Twenty years after the Orioles had a pitching staff with four 20-game winners, they have one that looks as if it won't produce a single 10-game winner.
The 1971 Orioles included Dave McNally (21-5), Pat Dobson (20-8), Jim Palmer (20-9) and Mike Cuellar (20-9).
On the current staff, Bob Milacki (6-5) is closest to reaching double figures.
A telling indictment of the staff is that the man who pitched the opener, Jeff Ballard, was sent to the minors this week. The O's, in case you had forgotten, lost their opening game to Chicago, 9-1.
The baseball fans in Baltimore have to be the most dedicated anywhere, supporting this year's poor team with a record turnout for 47 dates of 1,531,677. It's possible they'll top the franchise's all-time record of 2,535,208 set in 1989.
The fans here are hard to fool, too. Jeff Robinson, shipped to Rochester this week with Ballard, didn't fool anyone in Baltimore. The Memorial Stadium crowd booed him Opening Day when his name was announced during pre-game introductions.
I began to wonder about Robinson on the day last winter when he was introduced at a news conference at the stadium. When he was asked if he'd be willing to serve in the bullpen, he said flatly that he would not, not after the record he had put together as a starter in Detroit (36-26). Jeff must have confused himself with Jack Morris. Anyway, we don't have to wonder how he'll like serving in Triple A.
Are the Orioles rushing their top young pitching prospect, Mike Mussina, by bringing him up from Rochester now and throwing him in this Sunday against a good White Sox team that's battling to win the AL West? Here's manager John Oates' answer to that one:
"What's rushing? If the young man pitches well up here, he
hasn't been rushed. If he doesn't, he's been rushed."
We can be sure about one thing: He'll be no worse than the people the club just got rid of.
Ben McDonald, who'll face Chicago in the series opener there tomorrow night, was asked if he might have benefited from more minor-league experience than the limited amount he had.
"I don't think so," McDonald said. "Up here is the best place to learn. They have the best teachers, the best coaching up here. And after every game Cal [Ripken Jr.] takes me aside and talks to me. I learn a lot from that."
* Isn't everyone sick and tired of the Orioles promotional campaign calling this "A Season to Remember"? A month ago people were saying this was a season to forget.
* You know it's a slow news week when an unknown University of Maryland football player makes headlines in Baltimore and Washington newspapers for leaving school because of his grades.
Defensive end Archie Clark, a sophomore from Oakland Mills High, never played a down for Maryland and would have been a substitute this year. If the Terps finish sixth in the Atlantic Coast Conference this year, as ACC sportswriters predict, Clark's absence will have little to do with it.
Maryland's No. 1 task is to find a replacement for graduated quarterback Scott Zolak. The most experienced candidate for the job is former walk-on Jim Sandwisch, but he has thrown only 22 passes in his college career. Also vying for the position will be John Kaleo and Tony Scarpino.
* Conspicuous by his absence in last weekend's Big 33 high school football game in Hershey, Pa., was Gilman's Keith Kormanik, a receiver/defensive back/kicker who has a football scholarship to Boston College.
Kormanik hyperextended his arm and suffered a fracture in his elbow in practice last week and had to sit out the game. Dr. Bill Howard, director of the Union Memorial Sports Medicine Clinic, told Kormanik it'll be six to eight weeks before he can practice football. Keith will report to BC Sunday and be evaluated by doctors there.
"Depending on what they tell me, I may be redshirted this year," Kormanik said yesterday. "I may not even enter college until January. The clock starts ticking on your five years as soon as you enter."
The multi-talented Kormanik, whose father once pitched in the Cincinnati Reds system, was the top pitcher for Gilman's Maryland Scholastic Association B Conference baseball champions this spring. One good thing: He injured his right elbow. Kormanik is a southpaw.