. The loss drops the Orioles back under .500; with just five games to play, the Orioles need to go 4-1 to finish with a winning record.

For the second time this season, a younger Oriole was injured after being forced to play out of position to accomodate Cal Ripken. Willie Greene slammed his head into the left field wall chasing Tony Fernandez's home run, and lay on the ground for several minutes. Fortunately, he wasn't seriously injured, but still. We hoped that with the end of the Streak, we might see some intelligent decisionmaking by Miller. Nope.

With the season coming to an end, the Orioles have to start making personnel decisions. The Rafael Palmeiro negotiations don't look promising; as DUOP noted yesterday, there's such a huge gap between what Palmeiro wants and what Angelos seems willing to spend that a deal appears unlikely. Meanwhile, don't count chickens before they're hatched with Juan Guzman, who seems willing to stay in Baltimore but who wants a contract extension if he's going to do so. Guzman is 31 and has had health problems, which means he's exactly the type of pitcher the Orioles would sign to a long term deal. If the Orioles don't sign him, they might go after Kevin Brown or Al Leiter, and they're also rumored to be interested in Bernie Williams and Mike Piazza. But if Angelos's self-imposed salary limit remains in place, the Orioles won't get any of these players.

Orioles Fall To .500 Again (9/21)

The Streak reached one game tonight, as Cal Ripken reached another milestone, passing Babe Ruth on the All-Time Hit list. All the streak talk has obscured the fact that there are still a week's worth of regular season games left. Today, the Orioles went to Toronto and fell to the Blue Jays, 3-1, and fell back to .500. Roger Clemens probably cemented his unprecedented fifth Cy Young award as he won his 20th game, shutting down the Orioles and striking out 15. Clemens is a Hall of Famer, one of the top pitchers of all-time having another great year, and there's no disputing that he outpitched Scott Erickson, but yesterday's strike zone was a joke. The joke of an umpire John Hirschbeck was behind the plate, and his strike zone was bigger than the Ripken streak hype. The game featured 29 strikeouts, 12 by Erickson, who pitched yet another complete game.

Ripken sitting was a good thing, since, as ESPN's Rob Neyer notes, he really isn't a very good player anymore. We at DUOP think it's pretty symbolic of the 1998 season that the decision was made by Cal Ripken without any input from Ray Miller at all. Once again, a key team decision was made by a Veteran Player, rather than by the Manager. What we want to know is what Ray Miller does all day, given that he never makes any decisions. (Except, that is, not to let talented young prospects like Chris Fussell play.) In any case, what happens next year at third base? Ripken and Miller both seem to think Cal's still a full-time player, but he's not. Neither's Ryan Minor, but Willis Otanez and Willie Greene both deserve playing time, and both are really third basemen.

Speaking of Veterans, the Orioles claim they have an interest in signing Rafael Palmeiro, but not at the price he wants. While Palmeiro's desire for $10+ million/year is probably unrealistic, given that Mo Vaughn and Mike Piazza and Bernie Williams (and maybe Albert Belle) will also be on the market, Peter Angelos's stated desire not to pay more than $7 million per year makes his claim seem like public relations, not reality. What we do know is that Pat Gillick won't play any part in the negotiations. In a move that has been expected for a long time, Pat Gillick officially announced that he wouldn't be back next season. But since he announced when he was hired that he was only coming back for three years, this cannot be read as a referrendum on his relationship with Peter Angelos.


In the final home game of the year, the Orioles lost 5-4 to the New York Yankees, but that's of little or no consequence in what's been a disappointing season for the Birds. Instead, the focus of tonight's game was on something that was out of the ordinary- for the first time in 2,632 games, Cal Ripken Jr.'s name wasn't in the starting line-up.

Cal didn't sit out because he was injured. Instead, he walked into Manager Ray Miller's office before the game and said, "I think the time is right." Except for this brief article, all indications from both Cal and Miller were that he would indeed continue his record consecutive games streak through the end of this season and into 1999. In what's been the worst offensive season of his career, Cal realized that The Streak was becoming a distraction, a distraction that was only going to get worse as the Orioles prepare to rebuild in 1999. "The emphasis should be on the team... There have been times during the streak when the emphasis was on the streak. I was never comfortable with that." And reminiscent of 1995, when Cal broke Lou Gehrig's record of 2130 consecutive game played, he received a standing ovation from the fans at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and from the Yankee dugout.

Now that The Streak is finally over, what does that mean for the Orioles, and for the fans who, like us, have little or no memory of the Orioles without Cal? Cal said that now he's in "uncharted territory," and he, like us, will have to get used to the fact that his remarkable career, like The Streak, will inevitably have to come to an end. Cal has repeatedly said that he would show up at the ballpark everyday, and that if his name was in the line-up, he would play as hard as he could. Since Miller showed no indication of taking Cal out, even when he wasn't hitting at all at the beginning of the season, we have to give Cal that much more respect for his no-doubt difficult decision to end The Streak voluntarily.

Cal has one more season left on his contract, and he has stated that he has every intention of working hard this offseason and starting at third base next year. But now, when he's hurt, or tired, or slumping, the manager can take him out of the game, without all the pressure of ending The Streak. Ryan Minor started in his place tonight, but as we've mentioned several times, he isn't ready to hit major league pitching. Willis Otanez, currently on the DL, and Willie Greene, acquired in the Jeffrey Hammonds trade, will likely be better alternatives to Cal next year- when Cal will turn 39. But 1999 is likely to be a rebuilding year anyway, as the O's wait for Calvin Pickering, and even possibly Minor, if he has a breakthrough year in the minors. Both of them, along with a handful of other prospects, will start the year at Rochester. So until they arrive, let's enjoy the rest of Cal's amazing and memorable career, as he pursues 400 homers (currently 384) and 3000 hits (currently 2873) next season. Hopefully, the O's will go back to the days when a young phenom- like Cal- is called up from the minors, instead of always buying free agents, and then Cal's inevitable departure will be easier to swallow. In fact, the Other Cal- Pickering- may just be that player- and Ripken's decision to sit himself down now hopefully gets rid of one stumbling block in the O's inevitable task of rebuilding.

In any case, many of us have never seen an Oriole game without Cal in it, but his career has left some unforgettable moments in all of our minds. From The Streak, the 1983 World Series, MVP awards, and the magical 1989 "Why Not?" campaign, Cal has been The Orioles. Here are some links to relive some of those moments:

Orioles Lose 4th Consecutive Game; Prospects Sit (9/18)

You'd think a team 28.5 games out of first place, and facing imminent mathmatical elimination in the Wild Card race would stop worrying about 1998, and would begin preparing for 1999. That's not the new Oriole Way however, and last night the O's lost their fourth consecutive game- this time a 15-5 pounding at the hands of the New York Yankees.

For some inexplicable reason, Manager Ray Miller started injury-prone Juan Guzman- a man the Orioles are counting on for 1999- on 3-days rest in a meaningless September game, instead of giving the start to Rocky Coppinger, or even Doug Johns. Guzman, it turns out, wasn't sharp, giving up five runs (three earned), on six hits and seven walks in his five innings of work. Coppinger relieved him, and gave up three runs of his own in just three innings of work.

Despite Miller's stated intention of starting one prospect a game, here are the two starting line-ups for the 2-game series against the Sox this week:

9-16                                            9-17
Alomar 2b                                       Alomar 2b
Anderson cf                                     Anderson cf
Davis rf                                        Davis dh
Palmeiro 1b                                     Palmeiro 1b
Baines dh                                       Ripken 3b
Ripken 3b                                       Mouton rf
Surhoff lf                                      Hoiles c
Webster c                                       Surhoff lf
Bordick ss                                      Bordick ss

Yesterday, Miller sat out Palmeiro, Surhoff, and Anderson in favor of Danny Clyburn, Rich Becker, and Ryan Minor (playing out of position), yet still managed to take the prospects out so that Palmeiro and Surhoff could get at-bats to extend their consecutive games streak. Why then did Miller even start the prospects? "It's a lot easier to play kids for the first couple at-bats and then go to somebody else than to bring them in late in the ballgame." Miller finds it more important for the veterans (who led the team to a .500 record) to extend their own personal statistics than to see who might actually help the team in 1999. Calvin Pickering- the top Oriole prospect- may even be asked to play first next season if Palmeiro isn't resigned, and he's had all of 4 at-bats thus far, despite the O's being out of contention all month. Unlike Ripken, Palmeiro doesn't even feel the need to play everyday. "It's not an issue whether I'm out there [starting] every game... I've done my job this year." Miller, once again, shows that he doesn't have the guts to manage, as he's afraid of hurting the feelings of any of his veterans.

That's a far cry from the way in which Miller treats youngsters, as he's never hesitated to publicly criticize/humiliate either Armando Benitez or former Oriole Jeffrey Hammonds. Despite having converted 21 of 25 save opportunities this season, Miller recently threatened to take the closer role away from Benitez next season, saying that he'd prefer to move him back to the set-up role. In response, Benitez said "I played set-up man for three different closers. I don't have to be the set-up man anymore... I'm the closer. If you have another closer, let me out of here." Yesterday, Benitez took back those comments, saying that closer or not, he wants to remain in Baltimore next season.

Benitez, who has been characterized as immature by his manager, said "I feel ready to be the closer, but I'll do whatever they say. It's not a big deal." Benitez continued by saying that he believes he isn't given the benefit of the doubt that is extended to the other veterans. "I've tried to do the best I could to help the team. I've pitched with a sore back, a sore toe, a sore arm, anything to help the team... but people always watch everything I do... How can anyone think you can be happy in that situation? Nobody would be." Finally, as DUOP has tried to express all season long, Benitez summed up the situation. "People have got to understand I'm human... I come in with the bases loaded and no outs and there are people who only want to see me strike everybody out and look [at the radar readings] to see if I got 100 [mph]. That's impossible to do every time I come into a game. Am I a superhero? No." But you are a top young closer Armando.

Finally, contrary to what we reported earlier this week, GM Pat Gillick apparently hasn't yet officially announced his resignation. In fact, the Orioles are holding off their search for a new GM until he does so, so there really isn't much to report on this front.

Armando, Armando, Armando! (9/15)

On Monday, the Orioles pitching was dominant, as they shut down the Texas Rangers 1-0 for their 6th consecutive win. Juan Guzman pitched 7 solid innings, Alan Mills picked up the win, and Armando Benitez struck out the side in the 9th inning to record his 21st save of the year. In fact, Benitez had struck out the last 9 batters he had faced.

What did his biggest critic, Manager Ray Miller, have to say about the young closer? "He's growing up... He has a great future ahead." (Notice he didn't say "with the Orioles"). In fact, Miller, believe it or not, even went as far as to praise Armando. "He doesn't always see everything as clearly as we do, but he's man enough to come and hear what you have to say... There was a little yelling, a little screaming. I guess it was something of a father-son situation."

So, has Miller finally come to realize the fine young reliever he has in Benitez? Well, that's open for debate, but at least he passed the test last night, when Armando blew his fourth save of the year, giving up a 2-run homer to Ivan Rodriguez on a slider, as the Texas Rangers came from behind to defeat the Orioles 6-5. Said Miller, "There's a fine line between a slider that's three inches down or three inches up... He caught one and that's why he's a great hitter." That's a far cry from belittling Benitez after giving up a home-run to Ken Griffey Jr of all hitters last week. Nonetheless, to keep it all in perspective, this was just the first Oriole loss in 68 games this season when entering the ninth inning with the lead. Much of the credit has to go to Benitez, who, despite the criticism and 4 blown saves, has 21 saves to go along with his 3.82 ERA. Of course, we at DUOP can't help but speculate that maybe some of the blame going to Benitez should be directed at whoever it is that is calling the pitches for him. Going back to last year, it was on sliders that Benitez gave up the crucial home-runs to the Indians in the playoffs. Here's what catcher Lenny Webster had to say about the pitch: "[Benitez] threw him a couple fastballs and he had some pretty good swings at them... We thought if he got the slider down we might have a chance to turn two. But it stayed up and he hit it a ton." Just some food for thought.

There are some other interesting developments to report. Sidney Ponson's finger is still bothering him, and so rookie Chris Fussell made his first major league start last night, pitching 5 solid innings, giving up 3 runs on 4 hits, before tiring in the six. Of course, as we mentioned yesterday, the Orioles have no intention of putting him in the starting rotation in 1999. Mike Mussina, Scott Erickson, Juan Guzman, and Sidney Ponson all have slots, and the Orioles BrainRust is looking to acquire a left-handed starter. That leaves Fussell, Rocky Coppinger, and Scott Kamieniecki- who had back surgery yesterday- either in the bullpen or out of luck.

Of course, this all brings us to one of the most important issues facing the Orioles. Besides Ray Miller and Peter Angelos- who will both be around next season- who exactly will be making decisions for the Orioles next season? GM Pat Gillick, though we don't have an article to link to yet, just officially announced his resignation, and Kevin Malone left for the Dodgers last week. Gillick, in fact, reportedly had turned over many of his responsibilities this season to the departed Malone, so that he could attend to an ill family member. So who is running the team right now? (Besides the veteran players?) Businessman Joe Foss, along with minor league director Syd Thrift, who apparently is in the running to replace Gillick as GM next season. Reportedly, the top candidate for the job is Cincinnatti Reds GM Jim Bowden, and the other candidates include: Florida Marlins assistant general manager Frank Wren, Cleveland Indians director of baseball operations Dan O'Dowd, former Dodgers general manager Fred Claire and Atlanta Braves assistant general manager Dean Taylor. Also, former New York Yankees general manager Bob Watson has received consideration.

The Orioles have indicated that they'll make a decision by the end of the World Series, and when they do, we'll keep you posted as always. So for now, the Orioles open up a 2-game series against the Wild Card leading Red Sox, down 7.5 games with only 12 to go (including another 4-game series against the Sox). But for all you super-optimists out there, keep in mind that the Orioles also trail the Blue Jays and the Rangers/Angels in the hunt.

"Mathmatically alive" Orioles Win 5th Straight (9/13)

1998 has definately been a season of streaks for the Orioles, who, shortly after having lost 10 in a row, won for the 5th consecutive game, 12-7 over the Anaheim Angels. The end result of all the streaks, of course, will be a .500 season, although Ray Miller is doing everything in his power to win as many of the remaining games as possible, as though there is some sort of prize for coming close to 3rd place.

According to Miller, "we're mathematically alive," and as such, his starting line-up included not one prospect, unless of course you include Rocky Coppinger- a 10-game winner in 1996- who was finally allowed to return from his banishment in the minors to start the game. DUOP would like to extend congratulations to Ryan Minor, who pinch hit in the 8th inning and lined a single to center for his first major league hit. Some words of caution on Minor- despite the hype from the front office, as we've mentioned before, Minor had a poor season at AA Bowie. Despite being a few years older than his competition, he has hit just 256/310/411 (BA/OBP/SLG) and has struck out in almost 30% of his at bats, while having a horrible 140-27 K-BB ratio. When it comes to prospects, he isn't even in the same league as Calvin Pickering, who absolutely destroyed Eastern League pitching. And when it comes to third base prospects, Willis Otanez is also ahead of Minor. Why then is Minor still talked about in the same breadth as Pickering? Perhaps to keep his spirits up, and convince him to stick with baseball. Minor has talked about giving basketball another try, as he was drafted and then cut by the 76ers a couple of years ago. Also, hyping up Minor may also be an attempt by the front office to convince fans that the Orioles are making a committment to the farm system.

Anyhow, back to the game. Coppinger wasn't particularly effective, giving up 4 runs in 5 innings of work, but it doesn't really matter, since the Orioles have no intention of giving him a chance to make the rotation next spring. The 1999 rotation figures to include Mike Mussina, Scott Erickson, Juan Guzman, and Sidney Ponson, and the Orioles BrainRust (Angelos?, Gillick?, Thrift???) has indicated that a top priority is to sign a left-handed pitcher. Not only does that mean Coppinger and Chris Fussell will have no shot at the job, it also leaves Scott Kamieniecki up in the air. Kamieniecki has been limited to only one start since May, and is likely to have surgery later this month to alleviate pain caused by a herniated disk in his neck, but he did compile a 10-6 record with a 4.01 ERA in 1996, and he is signed through next season.

In injury news, Ponson will make his scheduled start against Texas tomorrow. A blister on his finger had caused him to miss a start, but according to Miller, from the "Now that's something you don't hear everyday" department, "I imagine he'll be fine. Heck, he's young." In other news, B.J. Surhoff, who typifies the 1998 Orioles in his stubborn refusal to come out of games when he's injured, played in his 148th straight game last night. That leaves him some 2500 games behind Cal. Finally, in ex-Oriole news, from the "Yeah, big surprise" department, Jeffrey Hammonds will miss the remainder of the season with an injury to his wrist.

Out of Contention, Orioles Win 4th Straight (9/12)

It's easy to see why the brainrust continues to act as if they did a good job with the Orioles this year. Every so often, the team shows flashes of greatness. After being shut down by the Angels' knuckleballing Steve Sparks for 8 innings, and after Mike Mussina was victimized for 2 unearned runs, the team could have folded and gone home. It didn't. Down 2-0 in the ninth inning, Mike Bordick hit a 2-run, game-tying homer. Then Brady Anderson, playing hurt, singled, stole second, and smashed into the catcher to beat out a play at the plate on a single by Eric Davis to win the game for the Os, 3-2.

In keeping with Ray Miller's inane one prospect per day policy, The Other Cal, Cal Pickering, finally made his major league debut, striking out three times against Sparks. It was pretty stupid to start him against a knuckleballer, but that's Ray Miller for you. Of course, he sees nothing wrong it, and I guess we should just be happy that the Orioles didn't trade Pickering for Willie Blair or something. And, hey, Eugene Kingsale got to pinch run. According to Miller, these guys should be happy that they're in the majors at all; actually playing isn't really necessary.

As media criticism of the Orioles for the departure of Kevin Malone continues, it's not clear to us what the media wants from this team. In the same column in which the Washington Post's Thomas Boswell laments the departure of Kevin Malone, he also complains that Peter Angelos's dilly-dallying could cost the Orioles BJ Surhoff:

   For example, everybody in baseball knows B.J. Surhoff is a perfect fit
   for the Orioles. They could have signed him any time this season if
   they'd focused on it. But the Orioles waited - for no good reason.
   Now, he's on pace for his first 90-RBI season. Guess what? The Orioles
   want to sign him now - at their price. But his price has gone up. The
   Orioles don't get it. How can he turn down $4 million a year?

Yes, Surhoff fits perfectly on the Orioles. He's hard working, professional, blue collar, quiet, solid (especially defensively), and never causes trouble in the media or the clubhouse. He's also old, stubborn, plays through injuries when he should sit, declining quickly, and unspectacular.

Quick, identify this sequence: 320, 292, 284, 277. Or this one: 378, 352, 345, 330. Or this one: 492, 482, 458, 440. Those are BJ Surhoff's batting averages, on-base percentages, and slugging percentages, respectively, from 1995-1998. Note a trend? He's getting worse in each category every year. He's having a lousy year at this point, now hitting 277/330/440, and his price is going UP? Sure, Tom, whatever you say.

The 1998 Orioles are filled with BJ Surhoffs, and the team's going nowhere. Maybe if they stopped worrying about "perfect fits" and started acquiring talent, this team would be doing better. Maybe if we had the people with attitudes like David Wells and Kevin Brown and Rocky Coppinger and such, we'd be talking about the 1998 playoffs instead of the 1999 or 2000 playoffs.

Os win third in a row; Hairston debuts; Malone leaves (9/11)

When the Orioles went on their hot streak, it was because Eric Davis and Rafael Palmeiro had gotten hot, after the Os had fallen out of contention. Unfortunately, they cooled down and the team collapsed, again falling out of contention. Now, they've gotten hot again, and the team has pulled two games over .500 for the first time since August 30th. Palmeiro and Davis both homered, Palmeiro recording four hits and Davis and Cal Ripken also recording multihit games. Meanwhile, Scott Erickson allowed three early runs but settled down to pitch another complete game -- his league leading tenth of the season -- as the Os defeated Anaheim, 8-3.

The game marked the major league debut of hot prospect Jerry Hairston, who got to play because Roberto Alomar was being punished for not sucking up to Ray Miller enough. (Or something like that.) Hairston went 0-3. Hairston's callup was one of several transactions by the Orioles. Cal Pickering, Ryan Minor, and Chris Fussell were also called up. To make room, non-prospect C Mel Rosario was designated for assignment, and Willis Otanez and Scott Kamieniecki were moved to the 60-day disabled list.

Even the local newspapers have realized that these September games don't matter. Thus, the lead story is no longer the results of these games, but the fact that Assistant General Manager Kevin Malone has left the Orioles. He has taken the Dodger's semi-open GM job, replacing interim GM Tommy Lasorda. Malone had been working without a contract all year, and while many presumed him the obvious heir apparent to current GM Pat Gillick, who has indicated he won't be coming back next year, it's clear that Peter Angelos was not as enamored with Malone as the media is.

Shawn Boskie. An injured Tony Tarasco. Kelly Gruber. What do these things have in common? They're Kevin Malone's contributions to the Baltimore Orioles in his tenure here. So why all the fuss about him leaving? Maybe you think that's not fair, because Malone was never the man in charge in Baltimore? Look at the Expos, where he was in charge. Languishing near the bottom of the league. After being given a talented team with a strong farm system, one put together by Dan Duquette and Dave Dombrowski, he let it fall apart. Oh, there are excuses -- he wasn't given money to work with by ownership. And that's true. But neither were Dombrowski or Duquette, and they had the Expos in contention every year. Besides, anybody should be able to put together a good team with an unlimited budget -- it's working within limitations that really shows the manager's strengths. Or weaknesses, in Malone's case.

The Sun's Ken Rosenthal thinks that the team's in disarray, and that Malone's leaving is further proof of this. Excuse me? Isn't Malone part of management now? If the team's in disarray, he should be getting some of the blame, rather than people lamenting his departure. What has Kevin Malone ever shown himself good at, besides public relations? When he was in Montreal, he blasted Peter Angelos for his anti-scab policies during the strike. Why? It was the popular thing to do. Then he had a sudden conversion in Baltimore, sucked up to the media here, and all of the sudden he's a genius? Thanks, but no thanks. Good riddance.

Now maybe the Orioles can get someone who's more concerned with acquiring talent than hiring his old friends (Gruber) or telling the media how much of a genius he is. DUOP nominates Jim Bowden, the Reds' current GM. We don't know that he'll be a good GM, of course, nor do we know that Peter Angelos won't interfere with his work. What we do know is that he has some track record of making good decisions. Over the last year or so, he has acquired highly ranked prospects like Paul Konerko, Sean Casey, Dennis Reyes, Dmitri Young, and Damien Jackson. He has acquired good role players like Roberto Petagine. All for very little. That's what we at DUOP want -- a GM who stockpiles talent, not Names.

Os trade blame on day off (9/10)

The Orioles didn't lose yesterday. That's because they didn't play yesterday. On the other hand, it often seems as if this team has failed to show up at the park. Certainly the recriminations in the clubhouse have already begun, as players snipe at each other anonymously. Of course, you know DUOP's view: sure, the attitudes of many of the players have been bad -- mostly because Ray Miller spends more time catering to the whims of certain players than he does managing -- but this team isn't that good. They've got lots of Names, but Names aren't Talent. Injuries? Sure, they've been part of the problem. But injuries are to be expected with an old team. Moreover, if the Orioles had paid any attention to depth when putting together this team, the injuries wouldn't have been a factor.

Of course, if you listen to Miller, nothing is his fault. (But then, that's the same line he used in Minnesota, until Tom Kelly took an almost identical team to the World Series in 1987.) According to Miller, all the losses were caused by (1) injuries or (2) Armando Benitez. If you read the paper but didn't look at the box score, you'd think Benitez was Jose Bautista. You have to step back and stop listening to Ray Miller to realize that Benitez has one of the best ERAs on the team, has struck out more than a batter an inning, has given up few hits, and has blown just 3 leads all year. Then again, what do you expect from a manager who blames Armando for everything in one breath and then claims he doesn't point fingers in the next breath? Anyway, we're not quite sure why Miller is so proud of the fact that he doesn't point fingers. He doesn't seem to realize that being a manager means being a boss, not being best friends with the players. A manager needs to be respected, not loved.

But Miller Just Doesn't Get It. Now, with the team far out of first, he's finally agreed to put one rookie per game into the lineup. How generous of him. Apparently Jerry Hairston and Calvin Pickering are not prospects, to Miller; they're just pawns in the Os negotiations with Alomar and Palmeiro. And he's more worried about how the Orioles do in September than how they do in 1999.

The Brainrust didn't just mismanage the Orioles; as the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reports, they also didn't do a good job running the Red Wings this year, with a team full of washed-up retreads. But what's worse is that the Orioles didn't even seem to care; AAA stars like Joel Bennett were let go so that Doug Drabek could continue to hurt the major league team. On the other hand, as DUOP noted yesterday, 1999 should look very good for the Red Wings, with numerous prospects on the horizon. Assuming they aren't traded away like Jimmy Haynes and Calvin Maduro and Nerio Rodriguez and Mark Seaver and Garrett Stephenson and Scott McClain and David Dellucci and Esteban Yan and Aaron Ledesma...

Os sweep As (9/9)

Well, the Orioles completed a mini-sweep of Oakland last night. Juan Guzman pitched five solid innings before deciding to take himself out of the game, and then the bullpen took over. Jimmy Key, Alan Mills, and Jesse Orosco allowed just 1 hit and 2 walks over the final 4 innings of the game. Meanwhile, Brady Anderson and Roberto Alomar homered, Rafael Palmeiro had 3 hits, and BJ Surhoff had another multi-hit game, as the Orioles defeated the As, 6-2. At least today's lineup had one younger player -- Willie Greene in it. On the other hand, rather than looking at a catching prospect, the Orioles used Charlie "No relation" Greene to give Chris Hoiles a rest. Charlie Greene makes Manny Alexander look positively Ruthian. (Or should that now be McGwirian?)

Speaking of the bullpen, the Orioles apparently still have not made an offer to Alan Mills, who's a free agent after the season. Ray Miller wants him back, which is no surprise, but the Orioles are busy wasting their time signing a utility infielder (Jeff Reboulet) and insulting their closer, Armando Benitez.

Finally, as noted yesterday, for the first time in years, there should be something to get excited about in Rochester in 1999. There will be lots of talent there next year, but it won't really matter. We'd tell you to remember the names of Cal Pickering, Jesse Garcia, David Lamb, Jerry Hairston, Chris Fussell, Darin Blood, and Tommy Davis, but why bother? With the Brainrust operating, the Orioles will trade for Willie Blair and Jeff King. Or equally useless Veterans.

As a complete aside, we at DUOP do this as a hobby. The Washington Post pays people to write. And yet they apparently employ less fact-checking than we do. Yesterday, Josh Barr of the Post described Oakland catcher AJ Hinch as one of the players "who came to Oakland in the McGwire trade." Um, no, he didn't. Hinch was drafted by the As. They got pitchers Blake Stein, TJ Mathews, and Eric Ludwick in the McGwire trade.

McGwire smashes record as the Os beat his old team (9/8)

First, congrats to Mark McGwire. We were really impressed when Brady Anderson managed 50 HRs two years ago, and yet McGwire has blown way past that level.

Now that that's out of the way, back to the Orioles. Despite what you might have gathered from media coverage yesterday, other teams played too. The Orioles, after a series split in Seattle, moved down the coast to Oakland. Doug Johns, getting his first start in two and a half months, pitched adequately, allowing just two runs. But he lasted just 4 2/3 innings, put 10 runners on base, and struck out just one. Not to slam Doug Johns, who has done a solid job in long relief for the Os, but what, exactly, was the point of giving him this start? Does Miller make decisions at random? In any case, the bullpen was excellent, as Arthur Rhodes, Alan Mills, and Armando Benitez pitched scoreless ball for 4 1/3 innings to prevent the As from catching up. Meanwhile, Harold Baines homered, Cal Ripken had two hits, and BJ Surhoff had three, as the Orioles defeated the As, 5-2.

Meanwhile, injuries continue to pile up for this team. Gee, it couldn't have anything to do with how old they are, could it? Now Lenny Webster is hurt, too. I'll bet you're thinking that this gives the chance for a young catcher to get a look, right? Not on Ray Miller's Orioles. Instead, Charlie Greene, who can't even hit the Mendoza mark at AAA, will be replacing him temporarily.

On McGwire's record-tying night, Griffey crushes Os. Drabek still sucks. (9/7)

A record setting game in St. Louis, and another in Seattle. In St. Louis, Mark McGwire tied Roger Maris' 37-year old single-season HR record with his 61st home run, off ex-Oriole Mike Morgan. In Seattle, Ken Griffey hit his 49th and 50th home runs, driving in six runs and making 1998 the first year in history with 3 50-HR players. Unfortunately, unlike Morgan, Doug Drabek and Pete Smith aren't ex-Orioles yet. Griffey wasn't alone; Alex Rodriguez and Edgar Martinez also homered as the Mariners scored eleven runs off Drabek, Smith, and Jimmy Key. Meanwhile, Jamie Moyer completely shut down the Orioles, allowing just 2 hits and one unearned run in seven innings, while striking out six, and two relievers with ERAs over 5.50 pitched 2 scoreless innings of relief, and the Orioles were crushed, 11-1. The only bright spot was that Rocky Coppinger made his 1998 debut by shutting out the Mariners for 2.2 innings. Wanna bet that Miller finds some excuse not to replace Drabek with Coppinger next time through the rotation, though?

Warning: RANT AHEAD.

Miller really is a jerk. And a stupid one, too. Leaving everything else aside, he should be fired just for ever letting Doug Drabek step on the field again. Forget about Cal's Streak. Could there be any more explicit of a sign to the players that there's preferential treatment going on than Doug Drabek getting starts in September? Could there be any more explicit of a sign that there's no point in working hard, because all you have to do is be an old guy who's friends with the manager, and you can keep your job forever? Could there be any more explicit of a sign that the players, not the managers, are running the team?

What you've really got to love is this starting lineup. Yesterday, we complained that there was just one player under the age of 29 in the lineup. Today, Ray Miller addressed that problem. Today's lineup: Alomar, Anderson, Davis, Palmeiro, Ripken, Surhoff, Hoiles, Mouton, Bordick. Wow. Look at all the prospects. Unlike yesterday's game, this one featured ZERO players under the age of 29! For a team 30 games out of first place! Even better, the game was a blowout, and yet these are the people who got into the game from the bench: Kingsale, Baines, Greene, Reboulet, Clyburn, Becker. In other words, in a game that was a blowout, late in the season with the Orioles far out of contention, exactly one player who could loosely be called a prospect (Eugene Kingsale) got exactly one at bat. The problem wasn't just on one the offensive side of the game, either. Only one pitcher under the age of 30 got to appear in the game. (Coppinger, finally.) Where's Radhames Dykhoff or Darin Blood? Nowhere to be found. But Key -- whose career is almost certainly over -- and Drabek -- whose career was over three years ago -- and Pete Smith -- who never had a career at all -- all got to play.

Even Phil Regan wasn't this stupid. Fire Ray Miller.

So, we call on our readers: Boycott the stadium. That's the only solution to this madness. Until Peter Angelos sees that nobody will pay to watch this farce of a team, nothing will ever get better. We're not saying that you should abandon the team, that you should stop being Orioles' fans. Of course not. But there's a difference between being a fan and being a paying customer. Remember, your only way of effecting change is to not show up.

Os win a game! Who cares? Miller continues to snub prospects

In the continuing Battle of Disappointing Teams, the Orioles picked up a win on Sunday night. Mike Mussina, fresh off the birth of his new baby boy (Congrats, Mike!) dominated the Mariners, giving up just 2 runs on 4 hits and a walk in eight innings of work, while striking out 10. Combined with home runs from Mike Bordick, Roberto Alomar, and Eric Davis, the Orioles cruised to a 5-2 victory over Seattle. Arthur Rhodes was given the save, apparently to prove to Armando Benitez that people under the age of 30 must be perfect in order to avoid Ray Miller's wrath. (Of course, if Benitez were Drabek's age, he could be deliberately throwing baseball games and Miller would still play him.)

But enough about the results of last night's game. Does anybody really care at this point? What's important is what the Orioles take away from these September games, what they learn about their personnel. What we've learned is that Ray Miller is an idiot. (Well, we knew that before, but our estimation of his IQ continues to drop day-by-day. He's now somewhere below "cactus" on the evolutionary scale.) This is a lousy team, far out of contention, and the starting lineup consists of Alomar, Anderson, Davis, Palmeiro, Ripken, Hoiles, Bordick, Mouton, and Clyburn. That's right -- in a scenario perfect for looking at young players, the Orioles had a grand total of one under the age of 29. A grand total of one who might be considered a prospect. And don't think that this game was a complete opportunity for that player -- Danny Clyburn -- to show what he could do. Once again, Ray Miller removed him in midgame so that the injured BJ Surhoff could keep his ego intact.

Meanwhile, the Blue Jays, who dumped numerous veteran players in July, continue to gain on the Red Sox in the Wild Card race, as they pulled within 5 games of Boston, and 5 1/2 games ahead of the Orioles, with their tenth straight win. Do you think there's a lesson there? Ray Miller doesn't. (Not that an original thought ever entered his head.) The Orioles have finally called up Rocky Coppinger -- but not to let him start a game. Instead, he's going to the bullpen so that the utterly useless Doug Drabek can get another pointless start. Not only that, but because of Ponson's callus problems, the Orioles need another starter. Who did Miller pick? That's right: the 30-year old Doug Johns. Not Coppinger, and not Darin Blood, who has continued to impress at Rochester since being acquired in the Joe Carter dump.

Rumors are that the Orioles are going to call up pitcher Chris Fussell soon from Bowie, but for now, the only Rochester player expected to be called up is PJ Forbes, the 30-year old utility infielder who was up briefly earlier this season when Roberto Alomar refused to go on the disabled list. Now, we have nothing against Forbes, who might even prove to be a useful utility player. (Of course, the Orioles have no chance to find out, because they recently handed the 34-year old Jeff Reboulet a two year contract for a million dollars.) But why is an old, .500 team calling up old utility players? Where's Augie Ojeda or Jerry Hairston or David Lamb? Or even Ryan Minor, who had a bad year but who at least has a slim chance of being a prospect?

Armando's responsible for every loss this year; Miller's a genius. (9/5)

In case you haven't noticed, we've added a new section to DUOP- Mark's Minor League report. On a mostly daily basis, Mark keeps you up-to-date on all the minor league action, so be sure to check it out. That having been said, let the scapegoating begin. After defeating Seattle 10-1 on Friday to snap their 10-game losing streak, the Orioles were back to their losing ways, as they lost to the Seattle Mariners 6-5 on Saturday. Despite the fact that the Oriole "offense" left 17 runners on base, according to Ray Miller, it was all Armando Benitez's fault that the Orioles lost.

With the score 5-3 in favor of the Orioles, Armando retired the first 2 batters he faced before giving up a 3-run homer to Ken Griffey Jr. Says our favorite, do-no-wrong manager, "If you're going to be a closer, those are the guys you have to get out. . . . Obviously [next season], it's got to be better than what we've seen this year." You know, in case Miller didn't notice, Griffey is a pretty good hitter, and he could have put in the left-handed Rhodes to face the left-handed Griffey. But it's always easier to blame somebody else, right Ray?

If you read Joe Strauss in the Baltimore Sun, you'd think Benitez is the reason why the Orioles faded after their hot second-half start. "Benitez, still considered the Orioles' closer despite going without a save since Aug. 19...." Um, the fact of the matter is, the Orioles haven't scored since August 19th- averaging less than 4 runs a game over that span. Listening to Miller and the media, you'd think Benitez had blown saves like the Mariners bullpen has. The fact is, Benitez, at 25, is one of the top young relievers in baseball. He has an impressive 3.86 ERA, and has blown only 3 saves all season long, less than quite a few "big-name" closers around baseball.

His teammates, of course, feel the need to publicly criticize him as well. "He doesn't have the mind-set... He wasn't close at the start of the season and he's no closer now" says an unidentified Oriole. I'm sure it's good for team chemistry to publicly, and anonymously, criticize a player to the media. And we're not sure who on this sub-.500 team thinks they've earned the right to criticize anyone. With the exception of a few players, everyone, especially Ray Miller, should look in the mirror before criticizing anyone else. If we were Benitez, our next "Wild pitch" would accidently hit Miller in the head, but the "immature" Benitez handled all the criticism very maturely. "I got the first two guys, 1-2, 1-2... After that, if the manager wants to blame me, fine. That's all I've got to say." For what it's worth, Armando has earned the respect of DUOP for his pitching and handling of criticism this season. Of course, we wouldn't be surprised to see Armando shipped off to some other team, where he'll be a dominating closer.

When it comes to the disastrous 1998 Orioles season, according to the BrainRust, it's either the injuries, or Armando's fault. Ray Miller, unfortunately, was told by Peter Angelos this past week that he'll be back to manage the Orioles in 1999. Says Miller, "I think I've done a good job of holding this together... This thing could have blown up with all the injuries we had to go through." Um, Ray, you're below .500, despite having the highest payroll in all of baseball. And what's all this talk about injuries? The Orioles haven't had any significant injuries since the All-Star break. If the Orioles were able to go 31-8 after the break, it's really hard to believe that injuries had anything to do with the Orioles going 1-10 over the past 11 games. Of course, when the BrainRust gets set to improve the team over the offseason, all they are going to do is go after another "big-name" pitcher, despite the fact that the offense has been nonexistent for large portions of the season. During their recent 10-game losing streak, the team never led by more than 2 runs, batted .203, and hit into 16 double plays. It's Armando's fault, though!

In other news, the Orioles have re-signed Harold Baines for 1999. Despite his age, Baines just keeps hitting, so there's nothing wrong with resigning him. Says Assistant GM Kevin Malone, "He's one of the best hitters in baseball right now... And he is also good [to have] in the clubhouse. If we have some younger players around, he's a great role model, almost like a coach." Hopefully, there's something to the "if we have some young players around."

In other news, Scott Kamieniecki has been shut down for the remainder of the 1998 season, and he is set to have surgery later this month. Jimmy Key, who has been pitching in pain since his return from the DL, is uncertain if he wants to pitch in 1999. While he has been successful in relief, he wants a to have a more meaningful role, but his arm simply won't allow him to start. Key has repeatedly said that he'd retire before undergoing more surgery to prolong his career.

Orioles Lose 10th Consecutive Game, Fall Below .500 (9/2)

Well, after sandwiching a sweep at the hands of the Kansas City Royals between two sweeps by the Chicago White Sox, pretty much the only positive is that it can't get much worse from here. The Orioles lost for the 10th consecutive game, 3-2 to the Sox, and now much more closely resemble the Orioles of 1988 than the playoff teams of the past two years. In fact, the 10-game losing streak is the longest losing streak since the infamous 0-21 start in 1988.

Once again, the offense didn't bother showing up for the game, as the Orioles managed only 3 hits and 2 runs off a starting pitcher who entered the game with an ERA over 5. For the Orioles, Sidney Ponson gave up only 2 runs on 2 hits over 5 2/3 innings, but he was forced to leave the game after a callous on his finger burst. He will miss his next start.

While we're on the subject of missing a start, Mike Mussina will have his next start pushed back from Saturday to Sunday, as he is heading home to be with his pregnant wife, who is due to have their first child this weekend. And it appears like Doug Drabek may have made his last start as an Oriole, as Doug Johns will take his slot in the rotation, at least for Monday's game against Oakland. Chris Fussell, who will likely be recalled from the minors next week, may well join the rotation as well. It's looking more and more like Rocky Coppinger may never again pitch for the Baltimore Orioles, which, given the decisions made by the BrainRust this season, wouldn't be all that surprising. This decision, of course, is made more out of spite than anything else, since Rocky has been healthy since May, and was in fact promised a recall by Miller once he was healthy.

In other news, the Orioles are considering shutting down Scott Kamieniecki for the rest of the season. Manager Ray Miller also has indicated that he may ask Brady Anderson to sit out the remainder of the season to rest his injured knee. He might as well not even bother, as we all know Anderson won't sit out any games no matter how injured he may be, and Miller is too much of a push-over to take Brady out himself. Willis Otanez, who was just selected as the lone Rochester Red Wing on the AAA All-Star team, has indicated that he won't need surgery on his fractured left wrist. Miller recently said that he has earned a chance to compete for a spot here next season, but frankly, given the fact that he's only 25-years old, we doubt it.

In minor-league news, top-prospect Calvin Pickering, who Ray Miller refuses to recall because he won't sit out a veteran on a below .500 team, was named the Eastern League Player of the Month after hitting 12 homers and driving in 34 runs in August. DUOP has a new minor-league correspondent- Mark- who also happens to be a big Pickering fan, so you'll shortly be hearing a lot more about Pickering and the rest of the Oriole minor-league prospects.

Finally, Nina, our regular columnist, has sent us a new installment of Nina's Natterings, in which she likens the Orioles disastrous 1998 season to the sinking of one famous ship. Be sure to check it out! And for those of you who enjoy our polls, a new one will be out shortly.

Drabek Gets Bombed Again; When Will Rocky's Punishment End? (9/1)

With Doug Drabek on the mound last night, raise your hand if you thought the Orioles 8-game losing streak would come to an end. Well, it didn't, as Drabek pitched like, well, Drabek, and the Orioles lost for the 9th consecutive game, 9-5 to the lowly Chicago White Sox. For a team 12 games back of the Wild Card, there is absolutely no reason why Doug Drabek should start for the Orioles while Rocky Coppinger sits in Rochester. None.

We have to wonder if Juan Guzman wishes he were back with the Toronto Blue Jays, who moved 3 games ahead of the Orioles in the standings, despite "giving up on the season" by trading away veterans, and who actually have a future with youngsters like Carlos Delgado, Jose Cruz Jr, and Shannan Stewart to build around. In Baltimore, it's finally become apparent to the local media that this team shouldn't be left intact for 1999, but the problem is, the BrainRust is probably going to get rid of the wrong players. Instead of replacing the aging veterans with young talent, all we've heard so far is that the Orioles won't let any of their prospects play in September in "deference to the veterans"- yes, those same veterans who led the Orioles all the way to a .500 record- and that the Orioles are looking to extend the contracts of most of their free-agents-to be. In fact, the only changes we've even heard hinted at is that Arthur Rhodes will be given a shot at the closer role, as though Armando Benitez should be blamed for actually caring and showing emotion on the mound.

Ray Miller has said that he doesn't want the Orioles to bring up any prospects- like Calvin Pickering, who just hit his league-leading 31st homer for Bowie last night- because he doesn't want them to just sit on the bench. Of course, he's too dumb to realize the obvious solution to this dilemma. Play the prospects you moron! The Orioles aren't going anywhere! An article in the Orioles Hangout, another unofficial Orioles site, made some good points about Miller. "One of the first danger signs was Miller's quick public berating of Armando Benitez. It seemed like Drabek, Charlton, and Mathews could continue to get shelled with Miller covering for them at every turn. But, Benitez was a different story. The New York incident and the tossed glove incident were perfect examples for Miller to tell the press how immature his hard throwing closer was and how he thought he had overcome such emotional outbursts. But, when Mathews threw a ball into his hand when leaving the mound, he chewed him out in the dugout then covered for him with the press by saying he was under a lot of pressure and wanted to do well."

Indeed, if you're over the age of 30, which unfortunately describes almost the entire Orioles roster, you can get away with just about anything. The same article makes another good point about Miller and former manager Davey Johnson. "Johnson didn't care if a veteran liked his move or not. He had the courage to pinch run for Cal and take his starters out with shutouts because he didn't like the matchup. This didn't bode well with some of the players, but it got the job done. Miller on the other hand, seems to cater to his veterans." Indeed, with Miller, all a veteran has to do is sulk if he's not playing on a particular day, and Miller will immediately put him back in the line-up. This is why on numerous occasions B.J. Surhoff and Brady Anderson, among others, have played at less than 100%. This whole "Veteran-Gamer" crap that Miller talks about every day is the same reason that Doug Drabek started last night, and the same reason why we aren't optimistic that 1999 is going to be any better than 1998.

© 1998 The Orioles Warehouse
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Last Updated: November 1, 1998